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The Student News Site of Altoona Area High School

Mountain Echo

The Student News Site of Altoona Area High School

Mountain Echo

Gaining an edge

Tommy Ford
En garde. Greatsword fencing is one of the only disciplines that requires a two-handed grip. The most common armor is a tunic and face guard. (Courtesy of Warren Leberfinger)

Fencing, in different variations, is one of four competitions to appear in every single modern Olympic Games. Despite its long history, it remains a niche community in American sports. USA Fencing, the governing body of the sport in America, only recorded approximately 40,000 registered members as of February last year. 

However, within this niche sport, there is an even smaller community that instead of focusing on hyper-competitive aspects of the sport, shines a light on medieval European swordsmanship.

Senior Warren Leberfinger has been fencing for eight years. He has performed at Renaissance fairs, went to Districts and competed in national competitions. He placed second in States last year.

“It started with a personal interest in knives. My dad made knives. I started making them, and then I started fencing,” Leberfinger said. 

Fencing competitions operate in a round-based system, with points earned depending on where the blade strikes the opponent. The more fatal a hit would be, realistically, the more points the competitor earns.

Leberfinger competes using a greatsword, an underutilized blade in the fencing community. With a weapon so old and celebrated throughout history, he still finds unique ways to gain an edge over his opponents. 

“My skill set is kind of unique,” Leberfinger said. “I do stuff that might be risky or that others might not usually do. I take a unique approach to the competition.”

There is a lack of attention on the fencing community. He plans on taking this passion into college but does not see himself competing very far into adulthood. 

“There should be more of a spotlight on fencing because it takes a lot of skill,” Leberfinger said. “I mean, for some, it can be boring to watch, it’s not easy to track. But, it takes a lot of skill— it’s hard.”

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    Joe FenceMar 12, 2024 at 8:21 am

    I love fencing! It is awesome! Great article.