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Modern Fencing is the contemporary sport expression of the historical encounter of sword-fighting. From the old days of duelling on the strip and fighting with edged weapons on the battlefield to using sophisticated scoring technology and complex metal alloys in our blades It’s you versus your opponent in a game of precision tag.

Fencing is often compared to chess: it's just a lot faster! The tactics involved in the dynamic problem-solving of the fencing encounter must be quickly employed. Plans and approaches must be predetermined. Being ready for something unexpected is wise. Boldly executing your plan and following through is critical. Fighting for each point - not stopping until the word ‘HALT!’ is called - is an integral part of competitive fencing. These are some of the things that make this sport fun, intriguing, challenging, dynamic, stimulating, and rewarding.

Most people have heard of modern fencing and know that it is related to the ancient practice of 'duelling'. 

Over 95% of the people we encounter have never held an Epee, Sabre, or Foil in their hands and do not know the differences between the three weapon styles. This is not a sport one grows up playing at the neighborhood park. It has not been a part of the common cultural pastimes of modern society ever since the practice of duelling was abolished in the 1800s.

But thats OK! We're here to help! So how DO you get started? Unless you actually have previous experience in modern fencing - you will need to learn to fence - and properly! We have a three-step process designed to help you become the best fencer you can be!

Learn to Fence! - 2 hours

Step One - The Learn to Fence! Class: Our process therefore begins with a 'Learn to Fence Session’ (LTF) with Coach Tom Knowles for anyone age 10 - up interested in knowing the answer to that question. This engaging and informative 2-hour lesson (complete with handouts) will introduce the three weapon styles of modern, competitive fencing, present important concepts necessary for good fencing, and begin to instruct you in the ways of moving like a fencer. You will get to touch and handle a variety of fencing equipment, ask many questions (and receive lots of answers!), and, by the end of the session, have a chance to put it all together in an actual competitive fencing bout!

The Learn to Fence! Class is $50 and is scheduled for Saturday mornings from 9am-11am. Create your account by clicking on the button to the right, then click on the Scheduling Tab, select Camps/Classes and click the 'New to Fencing?' category to view upcoming Learn to Fence! classes. Select date of your choice, prepay and you are all set! No equipment or special clothes needed - just proper athletic wear: no crocs, sandals, flip flops, etc

Once you complete the Learn to Fence! Class and realize this sport is awesome and intriguing and exciting (it really is!) then your next step is the Beginner's Course.

The Beginner's Course - 6 hours 

Step Two - The Beginner's Course: Upon completing the Learn to Fence! Class, you (or your student) will have had a nice introduction to the sport. The student will be closer to aswering the ever-important question: 'Do I want to fence and/or compete in this grand Olympic sport?' - But one class is not really enough exposure in order to properly make that decision. It's sort of like going to the ice cream store and having a taste of one flavor but seeing all the others. How will you know if you don't like a different flavor more - until you taste it?

Thus, the Beginner's Course!

In the Beginner's Course, we will spend three 2-hour sessions (6 hours total) going over each of the three weapons styles in detail: learning the rules, concepts, and basic technique that apply to each. The student will get a chance to fence in all three styles, ask questions and get answers, and get to wear all the gear associated with each weapon. By the end of the 6 hours, the student will be experienced enough to know if this is a sport in which they would really enjoy training and possibly competing in tournaments one day.

The Beginner's Course is $150 and is scheduled when it is mutually convenient for both student and coach. These are often (but not always) private lessons simply due to the fact that people sign up for classes at irregular times. As with the Learn to Fence! Class, no equipment or special clothes needed - just proper athletic wear: no crocs, sandals, flip flops, etc and maybe bring a water bottle!

Once you complete the Beginner's Course, you will be ready to continue on with your fencing training and work on becoming a competitor through regular class instruction in an appropriate age group (ages 10 - 12 or 13 - up). Ongoing Fencing training is necessary to develop skills, reactions, timing, and experience to become a worthy competitor.


STEP THREE - Ongoing Training: Once a student completes the Learn to Fence process and has made the inevitable decision to become a competitive fencer, they will then begin attending their age-appropriate group training class that meets weekly.

YOUTH FENCING - for ages 10 - 12.5, meets weekly on Tuesdays from 6 - 7pm. This ongoing training class focuses on solidifying fundamental and intermediate technique gained during the Learn to Fence process, critical skills, and important concepts. In addition to learning the rules, skills, and concepts of the game, fencing-oriented conditioning exercises will be introduced and stamina necessary to compete effectively will be developed. This class is $80/month and includes Saturday Open Sparring from 9a - 11a.

TEEN/ADULT FENCING - for ages 13 - Adults, meets weekly on Tuesdays from 7 - 8pm AND/OR Thursdays from 7 - 8pm. This ongoing training class focuses on solidifying fundamental and intermediate technique gained during the Learn to Fence process, critical skills, and important concepts. In addition to learning the rules, skills, and concepts of the game, fencing-oriented conditioning exercises will be introduced and stamina necessary to compete effectively will be developed. 

