Members of the Dubai Fencing Club tell Geeta Somkumar why they find this sport so fascinating

Hala Belselah
While schooling in the UK, Belselah chose fencing as an optional subject. "It appealed to me, I tried it out, and found that I loved it."

She continued fencing for five years, and was captain of the fencing team at school. "I was as dedicated to it then, as I am now."

On her return to the UAE, quite by accident, she heard about the club. She went there in a shot, and have been with them since.

"It is a mentally-stimulating thinker's game. There is a lot of strategy involved and it helps improve your fitness level and reflexes."

Abdulla Kazim
Growing up on stories of the elegance of fencing, thanks to an uncle who was a champion fencer in Kuwait, Kazim enrolled for the sport when it was offered as a school activity.

Encouraged by his coach, he entered his first all-national competition in Abu Dhabi in March last year.

"I was just three months into training and was up against seniors who had been in training for two years."

Kazim says fencing is special. "It boosts self-confidence and has a very positive effect [on the mind]. I would like more nationals to join and try out the sport. I am sure we will make a fantastic team."

Dr. Alexander Tosev
Dr. Tosev says he got involved in fencing just two years ago, in Sweden. Having tried kickboxing and Thai boxing, he appreciates the intelligent sophistication of fencing.

"I was a late starter but was determined to make it [and practised hard]. In one year, I advanced more than most beginners. It [offers] a real good workout too. It is a more stimulating sport than any other."

Delara Umyarova
While the sport of fencing is not so ‘hot' in her country, Russia, Umyarova says she lived close to a sports school, and enrolled in a fencing class at 9, "out of curiosity".

She has been hooked to it ever since.

Umyarova came to Abu Dhabi in 1991. "There were no clubs there at the time, and later there was one just for men."

She moved to Dubai last year and lost no time tracking down the club.

She had played foil in Russia, but here she plays epee. Fencing is a very ‘thinking' game, she says.

"It is full of strategies and intelligent cunning – it is mentally and physically stimulating ... a kind of brain exercise."

Galine Fattal
Growing up in Dubai, Fattal says she read about the club in a local magazine. Asking around, someone misinformed her that one had to be 14 to enroll, so she waited until she turned 14 last year.

"It's only after I joined that I learnt that most of the members started as early as 8. I feel sorry to have missed out [playing this sport] all these years.

"My first lessons were fantastic. I learnt the moves, how to be ‘on guard', how to hold the weapon ... it was so exciting."

Fencing is a real stress-buster, she says. "When you are mad at someone, you feel better after a bout of fencing. You cool off!"

Grant Smith
"I wasn't much into sport [but] always fancied the idea of fencing. [So], I joined the club two years ago."

Although not very fit at the time, Smith found fencing easier than he had expected.

"It is a physical sport, but then again, not all physical. It is a balanced combination of a physical-mental game – a socially rewarding experience."

To become a great fencer, observes Smith, one has to start young. "One of the beauties of the game is that it attracts such diverse nationalities."

Ivo Gasser
Ivo Gasser began fencing before he was 10 years of age, "because my grandfather was a fencer, and my mother thought it suitable for me".

Until he was 18, Gasser won every tournament he took part in, and was Swiss champ in the 14 to 15-year age group. After that phase came the distractions of youth, admits Gasser.

Fencing is a sport, not a job, says Gasser. "One cannot make a living out of it, which makes it nice because people come for the love of the game, not for the money."