Academy of Fencing Masters Blog

Art of Fencing, Art of Life

Why Kids Should Try Lots of Activities (Including Fencing!)

Why Kids Should Try Lots of Activities (Including Fencing!)

One thing that parents are always looking for is new things for their kids to participate in. We want our kids to have the opportunity to learn new things, even as we want them to find that perfect activity and focus on it so they can excel. 

Keeping their bodies and minds busy through youth sports, clubs, the arts, and more helps kids to grow up strong and it fosters an expanded worldview. 

1. More activities is a good thing

There is no other time quite like childhood, with its wide-open nature and the time and support to explore lots of things. It’s a wonderful period, and parents naturally want to help their kids make the most of the magic. 

Kids should absolutely dive into lots of different things. Here are five reasons why!

2. Well rounded kids will be well-rounded adults

“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” If kids only do one thing, they can get blinders on and become unbalanced. This is especially important around middle school when kids naturally start to feel off-kilter and as though they don’t belong. Any kind of hiccup in the child’s social circle can be devastating. 

When kids participate in lots of things, they have lots of chances to build their self-esteem and feel good about themselves. In addition, lots of physical activities will feed on each other, building muscles and giving kids a different way of thinking about things. That motion in the swimming pool helps to strengthen back muscles that work for gymnastics too. The agile thinking of fencing helps to hone focus for chess club too. 

All of this helps kids become more well-rounded, and that will translate into adulthood, where they’ll be used to balancing lots of different activities. For now, they’re keeping up with school and activities. As adults, they’ll be keeping up with work, family, and hobbies and activities of their own.

3. Social enrichment

Increasing the social footprint of kids with lots of activities is fantastic for building their peer and adult relationships. This is so, so important for developing healthy kids and preserving mental health. 

When a child is participating in lots of different activities, they are making friends and forging mentor relationships through shared interests. Those don’t just last for the amount of time that they’re doing these specific things, but rather carry with them outside of the narrow focus of one thing. 

Particularly in the wake of the pandemic, social enrichment is important. Kids lost a significant amount of social time through lockdown, and participating in lots of youth activities can help make up for that lost time. While we don’t want to overwhelm kids, we do want to give them lots of opportunities to make friends and form social ties with adult mentors like coaches.

4. Overcoming challenges

With every new sport that a kid participates in, they have to learn a new set of skills from bodily movement to thinking patterns to social interactions. In addition, there are specific challenges involved in every kind of sport that are different for each child. For example, a shorter child might have to learn to come at soccer very differently than a child who has a height advantage in that sport. 

One of the biggest benefits of sports in general is the way that it forces adaptation and growth in both the mental and physical arena. Every single sport has winners and losers, and every child who participates will be on both sides of that divide at one time or another. How to respond when there are huge challenges to overcome is just as important as winning. In fact, losing is a better teacher than winning is

Whatever the game they’re playing, kids who take the plunge and lean into youth sports learn how to overcome significant challenges along the way. 

5. Self-determination

Independence is the final goal for all parents for their kids. We want them to learn skills, become strong, and then become independent and step away from us. Learning to make their own decisions and to make those decisions thoughtfully has everything to do with kids’ ability to transition out from home and into adult life. 

Allowing kids to participate in lots of different youth activities and then encouraging them to make decisions about what they want to do, how much they can handle, and how to balance their time and energy builds essential skills for the future. Young people can make decisions that work for them, even in elementary and middle school. That kind of autonomy builds self esteem for kids and shows them that the adults in their lives trust them. 

One thing about this is how it can be challenging for parents to let go of their control. Though we might put a lot of money, time, and effort into a sport, it might not be what a kid wants to do forever. Learning to let go and allow kids to make their own decisions is tough sometimes, but it’s also freeing and important. 

Why youth sports like fencing are important

Participating in youth sports, all kinds of youth sports, teaches kids a huge range of skills. What’s really wonderful about this is that so many of these benefits go across all kinds of sports, including fencing but also everything from gymnastics to skateboarding to football.

