Over the last four decades, the sport of fencing has grown in Texas. It is a rare weekend that sees less than three tournaments throughout the state. Most weekends have at least one tournament just within the Houston-Galveston area. No less than seven tournaments are scheduled in the state for this weekend, four in Houston
Of the dozen or so clubs in the Houston-Galveston area, the Clear Lake Fencing Club has become known as a friendly, social, recreational club, but one with a core of competitive fencers.
Some of this last group recently competed at the Buccaneer Open in Galveston in April and at the Clear Lake Open held at the Johnson Space Center in May. The club, itself, sponsors three tournaments each year. In August, it holds the Fete de Lune, arguably one of the most popular tournaments for “veteran” (age 40 or older) fencers in the state. In autumn it holds the Jerry Dunaway Memorial, named for a founding member of CLFC, for fencers of entry level rank. Each spring, it sponsors the Clear Lake Open, for fencers of all ranks, from beginners to elite level.
Even in competitions, CLFC has become known for keeping the fun in fencing. The Fete de Lune is always followed by an awards banquet, often including jewelry for the women and nautical themed prizes for the men. The victors at the Clear Lake Open win swords. With the Dunaway Memorial, since many of those who win an event are enjoying their first competition victory, particularly large trophy cups are given out. Clear Lake fencers are also a major part of the cadre of fencers who meet each March for the Bruno Invitational, a combination epee tournament and wine tasting at the Bruno & George Winery in Sour Lake.
Competing, however, is not required. Many recreational fencers simply enjoy having a night or two each week to get some exercise in a social setting by crossing blades.
The club also seeks to help the sport grow. Youngsters from elementary to high school receive instruction each week from coaches Damian Berntsen and Sam Sypien.
Whether teaching beginners, some as young as six or seven, the basics or providing a venue for adult fencers, some in their sixties and seventies, to enjoy a “conversation in steel” once or twice a week, the Clear Lake Fencing Club has carved a unique niche.