View Full Version : Taking lessons without a fencing jacket

-1st December 2003, 20:38
Dear all,

Just a general enquiry. How many of you at any weapon take fencing lessons without a fencing jacket? (when I was taught by Steve Boston of Salle Boston fame) I always did.

If you do how many of you are under 18?

I am just interested in the replies.There is a debate as to whether this is safe or not.


-1st December 2003, 20:47
I take a fencing lesson without a jacket, but thats only because i feel safe enough with my coach, and I trust him, and i know that if I get hit, then it's my fault because i did something wrong! But if I'm having like a 'proper' serious lesson and we may have to fence then I will always put on my jacket.
Im 16 by the way.

Marky Irish
-1st December 2003, 20:48
Hi Keith,

Well back home i always used to take lessons in a t-shirt and shorts, it would never have occurred for me to wear a jacket or breeches. And that was for over 7 years.

But now since ive been over in England, Marek makes me wear a jacket for lessons all the time (even though i dont like it!!!)
But it makes sense for safety reasons. And I am 20 as of last Tuesday.


-1st December 2003, 21:04
Hi Keith,
If J has a private lesson with his coach he does not usually wear a jacket. He does not get hit by his coach so therefore I have no problem with it. In lessons we are dealing with moves and so J has to to hit the coach not vice versa.Should he for any reason fence anyone else or go on the box then he would wear a jacket etc.
He is 9 years old.

-1st December 2003, 21:32
I occasionally don't wear a jacket for lessons and I'm 16, I don't think my coach would of done it with my if I was younger.

alec frenzy
-1st December 2003, 21:51
I am (well) over 18 and have never worn a jacket for taking a lesson (except with the odd coach that I did not have confidence in)

-1st December 2003, 22:15
when i first started when i was 14 i had a jacket on, but that was only for about 6 months or a year. (was a while ago so i can't remember how long it was.) i now always get lessons without a jacket on, am now 21.

Pointy stick
-1st December 2003, 22:27
My initial understanding was that a coach should never hit the pupil, in which case the jacket is irrelevant.

However, after you've learned the basics of thrusting, lunging, disengaging, etc., and you start to learn to put them together with a few parries, the jacket becomes essential. If you KNOW you ain't going to get hit at all, then the lesson can be very artificial. Apart from which, I reckon it's as well to be used to the weight and feel of the jacket because that's how you'll be fighting.

-1st December 2003, 22:52
Rarely see R in a lesson, but when I have, he's not been wearing a jacket if it's not part of the club session. And he's 15.

-1st December 2003, 23:17
My coach generally REQUIRED his students to take off their jackets for lessons, feeling it important to spot check that the shoulder muscles weren't tense and the elbow not locked. In a 'simulated bout' type lesson of course jackets were worn.

I've never heard of anyone sustaining an injury during a fencing lesson, I'm guessing because it is a highly controlled environment and the forces involved are never excessive.

Well over 18 now but I started at age 17.

-2nd December 2003, 00:10
I never wear a jacket anymore for fencing lessons at sabre but i do for foil in sabre lessons i still wear a glove and mask and as such my coach can hit me there, shoudl he feel it would be anecessary part of the lesson ie parrying. I feel safe with him so i don't really mind. I think it really depends on how much you can trust your coach
btw I am 28 so old enough to know better...........I guess

-2nd December 2003, 03:30
I occasionally take a lesson without my jacket, plastron, etc. However its more a rarity than anything else because for the most part people are continually sparring in the club and so are in jackets. I've always been one for doing all fencing in jacket and plastron so that I'm accustomed to the movement restrictions they give, sometimes I'll wear my lame too, all depends on what I'm doing at the time.

I'm 21 btw

-2nd December 2003, 08:42
I don't usually wear a jacket and I am 28. I understand the safety implications and fully admit that were I to implale myself on the coaches point that it was my fault. I used to insist on wearing my jacket but over the years that became eroded by the fact that the hall I trained in was next to a swimming pool and got really really hot.

