Fencing is a group of combat sports that involves the use of a sword for attack and defense. Depending on the type, you’ll either be using a foil, saber, or epee. Ultimately, the goal is to score a point by hitting your opponent’s target (it differs with each weapon) before they score on you.
Allegedly, it dates back to the late 15th century. More specifically, that was when it moved from a type of military training to a sport. It wasn’t until the 18th century, however, that modern fencing came to be. Nowadays, there are three influential fencing schools in the world—the Spanish school, the French school, and the Italian school of fencing.
Benefits of Fencing
Fencing is a whole-body workout. Given that, it’s not surprising to know that it has many physical benefits. For instance, it can help increase balance, agility, strength, flexibility, coordination, and cardiovascular endurance. Not only that, but it can benefit your mental health as well. For one thing, it can boost your problem-solving skills and focus. After all, it involves strategic tactics. If anything, it’s almost like physical chess.
Other Benefits of the Sport:
- It will strengthen your heart and lungs
- It can boost your mood by releasing endorphins
- It’s a fun way to stay in shape
- It can significantly improve your reflexes
- It can enhance sportsmanship and integrity
- It increases nimbleness of the hands and feet
What Kind of Gear Do You Need for Fencing?
There’s a specific set of gear that you need for fencing. If you’re a beginner, chances are, you can get away with a pre-assembled “starter kit.” Basically, it comes with everything that you’ll need. For more advanced users, however, it might be better to buy individual items one at a time.
In terms of the actual gear, you’ll need a jacket, mask, underarm protector, glove, and weapon (epee, saber, or foil). For women, a chest protector will also be necessary. After all, safety always comes first. In fact, that’s why a jacket is necessary; its purpose is to protect your arms and torso. Given that, it’s crucial that you pick one that provides adequate protection. The same thing goes for the mask—it should have sufficient interior padding. If anything, these two items are the most important, with the exception of the weapon.
Keeping Your Fencing Gear Clean
Fencing involves a lot of footwork and arm movements. In other words, you’ll work up a sweat; this is especially true given all of the gear that you’ll be wearing. Considering that, you want to be diligent about washing everything. The last thing that you want is to wear something that’s still drenched in sweat from yesterday’s session!
Not only will smell be an issue, but it’s also unhygienic. After all, it’s due to the growth of bacteria. That’s why you want to wash your gear (most of them, anyway) after each session. You don’t want to let them “marinate” in the grossness that is your sweat. That doesn’t mean that you should just throw everything in the washer, though. If anything, that can actually ruin some of the items! That is, there are certain things that you want to do and certain things that you want to avoid when you’re washing these items.
Not sure how to go about cleaning everything? Well, you’re in luck because that’s what we’ll be talking about below. So be sure to read until the end!
How to Wash Fencing Jackets
Fencing jackets are typically made of nylon or tough cotton. Here are a couple of ways that you can wash them.
Option 1: Putting Your Fencing Jacket in the Washing Machine
First things first, you always want to check the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions. In other words, take a look at the care tag label. Assuming that it’s machine washable, which most of them are, you can place it inside. Avoid washing them with other garments as the dyes can easily transfer onto the white fabric (the only exception being other white clothes). Consider using a laundry bag if you want to add an extra layer of protection.
Add one scoop of ACTIVE detergent and wash it with cold water. Do not use hot water as the heat can shrink the jacket. Avoid bleach as it will lower the garment’s puncture resistance. Fabric softeners are also not recommended. Proceed to wash on a gentle cycle.
After washing, take the fencing jacket out and let it air dry—that way, you won’t have to worry about it shrinking. Depending on the fabric, you may be able to use a machine dryer but it’s generally not recommended (if you do decide to use it, make sure to use the lowest heat setting).
Option 2: Hand Washing Your Fencing Jacket
Fencing jackets can also be washed by hand. Start by adding water to a washbasin (make sure that you’re using cold water). Next, add in half a scoop of ACTIVE detergent. You should get a soapy mixture once it’s agitated. Once you’ve got that, you can place your fencing jacket in the basin. Ensure that it’s fully submerged and massage it gently with your hands to loosen any oils or debris. Like we said in the above section, you can wash it with other white garments.
Afterward, leave the fencing jacket in the basin to soak for 15 to 20 minutes. That will give the ACTIVE detergent ample time to dissolve the gunk that’s in the fabric. Once time is up, rinse the garment thoroughly with fresh water; there should not be any soap film leftover. If necessary, drain the basin and refill with clean water to rinse.
When you’re finished, gently press out the excess water. Hang it up and allow the fencing jacket to air dry. Avoid the machine dryer if you can as there’s always a chance that it can shrink if exposed to heat.
Note: Underarm protectors can be washed the same way as jackets.
Removing Stains From White Fencing Jackets
The sooner you deal with a stain the better; you don’t want to give whatever it is a chance to penetrate deep into the fabric. To start, you want to create a soapy mixture by dissolving ACTIVE detergent in warm water. Using a soft-bristled brush, apply it onto the stain. It’s important that you work from the outside to the inside; that will prevent the stain from spreading outwards, which can very easily happen.
Gently scrub the stain with the brush in a circular motion for a couple of minutes before leaving it to “soak.” Afterward, rinse the area with clean water. If the stain is still visible on the fabric, repeat the above steps. Once it’s no longer visible, you can proceed to wash it as normal.
The Proper Way to Wash Fencing Gloves
Option 1: Putting Your Fencing Gloves in the Washing Machine
Make sure that the velcro is closed before throwing your practice gloves in the washer. Avoid washing them with your fencing jacket. Once they’re in, add one scoop of ACTIVE detergent. Do not add fabric softener; it will coat your gloves with a wax-like substance. Bleach should also be avoided as it can cause your gloves to fade.
Note: Competition gloves should never be put in the washing machine; they should be hand washed.
Run a cold water cycle in a normal or gentle setting. Afterward, you can dry it with the machine dryer on a low setting. Never add dryer sheets—it can damage the soft side of the velcro, which will render is unusable. Alternatively, you can lay it flat to dry on a clean surface such as a towel. Consider turning on a fan to speed up the process. Never should you put it out in the sun to dry.
Option 2: Hand Washing Your Fencing Gloves (The Preferred Method For Competition Gloves)
Fill a sink or bucket with warm water and add in half a scoop of ACTIVE detergent. Dip the glove in once the powder is completely dissolved—it should be sudsy. Gently wash the inside and outside by rubbing the fabric with your hand. Alternatively, you can use a soft sponge.
Note: It’s best to wash your fencing gloves by themselves.
Let the gloves soak in the water for about 15 to 20 minutes. Afterward, rinse well under running water. You can also re-fill the sink or bucket with clean water and rinse that way. The most important thing is that you get rid of all the detergent; there shouldn’t be any soap suds leftover when you’re done rinsing.
Gently squeeze out the excess water before letting them air dry with the velcro open. Never put them in the dryer—the heat will warp the material.
Tips For Keeping Your Fencing Gear Clean
- Take your gear out of your bag and air-dry after every use before washing—this will help to prevent odors
- Do not keep sweaty gear in a bag
- Disinfectant sports sprays can be used if odor is an issue
- Weapons and other equipment should be wiped down with an antibacterial wipe after each session
- Consider investing in a spare set of protective gear