Fencing masters supplied the necessary training. What’s odd is that, like singing and dancing masters, most were from overseas. It seems Englishmen were unwilling either to gain the necessary skills or demean themselves by teaching!
Here’s a telling paragraph from “Sidelights on the Georgian Period” (1902), written by ‘George Paston’ – a nom de plume used by Emily Morse Symonds.
A century and a half ago, when the small sword was a common accessory of the toilet, and a duel the natural outcome  of a hasty word or even an unguarded look; when, consequently, men’s lives depended upon their skill in tierce and carte , the fencing master was a power in the land. Not only was he hand-in-glove with his fellow artists of the bow and the brush , but he was the spoiled child of royal and noble circles, and took rank as an aristocrat in upper Bohemia. The most distinguished members of the profession were usually of French or Italian origin, since Englishmen, born sportsmen and fighters though they be, are seldom more than glorified amateurs in art, even in the noble art of self-defence. Where strength and courage are the chief elements of success, as in boxing, wrestling, quarter-staff play, and rough-riding, they are easily first; but in the fencing salon and the manége they have generally been eclipsed, in point of grace and finish, by their French and Italian rivals.
I think that translates as suggesting the English are best at ‘manly’, tough sports, while effete continentals are all ‘grace and finish’! It also ignores the obvious point that fencing was as much a source of graceful exercise as a training in sword-fighting; though perhaps graceful exercise was also seen as effete!
- A considerable, if colourful exaggeration. Duels were never that common.
- Fencing positions.
- Teachers of music and drawing or painting.