Local sports club profile – Engarde at MacKillop fencing club

Amy M 6 June 2015
Engarde Group Photo

It might not look it, but when properly supervised, the sport of fencing is only slightly more hazardous than lawn bowls. We spoke to the president of Engarde at MacKillop fencing club to find out more.

Di Makin has been president of the Engarde at MacKillop fencing club, which started in 2009, for around 18 months. While she isn’t a fencer herself, her son Tom Makin (pictured below, left) is a fencer at the club and also the current ACT open men’s foil champion.

Engarde at MacKillop offers training in two of the three Olympic fencing types, which differ when it comes to weapon, target area and protective equipment. The first is foil, which uses a light thrusting weapon and limits the target to the opponent’s torso, chest, shoulders and back.

The second is sabre, which is a light cutting and thrusting weapon and a target limited to the torso above the waist, as well as the head and shoulders.

Tom Makin and Jeremy Sadler Sabre

There are four levels of fencing competition for each type of weapon: novice (those who have been competing for less than two years), age competitions (from under 11s to under 20s), open competitions and a veterans competition for age 40 plus. Engarde runs monthly team competitions to get people used to competition conditions, and also participates in ACT and interstate tournaments.


Last year was Engarde at Mackillop’s most successful year, with four of its members crowned winner or runner up in their respective categories at the 2014 ACT Championships, as well as success in regional competitions. Di’s son, Tom Makin, is the current ACT open men’s foil champion, Jeremy Sadler is the ACT open men’s foil runner up, Hans Dimpel is ACT veterans men’s foil runner up and Ainsling Kinsella is the ACT novice women’s champion.

Engarde at MacKillop is always open to new members and trains on Monday nights from 7pm to 10pm. Di says that the majority of Engarde at MacKillop’s members aren’t students of the school, though students do qualify for discount fees.

The club also runs three-month courses for beginners and come and try days, for which all equipment and protective clothing is supplied. To find out more or to get involved, email engarde.delegate@actfa.org.au.

Engarde at Mackilliop Fencing Club fast facts

  • Number of members: 25 members aged 9 years and up
  • Home ground: St Mary MacKillop College, Wanniassa
  • Club president: Di Makin

This is a weekly series profiling Canberra sporting clubs. To nominate your club for an upcoming profile, please email amy@the-riotact.com.

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