Jane Eyre: A Local Fencing Champion

Jane Eyre, fencing teacher and artist, from Woolwich Township, has nothing but a long list of accomplishments throughout her years in fencing. Just recently, Jane Eyre set a US Record by winning her eighth FIE Veteran Individual World Fencing Championship in October 2023.

JANE EYRE

She has represented the United States in 17 straight FIE Veteran World Championships winning 20 medals. She has won eight individual gold, four team gold, one individual silver and one team silver, four individual bronze and two team bronze.

She’s also won over 40 National Gold medals including 11 USA Fencing National Championships. Over the span of 24 years in National and International Fencing, Jane has won a total of 56 Gold medals. In April 2020, Jane Eyre was the first member of the USA Fencing Hall of Fame to earn the honor exclusively for her accomplishments as a veteran fencer.

Graduating from Rowan University, she obtained her bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts, but years after graduating she decided to try fencing at the age of 44. When Jane tried fencing for the first time at a local high school, she said she “felt like a kid with a mask on.” Even though Jane started back in 2010, she says that she still loves fencing every single time she does it.

First, what exactly is fencing and where did it come from?

The story of fencing is an epic saga spanning centuries, from its humble beginnings as a deadly duel to its glorious transformation into a graceful Olympic sport.

The history of fencing starts long ago, in the mists of antiquity. Around 588 AD, in the mighty Byzantine Empire, the first recorded fencing competition took place. But even before that, civilizations like Egypt and Greece honed their swordsmanship skills for both combat and entertainment. Imagine gladiatorial arenas filled with the clang of bronze swords, or pharaohs twirling their khopeshes with deadly elegance.

Fast forward to the Middle Ages, where fencing schools sprouted like mushrooms across Europe. Knights trained with heavy greatswords and arming swords, their techniques a brutal blend of power and Precision. Think of iconic figures like King Richard the Lionheart, a renowned fencer himself.

The 16th century ushered in a new era of fencing, marked by the rise of the rapier. This lighter, thrusting sword led to the development of intricate footwork and tactical finesse. Italian masters like Fiore dei Liberi penned fencing manuals, dissecting the art of combat like Renaissance surgeons.

By the 17th century, France took center stage. The French school, renowned for its grace and speed, transformed the rapier into the smallsword, a weapon perfect for elegant duels and courtly entertainment. Imagine the glittering halls of Versailles, where nobles clashed not just with words, but with blades as well!

The 18th and 19th centuries saw fencing evolve further. The cumbersome rules of duels gave way to codified sporting regulations. Foil, epee, and sabre emerged as distinct disciplines, each with its unique weapon and rules of engagement. By the late 19th century, fencing had become an Olympic sport, showcasing the athleticism and mental agility of its practitioners.

Today, fencing thrives on the world stage. Fencers from all corners of the globe compete in international tournaments, their movements a blur of lightning strikes and lightning-fast parries.

The sport’s rich history echoes in every lunge and riposte, a testament to the enduring allure of swordsmanship.

Jane specifically does saber fencing. Now, what exactly is saber fencing?

According to the Fencing Prodigy, the sabre is a weapon used by fencers. More specifically, a sword that resembles a pirate’s cutlass at the handle, and a foil at the blade. Like every other sword in fencing, the sabre comes along with its own rulesets and techniques. So, it’s not just a sword, but it refers to the discipline within fencing that uses the sabre.

Almost a completely different style of fencing, sabre fencers (known as sabreurs and sabreuses) can score a point with a cutting motion as well as a thrusting movement. The target area in sabre, is the entire upper body, including the arms, neck, and head. The hands, and anything below the waist, is off-target and won’t count as a point if touched. Once a player has scored 15 points, or the three, three minute periods have expired, a winner is determined.

Obviously, the fencer with the most points wins. However, if the final bout ends in a tie, a priority minute is set.

From its ancient roots to its modern glory, fencing has captivated audiences and challenged athletes for centuries. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll pick up a foil yourself and join the legacy of these blade-wielding masters just like Jane Eyre.

Jane describes her adventures in fencing as a “quest every time” she goes, and she is able to “let everything go.”

Inspiring and relentless, Jane Eyre has truly left her mark on the world of sabre fencing. From her early days as a novice to her current status as a reigning champion, Jane’s journey has been nothing short of extraordinary. With each swing of her sabre, she has captured the hearts and minds of both fans and fellow athletes alike.

Jane’s rise to the top of the fencing world is a testament to her unwavering determination and unyielding spirit. She has faced countless challenges along the way, overcoming doubts. But through it all, Jane has remained steadfast in her pursuit of excellence, pushing herself to new heights with each training session and competition. “I keep getting and improving in different ways,” said Jane Eyre.

Her skill on the fencing strip is unparalleled. With lightning-fast reflexes and precision footwork, Jane has mastered the art of sabre fencing. Her opponents have often found themselves mesmerized by her swift movements and strategic maneuvers. Watching Jane in action is like witnessing poetry in motion, as she effortlessly parries and thrusts, leaving her opponents in awe.

But Jane’s impact extends far beyond her individual achievements. She has become a role model for aspiring fencers, especially young girls, who dream of making their mark in a traditionally male-dominated sport. Jane’s success has shattered stereotypes and proven that gender is no barrier to greatness. Her story serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration for all those who dare to dream big.

Prior to becoming a fencing champion, Jane was taking care of her son, and was doing illustration design as well as writing. Jane has written and illustrated a book called “All Around the World ” and you can find information on the book on her website: allaroundtheworldbook.com.

“All Around the World” is about “different cultures and the many ways in which all of humanity shares the same desires for love, happiness and fulfillment. Its simple message will open the hearts of both young and old to the fact that people around the world, despite living and looking very differently, are at heart all the same.”

Back to Jane’s career in fencing. She has started to teach all ages. Jane said that teaching “helps her grow so much, and it is such a great thing to see girls do since it helps boost their self esteem.”

She also adds and emphasizes that everyone in her classes is treated equally. Jane went from teaching from an old unheated barn to the establishment that she has now. Jane enjoys working with all ages and adds that it is an enjoyable way to make a living.

If you are interested in trying a class, Jane invites locals to try a free fencing class at Infinity Fencing Alliance, which is located on Paulsboro Road in Woolwich Township.

If you go on their website, infinityfencingalliance.com, you can find the “Try Fencing” form. They include an abundance of information for you and your child to read through. Their website also includes a list of their coaches, including Jane Eyre herself.

If you can’t access the website, here is some information here: All protective gear and equipment is provided for a fun and safe experience. The “Try Fencing” classes are offered several times a month. You can reach Infinity Fencing Alliance by calling them at (609)-410-3717.

Jane encourages those who want to try something, “to try something that peaks your interest,” no matter how strange you might think it is. If Jane let her doubts control her, she would have never been in the situations she is in now, which are all amazing accomplishments.

This year coming up, she hopes to compete again in Dubai depending on meeting qualifications. However, Jane is confident in meeting them.

As we celebrate Jane’s remarkable accomplishments, let us also acknowledge the countless hours of hard work, sacrifice, and dedication that have gone into her journey. Behind every victory lies a team of coaches, trainers, and supporters who have helped shape Jane into the champion she is today.

Congratulations, Jane Eyre, on your extraordinary achievements in the world of sabre fencing.

We can’t wait to see what you do next.

by Monica Segeren

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