Fencing coach Tigran Shaginian, eft, looks on as a group of three to six year-olds learn the basics of fencing during the Little Musketeers class presented by Swords Fencing Studio on Tuesday in Canyon Country. Dan Watson/The Signal

Little Musketeers take a stab at fencing

As her dad stood back and watched, 3-year-old Corilyn Calcote attempted to thrust her sword into her opponent. Although a bold stroke, Corilyn’s armored opponent was able to quickly parry the attack, and finish off the young child with a decisive riposte.

Their fencing instructor, Tigran Shaginian, then concluded the skirmish, and asked them to switch partners.

Coach Chester Thompson, left, fences with Corilyn Calcote, 4, right, as she learns the basics of fencing during the Little Musketeers class presented by Swords Fencing Studio on Tuesday in Canyon Country. Dan Watson/The Signal

For every Tuesday of the summer, Santa Clarita Valley 3- to 6-year-olds in the Little Musketeers program will lunge and parry one another for the first time in their Recreation and Community Services Department class led by the staff at Swords Fencing Studios. A little over 10 students make up the class, and for eight weeks, they’ll learn the fundamentals of fencing.

“We’re teaching the basics like the positions, how to advance, to retreat, keeping your distance, how to attack, how to defend,” said Tigran Shaginian, the Swords Fencing Studio class. “We’re teaching them, but not going too in-depth …  just introducing them.”

Students from left, Jacob Varela, 4, Lucas Van Duzee, 5, Alex Calixto, 6, Corilyn Calcote, 4, and Christian Calixto, 4, practice their “advance” and “retreat” during the Little Musketeers class presented by Swords Fencing Studio on Tuesday in Canyon Country. Dan Watson/The Signal

“It’s like physical chess,” said Shaginian of the Olympic sport being taught to the kids. “And there’s a lot of interest at this age with the cartoons and movies.”

Shaginian said that introducing kids at a young age to something, especially a sport like fencing, helps develop their minds toward strategy, dexterity and hand-eye coordination.

Lucas Van Duzee, 5, advances on his opponent as he learns the basics of fencing during the Little Musketeers class presented by Swords Fencing Studio on Tuesday in Canyon Country. Dan Watson/The Signal

But for Alicia Talixto, she wanted her kids to have a productive, recreational activity during the summer that also aligned with what they’re interested in.

“They love swords, they run around with sticks and pretend they’re swords,” said Talixto, joking that she didn’t want her kids hurting one another when they were outside playing fantasy games. “I wanted them to learn the right way.”   

Fencing coach Tigran Shaginian, left, instructs Nora Van Duzee, 3, as she pairs off with Alex Calixto, 6, right, during the Little Musketeers class presented by Swords Fencing Studio on Tuesday in Canyon Country. Dan Watson/The Signal

The class begins with light stretching, then progresses through a handful of exercises to cement the fundamentals and remind the students of what they learned during the previous week’s class. However, once warmed up, the swordplay begins.

Although the older or more experienced classes use metal swords with a protective stopper at the point of the dulled blade, the Little Musketeers classmates spar against one another using structurally similar swords, but made of plastic.

Fencing coach Tigran Shaginian is backed into the corner by his students, ages three to six years old during the Little Musketeers class presented by Swords Fencing Studio on Tuesday in Canyon Country. Dan Watson/The Signal

Cole Calcote, whose 3-year-old daughter Corilyn was enrolled in class, said it was something different, and that he and his wife want their daughter to experience a variety of sports while growing up to find out what she’s good at or enjoys.

“Her mom and I were involved in sports, so we kind of wanted her to decide what she wanted to do when she gets older and not feel pressure to do one thing,” said Calcote.

According to Shaginian, it is not too late to sign up for the fencing class; there are also a number of Recreation and Community Services Department classes still available for this summer.  For more information visithttps://www.santa-clarita.com/city-hall/departments/recreation-community-services-and-open-space/recreation/seasons

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