1.5 Does it hurt?

     Not if done properly.  Although executed with appreciable energy,
     a good, clean fencing attack hurts no more than a tap on the
     shoulder.  The force of the blow is normally absorbed by the flex
     of the blade.  Reckless and overly aggressive fencers can
     occasionally deliver painful blows, however.  Fencing *is* a
     martial art, so you should expect minor bruises and welts every
     now and again.  They are rarely intentional.  The most painful
     blows tend to come from inexperienced fencers who have not yet
     acquired the feel of the weapon.
     The primary source of injury in fencing is from pulled muscles
     and joints.  Proper warm-up and stretching before fencing will
     minimize these occurences.
     There is a risk of being injured by broken weapons.  The shards
     of a snapped blade can be very sharp and cause serious injury,
     especially if the fencer doesn't immediately realize his blade is
     broken, and continues fencing.  Always wear proper protective
     gear to reduce this risk.  FIE homologated jackets, britches, and
     masks are ideal, as they are made with puncture-resistant fabrics
     such as kevlar.  If you cannot afford such extravagances, use a
     plastron (half-jacket worn beneath the regular fencing jacket),
     and avoid old and rusty masks.  Always wear a glove that covers
     the cuff, to prevent blades from running up the sleeve.
     Fencing is often said to be safer than golf.  Whether or not this
     is true, it is an extraordinarily safe sport considering its
     heritage and nature.

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