The Sport of Fencing

Although swordplay has been around since ancient times, it was not until the 18th Century that equipment was safe enough for sport, and rules of engagement were codified. What developed was the basis for modern fencing, one of a few sports to appear in every Olympics since 1896. It is a fast, athletic game, made up of three events:


Dubbed the "Sport of Kings," the foil is a descendant of the light, court sword formerly used by nobility to train for duels. It has a flexible, rectangular blade approximately 35 inches in length and weighing less than one pound. Points are scored with the tip of the blade and must land on valid target: torso, from shoulders to groin in the front, and shoulders to the waist in the back.

Foil employs rules of right of way. The fencer who starts to attack first is given priority should his opponent counter-attack.

An electrical scoring system detects hits on valid target. Each foil has a blunt, spring-loaded button at the point of the blade that must be depressed with a pressure of 500 grams or more to register a hit. The foil fencer's uniform features an electrically wired metallic vest called a lame - a hit to the lame causes the scoring machine to display a colored light on the side of the fencer that scored the touch.


The epee (pronounced EPP-pay - literally meaning "sword" in French) is the descendant of the dueling sword. It is heavier than the foil, weighing approximately 27 ounces, with a stiffer, thicker blade and a larger guard. As in foil, touches are scored only with the point of the blade; however, in epee the entire body, head-to-toe, is valid target - much like in an actual duel. There is no concept of "off-target" in epee. Some people refer to epee as "Freestyle Fencing" because anything goes.


The saber is the modern version of the slashing cavalry sword. As such, the major difference between saber and the other two weapons is that saberists can score with the edge of their blade as well as their point. In saber, the target area is the entire body above the waist, excluding the hands. In addition, saber has rules of right of way which are very similar to foil but with subtle differences.

At Presidio Fencing Club, we consider the Epee and Saber to be advanced weapons. Seniors (i.e. those aged 13+), may choose to practice with these weapons during sparring sessions.

The above information is provided with thanks from US Fencing. Visit their website for more information.


Register for Introductory Fencing

Step 1: Add your name to our waiting list by completing the Google Form below. We only have room in our facilities for a few new students at a time.

Step 2: Watch the preparatory and footwork videos linked in our References section. Video Group #1 may be a little dated, but the actions are sound. Video Group #2 is an innovative approach to fencing movements taught by Olympian Dave Littell. He provides a whole series of valuable videos that start with a functional understanding of the sport.

Step 3: When there is an opening, you will be invited to an Introductory Class. In Winter, these classes are held on Tuesdays from 6:30-7:30 pm. The initial lesson is complimentary, but to continue for the remainder of the quarter, we ask for a payment of $100 to help with costs. Payment can be made via cash or check, or with a credit card through PayPal (with a slight processing fee).

Classes will impart the basics needed for participation in the drill sessons. Wear comfortable clothes, athletic shoes, and bring a water bottle. You might also want to bring a spare t-shirt. Your first few practices may only involve practicing footwork. We recommend coming for at least five classes to really get a taste of the sport.

Additional private and semi-private lessons can be arranged on Tuesdays after 7:30 pm. These lessons are $25/each and last around 20 minutes.

Step 4: After your initial lesson, we also ask all participants to purchase a non-competitive membership from the United States Fencing Association. This $10 membership provides insurance, and is collected by US Fencing.

Step 5: We provide masks and foils for the introductory classes. This basic equipment will give you a chance to experience attacking and defensive moves with a coach. After a few classes, when you're ready to start drilling with others, we ask you to purchase your personal equipment. Find a list of what to buy on our equipment page. A complete set of brand new gear will cost ~$310 (mask, jacket, glove, underarm protector, electric foil, body cord, and electrical jacket). Presidio Fencing Club is not an equipment vendor; however, we do try to connect new and old fencers to sell second-hand gear.

Step 6: When you can demonstrate the basic actions, and you are comfortable working with others, we encourage you to start coming two days/week as your schedule allows, and at no additional charge.

Welcome to the club, and the sport of fencing!

Sport Fencing in Santa Barbara

Presidio Fencing Club comprises a group of fencing enthusiasts from Santa Ynez all the way down to Carpinteria. Through bi-weekly practices, we provide opportunities for training in Olympic sport fencing to novice and experienced athletes, aged 10 to Adult. Presidio Fencing Club is a member of the Southern California Division of the United States Fencing Association. We operate under the umbrella of the Central Coast Fencing Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization (tax ID# 820540198).

The club began in 2004 as the Santa Barbara Youth Fencers. In 2006 we changed our namesake to identify as an outpost for sport fencing in the Santa Barbara area. In 2011, we began Presidio North, a venue for fencing classes in Northern Santa Barbara County. Most Presidio fencers are recreational athletes, coming to practices to break a sweat. A few of us travel to Los Angeles, the Bay Area, and elsewhere in the country for competition.

Fencing is a great sport for athletes in middle school and high school, and there are opportunities to continue with the sport in college and beyond. Upon graduation, highly competitive Presidio fencers have joined NCAA teams at Stanford, MIT, Duke, and UC San Diego. Many Presidio fencers have also enjoyed success with collegiate club programs around the country.