  • Adaptability to environments – The fencing strip, the soccer field, the skating rink, the basketball court. By trying lots of different sports, kids learn to be comfortable in many different environments. 
  • Managing risk – Nothing ventured, nothing gained. It’s difficult for kids to learn how to step out of the comfort of their parents or their school and challenge themselves. It’s scary! Participating in youth sports, especially trying a variety of youth sports, helps kids to see that trying new things isn’t so scary after all. So often, the biggest monsters are the ones we imagine. 
  • Movement mastery – As we get older, we discover how essential it is to have control over our bodies. Though kids tend to have a wonderful ability to move and learn new movements, that becomes more of a challenge when they get older. Youth sports offer an important foundation for lifelong health.
  • Strategic thinking – All kinds of sports involve some amount of strategic thinking. In team based sports, this is done in tandem with teammates. In individual sports, strategic thinking is all about one person versus their opponent. Which angles and movements are most likely to end in success, the effect of speed and timing, the way that movement affects the outcome – these are all part of the stash of strategies that kids learn during sports. Even better, that kind of strategic think transfers out of sports and into school and life. 

While you’re encouraging your child to try out lots of different sports, do keep in mind that it’s totally ok to insist that they stick with something, at least for some set period of time. You might say that they need to fence for six months regularly or keep on with an entire season of volleyball. This way, you as a parent aren’t wasting money and also the kids aren’t learning to quit as soon as something isn’t perfect. 

It can be dizzying to have kids going in lots of different directions, but it’s also important for their development. You never know what your child will be successful at unless they have the opportunity to try it! 

How Hard Should Parents and Coaches Push Young Fencers?

How Hard Should Parents and Coaches Push Young Fencers?

As parents, we want our kids to be successful. It’s our job to make sure that kids have all the tools they need to reach their full potential and to be as fulfilled as they can be. That goes for fencing, but it also goes for school and other activities. 

There’s a fine line between pushing a child hard enough that they can reach that potential and pushing them past it. It’s not always easy to tell the difference, but parents can improve their odds by understanding how kids develop and what positive pushing looks like. 

Pushing too hard on kids in youth sports can cause not only physical damage, but it can also cause mental struggles. These can become long-term issues, leading to the exact opposite outcome of what the parents want. Not only that, but it can be damaging to the relationship between parents and children. 

Parents need to be encouraging, not overbearing. The same goes for coaches, who need to offer support and structure without charging past the limits of kids’ ability.  

A strong internal drive

To succeed in life, kids need to develop a strong sense of purpose and an internal drive that will carry them through difficult times. Practicing is hard, especially when you’re tired or mentally worn down by a loss. 

No one is born resilient. Kids learn to be resilient because someone has been there to teach them how to be that. There’s a saying in parenting that is really apropos here – kids learn to self soothe because they were soothed by someone else countless times before. This is our job as fencing parents. We need to be the ones there to build them up a thousand times so that one day they will be so strong that they don’t need us to build them up. 

This happens in small ways at first, and it has to be built over time. You cannot hammer into a young athlete a sense of resilience without building them up in strong ways all along the way. It happens over time. It happens with years of practice. 

A strong internal drive can only be built by first letting a child be independent, and then supporting them with positive reinforcement and encouragement. Pressure will tamp down that drive and put out the light of passion. 

Both coaches and parents can support the development of a strong internal drive by giving kids guidance, then stepping back and allowing them to do it on their own. No child can develop independence when an adult is always there to hold them accountable. They have to figure out how to hold themselves accountable. 

This will take time, and often we’ll see kids fall down and fail while they’re working through tough things. It’s hard for us to watch this sometimes, but we have to let them make mistakes. Fencing already teaches kids to come back from losing a point or losing a match. It’s a fantastic teaching tool, because resilience is baked into fencing if we allow it to be.

42 Fascinating Fencing Facts Every Fencer Should Know

Fascinating Facts about Fencing

We all know that fencing is a cool sport, but how up to date are you on the outlying, and honestly super weird facts of fencing? 

To help you expand your horizons in fencing, we’ve put together forty-two fascinating and (sometimes) obscure facts about fencing. 

