Take Up Fencing, Get Smarter - DatelineCarolina

Take Up Fencing, Get Smarter

Ann Pringle Washington and her grandson practice fencing every week to keep their minds and body in shape. Ann Pringle Washington and her grandson practice fencing every week to keep their minds and body in shape.
Jane Littman teaches fencing all across the Midlands. Jane Littman teaches fencing all across the Midlands.
 By: Safaniya Stevenson

Fencing is sometimes called physical chess, a sport that focuses on skill and strategy. Fencing demands mental concentration and fitness that some researchers believe is perfect for increasing brainpower. 

A recent study by the American College of Sports Medicine found that regular exercise like fencing can be good for not just your body but also for your brain.

The study of 266 undergraduates who exercised for at least 20 minutes a day had higher test scores than those who did not participate in daily physical activities.

A The University of Illinois  a study of nearly 260 9- and 10-years old children found the students that were in better physical shape scored higher in standardized testing. 

Some fencing students in the Midlands are giving their brains a workout thanks to world renowned fencer, Jane Littman. Littman has trained national champions and Olympic hopefuls. She is best know for being the first woman to ever receive an "A" rating in women's epee, one type of fencing weapon.

Littman teaches fencing all over the Midlands including two courses at USC.

USC geology department staff member, Philip Crotwell has been taking her fencing classes for 11 semesters. He says he enjoys having such a successful instructor at the university.

"Fencing isn't a popular spectator sport so not many people know of her...but she's a pretty amazingly successful fencer and to have someone like that as a resource here is just really incredible," says Crotwell.

Litmman says fencing is like no other sport. She says that in college she played basketball, field hockey, and lacrosse but none of those offered her the challenge and rewards that fencing did.

"Fencing, once I got introduced to it seemed to just capture a little bit more of having to find what your best strengths are against your opponent. It puts you in touch with a lot about yourself that you may have never realized," says Littman.

Littman is teaching one duo at Harbison Recreation Center. The two have taken up fencing for a different set of reasons.

Ann Pringle Washington and her 7-year-old grandson Brent take fencing classes together. Washington got Brent involved in order to help him with both his confidence and math skills. Washington took up fencing to keep fit.

"I've been diagnosed with early osteoporosis in my hips and I must admit I didn't initially think of the sports for myself I though of it for Brent. But as I worked out with him, I say hey why not. And I got a little encouragement from Jane. I have thoroughly enjoyed it," Washington said.

Whether you choose to pick up fencing or another sport, researchers say it's good for your health. Washington hopes more parents will introduce their children to fencing to help them in school like it helped her grandson.

"I think it's a sport that we need to expose more of our school children to not just have parents kind of haphazardly find it," Washington says.

If you're interested in fencing, Littman says they are always accepting new fencers in her classes.

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