By: Sofya Shatalova
Parry, riposte, touche: d.tech junior Paige Luong demonstrates her technique at her most recent fencing competition. Luong is a competitive fencer and a part of the San Francisco Fencers’ Club.
Paige Luong began her fencing career six years ago, her choice of weapon being the foil. “Foil is both physically and mentally challenging,” Luong said, and that compared to other types of fencing weapons, such as the épée or sabre, it offers more opportunities to learn different techniques. Luong said that her favourite part of fencing is the physical and mental exertion necessary to win a duel. Fencing is a demanding sport, and she trains 3-4 times a week in addition to conditioning. “It’s like a physical chess game, you have to react accordingly. People have different strengths, so you have to think about that too. Also, [it’s about] overcoming your mental blocks. For me, I had very low self-confidence, so I had to overcome that,” Luong explained.
“It’s like a physical chess game, you have to react accordingly. People have different strengths, so you have to think about that too.” – Paige Luong
She enjoys travelling to all the different places the competition takes her. “I do miss a lot of school,” Luong said.
In 2017, Luong traveled to Budapest to compete in the Budapest Foil Cadet European Cup title. She took part in both team and individual fencing. Unlike in other sports, team format does not entail the teammates competing against the same opponents together. Instead, all members fence for themselves and at the end, each team member’s score is added together for a final team score. Sometimes playing teams means dueling against members of your own club. “You have to show no mercy,” Luong said, mentioning that in the competition you have to hold your own. In the early December, Luong continued to compete, traveling to Tauberbischofsheim, Germany to participate in a two-day competition. There, Luong made it to the elimination rounds and placed 71st overall internationally. While her final placement in Budapest wasn’t to her liking in individuals, finishing 45th internationally, she was on the team that took first place.
Luong sees herself continuing to fence in the future, and plans to pursue it in college. However, instead of competing, she hopes to fence as more of a recreational activity. She realized how important fencing is to her after rolling her ankle in a soccer game over the summer, leaving her underprepared for the fall season. “I didn’t realise how hard it is to come back,” Luong said. She said she is rebuilding muscle memory — a slow, but steady process. “The thing that kept me motivated in life is fencing. To get back into it feels so good.” For now, she is just enjoying the ride and is excited about all of the other amazing places this sport can take her. She said, “It will always be a part of me, whether I fence in the future or not.”