  1. Fencing is one of the five sports that have been featured in every modern Olympic Games since their inception in 1896. The other four were Track and Field, Gymnastics, Swimming, and Cycling. 
  2. The term “en garde” in fencing comes from the French phrase meaning “on guard” or “ready.” (that’s an easy one!) 
  3. The weapon used in foil competitions weighs approximately 500 grams. In epee, it’s 770, and the sabre is 500 gram. The weight used to check the minimal pressure needed to be applied to the epee to score a touch is 750 grams, foil is 500, and there is no weight in sabre as the sabre is not a poking weapon.
  4. Fencing’s roots date back to ancient civilizations such as Egypt and Rome. The earliest evidence we have of fencing comes from the reign of Rameses III in 1190 BCE. Illustrations from the Temple Madinat Habu show people wearing masks and competing in the earliest bouts. 
  5. Fencing was one of the first sports to introduce electronic scoring equipment, which replaced the traditional scoring system. That’s before the first telegraph was sent! French magician Robert Houdin (yes, Houdini named himself after this guy), made the first attempt at an electronic scoring system with a metallic jacket and a metal pointed sword. He’d later give the patent to fencing master Augustin Cabin, who would later patent it and promote it. Electronic scoring came into the Olympics in 1934.
  6. The target area in foil fencing is limited to the torso, including the back, while the arms, head, and legs are considered off-target. Saber is everything above the waist and the legs are off-limits. Epee is the only fencing discipline where the entire body is a valid target, including the arms and legs.
  7. Though fencing schools in Europe were focused on actual combat through the 19th Century, sport fencing goes back 1500 years. The first recorded competitive sport fencing match took place in the 6th Century in the Byzantine Empire. Fencing manuals from Europe date back to roughly this same time period, with various competing first manuals of fencing going back to the 14th and 13th centuries in Italy and France. Most early fencing manuals included other combat types, like knife fighting and wrestling. Fencing schools in Europe devoted to sport wouldn’t come until later. 
  8. The concept of right-of-way, which determines who scores a point in foil and saber, was introduced in the 18th century to add structure to fencing bouts. Right of way basically means that the point doesn’t count unless you clearly meant to get it. While it sounds simple, right-of-way is actually quite challenging concept to understand. I wrote a whole series of posts explaining this concept.
  9. Only men participated in fencing in the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. Actually, only men participated in all the sports in the 1896 Games. Women began participating in 1900 in equestrianism, golf, croquet, sailing, and tennis. Women’s fencing was added to the Olympics in 1924. Fencing was still one of the first sports to introduce women’s competitions at the Olympic level, though it would be 80 years later that women were included in all Olympic fencing when women’s saber was added in 2004. Fencing was one of the first to include women, but also one of the last to be completely gender inclusive. Women’s boxing wasn’t added till 2012, which is when all sports were offered for both men and women. 
  10. Fencing bouts take place on a strip called a “piste,” which is 14 meters long and 1.5 meters wide. The piste can be made of rubber, aluminum, or metal. They’re regulated by both the governing body of each country and FIE. 
  11. Fencing gloves are specially designed to protect the hand while allowing the fencer to maintain a firm grip on the weapon. Just any glove won’t do!
  12. Fencing terminology is predominantly in French, reflecting the sport’s historical origins and its strong tradition in France, but people yell in every possible language. Sometimes people even yell during matches in made up words that don’t make sense in any language. Most fencing terminology is in French because so much of fencing started in France. Though it’s spread around the world, fencing’s language stays the same no matter who is competing. This is part of the reason fencers can compete against one another even if they don’t share the same language – the ref is still calling it in mostly the French fencing terminology speak!
  13. Fencing is not just an Olympic sport but also has a rich history of international competitions, including World Championships, World Cups, and regional championships. Though we’re all most familiar with the Olympics, the other large international competitions are still highly prestigious. International fencing competition is fierce and governed by the FIE. It’s a completely different level from domestic fencing in the United States, and many fencers who compete at the international level from the U.S. are also competing for the NCAA, the college athletic organization. How fencing works on the international level is complicated and every country does things differently – so differently that I wrote and entire book about it.  
  14. The first Fencing World Championships took place in 1921 in Paris, France. The World Championships aren’t held in Olympic years now, but when the Olympics didn’t have all events included, the World Championships would hold just those events. Prior to 2020, after women’s epee and sabre was included in the Olympics, fencing team events were on a rotating schedule, so there was always some team event that didn’t have a top level international competition at the Olympics. Now that all events are held in each Olympiad, the World Championships doesn’t have to hold extra events.
  15. Fencing has a long-standing tradition of saluting opponents before and after a match as a sign of respect. Handshakes used to be the norm, but the pandemic pushed everyone to bump elbows, tap blades or just salute from a distance. Now handshake returned to be a norm.
