Jeanette Huang is a second-year electrical engineering student and is a member of the UW fencing club. She recently competed at the Ontario University Athletes (OUA) fencing competition and the Ontario Provincials Championship this weekend.
Huang started fencing in high school at a sport’s introduction day event at SHAD (an annual STEAM summer enrichment program) where she tried the sport for the first time. She also had a friend that already fenced at a national level who offered her guidance on where to start.
For people unfamiliar with fencing, fencing is a sport with three disciplines — foil, épée and sabre — where points are scored through making contact with the opponent using the weapon. The UW fencing club uses a mixture of all three disciplines.
Huang describes the sport as “physical chess,” explaining that “it is very much a mental game because you are always looking for people to slip up so that you can attack them.”
She emphasizes that the sport is very safe.
“We have to wear multiple layers of protective clothing and have to wear masks. The masks also must pass a certain level of protection.”
Huang joined the UW fencing club in first year, after she started to research fencing at UW during quarantine in 2020, while still in high school. She emailed the coach to ask for more information and was later added to a Facebook group.
Members of the UW fencing club, many of whom are not competitive athletes, attend practice three times a week.
“Usually, we have three practices that are open [for everyone], Tuesday, Thursdays, and Sunday. It’s not just people who are looking to compete but also people who are looking to fence recreationally… so we are all mixed together.”
In these practice sessions, the team focuses on footwork, blade work, and other minor skills before they start fencing other people electronically.
“Because it’s such a fast sport we need to be hooked up to an electronic system to look up the scoring. It is especially useful for those touches that happen at the same time. [These touches] have a very small window, usually in milliseconds which is used to determine the scoring.”
According to Huang, balancing the requirements of her athletic schedule with her engineering workload has definitely taught her time management skills, but she enjoys it despite the busyness.
“I originally thought it was going to be [difficult to manage with school]. But if anything, fencing gives me the opportunity to fill up my time and I like to stay busy,” she said
Huang encourages everyone to try out fencing. If you would like to learn more about the UW Fencing Club please visit uwaterloofencing.ca.