Member of the United States Fencing Association
Member of the Virginia Division, USFA
BENEFITS OF FENCING IN AN "ADD" WORLD
Lots of Distractions Abound
Most young children I know treat the world around them in a very different way than I did when I was
their age. I had a quiet desk in my room where I could do my homework with no interruptions, it is not
unusual to see a 10 year old splayed out on the floor, doing their math homework while the television
blares, siblings run around, and the laptop computer on the kitchen bar "dings" with each new email
arrival. Fast forward a few years, and that 10 year old is 13, with the added sensory input of the text
messages arriving on the cell phone which has appended itself to their hand.
Enter Fencing as an Active Outlet
Adults don't have it much better these days, unless they have made a conscious decision to take
things one at a time, they may find themselves juggling the emotional needs of children, the basic
food and shelter needs of their family, work requirements, and myriad other demands.
Spend time at any fencing practice and you will quickly learn that a sport which looks overtly physical
actual demands an "alert brain."
This article is entitled, "Benefits of Fencing in an ADD World." Although the title is intended to appeal to
a wide array of people dealing with sensory overload and difficulty focusing, there is a young fencer
who overcame many of the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder to achieve a national
fencing championship: Corwin Duncan. Corwin, who won the U16 épée national championship in
2005 and the Junior U18 national fencing championship in 2008, believes fencing has been the
perfect avenue for him to focus his energies.
In a digitalsports.com feature, Corwin discusses his fencing journey. Eschewing traditional team
sports, he states, "You really have to be able to control yourself in a lot of ways, to be able to bring
that focus to bear when you're at step one of the script. You can't be absent minded at all."
It may seem like an oxymoron, but the ability to relax is a key to successful fencing. If you have ever
gone through a workweek without ever really losing that "gotta get it all done NOW" tension, it is
possible that fencing will help you "thrust" all of that tension out of your mind for an hour (and have
effects that last even longer).
The Denver Fencing Center (DFC), in its "Parent's Guide to Fencing," lists "self control" as one of the
seven reasons children should fence. DFC asserts that fencing is more effective than sports that
involve simply kicking or hitting a ball, because in those sports strategy and self-control can easily
become an afterthought. In fencing, however, self-control and body-control are what keep the fencer
from getting hit. DFC advises parents that, "by fencing, your child will gain greater self-control and
increase concentration. Soon enough, this self-control will begin to extend to other aspects of their life."
Some fencing instructors teach children to fence both with their preferred hand and with their
non-preferred hand. This approach helps children with focus, academic skills, and gross motor
Besides all the great things fencing does for your mind, it doesn't hurt that fencing burns 400 calories
an hour --- who doesn't want to "focus" on a more fit physique?
National and junior fencing champion Corwin Duncan attributes fencing with helping him overcome
many of his ADHD symptoms.
Additional Links on ADHD and Fencing:
CORWIN DUNCAN WINS U19 NATIONAL FENCING TITLE