En Garde

Victoria Muñoz stands like a warrior at rest, sizing up her opponent, concentrating on the moves she’ll use in a moment when her match begins. Her grandpa slips past spectators’ knees and the odd equipment bag to snap a photo of her, chin up, shoulders back, a fencing helmet resting on top of her head.

She doesn’t say so right out, but the 13-year-old has Olympic dreams.

“I really like beating people,” she says with a crafty grin.

Muñoz joined La Reunion Fencing Academy about a year ago. Neighborhood resident George Stone started the academy in 2006 because until then, all of his work as a fencing coach was in North Dallas.

With La Reunion Fencing Academy, Stone wanted to bring the sport to parts of Dallas where it hadn’t been before and introduce fencing to kids who might never get a shot at it otherwise.

He keeps costs low, meeting at Kidd Springs and Duncanville recreation centers, which don’t require any fees. Stone charges $30 a month for one lesson a week and $50 a month for two. All of the fencing gear a beginner needs — jacket, mask, glove and foil — is about $150.

“It’s really affordable compared to some other sports,” he says. “And it’s one of the safest sports.”

Injuries are rare in fencing because it’s not a rough contact sport like football, and it’s not hard on the joints like gymnastics or dance, for example. A fencer moves forward and back, forward and back, and there’s little chance of rotating a knee or turning an ankle.

And parents like it because it’s an intellectual sport, Stone says.

“This is a skill sport, not a muscle sport,” he says. “You’re trying to be smarter and quicker than your opponent.”

Stone has students in their 60s who can beat much younger opponents because they have the experience and know-how to outwit them, he says.

That’s right. These fencing classes aren’t just for kids. Fencing is a life sport, and Stone teaches all ages and genders.

Fred Allman, a 52-year-old sales manager, recently joined the classes after watching his 12-year-old twins improve their fine motor skills through fencing.

“It’s good for their coordination, and it helps them in other sports like football and soccer,” he says. “And for old guys like me, it’s a good cardio workout.”

Nikki Torres, 17, says she first became interested in sword fighting when she was 6 or 7 years old because she liked “musketeers movies”, she says. So when she saw a flier for La Reunion academy, she signed up right away.

“I think it makes you very, very tough. You learn how to take a hit and just shake it off,” she says. “It builds character.”


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