Leslie Taft shares her passion for fencing at College of the Desert and her own fencing academy

By Seham Saba


Leslie Taft began her fencing career in 1976 at the California State University at Los Angeles. She moved to the desert in 1984, and in 1986, she began teaching fencing classes at the College of the Desert—where she continues to teach every Tuesday evening.


For years, she dreamt about opening her own place where fencers could train, learn and interact. This dream came true in February 2003, when the Desert Fencing Academy opened its doors in Palm Desert to fencers ranging from beginners to seasoned tournament competitors.

“We currently have 55 members, from ages 8 to 78,” Taft says.

Four years ago, I had the opportunity to be part of Leslie’s fencing class at the College of the Desert, and I witnessed her extensive knowledge, her skills and her patience as a teacher. I also learned why fencing is great for people of all ages: A fencer develops physical and psychological abilities to face combat. Fencing demands self-discipline, and teaches participants to accept authority, to share, and to forge friendships. The sport encourages good posture and balance, and improves flexibility, agility and reflexes.

The Desert Fencing Academy offers individual and group lessons in three weapons: foil, sabre and épée. Classes range from one-on-one 30-minute classes with the coach, to group sessions that allow fencers to practice with each other.

“Introductory lesson packages are available, and there is no need to bring any equipment, because all fencing gear is provided,” Taft says.


Desert Fencing Academy is located at 73-760 Dinah Shore Drive, Suite D, in Palm Desert. For more information, including fees, hours and upcoming events, visit www.desertfencingacademy.com, or call (760) 218-1343.

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