Young Fencers Sharpen Skills
There’s a battle going on at the Darien VFW Hall. Harrison Zuckerberg and Kai Zhou cross swords, trying to outwit and out-muscle each other and land the fatal thrust. It’s a rare sight for Fairfield County but just another afternoon at the Darien Fencing Club.
Harrison’s mom. Darien Fencing Club founder JeffreyBinder’s 11-year-old daughter, Sylvie, is proof. She started when she was 6 and fell in love with the sport. She took ninth place in her age group in theU.S. Fencing National Championships.
Two years ago, Binder decided there was a lack of programs for children and started a club in his hometown of Armonk, N.Y. Realizing there was a need in lower Fairfield County as well, the Binders broughttheir group to Darien this spring. “The ultimate goal would be to create a full-time academy in the area,” Binder said. “But we reasoned out that what we should really do is develop an audience for it. “The club doesn’t have the same scoring equipment asa full-time facility would, but it does have the same quality teaching. Binder enlisted Mio David, an alternate on the 1996 Romanian Olympic team.
Kai and his sister Chloe joined the fencing club when it started in March. Their father, Yuli Zhou, said they get physical activity without fear of injuries. “It’s not merely strength,” Zhou said. “You also have to use the brain to react really fast.”
When the fencing club’s fall season starts in September, it’ll have more space in its new location, Hindley School’s gymnasium. Kids can stop by practices on Sundays from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Binder offers the firstsession for free. “Once they pick a weapon,” he said, “they’ll get hooked.”