In the 11,000-square-foot Pro Sports Monroeville complex, behind the backdrop of a floor-to-ceiling American flag, fencing enthusiasts and athletes used footwork and finesse to compete in the second annual Steel City Historical Fencing Club’s tournament — the 2019 Steel City Open.
Held over Labor Day weekend, the event hosted three competitive tiers of German longsword fencing.
“It’s not the Olympic sport type of fencing,” said lead instructor Chris Hobbs of Steel City Historical Fencing Club, one of the tournament’s organizers. “All of these weapons are HEMA — that’s the historical European martial arts,” said Hobbs, emphasizing that the club also has a focus on history, specifically from the 16th and 17th centuries in Germany and other parts of Europe.
“The only way we know anything about this is from actual historical documents from the time periods it was practiced,” he added. “Those ancient manuals are how we train and compete.”
In addition to the German longsword competitions, participating fencers could use rapier, sword and buckler, and saber styles of swords over the weekend. The competitions ended Sunday, with an award ceremony held Sunday night.
The Steel City Historical Fencing Club has been active for two years, and the annual Steel City Open brings fencers from as far away as Oregon and North Carolina to the event.