Fencing Club

New to fencing?

The NFC Beginner's Course

Northampton Fencing Club run Beginner’s Courses five times a year. We take anyone aged 11 or over. The course is aimed at all ages and levels of fitness, and is intended to be a short introduction to foil fencing. You will be in a small group of no more than approximately 16 beginners, which at times is broken down further into pairs.

Our next beginners course start dates:
All courses run between 7pm and 8pm for 6 consecutive weeks.

Cost Of The Course

The 6-week course is only £60 for adults and £40 for 11-17 year olds, full-time students, over 65’s and anyone on Job Seeker allowance (proof of this is required).

You must book and pay online before you attend the course.

Please note that this payment is non-refundable except in exceptional circumstances.

If for some reason you cannot attend the course you’ve paid for, we will happily reallocate your booking to another course later in the year.

The Course

The course runs for 6 weeks, 7pm-8pm every Thursday at The Pitsford Road Sports Centre, Moulton College, Moulton (see the Find Us page for more details).

There is a breakdown of the course content below.

Kit Required

You don’t need any experience or specialist equipment, just loose trousers like jogging bottoms (with pockets taped or zipped up), trainers with non-marking soles and a bottle of water (it does make you sweat a bit!).

The most important thing you’ll need to bring is an interest in trying something new!

Course Breakdown

The six-week beginners course encompasses all the basics of fencing. From the typical en-guarde position, to cunning attacks and ripostes, you’ll be given the foundations of a sword fighter.

Beginners are usually taught by coach Paul Willmott, who has been an active competitive fencer (UK top 75) for over fifteen years and teaching newcomers to the sport for a decade. Assisting him to demonstrate and pass on the moves are the club’s best fencers.

Here’s a breakdown of the course:

Week 1

The first session is a condensed introduction to fencing, aiming to get you kitted-up, armed, and hitting each other with weapons as quickly as possible. We’ll explain the safety requirements and introduce you to the weapons you’ll be using.

You’ll learn the en-garde stance, basic footwork and simple attacks and defences and then the fighting begins!

Week 2

This week, you’ll review what your learned last week, then build on it. You’ll learn how to attack and score a hit with a lunge and be introduced to the terms “fencing line” and “lunging distance”.

Having learned the theory, you’ll put them into practice and see how they work when you have an opponent opposite you.

Week 3

Building on from last week, you’ll work more on the lunge and learn how to move into the right distance to lunge. Doing this well gives a fencer the advantage of being able to launch an attack without fear of being hit themselves.

The emphasis falls heavily on being able to use footwork and movement to get into the best position to score hits. Too close and you might get hit pre-emptively. Attack from too far away and your opponent can defend easily. This is where the brainwork comes in.

Week 4

Now a focus on bladework: here you’ll learn the beat-attack, a short and sharp strike on your opponent’s blade to deflect it out of the way as preparation for an attack straight after.

Then we go from offensive bladework to the defensive, introducing the parry. This week you will learn the parry of quarte (the 4th parry), the most simple of the defences in fencing. You will learn how to do this in response to your partner lunging at you and stop their attack dead in its tracks.

You’ll also be taught parry sixte (the 6th parry), an alternative type of parry that ensures you have control of your opponent’s blade making it safe to attack them.

Week 5

In this session you’ll return to attacking moves with the explosive step-lunge, before coming full circle learning how to counter-attack and score a hit after making a parry (a “riposte”). We’ll check up on your lunges and reiterate the importance of distance and the fencing line. 

We then move on to teaching you the counter-riposte – a simple, cunning, and ultimately awesome move to pull off. Your footwork will be brought up to a more advanced level this week as you learn the value of changing the speed and size of your steps, whether you are advancing or retreating.*

*retreat = ideally a “tactical withdrawal”!

Week 6

By this time you have a nicely rounded introduction to the technique of the sport, so you’ll move onto an introduction to the rules of the bout. This will involve: when to salute your opponent and referee, responding to the referee, the rules of the piste (fencing’s field of play), how points are awarded, and the duration of fights. 

You then fence everyone else on the course in a mini-competition. It’s an opportunity to put all you have learnt into practice in a friendly environment where you get the complete feeling of what modern fencing is all about.

Not much coaching in this session – it’s all about trying to score hits against the fencer in front of you! Once the dust settles, you will be invited to stay on for the rest of the evening and to experience the club as a qualified novice fencer.

After the Beginner's Course

Should you wish to join the club as a full member at the conclusion of the course, you will be given many opportunities to go further in the sport in one of the UK’s friendliest and best equipped fencing clubs.

The start times change depending on age group:

Juniors (under-16s) fence from 7pm-8.30pm on Thursdays, led by our coaches Rob May, and Graham Beech. Here young fencers train together in a fun and friendly learning environment. Some sessions are focussed on serious technical/tactical development, while some sessions are more laid-back and chilled out, because sometimes we just want to suit up and fence!

From 8pm, the adults (16yrs+) session begins. We have a variety of coaaches available for one-to-one lessons and group training, all you do is ask them nicely! Otherwise, just pick a weapon up and challenge someone to a bout: your coach is a great teacher, but experience is even better. The more fights you have, the more you learn and improve.

Twice a month we are treated to a guest-coach appearance by England coach Jonathan Katz, who oversaw the English fencing squad to gold medal success at the 2014 Commonwealth Fencing Championships.


Members are encouraged to buy their own fencing clothing and equipment, and to take part in the club’s many local competitions. These are friendly events aimed at giving members a taste of competitive fencing, and some are to raise money for various charities in honour of past members. Members are also encouraged to compete on the national circuit. We’ll let you know about tournaments up and down the country, prepare you for them and give you as much support as possible. We have a sizeable group of travelling fencers who do these national-level events, all who will happily back you all the way.

Opportunities Going Forward

The club has also in the past funded or part-funded its members to go on coaching and refereeing courses. Courses like these help the club and help those doing them expand their own knowledge and understanding of the sport.

Fencing is very much a minority sport in the UK, but Northampton Fencing Club’s Committee, coaches, general members and friends will look to give you every opportunity to enjoy this uniquely wonderful sport.