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Some students may think being a UCF Knight is already fun enough — try being a Knight with a saber, ready to duel.

The Fencing Knights at UCF have been yielding sabers for 15 years.

"Anything your mother couldn't let you do, you can do it here in fencing. People who actually try out, they tend to stay with it very well," coach Ken Lauver said. "There are false expectations about fencing. People think it's dangerous. Fencing is actually the fourth-safest sport of all the Olympic sports."

Lauver, who volunteers his time to coach the sport, started the club after learning there had been previous attempts by students to start it but couldn't make it last.

"The original club was led by students, but as they graduated and moved on, there was a lack of consistency," he said.

While trying to keep the club active, he looks to recruit members whenever he has an opportunity to speak with students around campus. One factor he encounters when trying to enroll students is letting them know that fencing is not dangerous.

Although fencing originated from sword fighting, the sport is not what is depicted in popular movies such as Pirates of the Caribbean or The Three Musketeers.

The fencers have their uniform approved by the United States Fencing Association, with full-body coverage and one edged weapon.

The officers of Fencing Knights go before UCF's Sports Club Council and request a club budget in order to afford uniforms and equipment.

The uniform consists of a traditional mask with steel mesh, a basic thick jacket and pants that resemble those worn by a baseball player. While fencers can feel the impact through the uniform, it usually leaves no bruises.

Lauver starts beginner fencers with a foil, which is a flexible blade that targets just the center, no legs or arms. Typically after the fencer has started practicing, an epee weapon comes into play, which is a thin, long blade that targets the opponents' entire body.

Lauver calls the saber "the most exciting," as it is the only edged weapon and targets everything from the waist up.

Tyler Steidl, the upcoming fall president, met some of the members at a UCF orientation event and ended up attending a club meeting, where he got into the sport and picked it up quickly.

"When I came in, we were a pretty small group. I felt that the officers we had were busy and were graduating. I think we can do a lot better with a lot more members and I'm looking forward to expanding that," the sophomore biomedical sciences major said.

Steidl has always wanted to become a fencer since he was little, but never had an opportunity to act on it.

"It's really a mental game as it is physical. The more I fence, the more I can see how the fencers think," he said.

Members can relate fencing to a physical game of chess, with the sense that chess deals a lot with thinking one step ahead of the opponent.

"The most important aspect is the mental aspect, knowing what to do when," vice president Collin McGowen said.

Coming in without a fencing background, McGowen, who has been a member for one year, said it's common for members to start without any experience, but gradually learn the ropes through practice and persistence.

"It's possible for people who haven't been involved to get in a competitive level. Like with anything, you get as much out of it as you put in," the mechanical engineering major said.

The team meets in the UCF Recreation and Wellness Center's main sports complex four days per week for three hours each session. Much of each session is devoted to freelance fencing.

"As we are free fencing, [the coach] would say what we're doing right and wrong with our technique," McGowen said.

With all of the practices and training the Knights endure, the lack of team members makes it difficult to enter many tournaments. While there are various fencing tournaments, Lauver said they never win tournaments because there just aren't enough members.

In April, the Knights hosted their yearly tournament for registered fencers, which brought in nearly 90 fencers from around the area.

Lauver, as well as the upcoming officers, aim to increase participation this fall by getting the word out through recruitment and social media. The club charges members $50 per semester, but the first two weeks are free of charge.

"As you're coming on campus and fighting the freshman 15, [fencing] is more fun than walking on a StairMaster and elliptical," Lauver said. "The first two weeks are free. What else do you get free on campus?"


Marina Guerges is the Editor-in-Chief at the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @marinaguerges or email her at