The UT Fencing Club isn't the largest or best-funded organization on campus, but as Michael Ward, freshman in nursing, puts it, "It's playing with swords."

This may be a slight oversimplification.

It's really playing with three different types of swords, sabre, éppé and foil, as Riki Higgins, secretary of the club and junior in special education, explained to some newcomers at last Thursday's meeting.

Although the advantages of each weapon would never be measured in a match, as sabres do not cross with foils, nor foils with éppés and so on, there is some ongoing debate among club members about which of them is the best. According to Higgins, foil is the best, but when the president of the club, Charlie Bournstein, is asked, it is undoubtedly the éppé.

The sport also requires a firm grasp of some fundamental footwork.

Before starting each bi-weekly practice, the club lines up to work on their advances and retreats. In fact, Daryl Bing, undecided freshman, said that the footwork was one of the primary reasons he considered joining the club in the first place, saying, "I think the footwork here carries over to football...for me it was what got me interested in the sport."

For some, like Shaun Adams, sophomore in religious studies, fencing has a unique, multi-faceted appeal. "I like the mix between athleticism and the finesse required to land hits," said Adams, "You also have to have the endurance to stay in the bout."

UT fencing meets every Tuesday and Thursday from 6-9 p.m. in the Bubble. With a variety of appealing factors comes a variety of experience levels, so anyone interested can come out.

Some like Savannah Dixon, freshman in architecture, have been fencing for almost five years, while newcomers to the sport like Bing have only attended a few practices.

Adams is hoping the club can grow and build as a team this year.

"Everyone here knows each other...we want to build a good community."

Higgins just looks forward to some new dueling partners. "You don't want to just practice against the same people over and over again," she said. "It's more fun to practice with someone new."

But for now the club is gearing up for their first tournament of the year, which will take place this Saturday in Columbus, Ohio.

"There's always a tournament," said Bournstein, "it's pretty much year-round. We form relationships with other schools by attending their tournaments and they attend ours."