Take a Stab at Fencing: Part I

Ashley, Tina and Eric at BCAF!

Sure, we’ve all heard of fencing, but do you really know what it all entails? I thought I did, but boy was I pleasantly surprised! This past week the Bucks Happening team visited the Bucks County Academy of Fencing located just over the river in Lambertville, NJ. So why is it called Bucks County Academy of Fencing (BCAF) if it is not in Bucks County? Well, BCAF was originally opened in New Hope in 1981 but moved to a much larger facility in 2003. Since then, BCAF has become the largest privately owned fencing academy on the east coast.

The academy offers a wide variety of levels from beginners to competition training programs. With over 200 students BCAF continues to provide a program of group and individual training, paired exercises, footwork/conditioning sessions and practice bouting.  Fencing classes are open to anyone ages eight through adulthood. BCAF even has students over the age of 70! This is a great sport for all ages and does not take as much as a toll on your body compared to physical contact sports. Fencing not only strengthens your fitness abilities but also your self-discipline and mental agility.

In order to get started at BCAF you can register for the “Taste of Fencing Courses.” Sounds fun, right? Well this course enables you to have a taste of the sport without a long commitment. For five consecutive weeks, students have the opportunity to learn the basics of fencing in one hour classes. The classes include the history of fencing, basic footwork, hand positions and most importantly, safety. You can find a list of the Taste of Fencing Courses online.

So you are probably wondering who teaches fencing and runs the place? Well BH had the opportunity to meet Mark Holbrow and Lisa Martini, who are spouses and co-owners of BCAF. Mark is the Head Fencing Master and holds his fencing master’s certification from the United States Fencing Coaches Association and the Academie D’armes Internationale. For Mark, fencing started out as a recreational sport of interest. It was not until he served as an apprentice for Princeton University’s head fencing master that he really considered the sport as a lifestyle. Shortly after his apprentice he opened BCAF and it has been successful ever since. Lisa got involved after taking a few fencing classes and handles most of the business for BCAF. In addition BCAF has eight instructors that teach a variety of classes.

Eric learning some fencing skills from Maestro Mark.

BCAF has an amazing facility which was once a 19th century factory building with 14 Olympic size competition strips. The building has central air and free onsite parking! There are lounge areas that allow spectators to watch practices and competitions. In addition to the Lambertville location, BCAF was proud to tell us they will be shortly opening a new location! The new space is located in Hatfield, PA on Route 309 (on top of an office furniture store). Some of the beginner classes will begin there in late September.

If you are interested in learning more about fencing or classes please contact Lisa at 215-862-6112 or [email protected] or visit their website at www.bcaf.com.

Below, check out our interview with owners Mark & Lisa along with some fencing action from their Friday night open bouting. We may just grab a six pack and watch these talented fencers battle live every week! Check back later this week for more fencing action from Bucks Happening.

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