Classical Fencing Competition at La Spada Nemica

Classical saber bout at La Spada Nemica's annual barbecue

During the 1960s, when fencing tournaments of a classical nature were still commonplace, enthusiasm for fencing in San Francisco was high for a variety of reasons. Principal among them was the generous competition schedule. On any given weekend an "open" saber competition might be held at the Pannonia Athletic Club on Friday night, a "class B" épée event the next day at Letterman Fencers Club and a "Class C" foil on the same day, or perhaps on Sunday, at Halberstadt's school in the Marina District. Those eager to test their skills had plenty of opportunities to cross blades in earnest. Learning through their experiences in competition, they returned to the fencing hall with increased motivation to follow the long road to mastery of the art. Back then, fencing was alive and well in San Francisco.

After fencing degenerated into an arcade game for screaming gymnasts, classical fencing seemed on the way to extinction. Miraculously, however, it seems there remains some hope that all is not yet lost. Interest in classical fencing still lives, but if traditional fencing is to survive there have to be opportunities for its practitioners to test their skills, gain practical experience and strive for perfection.

Today, in Sonoma County and the San Francisco Bay Area, classical competitions are rare; only one or two are held each year. When they are held, all three weapons have to be crammed into the event. Without question, the organizers of these events are owed a debt of gratitude, but they cannot carry that burden alone. If the interest of classical fencing's adherents is to be maintained and cultivated, additional opportunities for fencers to exchange cut and thrust must be offered. Consequently, La Spada Nemica will be hosting additional competitions — if there is sufficient interest. Open fencing is also being considered.

2007 Annual Barbecue

The format for these events will exclude electric scoring equipment and orthopedic grips. Unlike the heretofore three-weapon competitions, these contests will be one-weapon contests. Single-weapon events will make it possible for more individuals to enter, allow a better chance to achieve victories for those unskilled in all three weapons, and will end sooner, leaving time for other things, including socializing around the school's barbecue.

If you are interested in fencing more frequently and/or would like the opportunity to participate in more classical competitions, send your e-mail address or other contact information to this school at (The information will be kept confidential.)