  16. The distance between fencers at the beginning of a bout is called “en garde distance.” In the beginning of the bout or after every scored point, strips have lines to show where the opponents should stand, but when there aren’t lines (for example, if a bout was halted), fencers stand far enough apart that their weapons can’t touch when each person’s weapon is extended.
  17. Fencing blades are made of steel and can bend significantly without breaking. The art of picking a good blade is really an artform, something that experienced fencers and coaches can be very particular about. A stack of ten blades made in the same factory at the same time will each have a slightly different “feel”, and you might prefer something slightly more bendy, slightly stiffer, and have a different balance. While for most beginner fencers this difference is too subtle to notice, highly competitive fencers will spend a lot of time choosing ‘their’ blade.
  18. The grip of a weapon can be coated or covered in various things to enhance grip and prevent slipping. It can be coated in a special liquid rubber that will enhance the grip, or it can be wrapped in leather to enhance the grip. All of this, including which of the many kinds of grip a fencer uses, is very much up to personal preference. 
  19. The sport of modern pentathlon includes epee fencing as one of its five disciplines. Competitors must go through two rounds. In the first pool rounds, the fencer who scores the first hit in under sixty seconds wins, and they both lose if no one scores. The second round consists of 45 second direct elimination rounds that are seeded by the previous pool round. Athletes then go on to a 200 meter freestyle swim, a show jumping 12 obstacle course on a horse, and a combined running and shooting event. There’s a point system to add all of this up, and it’s all now done in a single day. Sounds pretty exhausting but fun!
  20. Fencing uniforms are designed to be form-fitting to minimize the risk of opponents’ weapons getting caught. No one wants that epee to be stuck.
  21. Fencing was included in the first Paralympic Games in Rome in 1960 and has been a part of the Paralympic program ever since. Also previously known as wheelchair fencing, the combatants’ wheelchairs are stuck to the floor, but they can pivot back and forth as they score points. USA Fencing governs wheelchair fencing in the UA, and you’ll see it at different national events.
  22. Fencing weapons undergo regular inspections at the beginning of every bout to meet their specifications. You wouldn’t be allowed to fence with a weapon that a referee disqualified during this check and will be punished with a card. This is why fencers come to competition with more than one weapon – you never know when one won’t pass inspection or when it might break during competition.
  23. The first fencing club in the United States, the New York Fencers Club, was established in 1883, and was also the first fencing club in the Western Hemisphere. It had 200 members by 1892, and by 1914 fully one third of the fencers in this Manhattan club were women. It’s home to the Peter Westbrook Foundation, a non-profit formed by Fencers Club alum Westbrook to provide fencing opportunities to underserved populations in NYC that’s become a model for expanding fencing to communities who are normally outside the sport.
  24. Many fencing masks have removable padding to allow for easy cleaning and maintenance. Don’t attempt to remove the padding if it’s not removable, but definitely take it off to clean your mask if it is. DO clean your mask either way. Here are some ideas on how.
  25. The sport of modern Olympic fencing is often referred to as “sport fencing” to distinguish it from historical or theatrical forms. It also distinguishes us from the kind of fencing that will keep your dog from running away. 
  26. “Flynning” is exaggerated or theatrical swordplay, typically seen in movies, television shows, or stage performances. It refers to highly choreographed and acrobatic sword-fighting sequences that prioritize visual spectacle over realistic combat. Flynning often involves intricate sword movements, flashy spins, elaborate footwork, and dramatic flourishes. It’s derived from Errol Flynn, an Australian actor known for his roles in swashbuckling adventure films like “The Adventures of Robin Hood” (1938). While flynning can be visually impressive and entertaining, it’s nothing like the real thing. 
  27. Fencing was once used as a form of physical therapy for patients with mental illness primarily in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It has been used more recently, though, as it was part of a program at The University of Michigan Medical Center to help pre-teen and teen boys.  
  28. The longest recorded fencing match took place in 2016 and lasted for 11 hours and 40 minutes. It occurred in Serbia, where 188 fencers took turns stepping into a bout that went on for almost a half day. Everyone from fencing coaches to the general public participated, and the event even drew Olympic Silver Medalist Claudia Bekel as well as several officials within the IOC. People who didn’t even know what epee was and had never seen it in person before stepped in and took part. It was wild and weird. 
  29. The longest competitive match took place in 1897 at the Paris International Epee Tournament and was 2.5 hours long. This was a time before there were time limits on the matches, and the bouts were one hit long. There were obviously lots of really short bouts during this time, but someone usually got someone else in a reasonable time limit – not this time! They bouted for five minutes long followed by a two minute break, then went another five minutes and kept going until someone scored. In this instance, the match between two Frenchmen went for an hour and a half, then they took a lunch break, then came back to fencing for a total of two and a half hours including the breaks. 
