Blade Club Kuala Lumpur, an international fencing organisation, came to Thanyapura to run their 3rd annual 7-day Foil Fencing Camp for over 100 parents and students. The camp took place from 3-10 August 2017, with all participants having the opportunity to learn from the professionals. Some athletes attended specifically to train for the Southeast Asian Games, which took place at the end of August in Kuala Lumpur.
During the camp, Thanyapura had the opportunity to sit down with Blade Club Director Nontapat Panchan, winner of nine medals at the Southeast Asian Games. When asked how those interested in learning how to fence can start, he said, “Fencing is one of the few sports that really enjoys worldwide popularity, especially in Southeast Asia. Anywhere we go now, we meet a number of fencers, and youth fencing is growing extremely fast. There are private clubs everywhere, and public institutions like universities. Different clubs offer different things. It’s like tennis; you start with big groups and then you can get private lessons to improve yourself further.”
When asked why Blade Club Kuala Lumpur chose Thanyapura to host their camp, Nontapat replied, “Thanyapura has been on the sport scene in Southeast Asia for a long time. The hotel is very good and the food is great. We were here last year and everything is convenient. Most importantly though – safety! We have so many young kids, and with a secure place the young ones can run around and be taken care of.”
Nontapat has been training three athletes for the 2017 Southeast Asia Games. Together they have carried out a number of camps in Korea and China, working with the junior national team, along with their regular training regime at the Blade Fencing studio in Kuala Lumpur. Reflecting on the training programme, Nontapat said, “Thanyapura was an 8-day, high intensity programme. We start at 7am with a one-hour plyometric workout. Then we stretch and carry out 2 hours of fencing training that covers high intensity footwork and technical work. After lunch and a rest, we spar for another two and a half hours, sometimes three. At night, we relax, use the facilities, play volleyball or jump in the pool.”
For young athletes, balancing school work with their training schedule can be very difficult. Many of Nontapat’s students are still in school, and he responded, “It is possible to be excellent in sports and academics – you can be both a great sportsman and top student in your class. You just need to have discipline.”
The camp brought together people from around the world that have a shared passion for fencing, including Richard Kruse, a British fencer who has represented Great Britain at the Summer Olympics three times. When asked where he gets his drive from, Richard replied, “Fencing is my passion in life. What attracts me is it’s a mix of physical and mental. I always got bored in sports like swimming and running. Fencing really stimulates my brain and gives me something to think about. Since it is a combat sport, it is very intense. There’s a lot of psychology in there; you have to read other people. It’s like chess on legs. You have to think in combat sports. You have to think about the strategy, what’s working, and adapt if it isn’t. Of course, you have to be physical as well. You have to wear a lot of fencing gear. It really keeps the heat in. So you sweat buckets when you’re fencing. You have to be incredibly conditioned. Ultimately, it’s that mixture of mental and physical that makes fencing so attractive.”
For more information on Blade Club Kuala Lumpur, check out their Facebook page.