Ongoing Training is $80/month for one time per week or $140/month for two times per week. Once a beginner transitions to the ongoing training program, there is a one-time per year Registration Fee of $30 assessed when joining the Academy. Students are expected to purchase their own set of practice fencing gear during the first month of attending regular training.


Learning to fence - developing the skills, stamina, balance, reactions, and timing critical to good fencing - has a goal: to become the best fencer you can become. How do you measure this? Competition.

In addition to regular training, our fencing students regularly challenge each other to spar. Competitive sparring gives fencers the opportunity to test tactics, strategies, and skills against others. Training is great for instilling specific skill sets and developing strategies but only when applied to an opponent can one tell where one's strengths and weaknesses lie. This, in turn, informs a wise fencer's training so that they become better, faster, or more creative in their competition.

OPEN SPARRING - meets weekly, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8 - 9pm and/or Saturdays from 9a - 11am. For Youth through Adult students, Open Sparring times are available as part of their training programs. However, sparring is optional, not mandatory. So is competition - but training for training's sake is not very rewarding. Learning to win - to achieve victory over an opponent through skill and strategy - is extremely rewarding! Learning to LOSE, however, is perhaps MORE important than winning. It is only through losing where fencers can find an honest reflection of their flaws and weaknesses. Recognizing those deificiencies provides the opportunity to GROW as a fencer and as a competitor. These lessons are those that can only be taught by engaging another fencer in a bout and testing one's skills against the other's. This is why Sparring and Competition serve as the goal of the Ongoing Training.

Open Sparring is included with any student who is paying a monthly fee for regular, ongoing training. For anyone who simply wishes to come fence and does not wish to be a student in our ongoing training classes, a Club Membership is available for $50 per month. If you already know how to fence and are looking for a place to be challenged, please contact us. We fence in all three weapon styles but are more Epee/Foil heavy. We use modern, electric scoring systems that include programmable VSM Laptop scoring machines and Triplette Competition scoring boxes with Uhlmann and Favero reels.


At some point in a fencer's development, the desire to compete usually begins to grow. This is when the transformation from 'student' to 'competitor' starts. Learning to compete requires all the training offered through regular, ongoing training and sparring. BUT it also requires something else: the desire and determination to achieve victory through an honorable sport encounter. Competitive fencing is about 30% physical skill, 30% conceptual knowledge, and 40% mental attitude. In other words, your body needs to know how to move, your mind needs to know when to move the body, but your mindset needs to be WILLING to move - with gusto!

Only through competitions and tournaments is this desire satisfied. As mentioned above, competition reveals the flaws in technique but it also illuminates our strengths. Developing the ability to analyze these two sources of feedback as fencer can teach a larger life lesson: through fencing, one can learn how to deal with the ups and downs of life. One can also learn to never give up, always focus on the goal, and plan various strategies to achieve it.

Our competitive opportunities to learn these lessons and attain these accomplishments comes through our competitive club, The Memphis Fencers. Joining the Memphis Fencers is optional but rewarding. When and if you or your fencer has determined readiness to engage other fencers in tournaments, please contact Coach Tom ( He can provide information on the training program required to achieve success as well as competition-specific information you will need in order to function properly in the realms of tournaments.


The Competitor Membership - $150/month. For ages 10 and above and for fencers of sufficient experience as deemed approved by Coach Tom, the Competitor Membership allows a fencer to begin training at a level necessary to achieve victory at fencing tournaments appropriate for their age group and skill level. The Competitor Membership is a six-month commitment and requires that fencers attend a minimum of 2 group technique lessons per week, at least 2 Open Sparring sessions per week, and have a weekly scheduled fencing Lesson with Coach Tom. Along with training is a commitment to obtain competitive membership with the USFA and to attend at least 2 regional or state competitions and any local competitions hosted by the Memphis Fencers. Included with the Competitor level is membership in the Memphis Fencers Club, access to weapons repair and maintenance and the opportunity to learn how to referee properly and free entry to special events or clinics hosted by The Memphis Fencers.

The ChampionMaker Membership - $250/month. For ages 13 and up, the ChampionMaker seeks to provide the training, concepts, conditioning, and competitive opportunities to transform fencers into champions. The ChampionMaker is a six-month commitment and requires that members commit to attending all group training opportunities, regardless of age group, to attend all Open Sparring sessions offered weekly, to schedule 2 fencing Lessons with Coach Tom, and to obtain competitive membership with the USFA, to attend at least 4 regional and/or state competitions, any local competitions, and to attend at least 1-2 National-level competitions. Included with the ChampionMaker is membership in the Memphis Fencers Club, access and instruction in weapons repair and maintenance, opportunities to become a rated referee, and free entry to special events or clinics hosted by The Memphis Fencers.

The Memphis Fencers Club Membership - $50/month. With permission of Coach Tom, you may join the competition club and receive All Access to Open Sparring sessions. You will also need to add the Memphis Fencers club to your competition account, and purchase or provide your own competition equipment set(s). You will receive a Memphis Fencers patch and a Memphis Fencers t-shirt plus gain access to electric competition equipment repair work free of charge.

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