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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Fencing?

Fencing is a modern combat sport derived from the ancient art of swordplay. Duelling became the epitome of fencing in 16th Century. People duelled each other for honour, love, fame and notoriety. Novels/movies such as the Three Musketeers, The Count of Monté Cristo, Scaramouche and Cyrano de Bergerac vividly illustrate fencing during the time period.

The two countries that predominated in fencing were France and Italy. These two countries have developed the two main styles of modern fencing practiced worldwide. Today the top five countries in fencing are France, Italy, Germany, Russia, and Hungary. Over 120 countries have fencing programs and the strongest following is in Europe followed by the Americas and Asia. International competition comprises of the World Championships, the World Cup circuit, the World University Games and the Olympics.

In modern fencing, two combatants contest each other in friendly sword combat, which is non-fatal and in good sportsmanlike conduct. A referee officiates the bout along a 14m by 2m boundary. Bouts have a three minute time limit and last until one opponent attains five valid hits. An electrical scoring apparatus and equipment are used to help officiate the bout. Many fencing techniques are lent from the past such as the lunge, fléche, coupé, bind, disengage, parry and riposte.  As well, the rules of combat, the salute, and the white fencing uniform honour the tradition of fencing. All terminology is in French, the official language of the Federation Internationale Escrime (FIE).

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What are the different weapon styles?

There are 3 Weapon Styles in fencing

The Foil  - a light weapon traditionally used for practice. Attacks are made with thrusting the point to a target area comprising the entire torso. An attack to the torso would represent a fatal wound to an opponent's vital organs. A metallic vest (lamé) is worn when fencing with an electronic scoring machine, this is commonly called "electric fencing". There is also a right of way protocol, where one must gain the initiative to score a valid hit. Speed, agility, precision, strategy and tactics are required. Most beginner lessons will be in foil.  The  foil is the most popular and elegant style in fencing.

The Epée  - a slightly heavier weapon used for duelling. An attack is made with a thrusting point to the target area, which is the entire body, from head to toe. There is a larger guard to parry attacks more effectively due to a greater target area. The epée simulates closest to duelling so, double hits can occur. Timing, a long reach, and tactics are required. Tall fencers are most common in Epée. Epée is the word for sword in the French language.

The Sabre - a thrusting and slashing weapon used traditionally used in the calvary. Attacks are made with the point and the cutting edge to the upper torso, head, and arms. The guard is crescent shaped to protect the sword hand from attacks and there is a right of way protocol.  Sabre is the fastest paced weapon and requires speed, accuracy, and timing.

All three weapons can be used with an electronic scoring machine or without, which is called "dry fencing". The blades and points of the weapons are dull but very malleable so injuries do not occur but yet simulate attacks and parries during combat.

We are one of the few academies that can offer instruction in all three weapons. We teach all three weapons at the Academy under the supervision of the only Master of Arms in York Region, Dr. Zachary Kotlyar.

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I have never fenced before? How do I register for beginner lessons?

We have beginner lessons for those who have never fenced before or for those who need a refresher. Fencing is great exercise for everyone. Our courses are taught with each individual in mind with a low student to teacher ratio.  Group lessons will consist of a basic warm-up, fitness,  stretching, footwork drills, swordplay drills,  reaction and coordination games, and sparring. 

required clothing:  t-shirt, track/sweat pants, and a separate set of INDOOR USE ONLY  and non-marking court shoes (preferred) or running shoes .  No Street Shoes Are Allowed on the Gym Floor.    The most ideal footwear are specialized indoor court fencing shoes, which are available for purchase in the Pro Shop.

Pre-registrations can be done through telephone: 905.764.8388, email  or in person.  You can visit the academy to watch classes, as a courtesy please contact us prior to visiting.

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Are fencing lessons expensive?

No they are not, fencing lessons are very reasonable and similar to other sports. 

  • 10% discount to family members who take lessons together
  • We accept cash, cheque, e-transfer

Our lessons have a low student to teacher ratio with an average of 4:1

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Are fencing lessons tax deductible?

All day camps are tax deductible.

Certain employers allow their employees to deduct their recreational  and sport activities as part of their company benefits.

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Do I have to buy my own equipment?

Fencing requires special safety equipment to be worn and safety is of the utmost importance. Equipment includes a mask, jacket, glove, inner sleeve (sous-plastron), socks, and pants (breeches). There are 2 levels of safety certification - 350N CE and FIE 800N/1600N certified.1 Newton = the force to accelerate 1 kg mass at the rate of 1 metre per second squared.

Beginners do not have to buy their own equipment. Equipment will be supplied.  Each person enrolled in the beginner lessons will have a mask, jacket, glove, inner sleeve (sous-plastron), and practice weapon to use during each practice.  All fencing equipment (mask, jacket, plastron) will be minimum 350N CE certified. An equipment deposit is required.

