Among the many questions that I get asked as a fencer and a now a fencing instructor, inevitably a student will ask, “Why do I have to start with foil?” The short answer is not “Because I said so,” but rather, “It’s the starting point for all training in competitive fencing.” I still get the blank look with that statement, so perhaps I should elaborate.
My choice and method are not random or arbitrary. My guide and inspiration for this methodology is one of the masters of our sport, Nick Evangelista. Master Evangelista has written several authoritative books on the art and sport of fencing in addition to being an accomplished swordsman in his own right. He has over thirty years’ experience in fencing and teaching fencing. His thoughts on this subject are quite clear and uncomplicated:
When asked about why he teaches foil first to his students, he responds:
So nothing is accidental or mere busywork when teaching the skills and fundamentals of fencing. Each basic form or movement is a building block for the next skill, and then the next skill, and so on.
The best summation for all of this is an article that Master Evangelista wrote himself. I truly could not state it any better than he has, so for the sake of efficiency, the link to his article, Starting With Foil, is included here for your information. I would encourage every student (and parents, too!) to read it and understand it. You’re starting with foil not because the Coach says so, but because it is the BEST approach to mastery of the sport.
Starting with Foil by Nick Evangelista