The fencing club was very quiet this evening. I suspect this is because they've just announced that they're going to enforce new standards for the kit that folk wear when they fence, and people haven't had a chance to buy it yet.
Apparently these aren't actually new BFA rules; they were put in place with five year lead timewhich of course everyone ignored until they came into force. It's always hard to argue against things that are done for safety reasons*, but I think there's a good chance that this will dramatically reduce the number of people coming into the sport. Lots of clubs have a stash of smelly old kit that they can dole out for the beginner's classes; most of this kit will be against the new rules (read: not covered under club insurance) and there's no way most clubs will be able to afford to replace it.
It's hard to tell whether they're being over-protective with these new standards. Certainly, the level of accidents seems very lowin nearly twenty years of fencing, I've only ever seen one incident that resulted in someone going to hospital.
At this point I have to admit that it was me. My opponent and I both lunged at the same time; the end of his blade broke off when I parried; the remaining chunk of his blade (now much stiffer and with a jagged end) went through both my jacket and my plastron. And into me, but only just.
So I got carted off to hospital just in case, where I was in for several hours of hanging around, a half-dozen stitches, and the most painful part of the whole thing: removing the dressing.
*Which is presumably why the RMT claims that most of its threatened strikes are about 'safety'.