If you’re sitting on the fence about where to put the kids this summer, you may be in the right place!
Fencing is not a popular sport in Canada. But the sport is growing and can be a great to get into — especially for kids.
My Fencing Club is a Toronto fencing school taught by Canadian National Champion Katya Belkina. Belkina, 35, emigrated from Russia to Canada six years ago and is quickly breeding a young and talented group. In just over a year, enrolment has skyrocketed from eight to 48 students.
“(Students) realize when they have the sword in their hands, they can apply any skills and values they have through that sword,” she says. “When they come in, their self-esteem can be low; but when they see what they can do they become different people.”
Belkina, whose parents were professional fencers in the former U.S.S.R., started training with her at the age of eight.
“Fencing is in my blood. My passion spills out,” she exclaims. “It’s not a business, it’s a passion!”
She’s toured across the former Soviet Union as a fencer, where she compares the sport’s popularity to hockey in Canada. Eventually, she gave up high-level competition to pursue her education. After earning her PhD in economics and entering the corporate world, she knew there was something missing. She became a fencing instructor at a private school in the city and in April 2009, opened up My Fencing Club.
Parent Connie Freitas says her 11-year-old son connected to fencing instantly.
“He feels special when he comes here,” she says.
Freitas explains Belkina’s ability to recognize, encourage and cultivate her son’s leadership traits led her to believe Belkina held a PhD in psychology, not economics. In August, her son will compete at the National Championship. He started the program as a full-time student in January.