  30.  In 1956, the Australian Olympic fencing team wore their competition uniforms during the Opening Ceremony to save money on additional outfits. In America, we always seem to have the cash for fancy opening and closing ceremony outfits. Team USA will take nothing less than Ralph Lauren.
  31. Mensur or academic fencing was once popular in countries like Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Latvia, Estonia, and other nearby countries from the 15th Century through World War II. It has a bizarre and sorted history, but it consisted of two young men in student organizations (think fraternities) who battled with sharp epees. They stood just far enough apart for their swords to clash but didn’t move during the bouts, wearing various levels of protection. Medical personnel were present, but scars (called smites) were often a proud outcome of the matches, even though there were no clear winners. The point of the matches was to build character, not to win. There are references to these fencing duels in everything from James Bond to the writings of Mark Twain to the science fiction classic Starship Troopers.
  32. In the 1977 United States Court of Appeals case ruling on S.E.C. v. Bausch Lomb Inc., Judge Irving Kaufman compared “an encounter with a financial analyst to a fencing match conducted on a tightrope; he is compelled to parry often incisive questioning while teetering on the fine line between data properly conveyed and material inside information that may not be revealed without simultaneously disclosing it to the public.” That doesn’t sound pleasant at all. The concept of “fencing on a tightrope” is apparently a thing in the legal world thanks to Judge Kaufman.  
  33. The world’s largest fencing lesson was conducted in 2017 in the United Kingdom, with three hundred people thanks to the Premier Education Group and British Fencing. The goal was to promote National Fitness Day. 
  34. The FIE once considered adding “lightsaber” fencing as a demonstration sport, inspired by the Star Wars franchise, but the proposal was not accepted. However it’s not over yet – in 2019, the French Fencing Federation officially recognized the sport. May the force be with them. 
  35. In Hungary, fencing is hugely popular – think soccer in the United States. Italy and France are also centers of fencing where it’s very popular among kids.  However there are reports of fencing clubs in China with as many as 6,000 members, though these are unconfirmed as there is no reliable data about fencing training in China (or at least I didn’t find one.)
  36. Renowned British photographer Cecil Beaton took a series of portraits of Salvador Dali and his wife Gala Dali in 1936 with fencing gear. Dali also famously wore a fencing mask on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1961
  37. If you’ve ever been curious about what fencing would look like underwater, check out The Royal Arts Fencing Academy’s short film. Perhaps this is the next wave in Olympic sports?
  38. The record for the most generations of the same family winning a Fencing Olympic medal is three. This remarkable feat was accomplished by two different families.The first family consists of Aladár Gerevich, Erna Bogen-Bogáti, and Pál Gerevich, all hailing from Hungary. Their remarkable achievement spanned from 1932 to 1980.Equally impressive is the second family, comprising Aldo Montano, Mario Aldo Montano, and Aldo Montano, all representing Italy. They achieved the same record between 1936 and 2020. Collectively, these two families have amassed an incredible total of 23 Olympic medals in the sport of fencing.
  39. Before the advent of electronic scoring equipment, it took five people to officiate a match. The president of the jury relied on the assistance of four judges in fencing matches. Positioned behind each fencer, with two on each side of the strip, these judges closely observed the actions of the opposing fencer to determine if they were hit. This particular system is commonly referred to as “dry” fencing in the USA or “steam” fencing in the United Kingdom and Australia. Whenever a judge believed they witnessed a hit, they would raise their hand. Subsequently, the president of the jury, who acted as the referee or director, would pause the bout and review the relevant sequences of the action. At each stage of the review, the president would consult the judges to ascertain if a touch occurred and, in the case of foil and sabre, whether the touch was valid or invalid. The judges would respond with “Yes,” “Yes, but off-target” (in foil and sabre), “No,” or “Abstain.” Each judge held one vote, while the president had one and a half votes. As a result, if two judges were in disagreement with the president, they could overrule their decision. However, if the judges were divided or if one judge abstained, the president’s opinion would prevail. Many sabre coaches still remember these glory days.
  40. In 2016, a Guinness World Record was set for the most fencers in a single match, with 63 participants competing simultaneously at the Leicester Fencing Club in Leicester, UK. The goal was to promote fencing ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympics and to dispel the myth that fencing is an elitist sport.
  41. In the early days of fencing, duels were fought with real weapons, and bloodstains would be highly visible on white clothing. Therefore, to ensure fair judgment of hits and avoid disputes caused by obscured or concealed marks, fencers began wearing all white attire. This practice continued into modern sport fencing, even though the use of real weapons has been replaced by electronic scoring equipment.
  42. Fencing has its own unique soundscape, with the clash of blades, the buzzing of scoring machines, and the shouts of fencers and coaches. When you’re in a fencing competition in a big hall, it’s like a symphony of music to a fencer’s ears! To some people it might just sound like noise, but to us it’s something really fantastic and extraordinary.

