French fencing coach expounds the link to higher education.
(Kuala Lumpur=Korean Press) Azmi Anuwar = “Almost all high grade fencers are doctors, engineers, architects or some other professional,” states Bruno Gaby, the recently appointed fencing coach at Nilai University (N U).
He points this out to underline the strong link between the sport of fencing and higher education, citing that many national fencers come from institutions of higher education. “This is because it is a sport that requires strong mental attributes to go along with the physical requirements. I would say that it is one, if not the most, mentally challenging sport.
Everything happens very quickly and fencers need to be alert, focused and disciplined to compete at the very highest levels,” he explains. He goes on to say that traditionally the sport also encourages values such as honesty and respect for the opponents. It is highly recommended by child specialists as useful in helping children develop their co-ordination and other motor skills. “That is why fencing is known as the sport of kings though I like to think of it as the king of sports,” he ended with a smile.
N U has been named as centre of excellence for the sport of fencing under the purview of the Ministry of Education (Pusat Sukan Tumpuan – Fencing). Under this programme, NU has set up a training centre replete with all the necessary facilities that will allow more students to take up this relatively expensive sport at minimal costs. These facilities are also of a high enough standard for it to become the training centre of choice whenever national fencers prepare for regional, national or international tournaments.
Currently, there are two national fencers pursuing higher qualifications on scholarships - Andrew Mok Vern-Han (Bachelor in Business Administration) and Joshua Koh I Jie (Diploma in Agricultural Management). Having such facilities on campus has allowed them to prepare thoroughly whilst continuing with their higher studies.
Gaby hails from Aix en Provence, close to Marseille and was the Director of Sport for the Municipality of Thiers (also known as the City of the Knife). He says that he had always fancied coming out to Asia to further the development of the sport.
He firmly believes that the future of fencing is in Asia and points to the achievements of South Korea and China as proof. “The fencers here in Malaysia have the right attitude and are willing to learn and train hard. That is the most important thing for me,” he asserted, whilst revealing that he had turned down higher offers in other countries to come to N U to be part of the Ministry of Education’s initiative to promote the sport.
The affable Frenchman acknowledges that fencing is a niche sport and a very technical one at that but is planning to introduce beginners to the epee category as it is the simplest of the three weapons classifications. Gaby believed that fencing has many benefits apart from the obvious advantage of being a physical exercise. “If you watch fencing on TV, you will notice that everything is lightning quick. Thus fencers need to be able to anticipate every move and be able to think fast.
Needless to say, the training will require focus and discipline, even if a student is taking it up as a leisure sport,” revealed Gaby. “These values will only benefit these students when they transfer such qualities into their studies.” He goes on to say that having fencing on a person’s résumé would certainly impress prospective employers as it marks out these individuals as “different, disciplined and dedicated.” He also notes that the sport of fencing imbues participants with a strong sense of confidence which can only work in their favour.
Plans are already afoot for staff to learn from this master of the sword. “It is hoped that N U staff will be able to continue teaching the finer points of fencing to students after my tenure has ended,” he said. Already, the fencing training centre is garnering interest from students in the sister company Nilai International School and staff from the various subsidiaries of the Nilai Resources Group. “We are set to launch the introductory beginners’ programme in February and the quota is almost filled,” he smiles. “I am excited to be part of spreading the love of this sport to a whole new audience.”