Intermediate and advanced fencers are REQUIRED to own their own personal equipment and electrical equipment. All equipment must be minimum 350N CE certified.  Required equipment: mask, jacket, glove, plastron, socks, pants, electric weapons, body cords, lames, and fencing shoes.

All foil and sabre practice sessions requires all fencers to have minimum 350N CE certified masks, 350N jackets, 350N sous-plastrons and fencing gloves with no tears or holes. Long shorts or track/sweat pants are allowed for practice and drills, but not in sparring, minimum 350N CE certified fencing pants must be worn.

All épée practice sessions requires all fencers to be in Full uniforms with minimum 350 CE certification. 

All sparring sessions requires all fencers to be in Full uniforms with minimum 350N CE certified and athletic support cups. No Exceptions.

All male fencers must wear an athletic supporter/cup and all women Fencers must wear their chest protection.

You can find a pricelist of high quality certified equipment in the pro shop section. Equipment packages begin at $300 and go up to $700. The price of equipment is still cheaper than a full set of hockey equipment, Ski/snowboard packages, the latest smartphones, a fully loaded video game system (Sony PS4 or Xbox One).

You cannot put a price on your own or your child's safety. Purchase minimum 350N CE certified fencing equipment for practice and FIE 800N equipment for provincial and national circuit competitions.

Replace old, worn, dented, torn and/or damaged equipment. Once equipment has been comprised, it must be replaced. Never use bleach on uniforms.

To wash stainless steel silver onyx lames gently hand wash and hang dry.

Court/running shoes should be replaced every 500 to 800 km or use, basically 6 to12 months. Once the mid-sole is worn, stability in the shoe is compromised and the greater the chance an injury can occur to knees, ankles and hips. 

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What are the benefits of the academy membership?

After completing the beginner or novice courses and you wish to continue, it is required that you pay an academy membership fee.  The academy membership is $10/month for youths, teens and adults.  The fees goes directly to the upkeep and maintenance of the facilities and equipment, complimentary green tea, fruits and snacks,  access to club storage area for lames, uniforms, shoes, and weapons, access to fencing resource library and access to the players lounge.

Most fencing clubs in Ontario operate in public facilities (i.e. community centers, schools, universities), which are subsidized by municipal and provincial taxpayers. The Dragon Fencing Academy is a private fencing and martial arts  school, we are not subsidized by public money. Our fees reflect the real costs of running a fencing academy.

Can I get injured doing fencing?

Safety is the utmost priority at the Dragon Fencing Academy. 


Fencing is highly regulated with the use of protective safety equipment and rules of play and conduct.  Each practice will include a full warm-up and stretching. All equipment meets or exceeds Canadian fencing standards.  Each practice will have a certified coach in attendance and has first aid and CPR. Participants are encouraged to perform at physical levels that they are comfortable with.


Fencing is a combative and technical contact sport.  Some injuries will occur and the majority are minor soft tissue contusions and abrasions.  Most common injuries are minor welts and bruises.  please note that these injuries do not occur frequently in practice but occur more in sparring and in competitions.  As a fencer attains more experience these injuries will occur less as the fencer will improve their distance, timing and defensive moves. 


Other injuries can occur from over training, individuals being out of shape, insufficient rest and recuperation times, or individuals not wearing the proper safety equipment and/or shoes.


Always make sure you are in good physical condition before participating in any exercises and always wear the proper safety and fencing equipment that is in good working order. 

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What type of fencing style is taught?

The Dragon Fencing Academy teaches the Russian school/style of fencing, which combines the elegance and grace of the French school and the power and speed of the Italian school.  Additional elements include efficiency of movement, tactical analysis  and cognitive awareness of actions. Our pedagogy is based on Dr. Kotlyar's methods and teachings from Dynamo Kiev Fencing Club and Spartakus Olympic Reserve Fencing School Kiev.

The Russian school was developed during the1950's as part of the soviet athletic sport program. The Russians studied many European  Champions including France's Christian D'Oriola. The Russian school has evolved into the most adopted modern fencing style by most countries with the emigration of many former Russian/Soviet athletes in the1990's. At the 2000, 2004 and  2008 Olympics, several countries including: Canada, USA, South Korea, and China had a soviet trained coach/athlete on their teams.

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How long will it take to become good?

Fencing is  a highly technical sport that  requires dedication, discipline, constant practice, and competition.  Performance is all relative.  The only way to find out is to compete with other fencers.  Depending on the individual, for an adult it takes about 1 year to start seeing winning results and 2+ years for medal results.  This is based on 3 days a week practice, with additional private lessons and actively competing on the provincial and national circuits.  


Sporadic participation and absence due to work or school commitments, sickness or injury will slow down progressive results.  In general a fencer with more experience will most likely beat another fencer with less experience. 