-2nd December 2003, 08:57
I prefer to take lessons wearing shorts and a T-shirt, but that is normally only if I get the first lesson of the night, or I am having a private lesson.

Normally I will wear breeches and a T-shirt. In fact if I have been fencing I take off my kit and put a fresh/dry T-shirt on. However, one coach makes me wear a jacket depending on what we are doing.

I have been hit by a coach (4 in fact), but I never have a problem with this as it only occurs if I have made a mistake. But before everyone posts saying that a good coach should never hit a pupil, how can a coach teach a pupil to defend against flick hits in a fight situation without there being a risk of being hit?

I'll be celebrating my next birthday on the 38th of October 2004.


-2nd December 2003, 09:14
I never ever take lessons without plastron and jacket

I'm 29 and have been fencing since 14 on and off.

never entered my mind to have a lesson without being kitted out - my prof at school insisted, and consequently it's like wearing a seat-belt - just automatic.

As to whether it is safe to have a lesson without protective kit - well, it's safer to have it on than not!

-2nd December 2003, 09:22
Keith, to put a slightly different skew on your original posting - who gives lessons to pupils not wearing a jacket?

I don't think it is for the fencer to decide whether or not to take a lesson without a jacket, but it is the coach to make a judgement and take responsibility. The coach needs to bear in mind a number of factors when making that judgement - the weapon, competence of the fencer (technically and emotionally), the subject of the training exercise, whether the lesson is technical, tactical, skill or physically based and is directed towards teaching or coaching. Additionally the coach needs to be aware of his/her own competence and should always err on the side of caution.

Within the clubs I coach, fencers are fully kitted and that's how they take their lesson; at training session or private lessons it is a different matter.

I very, very rarely give an epee lesson to fencer who is not fully clothed. The nature of the weapon requires that the fencer remains under constant and realistic threat, and that must pose a danger. On the other hand, I will often give a sabre lesson to a fencer in T shirt and plastron. The subtle, laying on of a cold blade on a bare arm can have more of an effect that a cut to a clothed arm - in the same way that a whisper can sometimes be more effective than a shout.

Foil is somewhere between. For some lessons (eg, improving accuracy, compound attacks, mobility and change of direction etc.) I would not insist on the pupil wearing a jacket, but for all other lesson it is the norm.

The personality of the fencer is also important. I know of some, whose attitude to the coach is more aggressive and less cautious than it is towards any opponent. Probably because they feel that they are in a safe environment. I refer to this as the 'Volvo effect'!

With a fencer new/unknown to me, I would always expect them to wear a jacket as I cannot predict their responses.

I would not like to see any form of compulsion regarding the wearing of a jacket in the environment of the club, training session or private lesson, but rather it was left to the discretion of the coach. However, I would support a prohibition on such activity at junior competitions for the protection and good influence on impressionable young fencers.

-2nd December 2003, 11:03
Clearly, for what most people undergo at private tutorage, a jacket is not required but I suspect most wear a mask.
Specific types of lessons will require them but they will be the exceptions to the rule, and that goes for all the fencers I've seen at my club.

-2nd December 2003, 11:41
i never take a lesson without wearing a jacket + plastron for 2 reasons:
so im used to wearing them

because my coach is the best fencer in guernsey, hes left handed, and i is scared of him!!!!!!!!!!

not kidding!!!!!!! :fencingsm

Boo Boo
-2nd December 2003, 11:45
I don't usually wear a fencing jacket for foil lessons (tracksuit bottoms, t-shirt, mask and glove). Only wear a fencing jacket during a lesson if I am working on something that I am likely to get hit doing...

(a little over 18)

-2nd December 2003, 12:49
I don't normally wear a fencing jacket / sometimes I wear a plastron but normally t-shirt/tracksuit bottoms/breeches.

Prometheus (Unlike Boo - a lot over 18!)