For insurance purposes, membership with the United States Fencing Association is required before joining any class. Membership is $10, and expires on July 31. It may be purchased by visiting

Practices in Santa Barbara

We train as a team, with practices organized into Drills and Sparring. A typical practice starts with a group warm-up, along with some footwork drills to improve strength, agility, and power, and provide a foundation for tactics. We then split into groups for drills or set up our electrical strips for situational sparring. Occasionally, we address topics such as nutrition, goal setting, tournament mentality, and equipment maintenance.

Note that fencers must have their own gear to participate. We only provide the basic equipment for introductory lessons (i.e. when you get to touch the coach, but the coach doesn't touch back).

Winter 2020 Classes

Tuesday and Thursday nights, Jan 7 - Apr 2

6:30 pm Warm up and Footwork
7:00 pm Drills
7:30 pm Sparring and Lessons
No class Mar 24 or Mar 26.

Funk v Meinhold

Tim Robinson
Tim Robinson holds the rank of Prevot d'Armes with the US Fencing Coaches Association (USFCA). He began coaching in 2002 as a lecturer in the Exercise and Sports Studies Department at UC Santa Barbara. Although he left this position in 2019 to focus on his appointment in Computer Science, Tim still coaches the UCSB Fencing Team and Club. He is the founding coach of Presidio Fencing Club.

Coach Robinson was named USFCA Coach of the Year in 2017 for his work with the UCSB Team. His focus on the functional and athletic development of young fencers also earned him a Coach of the Year award from in 2008. Tim's students have reached medal rounds in various local and national tournaments since 2006.

Find Us

Westside Comm Center
Where Victoria St meets Castillo St
Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Learning to Fence

Fencing Lessons
You may be able to join our drill classes if you are born in 2009 or earlier. Use the Google form to inquire about availability and register for introductory classes.

The best time to start a new class is at the beginning of the quarter (September, January, and April). Fencing is a difficult sport to experience in just a single class or two. New students should plan on spending time just learning the basic footwork and movements. When they're ready to join the regular classes they will need to purchase their own gear. See our equipment page for a list of what to buy.


Cash or Check
  PayPal Acceptance Mark
Member Dues

$220/ quarter


  • We collect dues quarterly: Aug-Dec; Jan-Mar; Apr-Jun.
  • Membership includes all classes and practices and coaching at local tournaments.
  • All membership dues go directly to the operations of Presidio Fencing Club (rent, insurance, equipment, etc). Tax deductible donations can also be made to the Central Coast Fencing Foundation. To make a donation, or for more information about the Foundation, visit
  • Pay with cash or check, or use the "Add to Cart" button to pay with a credit card. Note: PayPal asseses a $6.88 processing fee. Total will be $226.88.
  • Club members must also be members of US Fencing. Presidio Fencing Club should be named as the primary club.
  • Students in their first quarter may receive discounts to offset cost of purchasing new gear.
  • Need-based financial assistance may be available.

Floor Fees

$20/ practice


$50/ 3 practices



  • Floor fees are for non-members of Presidio Fencing Club who wish to fence on occasion. The Floor Fee rate is also used for pro-rated memberships.
  • Cost is $20/night, or $50/3 nights.
  • Use the button to pay with a credit card via PayPal. Note the processing fees.
  • Floor fees must be used during the quarter in which they are purchased.
  • Membership with US Fencing is required.
Intro Lessons

$100/ quarter


  • Tuesday nights, from 6:30 - 7:30 pm.
  • Provided to new fencers to cover the basics of the sport.
  • An initial lesson is complimentary. Afterwards, we ask that new fencers commit to at least four more lessons.
  • Lessons may also be arranged in a one-on-one format for an additional fee.
  • We provide the basic equipment for the first set of introdcutory lessons. Beyond that, students must obtain their own gear.
  • Membership with US Fencing is required.

Private Lessons

$100/ 4 lessons


  • Tuesdays and Thursdays, 7:30 - 8:30 pm, scheduled in advance.
  • Use the button to pay with a credit card via PayPal. Note the processing fees.
  • When given one-on-one, a lesson is approximately 20 minutes in length. Some lessons might end earlier, at the coach's discretion, and for various reasons (i.e. student fatigue or lack of focus). Some lessons might last longer.

Coaching at Events
  • Coaching at Central Coast Fencing Foundation functions and other local events is included in the member dues.
  • For larger competitions involving travel (i.e. some qualifiers, RYC, SYC, ROC, and NAC), all participating athletes will share in their coach's travel expenses and Per Diem.

  • Services such as fixing body cords or rewiring weapons may require additional fees.
  • Standard rate is $40/hour + Parts. Persons willing to learn how to armor can get discounted rates on repairs.

Reference Material


DPHS Men's Foil Team

Presidio's Dos Pueblos High Men's Foil team. 2016 SoCal Scholastic Champions, Varsity B Division. Los Angeles, CA. Photo courtesy Richard Block.

There are different fencing leagues, including those for youth, those for inter-scholastic competition, and those leading up to the Olympic Games. Each league or conference has its own calendar.


DPHS Men's Foil Team

Photo courtesy Doug Golupski

All fencers must purchase their own equipment to participate in our practices. Presidio is not an equipment vendor, but we provide a list of trusted vendors and guidelines on what to buy.

We also try to connect people to buy and sell second-hand gear. Are you looking for another jacket or mask? Have you or your child outgrown a jacket or mask? Let us know.