As the first and only facility fully dedicated to the sport of sabre fencing in the Inner West, Sydney Sabre Centre is most certainly a unique business, but a successful and well-liked one too. In the few short years they have been open, Sydney Sabre has garnered a large community following and been nominated as a finalist in the Local Business Awards.
Here Ciao chats with co-founder Frances Chow to find out how they have been so successful and what makes fencing such a fantastic sport…
Is this your first nomination in the Inner West Business Awards?
Yes it is; we’re a very new business. We celebrated our second birthday on May 26th, just after we were announced as a finalist, so that was a great birthday present!
How does it feel to be nominated?
We’re absolutely delighted. We have a fantastic team who have been working hard to provide a great experience for our customers and the nomination is the best sign that we’re on the right track.
How did Sydney Sabre first start up?
My husband John and I started Sydney Sabre with a small group of family and other fencers with the goal of expanding the sport we love. Our goal is to grow sabre fencing into a mainstream professional sport and make Sydney Sabre the premier competitive club in Asia. We’ve got a great team of highly qualified instructors who are as enthusiastic about introducing complete beginners to the sport as they are at training elite athletes. We’ve had great competitive results in the last two years, but even more importantly, we’ve been able to train hundreds of new fencers and introduce thousands of people to the sport for the first time.
What do you love about working in the Inner West?
It’s a fantastic community and it’s perfect for our business. We have such a diverse group of people who train with us and it’s built a really vibrant and inclusive atmosphere in the club. A lot of people in the local area are looking for interesting new activities and skills, particularly ones they can do with their families, and there’s a strong focus on fitness and health. Fencing also ties in really well with the area’s strong Italian community; the sport has very deep roots in Italy, and it continues to be the strongest force driving its evolution into a modern professional game.
What is the first thing a fencer must learn?
The core skill you need in sabre is to remain calm, focused and decisive under pressure. It’s an incredibly fast sport, but it’s not just about raw power or reflexes; there’s also a complex tactical game going on. You also quickly develop a lot of leg strength and cardio fitness, as sabre is all about footwork and distance. It’s this combination of physical athleticism and quick thinking which makes sabre so rewarding.
What makes fencing a good sport? What do you in particular like about it?
Sabre is incredibly fast and exciting, but what makes it unique is that it’s full of intriguing contrasts: speed and control, power and grace, discipline and individual brilliance. These contrasts are what bring out the best in people. It’s great for building fitness, agility, emotional resilience and adaptability.
We work hard to make the sport accessible to everyone. Even though you’re training with other people, it’s a flexible environment. A lot of other sports need you to show up according to a strict timetable, and require you to compete at specific times. In fencing, you can enter competitions if you want – and yes, they’re fun for a lot of people – but there’s no requirement.
Also, Sydney Sabre has a really extensive list of class times, so it’s easy for busy people to find a time that fits the family schedule. Anyone who wants to learn more about fencing can come and watch classes at Sydney Sabre. We’re always happy to welcome people in to have a look at what we do. We run introductory classes almost every day and have a variety of training packages so people can pick what’s right for them.
Do you have a message for your staff and the customers who voted for you?
We’re thrilled to have had such great support from our customers. The greatest asset Sydney Sabre has is our enthusiastic and loyal community of fencers who make the club such a great place to train. The social interaction is one of the big draw cards for our business. You know when you get here that you’re part of a group of people who accept you and enjoy your company. For kids in particular, that can be a welcome refuge from the sometimes harsh environment of school or Facebook.
Sydney Sabre: 112-116 Parramatta Rd, Stanmore. T. 8094 9837.