Parent Reviews

Not exactly fresh air, but you might consider fencing -- I signed my son up for similar reasons years ago, not really knowing anything about it, and it turned out to be the perfect fit for him. It turns out the Bay Area is actually a hotbed of fencing.  An organization called The Bay Cup organizes regular tournaments held at the various local clubs -- it's a wonderful community and you can just participate for fun, but if your child ends up getting serious about it there are also world-class coaches and fencers right here.  We started at the Sport Fencing Center in Richmond -- it later moved to El Cerrito and the website hasn't been updated for a few years so I'm actually not sure whether it's still open, but there is a new-ish club called the West Berkeley Fencing Club that looks good.  There are multiple clubs in San Francisco that you might also consider -- two that I can recommend as having wonderful coaches are Halberstadt, in the Mission, and M Team, which is all the way in the Outer Sunset but is worth the drive if your child eventually wants to get serious about competing.   That's where my son ended up  (there was, and I'm sure still is, a carpool from Berkeley) and to my surprise, in spite of the focus on competition, we found M Team to be a warm and supportive environment with just as much emphasis on being a good person as on winning fencing bouts.  Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions! 

We also were not into sports before kids - participating or watching.  Somehow our kids found fencing (foil) when they were 7 and just love it. They are fully masked and also wearing paper masks these days.  Check out M Team fencing in the East Bay.  They have learned so much about themselves and have learned how to lose plenty of times and get right back up.  Foil is a lot like physical chess and requires mental acuity and focus. It is a good introduction to the sport.  Both my son and daughter have found true friends through it.

RE: Tween exercise ()

You might try fencing! West Berkeley Fencing Club has reasonably affordable lessons. My non-sporty child has really liked it. And I think they do get some exercise.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Jan 2008

My 8YO son is desparately hoping that we can find a great camp for next summer where he can learn Fencing, Archery and Skateboarding. He's never had a chance to do any of the above, so we need an introductory-level setting. Other than that, some swimming, art and building/science time would be wonderful. We know about Sports and Science camp, but it appears they won't have archery or fencing for his age group in summer of 2008. We hope to find a full day camp between El Cerrito and Oakland-- any suggestions? Mom of Modern Knight

My son went to the camps at Sports Fencing Center in El Cerrito and also fenced there for a couple years and loved it. I think the website is www.sportsfencingcenter.com. They are located off of Central in El Cerrito. It's run by a married couple who are GREAT and the kids really seem to love them -- Karen and Darwin. The camps are a week long. I think there are only a few during the summer and they are for any level, including beginners. My son loved the camps. He took lessons there for a couple years and also began to compete in tournaments. I don't think there is another fencing club in the East Bay that's any closer except for one in Alameda. I highly recommend the Sport Fencing Center for both classes and the camps. anon.

June 2003

I know there's already some information on the website; does anyone have updates about introductory fencing classes for preteens and teenagers? I've heard of the place in Concord, the Kendo studio in Berkeley, and the schools in San Francisco. Anything else in Berkeley or environs? Melanie

The Sport Fencing Center is in El Cerrito around the corner from Windmill Gymnastics (off of Central). Karen and Darwin Martos own and teach the classes. There are beginner classes for all age kids, more advanced classes for kids and adult classes. My 12 year old son started in the winter and loves it. The number is 528-5110 or check out their website, www.sportfencingcenter.com Have fun June

There are beginning fencing classes at the Albany Community Center this summer. The class description says it is for ages 7-14. We haven't done it, so can't recommend one way or the other. R.K.

My daughter took a fencing class through the Piedmont Recreation Department, and greatly enjoyed it. There may be summer classes. Here is info off the Web about the fall classes:

  FENCING 8-13 years Piedmont fencing classes emphasize the fun of fencing. Often referred to as physical chess, fencing combines the mental challenge of outthinking your opponent with the agility of martial arts. During the Basic Foil class, our instructor teaches the fundamentals of footwork, attacks, defense and strategy. This class is appropriate for both beginning and continuing students ages 8-13. Each class is an hour and a half of tactical games, drills and bouting. Please bring a water bottle and wear comfortable clothes and athletic shoes. All protective gear and equipment is provided.   FRIDAY, 3:30-5 8055.151 8 weeks, September 6-October 25 Morrison Gym Resident $124 Non-resident $139 FRIDAY, 3:30-5 8055.251 8 weeks, November 8-January 17 Morrison Gym Resident $124 Non-resident $139   Phone (510) 420-3070 8:30-5:00,FAX (510) 420-3027 24 hrs. a day, Web Site www.ci.piedmont.ca.us PIEDMONT RECREATION DEPARTMENT Office Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30-5:00 Saturday and Sunday - Closed 358 Hillside Avenue Piedmont, CA 94611 Phone-420-3070 FAX-420-3027 E-mail-prd AT ci.piedmont.ca.us 


August 2001

Does anyone know of Fencing Classes given in the Berkeley area. My 10 year old son is very interested in learning to fence but I haven't been able to find instruction. Thanks ! Andrea

I don't know of any fencing clubs in Berkeley save for that of the University's. Their salle may be open to the public but I'm uncertain of this. Call and inquire. Check this list to see if any of these clubs are close by. http://www.olagrande.net/users/edew/baycup/clubs.html Berkeley does have a Kendo (Japanese fencing) dojo on Cedar Street. I don't know if your son might be interested in trying the eastern version of the art. The senseis (teachers) are very much open to having visitors observe and try-out before joining. Having practiced both for about 10 years, I've found Kendo to to be uniquely challenging and more physically demanding (although that can vary depending on the teacher). These links will provide more information:

I looked for fencing classes for me two years ago (it was kind of a family affair growing up in France in the 70's). I found a school in Concord and one in Albany. From what I recall the one in Albany was in a YMCA. I tried the one in Concord for a while (I leave in Moraga), and enjoyed it untill I hurt my shoulders. Now I'm looking again since my son, now 9, is really interested. I remember a center in Stanford, linked with the University, may be Berkeley would have something. I'm looking forward to other readers' answers as well. Sophie

Cal's Strawberry Canyon Summer Programs usually offer fencing - see Strawberry Canyon Web Site

Pacific Fencing Club in Alameda is supposed to be a good place. They're the closest place to Berkeley. I know they offer instruction for kids. I took up fencing out of the bay area (but later in San Francisco) as an adult. I would think that, as most fencing clubs go, equipment could be lent to your son as part of the instruction. You may want to see if he sticks with it before investing in equipment. American Fencers in San Francisco sells all kinds of stuff or Pacific may even be able to order for you. It's a fun sport - Good luck. Jane

Re Fencing: I fenced in college at a few different clubs as well as at Cal. Halberstadt in S.F. gives lessons, but I don't think there's anything close in the East Bay. I did find this URL called the California Fencing Club Directory that might help: http://www.fencing.net/clubs/california.html . Hope it helps -- fencing's a great sport. You also might try American Fencers Supply Co. in SF: http://www.amfence.com/ they might be able to point you in the right direction. Mollie

Regarding fencing lessons - I took some really fun lessons in Concord -I can't remember the name of the club, but the instructors name was George and it was really fun and not horribly expensive. Plus he didn't make us run up and down stairs like they did in college which was why I quit way back then :) Look in the yellow pages for Concord under fencing - they are probably still there. CIndy