Does it hurt?

    Not if done properly.  A well executed fencing attack hurts no more
    than a tap on the shoulder.  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 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 certified jackets, britches, and masks are ideal, as
    they are made with bullet-proof 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.

Link to the next chapter: What is the best weapon for a beginner to start with?