One day, wandering the quiet, nearly-dead mall one day before Christmas, I noticed a new tenant in the old ballcap store - the Fencing Academy. They were offering five lessons for twenty-five dollars and I stood outside the door pondering.
Despite our best efforts, our pacifist baby has developed an interest in weapons of all sorts. I think it must have started with Star Wars and the light sabres because whenever he picks up a stick or a broom or any long, straight item, he begins waving it around like a sword.
If he's gonna do that, he may as well know what he's doing, right? So I bought the lessons and put the gift card in his stocking and hoped for the best.
Christmas morning saw a bit of puzzlement in his eyes, but he was game - and last night we went for the first lesson.
The instructor is not how you would picture a swashbuckler, to put it mildly. He was a bit doughy around the middle, had a classic computer geek face and enormous thighs. But he was soft-spoken, knowlegeable and put the kids at ease. First, he had them line up and get in the basic stance. Then he had them follow him back and forth across the studio, correcting them as they went.
The class consists of a 20-something girl, a 12 or 13 year old boy with Tourettes, ZBoy, a boy of about 5, and another girl who was maybe 18. I talked to M, the Tourettes kid before class. He was drawn to us because of Z's sweatshirt. He used to go to Z's school, but was bullied. So now he's homeschooled. Not Florida Virtual - light is trigger for his symptoms, so he can't be in front of the computer for any length of time, but the old fashioned kind with books and paper. From what I could tell, his symptoms consisted of foot stomping, the occasional bark, jumping, and the long-neck stretch. You could see him trying not to do it and failing. I wonder if his parents are hoping that fencing will help with his symptoms the same way singing can help stutterers. He seems like very nice young man though and I hope he and Z become friends.
After they moved around the room some, they gathered at the other end of the studio and checked out all the various kinds of swords. They each got to hold them and feel the weight and balance and learn the purpose of each kind. I also learned (because I was listening) that scoring is electronic now - there are sensors in the foils and epees that register touches.
After class, Z came to me, eyes aglow. He LOVES fencing! He thinks he's found his thing.
There are four more introductory classes. If he still feels the same way when the classes are over, I guess we're going to be fencers!