Today’s form of fencing grew out of military training exercises, but swordplay has been around for thousands of years. Germany and Italy both claim to have originated modern fencing.

Fencing and the Olympics

Today’s form of fencing grew out of military training exercises, but swordplay has been around for thousands of years. Germany and Italy both claim to have originated modern fencing. It became a sport in the 15th century, according to the Olympics website. Between the 17th and 18th centuries changes were brought to the sport: the foil sword with a flattened tip, the rules governing target area and the mask made of wire-mesh were introduced. Fencing was included in the 1896 Games in Athens. Women’s fencing was added in the 1924 Paris Games. Modern competition includes individual and team events for both men and women. Three swords are used: foil, epee and sabre. Originally women only used he foil. The epee was added to the women’s program in 1996 and sabre was added in 2004.

During the 2012 London Games, fencing events will be held July 28 through August 5, with a total of 10 gold medals being awarded.

Fencing at Michigan State

Fencing is an official collegiate sport, but Michigan State does not currently have a varsity fencing team. The school does have a long tradition of fencing, as exhibited by the photos in MSU Archives & Historical Collections from old yearbooks.

Two women fencing - 1929

MSU Fencing is a student run club carrying on the Olympic and Varsity tradition of fencing at Michigan State. The club consists of both male and female squads, competing in each of the 3 different weapons: foil, epee, & sabre. The club is funded entirely by member dues, donations, and fundraising so that new members can have access to gear and equipment free of charge. No experience is necessary to join; in fact, about 90% of the travel team did not fence until joining the club. The club is very lucky to have several experienced coaches that donate their time to give lessons and travel with the team. MSU Fencing competes against both club and varsity teams from the Midwest conference and also travels to the club national tournament every year. MSU has a recent history of finishing very high at competitions, usually with both individuals and squads medaling at conference championships and nationals. The club, however, has not yet won nationals, and so this is a very important and progressively more attainable goal for the club’s many dedicated and talented members.

You can make a gift in support of the MSU Fencing Club on the MSU Giving Site.

Men's fencing team practice - 1936

Two women fencing - 1937

MSU Fencing Club

Fencing Medal Winners

An MSU Fencer
Medal Winners

Shaina Selbig - Team Recruiter

Top of the Leader Board

Photo Credits: Vintage photos were provided by MSU Archives & Historical Collections. Current team photos were provided by the MSU Fencing Club. Our special thanks to Shaina Selbig for helping to make this post possible.

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