Fencing is strange and wonderful

Our sport has a sorted and sometimes strange history, but one of the reasons that it’s great is because there’s so much history here. Fencing is baked into Western culture, and we’ve got the cultural capital to prove it. 

Which of these fascinating tidbits was your favorite? How many of these facts did you know already?

Why Fencing Should be Your Child’s Next Sport: Benefits and Advantages

Why Fencing Should be Your Child’s Next Sport: Benefits and Advantages

When you’re looking for a sport for your child to try, you’re competing against a host of rivals for your child’s attention. Trying to find something that is mentally engaging, physically active, goal driven, and also fun and offers a positive culture is a challenge. 

Steeped in tradition and full of excitement, fencing offers a unique experience that sets it apart from other youth sports. It’s a great place for kids to start exploring themselves and building confidence.

Let’s explore some of the benefits and advantages of enrolling your child in fencing ths year.

1. Building physical and mental fitness through fencing

Fencing engages both the body and mind. As fencers participate in intense bouts on the piste, they enhance their cardiovascular endurance, speed, agility, and coordination. Footwork drills, lunges, and quick changes in direction are integral to the sport, leading to improved balance and flexibility.

Moreover, fencing is a mentally stimulating activity. It requires split-second decision-making, anticipation of your opponent’s moves, and the ability to strategize on the fly. Fencers learn to think critically, analyze situations, and develop tactical approaches to outmaneuver their opponents. This mental challenge helps sharpen focus, enhances problem-solving skills, and boosts cognitive abilities.

For kids, this kind of whole-body and whole-mind engagement supports their development in incredible ways. Young fencers enjoy being in a place that pushes them and keeps them growing. It’s also important to note that fencing is a great way for kids to get immersed in something that’s positive and not screen-oriented. 

Celebrating a Decade of Growth & Excellence at AFM!

AFM Founding - installing our signature floors

Ten years ago today if you’d told Irina and I where we’d be today, there’s no way we would have believed you.

With our two sets of twin kids, all in elementary school, in tow, we opened the doors of the Academy of Fencing Masters with our coaches Natasha and Alexander Maximovich. Since those early days of just a handful of students working together in a small space, we have grown by leaps and bounds, watching our own children grow up and hundreds of fencers come through the doors. 

