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.


How to Register for Introductory Fencing Lessons

Step 1: Add your name to our waiting list by completing this Google Form.

Step 2: Watch the preparatory and footwork videos linked in our References section. Video Group #1 is 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: purchase a non-competitive membership from the United States Fencing Association. This $10 membership provides insurance, and is collected by US Fencing. If you live in the area then you are in the Southern California Division. Please register your club as Presidio Fencing Club.

Step 4: Arrange for some introductory lessons. Although brief, they can be intense. And they 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. Introductory lessons are $30 each, and we provide the necessary equipment for working one-on-one with a coach. We recommend at least four introductory lessons.

Step 5: When you're ready for group drills and to try some sparring, purchase your 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.

Email if you have any questions.

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. Upon graduation, our young fencers have gone on to compete at various NCAA and Collegiate Clubs

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. A typical practice starts as a group warm-up along with some footwork drills to improve strength, agility, and power, and to 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).

Due to COVID-19, we still have not resumed group practices at the Westside Community Center. SB County heavily restricts indoor training. Please check back for updates. There's a community fencing workout in Girsch Park on Wednesdays at 4:30 pm.

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 the Computer Science Department, 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

Introductory Lessons

Fencing Lessons
Due to the range of ages among club members, we ask that new students be born in 2010 or earlier. We deliver introductory lessons in a one-on-one format; students should be able to focus on the task at hand. The best time to start is at the beginning of the quarter (September, January, and April). Lessons are approximately 20 minutes in length (sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less) and run $30/each. Fencing is a difficult sport to experience in just a single class or two. We recommend at least four lessons. In between lessons, new students should practice the basic footwork and movements they have learned. We encourage new fencers to participate in our group warm-ups free of charge in their first quarter. We provide the basic equipment for introductory lessons with a coach, but students will need to purchase personal gear when they are ready to drill and spar with other fencers. See our equipment page for a list of what to buy.

Fees and Services


 PayPal Acceptance Mark


$220/ quarter with cash/check

+$6.88 PayPal fee

  • 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.
  • Membership discounts for students in their first quarter when purcasing gear.
  • Need-based financial assistance may be available.

"Floor Fee"

$20/ practice


$50/ 3 practices

+ $.91 PayPal fee

+ $1.80 PayPal fee

  • 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

$30/ 1 lesson


$120/ 4 lessons

+ $1.20 PayPal fee

+ $3.89 PayPal fee

  • Introductory lessons are provided to new fencers to cover the basics of the sport.
  • Introductory lessons are arranged in a one-on-one format.
  • Use the button to pay with a credit card via PayPal. Note the processing fees.
  • 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.
  • 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

$30/ 1 lesson


$120/ 4 lessons

+ $1.20 PayPal fee

+ $3.89 PayPal fee

  • Lessons are available to fencers at all levels of experience in foil and epee.
  • Lessons are given one-on-one.
  • Use the button to pay with a credit card via PayPal. Note the processing fees.
  • 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.
  • Fee does not include a floor fee for non-members.
  • Membership with US Fencing is required.

Tournament Coaching

  • 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.

Armoring and Equipment Maintenance

  • 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 a number of different fencing leagues, including those for youth, those for inter-scholastic competition, and those leading up to the Olympic Games. Each league or conference tends to have its own championship event. Rather than try to keep track of all of the events, we have prepared a list of links to various league calendars.


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.