Every Wednesday night in the Markin Center, John Krueger, an alumni of Kalamazoo College, teaches students about the art of fencing. Fencing is a combat sport where two people spar with different swords against one another, gaining points based on where they make contact on the other person.The class is about two hours long with an additional hour spent working on more advanced work.
Krueger has been practicing fencing since he was in middle school, and his love has never stopped. “I took fencing when I was at K in the early 1980s. I was active in fencing during my foreign study in Muenster, Germany. When I graduated, I moved to Denver for two years where I was active in fencing, historical re-enactment, and armoured combat,” Krueger said. He returned to Kalamazoo and found that students were longing for someone to teach fencing, and since then, he has been teaching fencing at Kalamazoo College since 1987.
Krueger applies many different techniques in order to teach his students about fencing. “I incorporate mathematics, biomechanics and physics into understanding why we fence the way we do to maximize our effectiveness,” he said. Krueger does not only teach students the physical aspects of fencing — he also adds history and other forms of combat to each class.
“In addition to the skills needed to compete or have fun in the sport of foil fencing, I add a lot of history of swordplay and how it affected the modern sports of foil, epee, sabre, and other sword sports,” he said. The more advanced students in fencing have the ability to explore other fencing styles and compete with one another.
Calling himself an eclectic teacher and acknowledging his over-usage of puns, Krueger makes the fencing class available to all skill levels. His only requirement is that each student have an inquiring and curious mind. A regular class involves honing the basic skills required of a fencing match. “Once the students have been introduced to the basics, the second half of each quarter students get to practice those skills in sparring with each other as well as continuing to learn more advanced skills,” Krueger said.
Krueger wants his students to continue to work on their skills after Kalamazoo College, hoping to encourage his students to develop and continuing living a healthy lifestyle long past their years at K as he was taught when he was a student at Kalamazoo College.