Sword fighting is might not seem like typical Tuesday-night fun—but for BYU Fencing Club President Adriel Johnson and other student fencing enthusiasts, there’s not much else they find more exciting.
“It’s a fun environment,” said Johnson, a junior studying international relations. “We provide one-on-one teaching so anyone at any level can come and have a really great time.”
The club was originally an NCAA Division 1 sport at BYU but was disbanded due to Title IX. Rather than accept extinction, students decided to turn the fencing team into an on-campus club, and 20–30 students have gathered weekly for more than 20 years for the chance to practice sparring with one another.
Fencing as a sport dates back to the early 12th century, where it was created to help both men and women train for battle. Contemporary fencers still face both physical mental challenges when dueling an opponent.
“People say that it’s like chess but at a million miles and hour,” Lydia Breksa, a sophomore studying European and Italian studies, said. “It’s an athletic sport, but at the same time, there’s a lot of strategy.”
The combat strategy remains a crucial aspect of fencing. In the Middle Ages, it wasn’t the physically strongest who survived the battlefield but those who demonstrated the best technique and strategy. It’s still the details of fencing that determine a winner and loser.
The Fencing Club isn’t only for fencing veterans. Johnson and the other members of the club presidency strive to teach proper technique to all club members, regardless of experience. Sophomore accounting student Brady Miller had no prior experience when he decided to join the club two months ago.
“I saw a picture of people fencing on one of the club ads, and I thought that there was no way that we actually had a fencing club,” Miller said. “I did some research and found out it was legit, so I thought I would try it out.”
Miller has been going ever since.
“Just give it a shot. It’s a different experience but so cool. I mean, we’ve all sword–fought with breadsticks or toy lightsabers, but this is different. This is real. When you have a real metal sword and spar with someone it’s like nothing you’ve ever done before. It’s incredibly fun,” Miller said.
The club has a friendly atmosphere and caters to students at all levels.
“Come have fun and bring a date. You learn together, you can stab each other … a lot of conflict resolution that is important in relationships,” Johnson said. “But seriously, it’s not the most well-known club, but it’s a fun niche that everyone really enjoys.”
The Fencing Club meets every Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. as part of “Club Night” in the Garden Terrace of the Wilkinson Student Center.