The Golden Gate Fencing Center first opened its doors in the Mission in 1997. Since then it has produced several national competitors and two Olympic coaches.
Mike Penderson, a co-founder and head junior coach, started his fencing career as a teenager. At 50, he now has over 30 years of experience coaching students at all levels, from beginners to the 2004 U.S. Olympic Fencing team.
Penderson says the Bay Area is a hotbed of fencing, with plenty of clubs and opportunities for new and experienced athletes. The center is one of two fencing schools in the Mission and one of about 30 fencing clubs in the Bay Area. Instructors teach both foil, a style in which only the torso is the target, and épée, in which the entire body is the target.
The center’s first location was on York Street next to KQED Radio. Two years later it moved to Harrison Street, near 20th. The school’s three coaches created the new center with the help of a student with an unfinished warehouse and many others who volunteered to help to build up the location.
Classes for both children and adults are available throughout the week.