Sporting Life

Sporting Life: Fencing, I learn, is much more than a point-scoring exercise

A young masked woman is skilfully thrusting a sword at my torso at 10.15am on Wednesday morning and I am bleeding self-esteem while having an epiphany. I might be a writer but all that stuff about the pen being mightier than the sword is bunk. Especially when you're a few feet away from a blade.

In the bowels of the OCBC Arena, Amita Berthier, the world No. 3 junior from Singapore, with hands faster than a rock drummer, is giving me a 90-minute class. On the piste, the 14-metre strip we fence on, we are both holding a foil, a sword that has to be lighter than 500g, flexes up to 9.5cm, has a 90cm blade and in her hands has the look of a live, darting snake.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 06, 2018, with the headline 'Fencing, I learn, is much more than a point-scoring exercise'. Print Edition | Subscribe