The expression "En garde!" isn't something you hear a lot these days, but in the 18th century that meant it was time to duel.
Duelling with swords was once seen as an appropriate way for gentlemen to settle their disputes — with consequences that were often more than a bruised ego.
"In the 18th century, there were no antibiotics. Medicine was not going to help you," said Peter McLaughlin, a fencing instructor at Escrime Mont-Royal.
"Even if you got a scratch across your belly, you would probably be dead within a few weeks."
McLaughlin says that's why swordplay was once an important survival skill.
The tradition continues on today in the sport of fencing — without the dying part, that is.
On Tuesday, Marianopolis College students were given a few pointers from McLaughlin and other instructors from the fencing club, which operates out of the NDG Community Centre on Prud'homme Avenue.
"There's no other sport where you have a weapon in your hand and you can actually use it on another person," McLaughlin said.
Student Maxwell Gentili-Morin says he's never fenced before, but the workshop piqued his boyhood curiosity.
"It's sword fighting, right?" he said. "It's like every kid's dream."