St Albans magician becomes fencing master

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En garde! A professional magician from St Albans has added another string to his bow by becoming a master swordsman.

Tony Middleton, also known as Sonic, has completed his final exams to become one of the UK's only Professors of Fencing.

Having started fencing at university, he took his first coaching exam with the British Academy of Fencing (BAF) over 10 years ago.

Tony said: "I never thought I would one day become a full master of the Academy, but I kept going and never gave up on the ambition.

"Fencing is a great sport that develops agility, fitness, tactical thinking, and of course it’s great fun to hit someone with a sword!"

Established in 1949, the origins of BAF date back to an ancient guild of fencing masters endorsed by Henry VIII called The Company of the Masters of Defence, which was given a royal warrant granting a monopoly on the teaching fencing in England.

Since its inception BAF has produced several fencing masters who went on to coach national teams.

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One of the BAF's most famous professors – Bob Anderson – was the swordmaster on the original Star Wars trilogy, where he stunt doubled as Darth Vader.

Tony is currently head coach at St Albans and Hitchin Fencing Clubs, and chairman of the Hertfordshire Fencing Association, and his students recently qualified for the Welsh national team, and GBR Veterans.

"It’s a great joy to see people succeed and know that you, the coach, have been instrumental to their success.

In Tony's day job he’s one of the UK’s leading magicians, playing weekly at the Sheraton Grand Park Lane in Mayfair.

"Magic is all about deception and trickery - but in many ways so is fencing.

"People sometimes say that fencing is like playing chess – you are constantly trying to think one step ahead of your opponent. If you can disguise your intention, or use misdirection, you can give yourself the advantage."

Tony added: "I have always really enjoyed fencing, and going to the club is one of my highlights of the week. I highly encourage those who have not tried it to give it a go, and discover just how much fun it is. The clubs in our county are also great socially, and are a fantastic way to meet others and make new friends."

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