Academy of Fencing Masters Blog

Art of Fencing, Art of Life

‘I was nobody, and that helped me to relax’ – Olympic Surprises and How Wrong Any Prediction Can Be

One of the biggest and nicest surprises in the Tokyo Olympics - first time in the history the USA women's foil fencer got a medal, and which one - the GOLD!

The first half of this Olympics, which showcased the individual events in fencing, was full of surprises, great stories, and the birth of new stars in fencing who brought a great deal of pride to their nations. The surprises went in both directions – frustrating, unpleasant, and disappointing, as well as inspiring, motivating, and uplifting 

This is what we come to the Olympics for, this huge spectrum of emotion and inspiration. It’s the depth of the experience that is so incredibly satisfying. 

The uniqueness of the Olympics

One of the most beautiful things about the Olympics is that it offers us the biggest sports drama on the biggest stage. The stakes are highest in the lives of the athletes because for many niche sports, this is the only time that the world is watching. The international news only covers rowing, gymnastics, swimming, and fencing once every four years! Even for mainstream sports like basketball, the Olympics offer a rare opportunity to represent a country with pride. It is a moment that is unlike any other, given the worldwide attention and the patriotism. 

The Olympics are arguably the most nerve-wracking experience for athletes. That pressure usually falls hardest onto the favorites of a sport, the strongest in the field of contenders. They have to prove to the whole world that they are indeed the best. In a sport like fencing, it is extremely difficult for the leaders to perform at the Olympics at the level that is expected from them. Those athletes who are not quite so far at the front, the underdogs of the sport, they have nothing to lose. That makes the race fundamentally different for them. 

The newly crowned Olympic Champion in men’s individual foil, Edgar Ka-Long Cheung, said in this interview after winning the Gold today, “I thought to myself – everyone was either an Olympic champion or a world champion, and I was nobody. That helped me relax a bit” 

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An Olympic Fencing Primer for Non-Fencers

An Olympic Fencing Primer for Non-Fencers

Are you drawn to Olympic fencing, even though you have no idea about the sport except that there are swords? Great news! You’ve found a primer that will give you everything you need to know about Olympic fencing, even if you’ve never watched a fencing match in your life. This post has a lot of links to additional and extended information and explanations to deepen your knowledge in every related topic.

Here are the three things you need to know to understand fencing in the Olympics:

  1. Fundamentals of weapons
  2. Basic rules of the match
  3. Competition structure

We’ll give you a quick, foundational understanding of these three things so that you’ll be ready for fencing in the Olympics! The more you know, the more you’ll enjoy it.

Here are a few terms to know that you’ll hear a lot from the commentators and referees:

  • Piste/strip – where the fencers fence. It’s 14 meters long and 2 meters wide
  • Sabre/foil/epee – the fencing weapons
  • Bout – a fencing match between two individuals
  • Lame – the electric west (in foil) or jacket (in sabre) that fencers wear that registers points electronically
  • En garde – assume a start position
  • Allez – begin to fence
  • Parry – knock the opponent’s weapon away
  • Riposte – touch the opponent after a parry
  • Touché – acknowledgment by the referee of a valid hit

Let’s note here that fencing, though it is all about weapons, is one of the safest sports in the Olympics. Safety is serious business in fencing, and the protective gear, along with the rigid rules, allows for there to be lots of fun with little risk of harm. The most common injuries in fencing are bruises and sprains, not pokes or slashes. 

Now that you know the words and some overview, let’s get into the deeper concepts.

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Your Quick Guide to Learning About the Fencers at the 2021 Olympics

Your Quick Guide to Learning About the Fencers at the 2021 Olympics
Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images

Even for the most seasoned of fencers, learning all about the players in the Olympics from the world of fencing can be a bit daunting. 

We’ve put together some resources to help you both watch fencing at the Olympics and also to help you learn more about the fencers who are competing. Maybe you’re familiar with the American players in the Games, or maybe you know all of the international names. Maybe you’re really new to fencing and have never heard of any of these people! No matter what your level, the following information will be a great help for you to figure out what’s going on this year and to deepen your understanding of what international fencing is all about. 

Tokyo 2020 in 2021, here we come!

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The Road to Tokyo 2020 – Fencing Surprises, Analysis, and Predictions

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Fencing Predictions

The Tokyo Olympics are just under a week away, and that means it’s time for some serious analysis and predictions to ramp up before the Games begin!

This year is of course different from any other year in the history of the Olympics, both because of the yearlong delay and because of the extraordinary safety measures that will be taken to keep the athletes safe. No live audiences will be sitting in the stands, so everyone gets the same view from home that each of us does! This year’s Olympics are called Tokyo 2020, even though they take place in 2021. You’ll see both years talked about interchangeably, but know that they’re the same Games. 

Another new piece this year is that all sections will be included in the Olympics for fencing for the first time – team and individual for both genders and all sports. That means more fencing!

The qualification for the Olympics this year has been unique, with countries all over the world modifying their paths thanks to the cancellation of so many tournaments over the last year and a half. None of that matters anymore, because now we know who’s qualified and who isn’t. It all comes down to the big competition now. But how will it all play out? That’s the big question we all want to know. Let’s get started.

Note: The insight you read below is based on the final qualification for the Olympics in fencing, which you can find here

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The Basics of Olympic Fencing, Part 3 – Qualification & Competition

The Basics of Olympic Fencing, Part 3 - Qualification & Competition

The most high-profile event for fencers in the world is the Olympics. The sport itself is pretty much the same as what the novice fencer practices – fencing is fencing. However, it’s easy for people to get lost in the whole winding road of qualification and style. The more we can understand how Olympic fencing works, the more we’ll enjoy it! 

In our previous two posts on the Basics of Olympic Fencing, we walked you through the history of the Games and how fencing fits into that history. In Part 1, we shared with you how the Olympics came about and how the Olympic spirit flows through fencing. In Part 2, you learned how the structure of the Olympics affects fencing. Now, we’ll take you through the qualification path that leads to the Olympics for fencers, as well as exploring what qualities an Olympic fencer must have in order to reach these heights. 

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