"A duel in the park"

Jesson J. Morata (The Freeman) - September 28, 2016 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines – One of the sports that hasn't yet gotten its share of the limelight in the Philippines and perhaps give the country its first gold medal is fencing. The sport is one of the events that get a lot of clique and spectators in the Olympics. With the fencers' well-finessed moves and blade work, it's not difficult to understand why fencing is a favorite among the Olympic throng.

The early Filipinos were known to be good swordsmen. During the Battle of Mactan, Lapu-Lapu's tribe used native swords and spears to defeat Ferdinand Magellan's troops who were armed with guns and cannons.

During the Japanese occupation, because of scarce ammunition to fight the enemy, the Filipinos used guerilla attacks with their melee weapons and swords in raiding Japanese camps.

Filipino swordplay relies heavily on speed, and even today Filipino marines train in a form of 'eskrima' using a curved single-edge sword.

Fencing is a duel sport, a self-defense art characterized by chivalry and mutual respect. It has evolved from what was a part of military training back in the mid-18th century into a sport today. The oldest surviving manual on western swordsmanship dates back to around 1300, although historical references date fencing schools back to the 12th century.

Modern fencing originated in the 18th century in the Italian school of fencing during the Renaissance, and, under its influence, was improved by the French school. The Spanish school didn't become prominent until the 19th century.

In Cebu, the art of swordsmanship was introduced in 1997, with the establishment of the Cebu Fencing League (CFL). While the sport flourished in Manila, it was basically non-existent in Cebu before then. With a fervent and rock-hard tenacity, the CFL was able to rally Cebuanos who were interested in the fencing sport.

Bringing together the different groups of fencers, like the Blessed Trinity Achievers Academy, CIE British School, Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu, University of Southern Philippines Foundation and the CFL general membership from Sacred Heart Center Sports Club, Cebu Fencing League recently held "A Duel in the Park," on September 10 and11, at Parkmall in Mandaue City.

Spectators at the event were given a free tutorial on the basics of fencing, and treated to an exhibit.  The CFL aims to popularize fencing among Cebuanos as a sport or for sheer fun and fitness. For more information about the Cebu Fencing League may visit www.facebook.com/CebuFencingLeague.

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