Steampunk’s Most Dangerous Sport: Umbrella Fencing

For the first time in Steampunk History, the brave and foolhardy participants of Umbrella Fencing emerged unscathed. This was due in no small part to the presence of actual fencing gear to protect the combatants’ face and torso from jabs and thwacks. Yet even with such sensible precautions, umbrella fencing remains an inherently bad idea. This is undoubtedly what makes it such great fun to all and sundry. Here are some things we learned during this year’s umbrella fencing competition.


Competitors listening to their pre-competition lecture. Photo by Katie Daniels

This is a Bad Idea.

In the presence of the witnessing audience, who were sensibly only there to watch other people get hurt, the twenty-five adventurous souls risking life and limb for the honour and glory of their airships were required to repeat the following oath: “I understand that this is a bad idea. I agree to do it anyway. I will not whine.” Waivers were also signed by the competitors, requiring them to take full responsibility for their poor decisions in choosing to do battle with such a dangerous weapon as an umbrella.


In umbrella fencing, the object of the game is to touch your opponent with your weapon, not jab them with the point. Jabs hurt more than thwacks. This has something to do with mass, speed, energy, and the temperature of the space-time continuum. It can also get graphically violent. Umbrellas are extremely dangerous if not used for their intended purpose of shielding one from the rain.

Do Nots

Do not throw the umbrellas.

Do not kick each other. Kicking is poor sport.

Do not unfurl your umbrella. Just because it is an Unbreakable Umbrella does not mean that it cannot, in fact, be broken. The tip of one unbreakable umbrella meeting the canvas of another could end badly.

Do not drop your umbrella. Dropping your umbrella is equal to taking a hit.

Do not touch the ground. Touching the ground is equal to taking a hit.

Do not whine. Whining is for people who were smart enough not to sign up for umbrella fencing.

Do not block with your face.

Do not try this at home. This sport should only be undertaken under extreme circumstances and in the presence of a sane, sceptical, and qualified adult.

Captain Duct Tape vs Last Year's Champion. Photo by Katie Daniels

Captain Duct Tape vs Last Year’s Champion. Photo by Katie Daniels


Do heckle the combatants. In proper fencing the marshal isn’t allowed to make commentary because it might upset the combatants performance. In umbrella fencing, if you’re crazy enough to sign up then you’d better be thick enough to handle a few insults.

Do use two hands on the umbrella if you feel so inclined. This increases mobility and swing power.

Do listen to the judges. The judges words are final.

Do die dramatically. There’s nothing more pleasing to a crowd than to hear a losing combatant quoting Shakespeare as he sinks to his knees after suffering a light tap on the wrist.

Do be Batman. If you can be Batman, always be Batman. But unlike in the movies, Batman only wins the first round and does not progress to the finals.

Do use duct tape to reinforce your body armour. This one is a no brainer. What could be cooler than duct tape?

And as always, remember….this is an inherently bad idea.

What could possibly go wrong?


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