-2nd December 2003, 15:50
It depends on what kind of lesson I am taking. (Generally sabre)

If it is a lesson on something like the timing of parries, I will definitely wear a jacket. However, if it is mostly a mobility and attacking lesson, I will only wear a jacket if I have not had time to take it off between a bout and the lesson. In some situations I will wear a plastron and chest protector under a jumper as a compromise if the lesson is going to be slightly more complicated.

For a competition warm up lesson, it usually depends on when I am having the lesson in relation to the start of the competition.

I have occasionally been hit by the coach, usually when I've done something unpredictably stupid, but have never actually had a bruise from it.

I am 22

-2nd December 2003, 16:07
I forgot about competitions. If I take a lesson at a competition I will take it with full kit on including electric jacket. However, that is not for safety but for mobility, as it helps to stretch my kit out before fencing in the competition.

Also I may have a lesson just before a DE fight, so it means I'm ready to go straight onto the piste.


-2nd December 2003, 17:02
I have sometimes worn a jacket, sometimes not - I take my cue from the coach. My coach when I was under 18 gave lessons while his pupils were wearing a jacket, I then changed coaches when I went off to uni where the coach gives lessons without. I train sabre.

-2nd December 2003, 17:37
I always wear full kit.

-2nd December 2003, 19:16
I always take a lesson with jacket on. It's as Marcos said automatic and safer. Also the recent coaches i've been coached by insist on it.

-2nd December 2003, 21:41
Hardly ever wore a jacket when taking lessons with the obvious exception of ones where there was a high degree of fight-realism where my mistakes made it far more likely that I might get hit.

Now that I give lesons rather than take them, my pupils never wear a jacket. I'm not dogmatic on the subject - if a fencer wanted to wear a jacket during a lesson I'd be fine with that as well. I've never been injured by the blade during a lesson and neither have any of my pupils (I do "touch" with the flat of my blade very occasionally to point out an error but in a very controlled manner that would struggle to hurt a fly)

-2nd December 2003, 23:03
When I first started out fencing foil I always wore a jacket becuase I never saw any other reason not to whilst taking lessons. As I became a more competent foilist, the jacket was lost and I took lessons in a glove, mask, and plastron (to deflect any glancing blows). As I switched to sabre and presently moved up to Durham I dropped the plastron and take lessons in mask, glove and shorts (where I can). I find that whilst taking lessons it's more important to concerntrate on the theory and ideas behind the lesson as apposed to having to worry about heat and the weight of the clothing. Those are factors that can be dealt with outside the lesson enviroment. It also mean's my coach can check for muscle twitch and tension.

I trust my coach entirely and I've never heard of anyone falling foul of him yet nor do I ever expect to.

Kian Ryan

-3rd December 2003, 09:17
I almost always wear a jacket unless I'm about to put one on and the coach says I dont need it. I'm usually wearing it at the club, dont see why I should take it off.

Also, isnt it more realistic to practice wearing the kit you will fight in?


-3rd December 2003, 11:51
Mask, glove, shorts and T-Shirt for me...
Same when giving a lesson.
Have seen some people give lessons to students without masks...
As to the 'its better to train as you compete' argumentI am just the opposite...
In competition I like to feel as differnt as possible to the way I feel in training: I wear different shoes, jacket, breeches, plastron, socks, underclothes, glove when I compete!
The only thing that is the same, is my weapon: that I keep the same...
It seems to help me focus...

NoT V gOOd!
-3rd December 2003, 12:07
hi Keith

I have never worn a jacket for any lesson usually just shorts and T-shirt. Even with coaches that i dont usually have i still never where a jacket.

I am the fencer that goes to QEH. my histort teacher still cant remember what he is meant 2 be sending you can u please tell me and i will pass it on to him asap


-3rd December 2003, 13:33
As practice in my club is organized in the following way: warmup, footwork, fencing - I usually have my jacket on as I had a bout or two untill it's my turn. but when I'm the first to get the lesson after the footwork, I just grab my mask, glowe & epee. Usually masters don't hit us during the lesson.



