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Helpful Hints for Attending a Fencing Tournament

Feb 23, 2013, 8:29 AM EDT

Stepien in action on the fencing piste. (photo by Tim Singler)

So you’re a pretty big Notre Dame sports fan. You’ve watched football, checked out soccer and even made an appearance at Arlotta Stadium to see the lacrosse teams in action. And now that the team is hosting a tournament in their brand-new facilities, it’s time to see some fencing first-hand.

But if you have no idea how to behave yourself at a fencing match?

Never fear! I sat down with Marta Stepien, a senior sabreuse, to talk about some things you might want to know before heading over to the Castellan Family Fencing Center. Here’s my neatly summarized points, along with her comments. Take notice!

1)   Don’t be obnoxious…at least not all the time

It’s perfectly acceptable to be rowdy for an entire football or basketball game. But please pick your spots when it comes to yelling during a bout.

Marta says:

“Fencing – you can relate it more to a quieter sport almost like tennis or golf. It’s really intense but still really quiet. There’s a certain etiquette in fencing that you have to uphold. When the ref initiates the bout, you have to stay silent, because that way you allow the fencers to have a focus and an energy about them that allows them to internalize everything and go for it. But once an action is complete, you’re more than welcome to go wild, and that’s what we love.”

2)   If two Notre Dame fencers are competing, don’t pick sides.

Yes, this can happen in some tournament formats. It’d be rude to cheer for one teammate over the other, so take the time to analyze the athletes’ technique.

Marta says:

“When we have Notre Dame against Notre Dame, we won’t be cheering for either side because that’s our team. That’s our family.”


3)   If you hear yelling, don’t worry. It’s completely normal.

Some fencers practically never scream, others do so almost every point. Either way, I promise that no one is actually in mortal peril.

Marta says:

“It can be a release of energy, or to get yourself pumped up. In some cases it’s to sway the judge in your favor. It’s like saying, “I got the point, give it to me, give it to me! It honestly depends on the fencer.”


Check back in for more fencing knowledge you never realized you were missing out on. And check out the Notre Dame Duels – they’re being held all day in the north dome of the JACC.

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