When Antoine Bonello was a child, his heroes were Zorro and D’Artagnan – so when he found out that fencing, the sport of sword fighting, could be practiced in Malta, it was like a dream come true. Antoine was 22 years old when he began fencing, and went on to become Malta’s first male champion (winning the Maltese Fencing Championships five times). He also represented Malta abroad at the World Championships in Switzerland in 1998 and in Korea in 2000, as well as the European Championships in Bolzano also in 2000. Although he didn’t win, he put up a fight against foreign professional fencers.
Fencing had been practised in Malta long before Antoine picked up a sword. Like several other sportive disciplines, fencing was first introduced to Malta by the British Army stationed in Malta. It was then taken up by locals at Stella Maris College, under the keen guidance of Brother Oscar. Daniel Sammut was one of the brother’s students, having returned to Malta from Canada where he had already started practising the sport.
Daniel has been fencing for around 40 years, and is now one of three fencing Maestri (masters) on the island, together with Kenneth Spiteri and Antoine. When Daniel returned to Malta after a second stint in Canada, he opened the En Garde Fencing Club, which he now runs with the other two Maestri. The fencing masters can teach the three fencing disciplines: foil, epee and saber, but they focus mostly on first two.
They teach anyone – male and female from the ages of 6 upwards – and even have a student over 60. There are around 40 students training with the En Garde Fencing Club at the moment. Like all other disciplines, there is a competitive element to fencing – including organised competitions – but the most important aspect of fencing is that the sport has a number benefits, both mental and physical. It is so effective that some airplane pilots use it as part of their training. Fencing requires a combination of reflexes, coordination, speed and tactics in order to hit your opponent and score a point.
Where & When
En Garde meets for training twice a week: at Chiswick School in Kappara on Thursdays from 6.30pm till 8.30pm and on Saturdays at St. Martin’s College in Swatar, from 10.30am till 1pm.
Anyone interested in taking up this fascinating and noble sport can contact Maestro Daniel Sammut on 99407388 or Maestro Antoine Bonello at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See also: National Fencing Association Malta