The biggest fencing tournament in the north of England saw 10 times winner Chris Farren score a record breaking 11th win at the weekend.

 

The Merseyside Open Fencing Tournament (MOFT) was founded back in 1938 by local fencer and University of Liverpool lecturer, Dorothy Knowles.

 

The event saw over 400 fencers compete for the chance to win in their category, the highest number of entries in the history of the tournament.

 

45-year-old Chris Farren, a pharmaceutical chemist by day, celebrated his 11th win since 1997 in the Men's Sabre category. The father of two from Durham also won the Arthur and Beryl Banks Fair Play Cup.

 

Mr Farren said: “I’ve been doing this now for almost 20 years. It’s a brilliant way of keeping fit. Advancing age certainly keeps things interesting for me. The organisers do a really great job.”

 

In the past, fencing has been viewed as somewhat of a niche sport due to its associations with upper class competitors.

 

Gary Longthorn, 1994 MOFT winner and publicist for the event, spoke to JMU Journalism about how he is trying to make the sport more accesible to a wider audience.

 

He said: “We have beginner’s courses that we hold three times a year and a taster course before the tournament. The sport can seem a bit intimidating to some people but events such as these give people a chance to see what fencing is all about and most people enjoy the experience.”

 

When fencing, the sword you use, whether it be sabre, foil and epee determines where on the body it is permissable to hit. A sabre player can target anywhere from the waist upwards, epee is anywhere on the body, and foil is restricted to the chest, stomach and back.

 

Mr Longthorn, said: "Fitness is important, but it is also about technique. Interestingly, left handed fencers  often make the most challenging opponents due to their different angles of attack.”

 

Competitors come to Merseyside from far and wide in order to take part, including representatives from 17 different nationalities.

 

John O’Sullivan, an engineer from Cork, said: “I’ve been fencing for five months, its great fun, good exercise and anyone who is a member of a fencing club can apply. You need a fencing license in order to compete.”

 

Sabre competitor Jack McHugh, originating from Dublin, believes people should be made more aware of the sport.

 

He said: “The more people understand the sport and try fencing the better. It is difficult to grasp especially if you don’t have the knowledge. I love fencing particularly the tactical aspect of it. It involves a lot of thinking which I really enjoy.”  

 

To view the complete set of results, click here.

Merseyside holds fencing spectacular

 Words: Liz Hewitt & Stephanie Niciu

 Pictures: Luke Johnson

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Competitors in action at the Merseyside Open Fencing Tournament at Greenbank Sports Academy

A-JMU-sportbanner Fencing in action 01 - Luke Johnson Fencing in action 02 - Luke Johnston