VR Fencing Trainer Combines a Real Sword with Virtual Instruction

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Easily joining my list of ‘things I didn’t foresee VR being used for’, Fencer is a virtual reality fencing trainer which uses a real fencing sword attached to an Oculus Quest controller to help would-be fencers learn the underlying strategies and movements.

Russian VR studio Boxglass has developed Fencer, a VR fencing trainer which the company says is built to help new players learn the sport of fencing, tuned toward the rules and customs of the International Fencing Federation, the governing body of Olympic fencing.

Making use of the Oculus Quest headset and one of its controllers attached to a fencing sword, the app walks users through “a gamified set of exercises aimed a reaction and attention,” as well as exercises to train attacking and defensive strategies.

Because the user is using a real fencing sword with the correct weight as they would use in a fencing duel, the studio says that correct “muscle memory and motor skills are formed” with Fencer.

While it would clearly be difficult to learn parrying virtually (because there’s no opposing sword to strike your own), Fencer could certainly train strike accuracy, sword placement, evasion, and a host of other skills important to the sport.

Image courtesy Boxglass

The €2,000 Fencer kit—which includes the headset, sword & controller mount, and app license—is targeted toward fencing gyms rather than individual users. The studio appears to have launched the kit last month.

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It’s a shame that a consumer focused BYOS (bring your own sword) version of the app isn’t available; beyond just helping players train, an application like Fencer seems like a smart way to draw new players into the sport by lowering the barrier to entry.

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  • grindathotte .

    There are just so many ways this could go horribly wrong.

    • TechPassion

      Idiots are living everywhere. It is your responsibility to not play this in tight spaces or in front of tv.

    • Igor’ Mel’nikov

      There can always be reasons, but we make efforts to make everything go in the right direction.

  • Ad

    Seems like a bad idea but I’m more curious about the thought process for the business side. Is this a sideloaded app?

    • Jerald Doerr

      True that… And I thought boxing might be a rough sell.. It’s going to take some magic to get your money back on this one! Maybe a Beat Fincer mod!

      • Hazen

        lol

      • Igor’ Mel’nikov

        The aim of our product is to bring Generation Z to traditional sports with a hybrid solution.

  • Xron

    Seems like a great game, for those who love sports and want to learn how to move while fencing.

    • Richard Jones

      It doesn’t teach footwork, nor tactile blade work. That’s the heart of fencing.

    • Igor’ Mel’nikov

      Thank you for your pleasant review of our product.

  • Charles

    VR headset blocking view of real world
    + wildly swinging around a REAL SWORD.
    What could possibly go wrong?

  • I didn’t see this coming…

  • Sam Signorelli

    2000 euro could pay for a lot of ACTUAL lessons at a salle.

    • Jorge Gustavo

      Read again, it’s not aimed at students. It’s aimed at real gyms.
      The idea is that the gym buys as a learning tool to be used by students, accompanied by the instructor.

      • Richard Jones

        I’m not sure you understand the process of fencer training. This isn’t a side sport offered at a gym.

        • Igor’ Mel’nikov

          We showed our product to dozens of professional trainers, everyone has different opinions and this is interesting. We are in the Boxglass team, we love fencing and believe in the rapid development of technology in the near future. We really want to try to make a product that will teach fencing in virtual reality at a professional level.

    • Igor’ Mel’nikov

      Sam, what do you think would be the right price?

      • Sam Signorelli

        If you’re not in the US, I wouldn’t know. Look up your country’s ruling body, they may have a list of clubs.

  • Richard Jones

    I’m an experienced fencing coach and a firearms trainer. Both sports are a combination of precise mental and physical coordination directly involving the real world. As a firearms trainer I’ve found that students experienced with lots of virtual training and games often have difficulty when they go live. In addition, without the benefits of a coach and good virtual feedback they will frequently develop some bad habits that are harder to overcome to develop good technique. As most of you know, footwork is the real foundation of successful fencing. I’ve always found it more important than blade work. I don’t see this component in the virtual training. Also, there is a tactile component to blade work that would be hard to duplicate. I’ve often had students do blade work drills with their eyes closed to feel the pressure and attacks on the blade. Anyway, probably not a bad game for an experienced fencer or someone who will never fence live. A bit pricey though.

    • Jorge Gustavo

      Ok… Now read again and pay attention to the “aimed at gyms, not comsumers” part.

    • Jorge Gustavo

      Well, the ideia is that the gym buys as a learning tool to be used by students, accompanied by the instructor. So, is more of a helping tool to be used side by side with real world training and real world instructors. Just like we use a punching bag in box lessons and nobody complains that the bag doesn’t fight back or don’t have arms.

      • Richard Jones

        Fencers don’t have ‘gyms’ they have Salles. There are already many simple devices used for practicing target hits (like a punching bag) under the eyes of a coach. To follow your logic think about the benefits of a virtual punching bag. I can think of none. I stand by my contentions and will welcome feedback from other coaches on how they see this system as viable training for competition.

      • Igor’ Mel’nikov

        Jorge, we really created the simulator as an assistant to the trainer, the VR fencer does not completely replace the training process, but complements it, making the training more attractive especially for generation Z.

    • benz145

      Thanks Richard, that’s great input! I’d be really curious to see how the rubber meets the road with this solution, and whether or not it’s a novelty or truly useful.

    • Igor’ Mel’nikov

      I agree with you, Richard! Indeed, 70% of the load in fencing occurs on the legs, foot tracking has not yet been implemented in our application, however, technologies are developing very much and full body tracking will soon be presented in virtual reality. We are also working on feedback for a better fencing experience.

      • Richard Jones

        How do you propose dealing with realistic tactile feedback?

  • Federico Schweizer

    I hope this comes out soon! and I can use it on an oculus 2.