An ancient art: one senior’s passion for fencing


Christian Schumacher, senior fencer, fights his opponent during a class at the Barrington Fencing Club.

Jim Weimer, staff writer

Swordfighting might seem like a thing of the past, but for some people it’s just one part of their busy days.

Christian Schumacher, senior, was not too thrilled about his friend’s idea of driving two hours away from his small town in Telluride, Colorado, but his decision to try it out with his friend ended up being a decision he wouldn’t regret. 

“[Fencing] was really fun, so when we got back, we made a really impulse buy and bought fencing gear the next day off the internet,” Schumacher said.

Despite not regretting it, the decision to pick up and stick to fencing did not come without battle wounds. 

“One time a little kid made my leg bleed, he stabbed me really hard in the leg, and I have the blood stain on my sock still,” Schumacher said. “It’s usually pretty safe, just got to watch out for those little kids. Sometimes they have bad aim and like to aim for no-no places. That happened a couple of times.”

After finding a club closer to his home in Colorado, Schumacher continued practicing his fencing skills by competing in local tournaments.

“I didn’t do too bad. I did pretty good for my first year, but everyone in that club was really really good, so I always had trouble getting a high placement,” Schumacher said. “They all had a couple years experience on me, so I just had to work harder.”

After moving back to his hometown of Lake Zurich, Schumacher stopped fencing for a year, but eventually found a club in Barrington where he is part of the advanced foil fencing class. In foil fencing, the sword is much thinner and the targets are only the chest and the throat, but Schumacher has been expanding his experience in fencing as well.

“I’m also getting into sabre fencing, where you use a sabre, and the targets are the head and the arms and the chest and you can slash with it,” Schumacher said. “Sabre has a hand guard and it’s heavier, more suited for slashing and parrying slashes.”

Looking back on his fencing experience, Schumacher says it was a nice escape from the cramped box canyon of his small town in Colorado.

“I got to meet some cool people and make friends, and it made for a good learning experience where I trained myself physically and mentally,” Schumacher said. “I learned skills that can translate into my own personal life too, like to always try my hardest and never give up.”

Although he has learned various life skills, Schumacher says the true beauty of fencing is in its intricacy.

“[The] patience, accuracy, speed, and agility [is the best part],” Schumacher said. “All the different combinations you can use and how you’re actively trying to destroy the opponent’s strategy while you’re trying to get yours into play at fast tempo.”