Words such as “épée,” “foil” and “sabre” filled the UREC main gymnasium as curious bystanders looked on. These refer to the three different divisions of weapons for fencing.
The JMU Fencing Club team opened its doors to 30 teams from around the East Coast this weekend for its annual Southern Atlantic Conference Regional Tournament.
The foil division of fencing consists of a point control system where the two fencers wear a suit that only covers their torsos. Points are scored by striking any part of the opposing fencer’s torso. If a fencer strikes anything besides the torso, the judge overseeing the bout will stop the match momentarily to check for injury.
This is a problem that typically doesn’t happen in the sabre and épée divisions. The épée is similar to foil, except instead of wearing a suit only on the torso, it covers the entire body. The participants in the sabre division also wear a full body suit, but points are scored by slashing at an opponent instead of simply sticking him or her.
If it sounds complicated, it’s because for non-enthusiasts it can be. However, that did not take away any the excitement for JMU fencers who had the opportunity to host this tournament for the first time in 10 years.
“It’s wonderful. We usually have to travel everywhere,” said senior sabre fighter and vice-president of the fencing club Bryan Moen. “So, the fact that we are able to get the people to come to JMU, and the fact they get to see UREC and our campus, it’s just great that we could bring all these people together.”
The 30 teams that made the trip to JMU were from a variety of places, including teams as far south as the University of Florida and as far north as Stony Brook University in New York.
Many of the teams JMU competed against were at the varsity level, a status that JMU lost due to athletic team cuts to Title IX in 2006.
“We’re happy because we fence all the other varsity teams here,” Moen said. “So it’s not like being a club team brings us down. We may have to do some fundraising that other varsity teams don’t have to, but we’re happy with it.”
Besides being happy with hosting the tournament, a few of the Dukes took advantage of the top tier competition by placing in the top eight.
The tournament is broken down into team and individual competitions. Teams are first split up into two pools for each division. Then, every fencer from each of the three-person teams compete in a round-robin style against every other fencer in his or her pool.
Once the round-robin is complete, the teams are seeded and put into a single elimination bracket based upon their records.
The individual competition ends by seeding the top eight fencers from team play based upon overall records.
JMU didn’t fare too well in the team competition, finishing 11th in epee and in the top eight in sabre and foil after being ousted in the second round of the bracket.
However, two JMU fencers Moen and senior Scott Moschberger did enough to make it to the individual competition in the epee and sabre divisions.
Moen finished sixth overall in men’s sabre, and Moschberger also finished sixth overall in men’s epee after going 1-4 in the round-robin tournament.
The one thing that many of the JMU fencers hoped to see from this tournament is more interest in the fencing club.
For example, senior Kyle Rodgers has to be able to compete in all three divisions because of the lack of members.
However, with tournaments like these, members hope the club will draw more and more interest.
“There’s been a lot of people watching while they worked out today,” Moschberger said. “They seemed to be really interested, so maybe this will help get more people to come out and join the JMU fencing club.”