We came together with others to grow our shared love for the art of fencing. The dedication and perseverance of our incredible staff, athletes, and families have paved the way for a remarkable transformation from a small fencing club to one of the largest in the United States. As we celebrate the tenth anniversary of AFM, we’re taking a moment to reflect on the tremendous journey that we’ve come on together. 

It started with a dream & practical needs

Ten years ago, a handful of fencers gathered together in our not yet fully furnished location in downtown Campbell, ready to work and armed with their determination. With a shared vision of giving fencing a home in the Bay Area, we set about laying a foundation for a community that would grow beyond what we could have ever imagined. 

At the time, we felt there wasn’t a strong place for fencers here that focused on families in the way we see it. With our young children, we saw a genuine need for a welcoming home for people interested in fencing. We loved it, and then we surrounded ourselves with other passionate people, and now here we are!

AFM was always about community. Early on, we knew that we wanted to create a place for families, a place where they could bring their children to train in a safe, supportive environment. What truly sets us apart is  the strong sense of community that has blossomed over the last ten years. From those first days with those big dreams, we set out to foster a welcoming and inclusive community. Whether you had a background in fencing or were totally new to the sport, you were welcome here. No matter your nationality, race, or place in society, we wanted this to be the place that you could call home. 

AFM was always more than just a place to refine fencing skills; it has become a second home to people of a wide variety of ages and backgrounds. We’ve seen friendships forged and mentorship established as we watched everyone develop their shared passion for fencing. There has been so much hard work involved in this journey, and much of it has been done by the staff, coaches, and families who are part of our community. We cannot emphasize enough how much this club is a group effort, much more than just one person or one family, but a whole group of people who share the same love of this sport. It’s wonderful. It’s exciting. It’s something we’re so, so thankful for!

From Local Training to the National and International Stage

Our journey from a small fencing club to one of the largest fencing clubs in the country has been marked by success from the ground up. It’s all driven not only by the dedicated members of AFM on the fencer side, but also of course by the exemplary coaching and training programs that have been developed throughout the last decade. 

Because of our innovative coaching staff, we offer something unique. The training continues to grow and change with new demands, and we particularly saw some amazing pivots and innovation during the pandemic. As our reputation has spread, we’ve been able to work with fencers from across the country and the world to scaffold the growth of everyone. Coaches from across the world are part of our dynamic community, and recently, we’ve seen our homegrown fencers compete at the international level. What a remarkable achievement!

Central to AFM’s success is our commitment to nurturing young fencers. Our youth fencing program gives young fencers a place to learn, grow, and shine locally, then regionally, and eventually on the national stage. Our emphasis on mentorship and sportsmanship has not only produced remarkable athletes but also helped us create a roster of past and present fencers who embody the values of hard work, creativity, perseverance, and commitment. 

The culture of AFM is about so much more than just winning medals or going to competitions. Those things are great, but it’s not why we started this club ten years ago, and it’s certainly not why we keep going. We’re building a legacy through the countless fencers, coaches, and families whose lives have been enriched by their involvement in the sport and in both our community and the wider fencing community. From beginner youth fencers to veterans still enjoying the sport, every single person has contributed their own unique chapter in the story of AFM.

Eyes Towards the Future

As we celebrate this milestone tenth anniversary, we don’t just look back at what’s behind us, but we also look forward to the next ten years with excitement and so much optimism. The journey of the past decade gives us a solid foundation that we can build on. 

Through our commitment to promoting the sport of fencing by being an inclusive place that nurtures talent and fosters a strong sense of community, we’re looking ahead to keeping it all going for many years to come. This is just the beginning for us, though the beginning has been a huge swell of support from so many people over the years. 

Our transformation as a club from a small gathering of dedicated coaches and families to where we are today is a testament to the power of dedication, passion, and shared vision. Over the past ten years and with your help, we have not only reveled in the sport of fencing but also created a tight-knit community that supports and inspires one another. As we celebrate this major milestone, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to every family, every member, every coach, every supporter, and every friend of AFM who has contributed to the remarkable journey of our fencing club. 

Here’s to the next decade of excellence, challenges, growth, and the enduring spirit of camaraderie that defines us!

AFM founding - installing our sign on the building

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