Archive for June, 2008


Fencing my way out

It could have been my sport if only I had been younger. Okay, much, much younger.

A call to the number listed in the ad battered whatever aspirations I had to be like Madonna in the James Bond movie Die Another Day. Angelo Angel, who received my call, asked me a few questions like:

Are you enrolling your son or daughter? No.

Who are you enrolling? Me.

How old are you? Why, how old are the students in the class?

They’re between 14 and 16 years old but we might have younger ones. Don’t you have anyone in his or her 30s?

And so it was that I had my 10-year-old nephew Jason take the fencing class that I would have wanted to enroll in.

For P2,000, my nephew is learning the urbane sport of fencing.

For P1,200 more, he was fitted with a jacket made of canvass and cotton with a strap that runs between the legs.

For another P5,500, he got a mask, a glove and a foil, the beginner’s weapon.

For this much, my chubby nephew lost weight in two weeks, is feeling like Zorro, is starting to speak English the CIE way and is finding me the best aunt ever in the summer of 2007.

Jason, third from right, is the youngest in the class

Me, I felt geriatric when Angelo, who turned out to be the fencing club president and assistant coach and a college boy who is holding the clinic as his business management thesis, addressed me as “tita.”

Fencing is not mere sword fighting. If it was, then anyone could just take a stick or a bolo and brandish it at his opponent like kamunggay leaves. Like most Olympic combat sports, it demands for endurance, dexterity, competitiveness and discipline. And like chess, it involves tactics and strategy.

It is a sport best learned when one is young and nimble like these kids. I’ve lost the heart to learn it. I would have lunged at Angelo every time he called me “tita.”

Grace, art and patience come into play. When advance fencers Javier Jalandoni and Juan Bernardo Lava dueled for Sun.Star Cebu photographer Arni Aclao, they were so light-footed and fluid in their movements that they could have been Legolas in masks. Such is the litheness of youth.

It is a sport best learned at pubescence. The techniques involve a lot of knee-bending and arm-thrusting, which a beginner at my age and dimension will find death-exhausting. Had I taken it, or rather, if I could have taken it, I would never have got past the “on guard” position. I would have remained in that pose for a time much longer than required because my knees would probably have gone rigid and my back arm numb.

Many of Angelo’s students have taken up fencing as an academic elective at the Center for International Education (CIE). From the demographics of the class, fencing seems like an elitist sport. My nephew, who attends a state school, is the odd one out but he gets along fine. I dread the day when he comes to me and asks to be enrolled at CIE.

The kids—18 of them plus coaches Angelo and Eric Alcoseba—in their white jackets and masks and parrying attacks with their foils and epees and having a great time, are fun to watch. If I were in the class, I would have been funnier to watch.

They’re now preparing for the competitions—foil event today and epee event on Friday.

The three-week clinic, which ends on Saturday with “knighting and awarding ceremonies,” is being held Mondays to Fridays, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., at the City Sports Club Cebu. In a matter of days, I will have a knight for a nephew. I made a good investment.

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June 2008
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