Introduce Your Child to a New Sport: Fencing

Actress Angelina Jolie, soccer legend David Beckham and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg share one thing in common: They love swordplay.

If you're looking for something new and exciting for your kids, or even yourself, that gets them moving more and in new ways, then all of you need to check out fencing.

Many parents look for a sport to engage their kids—something that can grab their imagination, get them excited. And for a lot of kids, football and baseball aren't doing it. A lot of kids want something more intense, more tactical, and more individual.

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Fencing is one of the hottest, fastest-growing sports in the country. It's the modern sport equivalent of a sword-fight (and who doesn't love a sword-fight?). It's one of only four sports that have appeared in every modern Olympic Games since their founding in 1896 (by Frenchman Pierre de Coubertin—also a fencer). Fencing is a thrilling, fast-paced, one-on-one sport that combines quick-thinking skills.

Many of the top colleges in the U.S.—such as Harvard, Princeton, Duke and Columbia—recruit heavily for fencers and, unlike soccer or basketball, the competition for those recruitment slots is much smaller.

Very different from what you might see in movies, real-life fencing is an intense lower-body workout with movements that, at the highest level, can be unthinkably fast. The sport emphasizes dynamic, powerful footwork and strategic thinking. Search YouTube for the word fencing, and you'll be amazed at what you'll see.

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One of the most exciting aspects of fencing is the opportunity for competition. In many areas, there are plenty of options for local and youth competition but one of the unique elements of the sport is how many possibilities there are for national and even international competition. For most kids who play more "traditional" sports, the chance to compete outside of their state is unthinkable. In fencing, not only are those options more readily available, but many fencers also get regular contact with the top athletes in the sport. It's not unusual for people who have only been fencing a few years to routinely meet and even compete against Olympians.

And that contact with excellence does amazing things for a kid. Meeting and fencing with the top athletes in the sport, getting the chance to compete all around the country and the world, can have a profound effect on a child's psychology. It changes his idea of what's possible. It makes greatness seem achievable. Once a child has that belief—once he sees that becoming truly excellent at something is actually doable—it can alter the way he approaches everything in his life. It can change the way he deals with adversity.

There is nothing better you can ask from a sport.

More: 3 Goal-Setting Tips for Kids

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About the Author

Jason Sheridan

Jason Sheridan, owner of Sheridan Fencing Academy in New York City, coaches the 2013 Junior World Championship silver medalist, along with many of the other top fencers in the US. He specializes in developing high-level youth athletes by emphasizing the fun—and eliminating the monotony—in exercise and training.

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