Perhaps as a tribute to the timeless nature of the sword, the Worcester Fencing Club began as a small class held at the Higgins Armory Museum, a collection of arms and armor from medieval Europe and beyond. There, Doug Jacobs—a United States Fencing Association–certified instructor—began imparting his knowledge to a handful of students, giving them a small taste of the age-old sport that, over the years, had become unfairly associated with bullies popping balloons in the streets. Still, many of his students wished to extend their training, and—upon a suggestion of the mother of some of his students—Doug expanded his academy in 1998, forming the Worcester Fencing Club. Today, the school continues to draw fresh blood, introducing students of all ages and experience levels to modern- and Olympic-style fencing in classes still often taught by Doug himself.
Forget the foil. Turn in your épée. At Beaches Sabre Club, the saber is king. The most dynamic of fencing's three categories, saber is quick and aggressive: competitors can score points by striking each other with the edge of the blade or in a slashing motion, and everything above the waist—including the head—is fair game. This approach lends itself to lightning-fast attacks that land across the upper body. Knowing this, the instructors at Beaches emphasize safety during every meeting, whether they’re welcoming beginners to the club's introductory classes or honing seasoned skills during private lessons. They also supply the necessary protective gear so students don't have to mummify themselves in bubble wrap before every visit.
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Tom Bacha’s fist and feet are like a force field made of whip-quick cobras. The martial artist holds a second-degree black belt in tae kwon do, an Expert Series instructor certification from Krav Maga Worldwide, and a Brazilian jujitsu teaching certification from Best Way Jiu-Jitsu. At Connecticut Krav Maga, he and five other certified instructors draw on their kick-punching prowess to pass on Imi Lichtenfeld’s legendary martial art, krav maga, used by the Israeli Defense Force and the US Marines. Designed around the instinctual ways people defend themselves, the method gets quick-learned into students’ muscle memory, teaching students to fend off surprise attacks or disarm opponents carrying knives, guns, or prosthetic limbs.
Scott Ferguson may be a high-school math teacher, but he's also a serious history buff. He brings his passion for studying the greatest medieval and Renaissance swordsmen to his role as chief instructor at Swords of Chivalry. There, he instructs kids and adults in the finer points of swordplay as well as the history of weapons fighting, answering questions about why maces and morning stars were used in certain battles, and foam pool noodles in others. Students are closely monitored to ensure safety and to foster a respectful attitude toward combat.