‘I wish to unfold the phrase about fencing.’ Arlington teen carries the sword for the game he loves

‘I want to spread the word about fencing.’ Arlington teen carries the sword for the sport he loves

Video video games impressed James E. Wilkinson to begin fencing.

4 years later, the Tenth-grader at The Oakridge Faculty in Arlington is a three-time Nationwide Junior Olympics qualifier and ranked eleventh in his area.

Wilkinson, 16, picked up fencing in 2019 and now he desires everybody to learn about it.

“I really feel actually good on the identical time as a result of I’m the one doing one thing completely different right here. I’m making a change,” Wilkinson mentioned. “I hold going as a result of individuals don’t know in regards to the sport or have by no means heard of it. They could have by no means heard of it their entire life. I wish to unfold the phrase about fencing. There’s a lot extra out right here for these individuals and all we all know is soccer, basketball and soccer.”

Wilkinson, a sabre fencer, one of many disciplines of fencing, and tons of of different fencers from world wide not too long ago competed on the March North American Cup on the Fort Price Conference Heart. 

One factor he loves about his sport is that he’s uncovered to many alternative cultures and locations due to the international locations concerned.

“You have got individuals from different international locations coming to only a few native tournaments so any individual from Korea is likely to be over there or any individual from China,” Wilkinson mentioned.

James E. Wilkinson, 16, started fencing in 2019. Wilkinson is a sophomore at The Oakridge Faculty in Arlington and he mentioned he desires to place fencing on the map for individuals like him in Texas. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Price Report)

5 states comprise Wilkinson’s area — Area 5 — all of which the Wilkinson household can drive to.  Nonetheless, journey could be costly, Wilkinson’s mother and father mentioned.

“He began getting good at it as a result of he preferred it. And so then it’s important to journey to golf equipment and it’s important to journey to tournaments, you simply can’t keep in your space,” Wilkinson’s father, James L. Wilkinson mentioned. “It’s a dedication. We journey 40 minutes to get to class or classes and so they’re two-and-a-half hours lengthy and he goes 4 days per week, or 5 if we’ve got to, however at a minimal of 4. So it’s a dedication.”

Wilkinson’s mother mentioned that though the game could be time-consuming and costly, they’ll proceed to assist him.

“It’s vital as a mum or dad when your baby finds a sport that they love that you just assist. And James had tried nearly each sport there was and he simply didn’t discover it didn’t persist with him,” his mom Andrea Wilkinson mentioned. “He tried it, and after the trial observe, he got here out he was like, ‘Mother, that is my sport.’”

Wilkinson trains on the Globus Fencing Academy in Farmers Department — Globus has produced many extremely ranked fencers, Andrea Wilkinson mentioned.

How does fencing work?

The purpose: Hit the opposite fencer together with your blade.


Foil: Strikes to the torso, neck, groin and again depend and factors can solely be gained utilizing the tip of the weapon, not the facet of the blade.

Sabre: Strikes above the waist depend. Opponents could use each the tip and blade of the sabre to attain. Proper-of-way guidelines apply. Just one competitor could rating at one time.

Epée: Strikes on any a part of the physique depend. Opponents could solely use the tip of the blade. Proper-of-way guidelines don’t apply. Each rivals could rating concurrently.


Epée is the heaviest sword.

Foil is a lighter thrusting blade. 

Sabre is a reducing and thrusting blade.

Masks and helmet that fully covers the top with mesh robust sufficient to repel weapons.

Fencing jacket, pads and a glove on the weapon hand that conducts electrical energy.

The fee for all tools can run between $400 — $650 relying on the standard of the gear.

“All in, fencing can price anyplace from round $2500 per 12 months in case you are a non-competitive fencer to upwards of $20,000 for internationally aggressive fencers,” in response to the Academy of Fencing Masters. The bulk of the expenses come from lessons — private, group, open practices — and membership fees — competition, USA Fencing, club fees and camps.


Three 3-minute rounds, with the winner being either the first to 15 points or whoever has the most hits after three rounds.

Players’ swords are electronically sensitive, as are the scoring areas of the body, and are connected by a body cord to the scoring box. When a strike is registered there is an audible tone and a light illuminates.

“An electric current travels through the blade and when it touches the vest, it sends a signal to the scoring machine,” Rob Handelman, the president of the United States Fencing Coach Association, said.

Handelman is an A-rated competitor in all three branches of fencing and he fenced in Europe.

“It’s very sensitive,” Handelman told the Report. “Sometimes it’s a wack and sometimes it’s one electron.”

Source: Rules of Sport

Andrea Wilkinson said Texas has untapped talent in the fencing community.

“But a lot of people don’t know about fencing. So I wish they did because it’s such a phenomenal sport,” Andrea Wilkinson said. “It is just amazing to meet people all over the country and different countries and they create friendships.”

There are 53 fencing clubs in Texas, according to USA Fencing. 

Wilkinson hopes to eventually open his own fencing club for young children and teenagers like him.

“It would be pretty cool to also put one down here in Texas because there’s not many down here. There’s a few. There’s a few good ones, but you still don’t hear about it,” Wilkinson said.

His idol for opening a club is Olympic bronze medalist Peter Westbrook.

Westbrook opened a club in New York that addresses social, physical, academic, and health barriers through fencing.

“I’ll try to do something small in different areas in college. But let’s say I get that club later on and college was just a phase, then I have to make it to a national fencing team. I have to get No. 1. I have to get up there so people know who I am. Then really spread the word that way,” Wilkinson said.

Cristian ArguetaSoto is the community engagement journalist at the Fort Worth Report. Contact him by email or via Twitter. On the Fort Price Report, information choices are made independently of our board members and monetary supporters. Learn extra about our editorial independence coverage right here.

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