El Maestro de Esgrima (The Fencing Master)
Author: Arturo Perez-Reverte
While we are still replaying in our minds highlights of the recently completed World Cup, another major sports event will soon kick off on 18 August in Jakarta, Indonesia – the 18th Asian Games. Hong Kong’s teams are hopeful for medals especially in the cycling, badminton, swimming, squash and fencing categories.
Actually, all regular, large-scale integrated sporting events are opportunities for the general public to learn more about different sports categories, many of which sound familiar but what they really are is known to only a few. For example, many of us know how to cycle, but very few of us know that cycling races can be sub-categorized into road bicycle racing, track cycling and mountain bike racing – let alone the sprint and keirin categories. Fencing, likewise, is a sport we always see on TV but few really know much about its sub-categories and rules.
Apart from actually playing it and getting professional training, are there any other ways for us to learn more about an unfamiliar sport? When I was a kid, I used to enjoy playing a baseball video game through my Nintendo Entertainment System. That is how I gained some knowledge about the rules of this sport. Reading related books and watching related movies can also lead to the same result. El Maestro de Esgrima (The Fencing Master) is a novel written by Arturo Perez-Reverte, who is highly acclaimed as the national author of Spain. Filled with grievances, the novel tells the story of how a middle-aged fencing master struggled during his nation’s political turmoil. The book also helps readers learn about many fencing rules that relate to the intricate plot. The story takes place in the 19th century, when the fencing rules were quite different from the foil and épée categories in today’s Asian Games. Nonetheless, this fascinating story can definitely help you understand more about the sport of fencing.
El Maestro de Esgrima also provides a historic look at Spain’s political situation during the 19th century. So, this 30-year-old bestseller serves both as a sports book and cultural archive of Spain’s fascinating past.