-4th December 2003, 04:24
My coach rarely hits me when taking a lesson unless there is an obvious point to it, ie I didn't parry him.

-10th December 2003, 15:42
All very interesting etc but why would anyone not wear a jacket/plastron? What is the advantage? You keep cooler - well you won't when competing so why create an artificial environment - ease of movement - ditto - It looks good -does it? - I can't be bothered to put a jacket on - well life is full of difficult jobs get used to it -- But all joking aside I can't think of any good reason not to wear proper clothing except being too lazy to put it on!!

-10th December 2003, 15:51
Has Keith come to any conclusion/recommendation about this then???

-10th December 2003, 15:55
A lesson is usually a lot longer than a fight. therefore you have to stay hot for longer if you are wearing a jacket!

It is definitely easier to see tense muscles without a jacket, especially if the jacket does not fit particularly well and bunches at the shoulder anyway.

Also, my training kit is old and getting rather small, so it does not fit nearly as well as my competition kit. It therefore restricts movement more than my competition kit, which is new and fits perfectly.

I can see lots of reasons, other than laziness for not wearing a jacket, not least of which is being told by your coach that shoulder muscles are tense, before the muscles themselves tell you in a rather more forceful manner!

-10th December 2003, 16:40
randomsabreur - not arguing at all here but surely tense muscles in the shoulder will transfer the tension/stress to the hand and that can be picked up even if the pupil is wearing a jacket. In fact, i seem to recall being told that by a prominent Bedfordshire coach!!!

-10th December 2003, 16:48
Too true, but if it can be seen before a movement is attempted, it is easier to prevent!!! Otherwise it takes longer to relax!

Also, you can feel the gentle tap on the raised shoulder rather better without a jacket!

-10th December 2003, 17:58
I've never given it a second thought until now.

I don't wear a fencing jacket for a foil lesson. I feel safe enough with-out one. I am over 18 and I consider it to be my own risk.

-10th December 2003, 18:08
volenti non fit injuria - no injury done to a consenting party... but personally i always wear the full gear, had too many blades break on me not to... 25 by the way
coach can usually see if i tense my shoulders by the way i hit (or not) or stance...

-10th December 2003, 18:46
i always wear my jacket whilst fencing, always have! however i am female, so slitely hurts if i get wacked in the chest, and my coaching sesions happen in between fencing people in the club! also i sometimes properly fence against my coach, eg scoring points against each other, he sometimes wins, but i win equally as mucg im glad to say! (think hes letting me win though)

im 15 btw

-11th December 2003, 16:08
The easy solution to the slightly more competitive lesson but hurts when hit if female is to wear plastron and chest protector. This can look rather odd so it is often a good idea to wear a sweater or polo shirt over the top!

-11th December 2003, 16:13
heh yep the chest protector just looks plain wierd! my bro has nick named me barbie! cos thats what the protector looks like, tis true! yet quite funny, or is that just me?

its just easier to wear my fencing jacket i find, why not? and the way my club works is the only way to do it really, apart from when i started i did not wear a jacket, but that was a while back so i cant remember!

-14th December 2003, 01:47
Hi Keith

Have already given my answer to the question but why do you ask?

Is this a case of asking the standard before insisting that all fenceers wear full fencing kit before taking a lesson?

Maybe you are just curious but my naturally suspicious mind makes think otherwise.

Some of the reasons given for why a lesson taken in a T-shirt and shorts is more beneficial (observation of areas of tension, mechanical execution, etc.) are extremely valid but i suspect that, from a Health and Safety point of view, not good enough. Are we looking at jacketed lessons for all? Many countries would disagree, either because of laxer H & S legislation or because the benefit to the fencer is the first consideration.

Care to clarify your your question?



-23rd December 2003, 20:36
I normally have my lesson without my jacket on and I'm 10.
I don't think really, that there's any need to put on a jacket/plastron in a lesson