Fencing: A game of physical chess (PHOTOS)

Ronin Fencing Foundation instructor Brad Jones teaches a group of beginner fencers how to lunge, retreat, advance and get touches on their opponents in competitions during a fencing class. (WTOP/Becca Pang)
Brad Jones teaches a group lesson with a fun drill designed to help beginner fencers with their footwork. (WTOP/Becca Pang)
WTOP interns Meghin Moore (left) and Becca Pang (right) practiced a technique to get touches on the opponent during their fencing lesson before fencing each other. (WTOP/Hunter Moore)
Meghin Moore and Becca Pang learned that lunging is a central part of the sport, where they used muscles that they might not have used in a while. Moore felt the pain associated with all that lunging days after her lesson. (WTOP/Hunter Moore)
Meghin Moore (left) and Becca Pang (right) practiced their advances toward each other guided by Brad Jones' help. (WTOP/Hunter Moore)
Meghin Moore (left) and Becca Pang (right) prepare for a fun foil duel. (WTOP/Hunter Moore)
Ned Maurer, 10, prepares to fence a practice bout during a practice with the other competitive fencers. (WTOP/Meghin Moore)

Meghin Moore, special to wtop.com

MANASSAS, Va. – To many, fencing is a sport reserved for swashbuckling pirates and characters in “Star Wars.” To others, fencing is a game of physical chess and and up-and-coming sport.

During the last Olympics, fencing became quite popular after the the U.S. Women’s Saber team took the gold. This year, with the Olympics nearing, fencing is again becoming popular, thanks in part to Tim Morehouse. The Olympic saberist has made various appearances on the “Today Show” and “Access Hollywood” to showcase the sport.

In Manassas, Ronin Fencing Foundation is just one of many places people can fence in the area. The club itself works as a non-profit organization, to make sure that anybody who wants to fence can.

“Head Mother” Lynn Jones says the club first started out as an idea from a teacher at Woodbridge High School.

“It started from just a bunch of ragtag bunch of high schoolers, with a little middle school student. The kids began to learn how to fence and it became pretty successful fairly quickly in the area,” she says.

That was seven years ago. Today, the club has grown and now teaches people of all ages, abilities and skill levels. Jones says the sport isn’t “elitist” as some might think after seeing Pierce Brosnan play James Bond.

“We’ve seen a lot of kids in fencing with ADHD or some level of autism who have really gained a lot through practicing fencing. We’ve seen them go very far,” says Jones.

Her son Brad also is one of the coaches at Ronin. He started out as that lone middle school child in the club.

“It was the first time I ever could not get in trouble for stabbing someone,” he says.

He also fenced a few Olympians, including Women’s Foil alternate Doris Willette and Men’s Foilist, Miles Chamley-Watson.

“My favorite thing about fencing is that there’s so many different ways you can win. You can be the most fit, the smartest, the sneakiest or the weirdest fencer. You don’t need all of them to win. You could have any one of those traits and be good at it,” says Brad Jones.

The smallest and youngest person at the club who fences is 10. Ned Maurer has been fencing for about four years now. His size and age don’t stop him from competing in tournaments, or even against the older people in the club.

One of Maurer’s big achievements was going to a North American Cup, one of the largest fencing tournaments in the country.

“I was nine people away from getting national points. I was happy about that,” he says, beaming about his 29th place finish.

For anyone interested in learning more about fencing, all of the Olympic fencing- related events will be streamed live on NBC’s Olympics site. Men’s saber and foil will be featured, as well as women’s epee, saber and foil in two formats: team and individual.

Interested in fencing? Here are some fencing facilities:

Fencing Facilities

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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