Dancing Duels


Photo Contributed

Sophomore Aton Matula (right) fences his opponent at Carmel Parks and Rec.

Munachi Johnson, Staff Writer

Two opponents stand against one another, both knowing that the other spent months training to compete. In less than a second, they lunge with precise and elegant movements, swords drawn. Within ten seconds, the winner is determined by the one who struck the other first. This is the art of fencing.

Sophomore Aton Matula began his journey in fencing and has started to see the benefits of participating in the unique sport.

Matula participates in the sport of fencing at a park in Carmel, learning from and improving at sport noncompetitively. 

“The reason I found it interesting was because of ‘Princess Bride,’” Matula said. “I was watching the movie with my family, and it got to the scene where the main character was going against the antagonist. They had this really dramatic duel which instantly captivated me; I immediately fell in love with the sport. I started fencing in Carmel Parks and Rec. I told my mother that I wanted to do fencing and that was one of the few options.”

Matula became an avid participant in the sport and started to train regularly, improving in his skills. He also began to enjoy the competition and started to win his matches.

“It was the end of my first session of classes; the teacher said that we would be doing the battles at the end of the session,” Matula said. “They paired people up and when it came to my turn I went up against the star student. Even though I lost, I never felt that particular way before. The elegance of it set it apart from any other sport; It was so very quick and very offensive.”

Matula then came to understand fencing as more than just a fight between two people.

“It’s precision,” Matula said. “In Olympic level, fencing is determined in seconds. You see a single lunge with so many split second decisions. It’s the closest thing you get between combat and a dance.”

It is not just the rush and feeling of competing that Matula took away from fencing; the sport has also given him real insight into treating other opponents and peers.

“There is a respect involved due to it being a highly skilled sport,” Matula said. “If you are fencing someone, they went through a lot to be on your level. You come to realize that everyone around you is skilled, and you have to be very appreciative of your competition and their efforts.”

Matula’s experience with fencing doesn’t just end at the dueling mat; it also expands to his everyday life.

“Fencing has impacted me physically by making me faster and stronger,” Matula said. “Mentally, the web of responses that you have to get down and that strain has given me training to improve. I am somewhat more free in my conversations with others. My drive is one of my main struggles in my life, but I have found a lot of effort in fencing; I am now trying to apply that drive to my everyday life.”