Fencing 101


Why Fencing?

  • Improves speed, agility, flexibility, reflexes, and cardiovascular conditioning
  • Enhances integrity, sportsmanship and desire to excel
  • Increases discipline, focus and concentration
  • Develops strategic thinking and decision-making skills

What to expect?

Your child will be practicing in a group of 6-8 kids lead by an experienced instructor. Amongst Cobra Club fencing instructors are Olympic team members, national and collegiate champions. The staff is led by fencing master Steve Kaplan, an Olympian, national champion, and former high school and college coach. During each class each fencer receives both group and one-on-one instruction. At the start, twice a week participation is recommended for sufficient progress. Each fencer progresses at his/her own pace. Beginner, intermediate, and advanced level classes are available. Your child will be advancing from one level to the next based on instructor’s assessment, and competition participation and results.


Our Facility

We are located in a large 25,000 square foot space in the historic Lackawanna Warehouse at 629 Grove Street in Jersey City, NJ. The Warehouse is near the Holland Tunnel Plaza between 16th and 18th Streets. We have a generous amount of space to accommodate 3-4 training classes going consecutively.

You can drop off your child at the beginning of the class and pick him/her up at class end. We also have a bright open space that serves as cafeteria/waiting area where parents can relax and watch their child practice, or use our free Wi-Fi to access Internet and use class time to do some work. There is plenty of free parking right in the building’s lot across the street from the entrance.


Fencing Athlete Development and Competitions

The Cobra Fencing Club is a member in good standing of the United States Fencing Association (USFA) which oversees fencing in the U.S. The USFA runs local, regional and national competitions, and each year selects the U.S. World Championship team. Every four years they select the U.S. Olympic team to compete in the summer Olympic Games. The U.S. won 6 medals at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.

Youth fencing tournaments are set by age group starting with 8 and under. Therefore, youth fencers can begin to compete locally as young as 7 or 8 years old in these age group competitions. Youth fencers generally compete once per month. As they become teenagers, fencers can earn ranking letters (from A to E), with “A” being the highest. Cobra youth fencers train hard all year in hopes of qualifying for the national championships held each July. In July 2010, eight Cobra fencers have travelled to Atlanta, Georgia to compete in the national championship. Several Cobra youth fencers are nationally ranked.


Three Weapons

There are three fencing weapons – foil, epee and sabre. Each of the three weapons has a different blade. Generally, beginners start with foil or sabre. Teens and adults can start with epee. Foil and epee are thrusting weapons so you can only score with the tip. Sabre fencers are allowed to slash. Fencing is a very safe sport with fencers wearing protective gear at all times.


Social Rewards of Fencing

Integrity, sportsmanship united fencers, and they share common values based on mutual respect and desire for excellence. Cobra Club members often form life-long friendships. Those who continue with the sport and go on to compete, find themselves meeting hundreds of people as they travel to local, national and international competitions.

Unlike team sports, fencing is individual one-on-one sport. There are many aspects of fencing that appeal to nearly any individual. Some youngsters may seek to compete — and success in these competitions will be due solely to their own effort: matching their own skill, speed and intellect against that of an opponent. Others enjoy the sport as pure recreation — aesthetic pleasure of perfecting the art of handling a weapon, and performing disciplined movements correctly.

A female Cobra student recently wrote an essay about her fencing experience. Here is an excerpt: “Fencing makes me feel special and unique. It helps me stand out in the crowd, and in a good way. Even better, when you are fencing, you get exercise while having fun. I think fencers are more confident in themselves than other athletes. Why? Well, you don’t know what the other fencer is thinking, and you have to depend on yourself totally”.


Frequently Asked Questions:

Do Universities have fencing teams?

Major universities have varsity fencing teams, giving your child an opportunity to continue to practice and compete during High School and College. Here is a partial list of schools with Division I varsity men’s and women’s fencing teams:

  • Harvard University
  • Yale University
  • Princeton University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Brown University
  • Columbia University
  • Penn State University
  • Northwester University
  • St. John’s University
  • University of Pennsylvania

How old does a child need to be to start fencing?

The best age to start fencing is 6-9 years old. However, fencing can be learned and enjoyed throughout a lifetime. Senior fencers can compete in national and world championship even after the age of 70!

Will my child need a uniform?

A fencer wears a jacket, a mask, knickers, and a glove. Cobra has equipment that beginners are welcome to borrow until they make a decision that they want to stay with the sport and would like to purchase their own uniform.