GARWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A Union County fencing gym is training Olympic hopefuls.

CBS2’s Meg Baker reports on the niche sport and what it takes to succeed.

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The young fencers are advancing towards their Olympic dreams.

“I’ve been fencing for 17 years. In beginning, the Olympics is kind of difficult to wrap your head around,” 25-year-old Jonah Shainberg said.

It’s now a reality for Shainberg, who has been training with former champion fencer Aleks Ochocki at his Garwood gym, Advance Fencing and Fitness Academy.

“When I was 7, I saw ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ and I thought swords were really cool, so I begged my parents to sign me up to do sword fighting. They said, ‘You can’t. You can’t be a pirate. It’s not real. That’s not a thing.’ I was intent on proving them wrong,” Shainberg said.

Seventeen-year-old Jadeyn Williams is heading to the University of Notre Dame next year on a fencing scholarship. She started when she was 8 years old and says the niche sport has taught her to balance all things in life.

“I definitely love how it’s different. It’s not like your average sport. You have to use your brain,” she said.

They have a big competition this weekend. It’s the last Olympic qualifier and a chance to move up in the U.S. rankings.

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“Not only athleticism is needed but the mental capacity to be able to handle the pressure, to be able to analyze and make adjustments when you’re competing,” Ochocki said.

“Fencing has given me incredible opportunities with Team USA,” Shainberg said.

They have gone abroad to European competitions and all over the country.

For the uninitiated, the goal is to use the sabre to touch the opponent and score points.

“You want to be the attacker or have the right of way. In most sports, in order to score a point, you want to be on offense, right? The interesting thing is that you can score points defending or regain that right of way on defense,” Ochocki said.

They have been practicing their footwork and are ready to attack during their next bout. Opponents get ready to play defense.

Advance Fencing and Fitness Academy holds summer camps and works with local school districts and towns to create fencing clubs. For more information, visit

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CBS2’s Meg Baker contributed to this report.

CBSNewYork Team