Kat, one of the fencers at Winged Sabre Historical Fencing (Texas, USA), discusses how she got into fencing, and, how challenging it felt at first. It really can be daunting starting in a new group–everyone seems so knowledgeable, skilled, and of course they know one another. Just getting in the door has often been the hardest part for me–naturally introverted it takes a LOT for me to interact with people, but for the most part I’ve found that Sword-People, if I may call them that, tend to be decent folk and welcoming.
NB: while not a huge fan of George R.R. Martin or his Game of Thrones series, I’ve read a bit and watched most of the series. One of my favorite characters, however, superbly brought to life by Miltos Yerolemou, is Syrio Forel. In one scene (in the series anyway), his young student Arya corrects him when he calls her “boy” for the second time. His answer struck a chord with me; he replied “Boy, girl… you are a sword.” If one spends a long time in marital arts one realizes how true this is–sex, gender, none of that ultimately matters. Skill can overcome physical attributes and advantages, and so my approach is that however one identifies one is a fencer when they meet me for lessons or enter the classroom.
Each person is different, and so maybe we make adjustments for mobility, age, size, gait, etc., but these are adjustments we all make in some fashion and in no way are attached to judgment or censure. My goal is to teach people what I can and for them to enjoy it as much as possible, and apart from out-right bigotry, mistreatment of others, or inability or unwillingness to play nicely and safely, there is very little if anything that should keep anyone from trying all this fun stuff out.