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As a workout, fencing gets right to the point

As a workout, fencing gets right to the point

My high school math teacher probably thought I was on drugs.

He saw the welts running along my left arm and raised his eyebrows; before he spoke, I said, "It's from fencing." I was smugly proud of those welts, and the adrenaline was always too high to feel much pain from their infliction.

I started fencing in Canada in 1984, a time when it was practically unheard of. It appealed to my fantasy-novel-reading/Dungeons-&-Dragons-playing personality. When all other physical activity failed to interest me, fencing was my sole form of exercise.

But it's rapidly rising in popularity, with the U.S. Olympic fencing team getting more competitive, schools popping up...