A smart sport that has a point
Updated: 2012-04-25 08:06
By Liu Zhihua (China Daily)
Two girls fence in a competition at the Beijing Wanghaibin International Fencing Club. Photos Provided to China Daily
Chen Bing, 13, wins an award in a teenage girls fencing competition.
Chen Bing lunged at her opponent and scored a hit on her opponent's chest.
In the crowded hall, her mom held her breath, her eyes fixed on the two rival teens fencing.
At the event's conclusion, Chen won third place in the teenage girls competition staged by five fencing clubs in Beijing.
"I'm relieved that my little girl doesn't look like me at all," says a pear-shaped Zou Jing. "I have seen her grow from a fat girl into a slim, confident and mature teenager. I am very proud of her."
Standing alongside, a sweating Chen laughed and tried to cover her mother's mouth so she wouldn't say any more.
Chen was overweight, introverted and had no friends before she started fencing three years ago. Now the 13-year-old is slim, pretty and confident.
"Fencing rebuilt her," Zou says.
Chen's Beijing Wanghaibin International Fencing Club opened in 2011 and has proven popular, sports agent Sun Haiyang says.
More youngsters are fencing in big cities, Sun says, adding that there was a significant increase after the Beijing Olympics.
Beijing has more than 20,000 fencers, most of whom are kids, Sun says.
The club organized its first competition this year, with more than 150 children taking part. Sun says there are plans to hold four similar competitions a year in the future.
"Fencing is good for the body and mind," says Wang Yu, a senior coach at Beijing Vango International Fencing Sport Center.
"You can't help but like it after you have tried it", because it's fun and a great workout, Wang says.
High-school student Xue Zimeng has been fencing for five years and says it has improved her flexibility and strength, making her a favorite among her physical education teachers at school. It also helped her gain admission to a good middle school.
Learning the basic movements is quite easy, Xue says. But in a fight, balance, quick responses and mental focus are essential. Good fencers can predict their rivals' attacks and riposte with winning hits.
"You need to try your best, and there is no time for hesitation or miscalculation," the foil fencer says.
"Fencing is a smart game," says Bi Sheng, a middle-aged manager at an international company.
In June 2011, Bi sent his son Song Song to Beijing Vango International Fencing Sport Center, so that he had a hobby unrelated to studying.
He also hoped joining the club would make the shy 7-year-old more sociable.
After taking his son to the club, Bi tried fencing for himself and fell in love with it. He says he likes the courtesies that fencers show each other before and after dueling, and the mental aspects of the sport.
"At first sight, fencing seems energetic, but if you watch for a while you will see that it is a game for the mind," Bi says.
"Unlike other sports, every fencing coach I have met is smart.
Tamas Decsi, Chen Bing's Hungarian coach at the Wanghaibin International Fencing Club says: "Fencing is not just a sport. It opens your mind, like a window to a different world. A healthy body is good, but a healthy body with a smart mind is better."
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