Fencing is truly a world-wide sport. You’ll likely find the sport in every developed country.
Nacha Promsatian, 22, has been fencing Sabre since 2009. She began when she lived in Thailand as a way to escape stress at school.
“What I like about it was that it was a sport that wasn’t a team sport and it still required a lot of conditioning and working out,” Promsatian said. “Unlike soccer perhaps where you need to practice with your team, Fencing was an individual sport where I had to improve on my own.”
She says that fencing in Thailand is extremely competitive. Promsatian fenced with the national team and was ranked top 16 for women sabreists while there.
Promsatian moved to Berkeley, California in 2011 and began fencing with the team at Cal a couple years later. She says it was hard finding a club to practice with since not many people fence sabre in the Bay Area. However, after she joined the team at Cal, she began working with the one other sabre fencer to recruit and train more people.
Although fencing is pretty universal, Promsatian says there are a few differences between her experience in Thailand and in California.
“I think fencers in Thailand focus on technique more than conditioning. They put more effort into learning a new move than prepping oneself for a round on the piste,” she said. “Thailand fencers get tired quicker.”
On the other hand, Promsatian says “[americans are] definitely more competitive on a larger scale” and that the “mixed” gender tournaments were a weird event to adapt to. She also says that many American fencers like to focus more on cardio.
Promsatian also feels that the sport’s popularity is beginning to rise much faster in the US than in Thailand.
US national fencers like Tim Morehouse and Ibtihaj Muhammad have been essential in helping bring fencing into the mainstream feed. Morehouse was a sabreist on the US national team who founded a fencing club in New York in 2015. Muhammad is the first women from the US to compete in a hijab at the Olympics.
“Ibtihaj is an awesome example for young girls.” Promsatian said. “I feel like she’s breaking barriers and I feel like because she’s doing that she’s getting more publicity.”