El Paso is not known for being a fencing city but through the efforts of Master Margaret De Long that is changing.
Tucked away on the corner of Octavia and Yandell streets in Downtown El Paso is the Salle De Long Fencing studio.
The clang of foils striking is ever present, along with the beads of sweat rolling off hard-working students’ foreheads.
The classes are taught by fencing master Margaret De Long who has been in El Paso for the past 30 years and instructing students at the Salle De Long Fencing and Wellness Center since 2002.
In order for her to attain the title she had to master the foil, épée and saber which are the main weapons of the sport. Her specialty is the foil, which is one of the most fundamental weapons and most technical of the sport.
Her students are from all over the southwest region even in our sister city of Ciudad Juarez.
Master De Long was born in Chile and was a part of the National Fencing Team. Though good enough to fence for Chile in the Olympic Games, her country’s economic conditions limited the amount of athletes they were able to send to compete.
She brings that same competitive drive and expertise to her lessons.
Fencing requires a great amount of physical exertion along with a sharp mind to understand the strategy needed to win.
Student Regina Sung first fell in love with fencing when she lived in Taiwan for two years and brought that same enthusiasm with her when she moved back home to the borderland.
“I love how it incorporates mental and physical at the same time” Regina said.
The division El Paso fencers compete in is smaller then most of the regions in the United States giving them a greater opportunity to compete at the National Tournament.
Fencers must place and win in local tournaments in order to gain points. These points add up which ranks the fencer according to their point total.
Quinton Long, Master De Long’s son, was at one time ranked 33 rd in the nation. He also instructs students during the week when he is not in school.
Through the expert teaching from Master De Long the studio has produced 8 fencers who will be attending the National Tournament in Dallas Texas later this year.
The studio has classes during the week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The early classes are for beginners and the later classes are for the more advanced. They also offer camps for more advanced students and athletes attending the national tournament later this year.