In between studying and being Chair of Chemistry Society, Arran Embleton is also Chair of Fencing. We caught up with him just after their first friendly competition against the University of Salford, to hear about their success and learn more about the sport.
Tell us a little bit about the club
“The club is fairly new, and was brought about by Fran, Andy and myself who were the committee in the first year. We train on Mondays in the Sugden Centre from five until six, and we train on Tuesdays in the Conference Suite in The Union from half four until half five or six. We have some student coaches, so there is myself, Matthew who is our Social Sec, Fran, Andy and Aisha. A lot of students lead the training and we have a professional coach that comes in on Mondays as well.
Fencing is good, it’s very strenuous. At first, you can get a bit irritated as you try to build up your skill, but over time you do get better at it. It’s very fast-paced and energetic, and there is a lot of strategy involved as well. You do have to think about what your opponent is doing, or what they’re going to do, and try to anticipate that. There are three types of sword, so it all depends on what sword you choose to train with – at the moment we have sabre and foil but we’re aiming to get épée soon.”
What was it about fencing that appealed to you?
“I’m not a sporty person to begin with, but I always really liked the look of fencing. It’s a bit of an unorthodox sport as well, it’s not mainstream and I just wanted to try it. In fact, when I was at college, I used to say I would join the fencing team when I went to uni, and when I came here and found out we didn’t have one I was a bit gutted! A few of our members tried to join in at the University of Manchester, but it was a bit closed and cold, so we started one here!”
What has the club been up to recently?
“So recently it’s just been training, however we did go and do some friendly training with the University of Salford team, which turned out to actually be what they labelled as a friendly competition. We beat them by quite a large margin – it was about 157 to 106, and that was on sabre which is the sword I train on. In foil we won by three points, but still a win on both swords! Now we’ve been invited to train with them on Fridays which is nice. It was our first competition too, and we were sort of accidently trapped into it! It was a bit scary as we hadn’t really trained for it and our team is quite new. Then to see everyone pull together and win how they did, we went out and had a lot of fun – I don’t think anyone on the team has come back saying they didn’t enjoy it, and it’s encouraged more people to come along next time.”
Got anything social planned for the team for Christmas?
“We have a Christmas dinner coming up next week at Tops – we chose there because it caters to everyone.”
What’s next for the club?
“Next year we aim to talk to other fencing clubs – we know University of Manchester probably won’t fence with us, but the University of Cheshire might and we are eager to meet up with them. We’ll try and get around to other universities and clubs to show off our ability and we’re eager to raise more funds to get more equipment so we can cater for more people. We might be doing some fundraisers for the club in the future, and everyone will benefit as we’ll be able to host competitions here at MMU and even send some of ours to BUCS, which would be excellent.”
What would you say to anyone who might want to get involved in fencing?
“If you’re not a sporty person then I would recommend trying it – over time, you’ll become sporty. I wasn’t sporty at all, but it’s different. We’re also such a close group of people, it’s like a family. We see each other around campus and say hello, which is good.”
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