WADSWORTH — Twice a week, members of the Wadsworth Fencing Club — ranging in age from 9 to 45 — grab their foils and put on protective jackets for a night of swordplay and footwork.
The club has been meeting for three years, and the group has grown considerably, founder and coach Tony Laurene said.
“At first, it was just me, a man and his son,” said Laurene, 33, of Wadsworth.
Now the group averages about a dozen participants at its practices in the Wadsworth Center for Older Adults.
On Tuesday, the club will move to the Rittman Recreation Center, 200 Saurer St., because the Center for Older Adults is moving to a new location that doesn’t have a gymnasium, Laurene said.
“We’re not sure how ‘Wadsworth’ will fit in the name once we move,” he said with a smile.
Fencers score points on an opponent by making a “touch” with one of three types of blades: foil, epee and saber.
The blades are dull, but players still wear protective garments.
He said the club is open to people of almost any age who are healthy enough to participate. Only young children are barred from joining, considering the sport can be a bit dangerous.
“Especially with little 4- and 5-year-olds running around with metal swords,” he said.
Laurene, who picked up fencing in college in 2001, said the sport is complicated but exhilarating.
To encourage people to join, Laurene said the club allows participants to attend free for one month. After that, membership costs $35 a month, which Laurene said goes largely to renting the space and purchasing equipment.
After the first month, members must purchase their own fencing kit for $125.
Laurene said the price is worth it.
“Once you fence, you fence for life,” he said.
Rosie Chmura, 48, of Sharon Township, said she used to fence, and now her kids, Lucy, 9, and Max, 11, are members of the club.
“My kids want me to come back so they can try to beat me,” Chmura said.
Darby Lytle, 45, of North Royalton, said she fenced in college but picked up the sport again seven years ago.
“It’s like riding a bicycle,” she said. “I was a little rusty with my bladework, but the basics were still there.”
Lytle said the sport is all about small, precise movements and not so much about strength.
Laurene said fencing is an interesting sport because styles vary so much among fencers.
“Nobody ever fences the same way. It’s like a fingerprint,” he said. “We’re all taught the same basic techniques, but different styles emerge.”
Depending on a person’s height, strength, speed and personal preferences, Laurene said each fencer wields his or her blade differently from everyone else.
Laurene said the sport has a bit of a steep learning curve, but people catch on quick.
“No one is good at it when they start,” he said.
When people get good enough, Laurene said they can start going to tournaments. The only downside to that, he said, is that the tournaments are usually two or three hours away.
He said the fencing community is so small that participants get to know each other quickly.
“I saw some people in the 2008 Olympics that I fenced in college,” he said.
At the Rittman Recreation Center, the club will meet 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays and 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays.
For more information on the Wadsworth Fencing Club, contact Laurene at email@example.com or visit www.wadsworthfencing.com.
Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or firstname.lastname@example.org.