Fencing alive and well in Augusta

Tuesday June 23, 2009

AUGUSTA, GA--OK, time to fess up, how many of you use to grab a stick with your friend and pretend to battle on the high seas like a pirate? It's OK, I think we've all done it. But you know, you can still do it.

"It's terrifying. you're about to get in a controled fight with somebody" said Mike Strickland

So it's not Jack Sparrow and the Pirates of the Caribeean, but fencing is alive and well in the CSRA. A lot of credit goes to Rudy Volkmann, who runs the Augusta fencing club.

"It's got all that history, the allure, the dash" said Rudy Volkmann "Once you get into it, you realize there isn't much of that left. It's mostly just really, really hard athletic work. It's like no other sport. When you're moving well it feels like you're flying."

For the past 20 years Volkmann has been teaching students to "fly" with the steel blade, which actually doesn't hurt.

"It's not really intimidating" said Bill Easterlin "Dr. V helped me get through that rather quickly, it's not painful, unlike getting hit in the face with a fist, it's not painful.

Bill Easterlin is just one of his students who was a martial arts guy looking for a challenge. He found it.

"I am formulating a plan of attack, exactly. Trying to figure out what my opponent is going to be doing and what I can do to get him what I want him to do so I can score." added Easterlin

This is by no means just a thinking man's sport.

"Someone did a survey and discovered the 100 yard dash and the butterfly stroke are the only two things that use up energy as fast as fencing. It's essentially an adult game of I can touch you and you can't touch me but it's world class athletes who train very hard." added Volkmann

"It takes a lot of brain power to do this sport but at the same time you have to be athletic to be good at it. So you combine those two things and you have a fast and intelligent game" said Strickland

There's actually three different aspects of fencing, sabre, epee, and foil. All different styles. But in the end, the rush is still there.

"You're fighting with somebody. It may not be with your hands, but it's a fight so it's a huge adrenaline rush" added Strickland.


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