Victorian Fencing Society Brings it Back to the 19th Century

FARMERS BRANCH, TX — En garde! The Victorian Era Fencing Society clashed swords out at Farmers Branch Historical Park, just like they would’ve over 100 years ago.

“That was sort of the golden age of fencing where it really developed into a sport more than it was actually learning how to fight in combat,” explained Jonathan Carr, an instructor out at the Fencing Institute of Texas.

Unlike the modern version, where competitors’ suits are wired up with state of the art technology, this classic form just has a blade, a mask and a suit. And of course back in the day it came with a little added incentive to win:

“You could die,” said Carr. “Fencing back then you were still learning how to defend yourself. In fact that’s where the term fencing comes from is the word ‘defense’. You’ll find modern fencing, footwork is really important where you’re just trying to get in and get the touch before the other guy. This one you didn’t want to get hit at all so you had to learn to defend yourself very well.”

In a way the group defends the past, keeping it alive both for modern fencers and a regular audience.

“It’s a great historical background to what you’re doing but also you get to see what it was like living in that period, what it might have been like training in that period,” Carr said. “As a historian it’s a lot of fun to get into those things.”

So if you’re looking for a new hobby to take up in the new year, you might just want to grab a saber and learn how to parry, lunge and touché -- 19th century style!