Fitness and the Mind
One may say, without exaggeration, that fencing is one of the most enjoyable of competitive sports while developing the fitness of of both your body and mind. It requires the synthesis and development of many skills - tempo, hand-eye coordination, dexterity, speed, muscle relaxation, anticipation and tactics, to name but a few. A good fencer is characterized by a conscious, steady attentiveness to the many threatening fencing actions provided by her/his opponent. This attentiveness can be focused from one to another of these fencing actions at will. True fencing consists of analyzing and understanding an opponent's plan of attack by instantaneously assimilating and evaluating her/his actions, then acting upon this knowledge as a basis for one's own plan of attack. In short, a fencer not only fences with his body, he must fence with his head. The continual demands that fencing makes on the resourcefulness of the players gives it a subtle and enduring charm. The unforeseen emergencies which must be faced, and the varied styles that one encounters in fencing different opponents, makes fencing the least mechanical and the least monotonous of all sports.
As a means of staying physically conditioned, sports medicine research has shown that fencing is an aerobic activity that builds endurance and strength while stimulating the overall cardiovascular system. Perhaps more importantly, fencing taxes one's thought processes so much that one develops strength and cardiovascular fitness almost without realizing it. Mental alertness is such a prime ingredient in successful fencing that it is no exaggeration to state that a fencer must focus all of her/his attention upon the bout; one can literally think of nothing else but response/counter-response until the bout is over. With such a high level of mental involvement, the fencer is not concentrating on how much work is being undertaken and how much energy is being expended. In other sports, lack of continuous mental involvement limits the physical workout - often tedium and boredom set in before the individual has reached her/his limits. Fencers get fit as a side effect of their playing rather than getting a bit of enjoyment from an otherwise grueling physical ordeal. A fencer, then, uses the physical attributes of her/his body to carry out a (hopefully) well-thought-out course of action (which must be continually updated in response to an opponent's response). Fencing is the epitome of the mind and body working together harmoniously for the accomplishment of a goal. In addition, fencing can be continued with great success even into old age. What the competitor loses of the physical attributes of youth is often more than compensated for by her/his understanding and mastery of the nature and range of human response in combative situations. As for safety, it has been shown that fencing is safer than tennis and much safer than football and hockey. Truly, fencing can be a lifelong, rewarding sport.