‘Parry, Riposte!’ NoVA’s guide to Swordplay

Northern Virginia is the ideal location to learn how to fence, whether for fun, or for competition.

By Robby Osborne

Photo courtesy of Gadsby's Tavern.

Engarde! Life for an 18th century gentleman wasn’t all fancy clothes dinner parties. The swords hanging from their belts weren’t there for decoration. If a man felt insulted, he would draw his sword to regain his honor. Honor will always be a touchy subject among men, but in the past it was deadly. Since dueling was outlawed, and guns became available, swordplay was relegated to hobbyists, and now, to sportsmen.

At high noon on March 8, Gadsby’s Historical Tavern will have an authentic demonstration of swordplay, and historical swords on display. While a great family event, it could whet your appetite for more. 

Gadsby’s Historical Tavern
134 N. Royal Street, Alexandria, 22314
$6 March 8, Noon.

If your thirst for the sport runs deeper, Northern Virginia is armed with a host some of the most prestigious fencing schools/clubs in world, which feature Olympic and historical-style classes. Fencing is one of a handful of sports to be featured in every Olympic Games since 1896, and the tip of the fencing weapon is the second-fastest moving object in any sport; second only to a marksman’s bullet. 



Virginia Academy of Fencing

The Virginia Academy of Fencing is America’s largest fencing school with 1,000 students. It teaches all three styles of Olympic fencing along with two historical styles with options for all age groups. Founded by Alexandre Ryjik, who earned the title Master of Sport in Fencing of the USSR before his 18th birthday. Since then he has won countless awards, and developed the training program for the U.S. Olympic Team at Colorado Springs. Along with all the different skill levels, the academy also holds its own armory, where equipment can be repaired or purchased. Introductory classes begin in April, and go on for six weeks. Summer camps for every style will also be available.

5401-B Port Royal Road, Springfield, 22151
(703) 321-4922, fence@VAFinc.com

Fencing Sports Academy

The Fencing Sports Academy focuses on foil and epee styles, and is headed up by Samir Mahmoud, a former fencing national National Champion of Egypt. Mahmoud recently coached Junior Olympic Gold Medalist Ace Eldeib. Along with beginner, intermediate and advanced levels of classes, private lessons and summer camps are available, including a week long Pre-Summer National training camp that includes training with both Italian and German national Team members. 

10201 Main Street; 2nd Floor Fairfax City, 22030
(888) 300.5095, info@fencingsports.net


Reston Fencers Club

The Reston Fencers Club focuses in on Epee combat. Headed up by Ilya Lobanenkov, who has more than 15 years experience in coaching after retiring from fencing in the US Division 1. The Spring Session for classes begin March 17 and go through June 16, and introductory classes will cost $360 for the course which will cover all equipment rentals as well as training. Reston Fencers Club and it’s staff are insured members of the United States Fencing Association/US Olympic Committee.

 21610 Atlantic Blvd, Sterling, 20166
240 424 0749, ivlobane@gmail.com

Fairfax Fencers

Fairfax Fencers has made Northern Virginia its home for more than 20 years. Fencers is owned by Tom Jobson, a fencing master in the classical French style, and teaches Olympic fencing with that influence. Fairfax Fencers is a private club with its own location which allows for both dry and electrical fencing. The club offers a new member special which allows for nine group lessons along with a three month membership for $95.  

4433 Brookfield Corporate Drive Suite J, Chantilly, 20151
703-352-2642, tomj@fxfencers.com