Sword stars foil rivals; Champion fencers show more than stabbing skills

Sword stars foil rivals; Champion fencers show more than stabbing skills

At the Inter-School Fencing Competition on Sunday, Lawrence Ng and Yan Ho-ching both scored impressive wins in their respective categories

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Yan Ho-ching came out on top after an incredible comeback.
Photo: Hong Kong Fencing School

You might be forgiven for thinking that fencing is basically just a sword fight. Actually, there is much more to the sport than just wildly trying to stab your opponent, including several different categories, with each requiring very different skills. 

Foil is a specific category of fencing that uses a lighter sword, called a foil, which has a more flexible blade. You have to use the tip of the foil to score points, but you can't hit your opponent's arms, legs or head.

At the Inter-School Fencing Competition on Sunday at Hong Kong Park Sports Centre in Central, two students proved themselves masters of the sword - and it wasn't about who chopped off the most heads.


Fast footwork and hard work are the way to win

Diocesan Boys' School's Lawrence Ng Lok-wang proved himself a formidable fencer at the weekend.

Lawrence, 16, scored an impressive 15-9 win against Pui Ching Middle School's Yung Ho-wai, 16, in the Boys A-Grade Individual Foil (Kowloon) final.

Lawrence said his determination was key to his victory in the final. "Ho-wai is very strong. It was impossible to predict what he was going to do next, so I really had to focus. When I found myself in a tight spot, I would change tactics to adopt an attacking strategy," said Lawrence.

Andy Lam, head coach of the DBS fencing team, said Lawrence mentally overpowered his opponent. "Lawrence's biggest strength is his explosive power, which motivates him to act quickly and puts him in a dominant position," said Lam. "He can also move fast, as he had mastered the footwork he needs, including striding and plunging."

Lawrence told Young Post that basic techniques, like footwork, are crucial if you want to do well in competitions, so he trains hard. Every week he does five, four-hour training sessions. He's good at handling pressure, too. He credits that to his acting experience, which he says also boosted his confidence.

"I had a role in a TVB drama called Brother's Keeper a few years ago. I was stressed out because everyone was looking at me. I told myself to stay calm and act well. I believe acting made me braver and tougher in fencing competitions."


The comeback of the competition

In the Girls' A-Grade Individual Foil (Kowloon) final, Heep Yunn School's Yan Ho-ching won gold after beating Diocesan Girls' School's Kuan Yu-ching, 14-10.

Ho-ching, 18, was 2-6 behind at the beginning. She told Young Post how she managed to make a brilliant comeback.

"I tried not to think about winning or losing, even though I felt overpowered by Yu-ching. When I was losing, I tried to change to a different intention [a fencing term for movement]. I focused more on how I could do my best in every single point," said Ho-ching. 

When the match reached a 6-6 tie, Ho-ching felt more confident and determined, and her game improved. She dominated the rest of the final and finally beat her 16-year-old opponent.

Ho-ching's coach, Terrence Lu, said that the final showed her resilience. "If Ho-ching's original intention doesn't work, she needs to remember to try others. Her second intention was to harass her opponent. It was a success because it broke through her opponent's defence," said Lu.


Lawrence Ng thinks his acting experience makes him a more confident fencer.
Photo: Ben Pang

Bench notes: Lawrence
Who is your male role 
Japanese foil fencer Yuki Ota is my idol in terms of his skills and attitude. His hand technique when using the foil is very subtle, and his confidence intimidates his opponents.

If you could have any superpower for 24 hours, what would you choose and how would you use this power?
I would choose the ability to fly to Japan. I would love to challenge Ota to a fight.

Who is your favourite male singer?
Eason Chan. His slower songs calm me down, and his upbeat music energises me. 


Bench notes: Ho-ching

Who is your favourite athlete?
Karen Chang Ngai-hing. She won gold in the 2013 World Junior and Cadet Fencing Championships (Individual Sabre). Her 15-14 win against Greece's Theodora Goudoura in the final inspired me a lot. 

What drink could you never give up?
Pocari Sweat. I need it when I'm fencing.

Who is your favourite singer?
Sammi Cheng Sau-man. Her songs remind me to be stronger and braver in competitions.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Sword Stars foil rivals

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