Jeffreys Bay
Take a stab at fencing

EN garde . . . followed by fence . . . and then the sound of metal foils and sabers clashing . . .

This is not a scene from a well-known action movie, but rather locals showing and improving their skills with swords – all in good spirit.

National fencing coaches Jessica Raper, a former Springbok in Modern Pentathlon, and Jon-Paul her son, a former Protea Modern Pentathlete, from the Eastern Cape Fencing Association (ECFA) opened the first ever fencing club in Jeffreys Bay on October 25 – making it the fifth club in the province.

He says that while each of the three disciplines – foil, saber and epee – has its loyal followers, all are in agreement about one thing: fencing is a lifelong passion.

“It is physical chess, using your body and brain just as much,” says Mgijima who placed first at the University Sports South Africa Tournament in 2013 and ranked 26th nationally.

“You must always think several steps ahead of your opponent. The sport develops skills, like thinking quickly, hand and eye coordination, agility and stamina.

“Once you have fenced, it is a love for life. There is no limit to when you have to stop.”

Mgijima says, “Fencing is one of the safest sport types – though you are stabbing each other,” says Mgijima. “There are fewer injuries than in rugby, volleyball or soccer.

“A complete uniform includes head gear, a suit, knickers and a glove – all designed to protect the fencer.”

And it is a greater workout than some might think, he says.

Fencers from as young as eight years can compete in local, inter-district, provincial and national championships.

“Who knows, the next Olympic star could come from Jeffreys Bay,” says Mgijima whose ultimate goal is to keep children active.

And you do not need to be fit to join the club. The club meets every Wednesday at JBay Academy in Da Gama Road, Jeffreys Bay at 16:30.

For more information, contact Mgijima at 078 222 6206 or Jessica Raper at 084 996 4498. Alternatively, send an email to coach.jessicaraper@gmail.com.

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