There are many reasons why fencers take a break. Maybe you’ve had an injury, life got in the way, or you simply lost interest.
The good thing is there’s no such thing as getting into fencing too late, and there’s no time like the present to start.
Here's our tips for how to get back into fencing after a break.
1. Let Your New Club Know Your Situation
You could be rejoining your old club or starting somewhere brand new. Either way it’s a good idea to let them know of your current situation and your past experience.
They will then be in a position to recommend different routes into the club, whether they think you’re fine to join and free fence, or recommend you taking group or one-to-one lessons to reinforce your past learning.
Keeping your club informed will make restarting fencing a smoother process for you.
2. Keep It Fun
The first thing you should do is to keep fencing fun. Try to recapture the fun you experienced the first time around and don’t pressure yourself to perform as well as you did before.
Maybe your body has changed, you’re less fit, or it’s taking time for that muscle memory to come back. The most important thing is to keep positive and not to stress, as that is a sure way to feel demotivated about fencing and yourself most of all.
The competitive mindset will come in time, but it’s best to keep it light to sustain your motivation until you’re ready.
3. Get Fitter
If you’re looking to start fencing soon, it would do you good to work on your fitness, specifically your cardio.
This is especially important if you’re transitioning back into fencing from being more sedentary, or you’re easing back in after injury.
This will make the whole experience more enjoyable, as you’ll be less overwhelmed by the physical aspect and can focus more on memorisation and the mental game of fencing.
Some great ways to improve your cardio can include running, cycling or swimming.
For those coming back after injury, it’s crucial here that you feel comfortable exercising and that your injury has healed, rather than jumping straight into fencing.
4. Don’t Overcommit
It can be tempting when coming back to fencing after a break to try and make up for lost time. This can take the form of fencing more often than you can realistically do long term or pushing yourself to your physical limits.
In reality, all this will do is cause burnout, and might even cause you to stop fencing again as soon as you have started.
It’s important to ease in with the minimum you know you will be able to commit to regularly. Whether that’s once every couple of weeks or several times a week, or somewhere in between.
You need to start slow and build sustainably to get to where you want to be with your fencing again.
5. Warm Up and Cool Down
Even if you have kickstarted your fitness before coming back to fencing, you’re still going to want to take care of your body as you ease back in.
Having a firm warm up and cool down routine is so important, and will help prevent injuries that might keep you away from fencing again.
Depending on how formalised your fencing club is, and if you’re free fencing or taking lessons this will either be led by your coach or something you should prepare yourself. Even some light stretching either side of your fencing session is better than nothing.
6. Focus on the Basics
Because you may be able to remember your past achievements and abilities, you might feel you can just straight in and pick up where you left off.
Unless it’s been a matter of weeks since you last fenced, your body is going to have other ideas.
Focus on the fencing basics of footwork, advancing, retreating and basic offensive and defensive actions and getting those nailed down through drilling. The rest can follow in time.
Jumping in to where you left off and expecting to fence how you did is likely to result in disappointment.
Take a look at our beginner fencing tips page if you want to brush up on your basic fencing knowledge.
7. Set Small Goals
No matter your personal goals when you restart fencing, you should make sure they are modest and achievable.
Expecting too much of yourself and setting ambitious, but ultimately unattainable goals, will almost certainly make you feel like a failure - when the real problem was the goal.
Whether it’s simply to beat a particular fencer at your club, or to compete by a certain date, keep it realistic and manageable for yourself.