Fencing was never one of those sports we had considered looking into for our children, but it was something they requested to join. As parents we give the kids a lot of freedom mainly because we don’t believe in helicoptering their every move. Sometimes they make poor decisions, but generally they are pretty wise. I think it helps that they aren’t afraid that we will try to control them when they do ask for an opinion. Do we give them stern advice? Yes. Do we say no to dangerous situations? Of course. Do we give them freedom to make blunders? Absolutely! It’s all considered learning opportunities and teachable moments.
So when our boys asked to attend fencing lessons we swallowed hard and took the plunge. Our wallets are substantially lighter, but their manners and self-esteem are higher. It appears to be a pretty good trade off.
In my opinion fencing is like chess on steroids. It teaches strategical techniques while helping the student learn how to gauge his/her personal physical and mental strengths. However, it also teaches students how to treat others with respect. Before each spar fencers must give each other a respectful salute. They also must gauge when to stop, attack, and protect.
Indirectly fencing has also built an interest in understanding chivalry. Since starting classes my oldest son made a request to attend a manners and honor course. He was already known to open the door for others and expressed compassion toward the weaker and younger, but now he appears even to be more conscious of his actions.
So I guess letting the kids direct their own interests and activities under the guidance of their parents wasn’t such a bad idea.
Here’s to child directed learning and fencing.