Sixth Man: Fencing

Are these astronauts?

One of these two people is a Brown student, hopefully.

Let it be known that yes, I know I could have begun this post with a shitty sexual innuendo playing off a term like “long-swords” (not an actual type of fencing equipment) but I’m above that. I think. Time will tell. Anyway, here’s something you probably didn’t know unless you’re on the Brown fencing team: Brown fencing had its first, last, and only home meet of the season over the weekend. It was greatly exciting, and not just because I spent most of the time on my phone following Brown basketball’s overtime barnburner with Yale (we lost–and just when I thought March Madness was calling to us!).

What you get at a fencing meet is roughly 90% chaos and 10% swordfights. I don’t know which part is more elemental to the fencing meet ecosystem, but probably both are necessary. Basically, the OMAC turns into what appears to be a large slumber party between a collection of medieval knights, some of whom are having horseless jousts around the perimeter of a circle of backpacks and other shit that six colleges worth of fencers have deposited in the middle of the gym. (That was probably the worst description ever given of anything, not just a fencing meet, but basically it’s really hard to figure out what’s going on, where Brown’s fencers are at any given time, who’s winning, and why fencing uniforms are so ugly.)

But after locating Brown fencing (through a patented method called look-for-the-fencer-who’s-on-BlogDH) and settling in–by which I mean standing uncomfortably, because the randomly distributed and almost-functional bleachers were positioned nowhere near where Brown did its fencing–it was still almost possible to figure out how fencing works. Basically, you put on a ridiculous suit—there are different ones depending on which type of sword you use—tie yourself to a string with a sensor on it (not sure how it works exactly), and have a swordfight with some knight from another school who thinks he or she can beat Bruno in a swordfight. I’m not sure about all the weird technical rules, but the swordfighting element, which is really the only element of fencing I guess, is super cool. I want to fence, by which I mean I want to fight Captain Hook.

Even better, the really obnoxious fencers will let out a celebratory yelp more common to tennis (or squash, if you’re this guy) when they score one of the five points necessary to win a match. These outbursts, which echo around the OMAC every few minutes, sound vaguely reminiscent of a guy getting bitten by a cobra.

The next best part of fencing is the hilariously formal judges, who are apparently searching for a way to apply in later life the 14 years of their youth they invested in the sport. One was spotted rocking a tweed cap with a blazer; others just stuck to suits. These judges were kind to us (yeah, I’m part of the team now, deal with it), as “Brown put forth a dominant performance” according to the reporter who failed to stay long enough to know whether or not the men’s team won the meet (the women were undefeated, so no suspense there). Seeing as I usually show up at an event, get bored and/or cold, see what’s new on the App Store, leave early, and rip a shitload of information from BrownBears, this underwhelming reporting is a bit of a problem, since I now can’t tell you if the men won. But let’s say they did.

Usually at the end of these posts I tell you to go to the team’s next game, but there is no next fencing meet this year, so make sure you go to next year’s fencing meet! It’ll be great! Swordfights!

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