Winning is not everything it is more important to be satisfied with your own performance and that you are having fun fencing. 








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What is the age range for fencing?

We accept children aged 8 to 12 for the youth program, teens and adults up to the age of 65.


We have a family beginner program where parent and child learn together as a family activity


Youth under 8 can attend the family lessons with a older sibling or parent(s)

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Do I have to be fit to fence? What will I get out of fencing ?

A general level of fitness is beneficial to perform basic fencing exercises. Intermediate and advanced level fencers will develop and have a higher physical fitness level.  As a beginner, you will be using muscles that you have not actively used before.  It will take about a month to adjust and develop muscle tissue, flexibility, and muscle memory to perform fencing movements accurately and proficiently. If a child develops a good behaviour towards physical exercise, that child will grow up with the same attitude to maintain a healthy physical lifestyle  as an adult.


Fencing is 50% mental and 50% physical activity. It provides a very good cardiovascular workout, improves strength, flexibility, endurance, agility, speed and reaction times. Fencing also develops cognitive abilities in problem solving skills, stress management, visualization, focus and concentration. Fencing also provides an added benefit in fostering interpersonal skills, discipline and good sportsmanship. 


Any individual who has a health related condition or previous physical injury should consult their physician or specialist before doing any physical exercises.  Women who are pregnant should also consult their physician before doing any physical exercises and wear a heart rate monitor.

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Are there women only classes?

We can arrange for a women's only class if there is enough demand. 

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How do private lessons work?

Private lessons are to be arranged with the principal of the academy, Stanley Yee.  Typical lessons will be $1 to $1.50 per minute and most lessons are 10, 20, 30 minutes long. You can purchase multiple private lessons package. We have a new private beginner package available for those who prefer more individual attention,


Private lessons with Stanley Yee are $100/hour

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What is the student to instructor ratio in group lessons?

the student to instructor ratio will be 4 to 1. 

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I missed a lesson. How do I arrange a make up class?

Currently there are no makeup classes.

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Why do I have to purchase an Ontario Fencing Association membership and CFF Licence?

All participants in the sport of fencing must at the minimum purchase an Ontario Fencing Association Associate membership. These memberships and Licence are valid for 1 year and must  be renew  1st of August every year.   These fees are requirements for insurance and administration purposes.  For competitive fencers there are additional fees for access to all fencing tournaments in Canada.  For International fencing, fencers must purchase an FIE licence to compete in outside of their home countries.

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What books and movies have fencing in them?

Recommended "Must See" Fencing Movies

  • The Three Musketeers (1948)
  • Scaramouche (1952)
  • Les Trois Mousquetaires (1961)
  • The Duellists (1977)
  • The Princess Bride (1987)
  • The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)

Recommended "Must Read Fencing Books"

  • Alexandre Dumas - Three Musketeers
  • Alexandre Dumas - The Count of Monte Cristo
  • Alexandre Dumas - 20 Years Later

Recommended Olympic Fencing Books

  • C.L. De Beaumont - Fencing: Ancient art and modern sport (1978)
  • Anderson - All About Fencing (1970)
  • Garret, Kaidanov, Pezza - Foil, Epee, Sabre Fencing (1994)
  • Cohen, Richard - By The sword - A History of Gladiators, Musketeers, Samurai, Swashbucklers, and Olympic Champions (2002)

Olympic Fencer Biographies

  • Golubitsky - Fencing is My Life (2004)
  • Mackay - Running with Swords (2005)
  • Bukantz - Closing the Distance (2006)

Movies with Classical Fencing

  • Captain Blood (1935)
  • The adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
  • The Sea Hawk (1940)
  • The Mark of Zorro (1940)
  • Prisoner of Zenda (1952)
  • At Sword's Point (1952)
  • The Three Musketeers (1973)
  • The Four Musketeers (1974)
  • Highlander (1986)
  • The Return of the Musketeers (1989)
  • Cyrano De Bergerac (1990)
  • The Fencing Master (1992)
  • The Three Musketeers (1993)
  • Rob Roy (1995)
  • The Mask of Zorro (1998)
  • The Man in the Iron Mask (1998)
  • The Legend of Zorro (2005)
  • The Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy (2003) (2006) (2007)

Movies with Olympic Fencing

  • By the Sword (1991)
  • The Swordsman (1993) - Fencing choreography by Master Kotlyar!
  • The Swordsman II (1995)
  • Pentathlon (1994)
  • The Parent Trap (1998)
  • Die another Day (2002)
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008)
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
  • I Love You Man (2009)

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Dragon Fencing Academy

175 West Beaver Creek Rd - Unit 18,  Richmond Hill, Ontario. Canada L4B 3M1  

Tel: 905.764.8388     Email:

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