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Fencing Blind — A Boston Coach Achieves A First

In sports on April 19, 2010 at 10:41 pm
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As a former nationally ranked saber fencer, I loved this story, about two schools for the blind holding a first — a fencing competition. Fencing is the best sport!

A Cuban-born coach is teaching blind students how to fence, reports the Boston Globe:

NEWTON — In the final moments of the fencing match, the young men in white sat in folding chairs and shouted, “Ty-ler, Ty-ler.’’ The object of their cheers, Tyler Terrasi, looked nervous as he pulled on his black mask and picked up his weapon, a slender metal foil. His opponent, Collier Sims, stood tall and perfectly still, ready to duel.

“A lot of the fencing actions that we do, we can apply them to everyday life,’’ Morales said. “When they are going to cross the street, the goal is to get to the other side. When they fence, the goal is to advance and to hit the other person.’’

The cheers quieted and once the referee signaled the match could begin, the air filled with the sound of metal sliding against metal. Twice, Sims’ foil made contact with the white protective jacket covering Terrasi’s torso. And then a third time, the slender blade arched as it hit Terrasi’s chest. “Halt,’’ shouted the referee, fencing coach Cesar Morales. “Attack for Collier is good!’’

And with that, the first known fencing competition among blind students ended yesterday with Sims, 24, from The Carroll Center for the Blind in Newton, the champion. Terrasi, a 20-year-old student at the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, won the second-place trophy.

From the Boston Herald:

The match was the brainchild of Perkins fencing instructor Cesar Morales, founder of the International Fencing Club in suburban Boston and also a teacher at the Newton school. Morales said the students got bored fencing against the same people week after week and needed outside challenges.

Fencing teaches the balance, agility, mobility, timing, listening and navigational skills that the blind need to make their way in the sight-oriented world, said Peggy Balmaseda, a physical education teacher at Perkins for 25 years.

“This helps with orientation,” said Kadlik, who lives on his own in an apartment on the Perkins Watertown campus. “When you’re walking along, and you come to a crosswalk, you need to stay in a straight line to cross the street, and learning to stay straight in fencing reinforces that feeling.”

The Carroll Center has been teaching fencing to its students for exactly those reasons since 1954, said vice president Arthur O’Neill. But to his knowledge, this is the first time there has been a fencing match with another school.

  1. I like it!

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