Changing the face of fencing

Changing the face of fencing
Brothers in Arms — East London fencers Rajan Rai and Jai Birch chase dreams, success and world domination in new Vice Sports film.

As the Olympic cauldron burned in Stratford, East London, in 2012, it lit up the competitive spirit in two East End friends. Now, Rajan Rai and Jai Birch are dodging, parrying and attacking their way towards competing in the 2020 Games.

The pair have gone from kids slashing Zs after watching The Legend of Zorro to this year winning a Bronze as a team at the Junior World Fencing Championships in France — Britain’s first-ever team medal in the competition.

They are also the latest to be profiled by our friends at Vice Sports for the New Originals series, which follows people who live by their own rules. The duo, who learned the art of swordsmanship in East End community halls, define themselves by where they are going, not where they’re coming from.

The third instalment of the series, powered by iD Mobile, documents the rise of Rai and Birch, as they pay homage to their roots and imagining facing each other in an Olympic Gold medal final.

Raj found he was the only Sikh and the only Indian in his club, which was dominated by white, English men. As his passion grew, Raj realised the importance of fencing – in his friendships, his religion, and his future.

Meanwhile, Birch first picked up a sabre after following a group of friends to try the sport at a club called the Newham Swords. His friends all dropped out and Birch is now Britain’s No. 1-ranked fencer under 20.

In a world where gangs, Xbox and smoking weed were more common choices, Rajan and Jai made their own destiny. The two friends have their sights set on for world domination. Now, they won’t stop until they reach the 2020 games.

The New Originals series celebrates pioneers who are going against the grain. Watch the rest of the series on Vice Sports and head to

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