Fulton-Montgomery Community College

Fencing Club 


The FMCC Fencing Club is no longer active.  Fencing is
available with the
Swords and Strategy Fencing Club
in the Riverfront Center (next to the bridge)
in Downtown Amsterdam.

Mondays & Wednesdays, 7 - 9 PM.





What are we?

- we're a Student Government Association club dedicated to the sport of fencing, which is mock combat with swords for recreation, competition, or both. There are three fencing weapons, and although we can do any of them, the focus is epee. The advisor, Mr. McDarby, (office: C-231-N, extension 3514) has been teaching fencing for 30 years and has been the Adirondack Region Head Coach for the Empire State Games. We have had several people on the ESG teams (including 2 in 2004, 2005, and 2008), including gold medalists, in the past.  Members of the club sometimes compete in North American Cup national circuit events as well, and we often take groups with SGA transportation to more local events - at least one a month last year for those who were interested in competing. Current members range from age 14 to - well, old. Some younger members have competed in the Junior Olympics, Junior Nationals, and other national-level events. Recently, an FMCC fencer finished 5th of 213 and 22nd of 181 at the US Nationals in Atlanta.

Below is the press release for the club - it should answer most questions.

The Fulton-Montgomery Community College Fencing Club is under way for its sixteenth year. The club is open to anyone who is interested in learning to fence, (or experienced fencers) for recreation, exercise, and/or competition (a competitive schedule for individuals is set up and club-club competitions will also be offered). Meetings during the FMCC school year are Monday and Wednesday nights, 7 PM - 9:00 PM, in the Swords and Strategy Fencing Club in the Riverfront Center in Amsterdam. People are welcome to start at any time and may attend one or both times a week. Equipment for new fencers is available from the club. There is no fee for FMCC students or staff; people who are not members of the FMCC college community are very welcome but must eventually join the United States Fencing Association ($60 per year) for insurance purposes. For information, call Michael McDarby at (518) 762-4651, Ext 3514, or (518) 661-5712.


About the weapons and rules...

There are three competitive fencing weapons - foil, sabre, and epee. They are all the same length and use pretty much the same foot and hand motions - the rules, target and basic strategies vary, though. Bouts are fenced to either five, ten, or fifteen touches, on a long, straight fencing strip, with the bouts controlled by a referee, who starts and stops the fencers and, in foil and sabre, applies rules designed to keep the action "combat-like." Fencers wear body cords that plug into their weapons at one end and connect to reels, which let cord out or take it in as the fencer moves. The reels are connected to scoring boxes, which light lights and make sounds when touches are made.

Foil is the descendant of the point weapons used in duels to the death - only the point can register a touch - weapons have a spring-loaded tip that must be depressed for a touch to be scored, and only the body counts as target, since that's where the vital organs are - it's covered by a conductive vest and touches on that surface register as good hits. The rules, enforced by a referee, mimic behavior that makes sense with real killing weapons and are called right-of-way or priority rules: when attacked, you must keep from being touched; just attacking back (a very bad idea if the weapons are real) will cause the attacker's touch to count and yours to be ignored. Once you have parried (deflected with your blade) or evaded an attack, you now have control and right-of-way goes over to you, if you take it with a riposte (an attack from a parry or evasion).

Sabre is the descendant of the edged cavalry sword, and can score points with the edge or point. Target is from the hips up, including the arms (notice how the sabre's bell guard covers the hand) and head - above the saddle, you might say - and right-of-way rules are almost identical to foil, described above.

Epee is the descendant of the later dueling weapons, used to score "first blood," a point touch of any kind that would break the skin. Target is everything, from head to toe (the large bell guard can be used to protect the hand and forearm), and the goal is just to touch first - if you hit your opponent hard enough to push in the spring-loaded epee tip, and you don't get hit within 1/25th of a second, only your touch will we shown by the scoring box. There are no right-of-way rules in epee, since it's essentially just a race to see who touches first.


Some people specialize in just one weapon, some fence two, and some fence all three.  The club has become almost exclusively an epee club, restricting practice opportunities in the others, however.   Fencing at FMCC is very self-motivated - whatever you want to do, as long as it's safe and not unsportsmanlike, we will do our best to help you. We encourage people to find the style and strategy that best suits them. Most people eventually decide to buy their own equipment, but there's no rush - club members are welcome to use club equipment for both practices and competitions indefinitely.


Copyright 2005 - 2015, Michael McDarby.

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