Hi, my name is Shannon, and I was recently "lucky" enough to sabre fence Rio-bound Olympian Dagmara Wozniak. Did I mention I have ZERO fencing experience? Yeah.
I went down to the Manhattan Fencing Center, where Dagmara does all of her training, to see what the sport is all about (and also to meet my fate).
The Manhattan Fencing Center, located in Midtown, was opened in 2007 by U.S. Fencing Hall of Famer Yury Gelman. The center trains anyone 4 years old and up in all three types of fencing: sabre, foil, and epee (learn more about each fencing weapon here) — and is home to many world, national, and NCAA Champions, including recent Rio silver-medalist Daryl Homer.
I fangirled a little when I met Dagmara. I mean, she was literally leaving for Rio that Sunday.
First, I had to get my gear on... and there's A LOT of it.
My favorite part of the uniform was definitely the breast plate, which goes on under the jacket.
Next, Dagmara was nice enough to give me a few pointers, which was great because I had no clue what I was doing.
The first thing I learned was how to move my feet, which felt very similar to how my siblings and I used to pretend fight while watching Peter Pan.
Then she taught me how to hold my sabre and "parry" my opponent's attacks. The best incentive to remember what she was teaching me was that if I didn't do the right block in time, I'd get whacked with the sabre.