They loved their stab at fencing

The ancient Olympic sport of fencing may yet get a foothold in Cayman thanks to the passion and generosity of an English couple who organized a two week camp here for beginners.

The classes were held at the Purple Dragon Karate school’s studio of the World Gym.

A full complement of ten children and adults attended last week and eight got schooled this week by Jean Goto, an American who specializes in teaching children where she is based in Connecticut and runs her own school, Greenwich Fencing.

Organiser Joanna Humphries was pleased by the success. Although not a fencer herself, her husband Chris was a youth champion in England and both are keen for their son Basil, six, to learn the rudiments.

Matthew Luke, another Cayman resident and former champion fencer, was also instrumental in seeing these camps created.

Each participant paid $275 for the week with the Humphries sponsoring the balance to bring Goto over.

‘With the help and support of Matthew, my husband and Purple Dragon we managed to get it off the ground and it’s been fantastic,’ said Joanna.

The days consisted of two-hour sessions. The first hour being instructional and the second practical with lots of bouts. Last Friday they had a tournament which will be repeated tomorrow. Gyles Luke, Matthew’s son was the overall winner.

‘It was absolutely fantastic, the kids had a blast,’ said Joanna. ‘So many people have said that they’d like to do it again that we’re hoping to repeat it maybe in early December before people go away.

‘It’s something amazing on the island and the response we’ve had has been very encouraging.

‘We think it’s worth it. Basil actually came third in the tournament. My daughter Lara is desperate to do it but she is too young at four-and-a-half.’

Little Basil thoroughly enjoyed his introduction to the sport. ‘I like walking up and down in a straight line and hitting the other person and getting a certificate out of it,’ he said.

‘My dad taught me how to keep my hand up and to put my hand behind my back and not to go off to the side and how to keep your distance between people when you’re fencing.’

Basil is shaping up to be an all-rounder. He also has a passion for tennis, swimming and is about to take up hockey and wants to go to Cayman Prep to play football.

Goto started fencing at 10 with the celebrated Olympian Peter Westbrook at his Foundation in New York.

She stopped competing at university but the interest was still there so coaching was a natural progression.

Goto said: ‘Last week was like a whirlwind, it went absolutely brilliantly. I definitely tried to challenge the class and they did really well.

‘They were like sponges, good listeners and they just picked everything up. I taught everything from footwork to blade work to attacks which were very advanced and difficult.

‘That was awesome and when they had a little tournament that was great too because they were able to put those things into effect.’