Go-Fence is a fantastic way to get school and summer camp children interested in the ancient sport of fencing! It was developed by Leon Paul and can be taught to children from the ages of 8 and above (you can even teach adults using this system).
The system uses plastic and foam equipment, making it quick, easy and adaptable. The best bit is, you can get started for less than $450/£275 and no previous fencing experience is necessary! It’s safe, affordable and most importantly great fun. All you have to do is follow the simple session plan we have developed below.
This is article is aimed at helping teachers, leaders and summer camp directors decide whether Fencing is for them. It can be also be used to help existing Go-Fence teachers with the development and structure of their own sessions.
Basic Equipment Required: Foam foils, plastic masks and plastic foils
Space Required: Medium. Delivered either indoors or outdoors.
Group Size: 8 to 20 ideally.
Total Time: 70-90 mins
Introduction – 5 minutes
Warm up game – 5 minutes
Basic skills and techniques – 20 minutes
Safety brief and setup – 5 minutes
Duelling – 25 minutes
Cool down – 5 minutes
Reviewing – 5 minutes
Buying the equipment
This is based on a maximum of 12 participants. Essentially, this is everything you need to get started and provide an enjoyable experience.
US/Canada – $412.52 (excluding delivery)
Leon Paul USA
UK – £251.23 (excluding delivery)
Leon Paul UK/Europe
We also recommend you purchase the Midi-Fencing Handbook to give you a better understanding of Fencing techniques and skills through pictures and illustrations. The handbook also provides a step-by-step easy to follow 10 week programme to expand on skills already learnt. Highly recommended for novice Fencers ($23.49/£19.41)
Setting up the Activity
Before you begin your Go-Fence session, do a quick visual inspection of the equipment to ensure it is safe for use. If any equipment is broken, then it should be removed from your kit bag and replaced as soon as possible.
Ensure you perform a visual check of the Fencing area for potential hazards. If any hazards are found then they should be removed or if they are immovable then they should be made obvious to the group on the safety briefing. If you’re aiming on providing your session outside, consider the weather conditions and make plans in case the weather changes.
When teaching, you must prevent access to the Fencing area. Place an appropriate sign at doors, stating, ‘Fencing in progress’.
Introduce the activity and learning objectives to the group, and explain the structure of the session briefly (what you will cover and what they will learn). Use questions to engage the group and promote interaction.
Here are some suggested learning objectives:
• To have a better understanding of Fencing as a sport
• Learn the basic skills and techniques of Fencing (positions, attacks and defence)
• Apply skills learnt in a basic contest situation (duel)
• To take part in a fun and physical exercise activity
When briefing participants on safety, ensure you include the following key points:
- Appropriate footwear must be worn (flat or sports/trainers)
- Glasses must be removed when wearing the mask
- Any loose clothing and jewellery to be removed and hard or sharp objects removed from pockets
- No running in the activity area
- No equipment should be used unless instructed to do so
Other rules relevant to equipment use must be stated before use and during the introduction to the equipment.
1. Warm Up:
Provide a basic warm up before the activity starts. Suggested warm ups:
2. Beginner Foil Use
Give participants a foam foil for use whilst learning the basic skills. Be vigilant towards incorrect use and explain the rules relating to equipment and how to use.
3. Techniques and Skills:
Introduce the basic techniques of Fencing, ensuring that you explain and demonstrate these skills correctly to the group. Participants should play activity specific games to get use to the correct technique.
Ensure you check the groups understanding of the skills before progressing. Aims should be reviewed at appropriate points during the activity.
En Guarde (Start) Position
1) Start by introducing the foil and how to hold it correctly. Demonstrate and explain the technique including foot placement and body positioning.
2) Participants should now stand in a straight line and perform the technique themselves.
3) The instructor should then check positions and correct if necessary.
4) Once they are happy with the standard, then they should play a game to get the participants confident in performing the stance.
Movement and Footwork Exercises
1) Demonstrate and explain the technique.
2) Participants should now stand in a straight line and should give the group instructions to move, “forwards” or “backwards” performing the opposite technique to you. When you move forwards – they then move backwards etc.
3) Instructor should monitor standard and correct if necessary.
Instructor must ensure that participants always lead with foot in either direction related to movement and that they don’t drag their feet.
Lunge (Hit) Attack
1) Demonstrate and explain the technique.
2) Participants should now stand in a straight line and one at a time the instructor should check their lunge and correct if necessary.
3) Once the instructor is happy with the standard, the group must perform the technique together on the instructor command.
4) Instructor to play a game to ensure understanding of technique (e.g. Mexican lunge).
Parry and Riposte (Block and Attack)
1) Demonstrate and explain the basic defence techniques and relate it to other sports so they have a better understanding.
2) Participants to partner up, they must now practice this technique, whilst the instructor is monitoring standards (use foam foils only).
Demonstrate and explain the correct fitting of the masks and get a group member to model. It is much easier to demonstrate on someone else than on yourself. Remember not to get too close to the students; make sure it is clear what you are doing if you have to assist.
Introduce the plastic foil to the group and explain how to hold the foil and rules relating to use.
Next setup a safety zone (this should be away from the Fencers). This is the area non-active group members must wait during duelling.
5. Duelling (Contest)
In pairs, allow the participants to take part in a short duel. There must be no more than six active participants duelling at once – all other group members must remain the safety zone.
Give the following rules before dueling:
- Fencers must not touch the plastic foils unless instructed to do so.
- Fencing pairs must remain inside the marked cones.
- Turning is not permitted, fencers may only move forwards and backwards.
- Hits are only scored on the upper body; head, arm and leg strikes are not permitted.
- Slashing/foil waving is not permitted.
- Masks must remain on when dueling.
- Rear arms must remain behind the fencer’s back.
- The first dueling partners should move to the pistes/cones.
- Place foils on the ground between each pair.
- Ensure everyone has their mask on.
- Ask the fencers to pick up the foils and begin their duels.
- During the duelling, watch technique and provide individual coaching to those requiring assistance.
Be vigilant to unsafe participants:
- Foils swung from side to side.
- Rear arm protecting chest.
- Stepping outside the piste/cones.
If a non-active participant enters the Fencing area whilst duelling is taking place, then you must stop the session immediately.
Allow everyone in the group an opportunity to Fence and allow short rest breaks after a couple of duels. I tend to have up to 3 pairs Fencing at once. I give them 3 minutes and then I switch them around so they have a new opponent (in total they get 3 duels). After this, I get them to swap equipment with the next 6 group members waiting in safety zone and start the process again.
6. Session Review
Before closing the session, you should facilitate a review with all participants. In the review, try and cover the following:
- Review learning objectives introduced at the start.
- Get group members to review each other’s performance using the appropriate reviewing method/s.
- Give feedback to the group based on their performance.
- Invite feedback from group based on their experiences.
- Explain how to take up the sport and provide relevant information to participants (club links etc).
If you’re unsure how to review or why, check out the reviewing section of the site.
Ensure that you have plenty of water available for participants as it can get quite hot and stuffy wearing masks and Fencing.
At the end of the session, do a cool down exercise or a fun group game to relax the group after the active session.
If you are on a budget, you can deliver the activity with just foam foils. Just remain vigilant towards the safe use of equipment and ensure participants attack just the torso area of the body.
If you need any help or have any questions, then leave a comment below or send me an email at [email protected]