Academy of Fencing Masters Blog

Art of Fencing, Art of Life

Accepting the New Reality of COVID

Accepting New Reality of COVID

Especially given the recent developments and mutations in the COVID virus, it seems clear that this pandemic will be a part of our lives for the future ahead of us and is de facto a new reality. We’ll have to get used to it, just as we are used to the flu or chickenpox. COVID is fundamentally different from any other kind of endemic that we are used to, so the future will have to look different than anything we’ve seen before. That goes for the future of school, the future of work, and the future of youth sports like fencing.

The bottom line here: this is not a temporary way of life. This is an evolution in how we live, day in and day out. There is no going back.

One thing to note is that omicron spreads so much faster and easier than previous variants. It’s suddenly just everywhere. The explosion of this new strain has made us have to rethink and redouble our efforts to stay safe. 

That sounds pretty dire, but does it have to be? It does not. It very distinctly does not have to be dire.  

How to Impress Your Fencing Coach with Your Mental Attitude

How to Use Your Mental Attitude to Impress Your Fencing Coach

If you think that the only thing that would impress your fencing coach is your medals, you will be disappointed. The greatest fencing coaches are not impressed by fencers who win medals and show their power on the strip. The greatest fencing coaches are impressed by fencers who know how to use their minds and their focus effectively to improve their fencing. 

The physicality of the body is always driven by the mastery of the mind and the emotions. You could be the fastest, most flexible, strongest fencer in the world, but you could still lose. If you are undisciplined in your mind then you will never be disciplined in your body. 

A fencing coach sees fencers of all shapes and sizes come and go week in and week out. An experienced coach knows that the best fencers are the fencers who show their passion through their training

How do you do that? Here are eight ways to impress your fencing coach with your mental attitude. 

This Year, We’re Thankful for the Spirit of Fencing

This Year, We're Thankful for the Spirit of Fencing

The end of the year is the time that we step back and take stock of what we’re thankful for. No matter whether you celebrate with a big meal of special New Year’s delicacies, curled up on the couch with your loved ones watching sports, heading out to run a 5K, or maybe even doing some easygoing stick fencing fun in the backyard, the theme is always the same – we look back on the year and think about what we have accomplished and who we are. For us, that means thinking about how fencing has helped us.

There are lots of reasons that we find gratitude to be essential, but chief among them is the way that gratitude helps us to be happier ourselves as well as making the people around us happier too. The end of the year puts a welcome laser focus on gratitude, encouraging us to stop and think about what makes life wonderful.

Fencing gives us lots of things to be thankful for, and this year we wanted to go deeper into how we’re grateful for the spirit of fencing. It’s more than just competition or physical activity. 

Inventory Your Fencing Year to Start the New Year Off Right

Inventory Your Fencing Year to Start the New Year Off Right

Taking stock of where we’ve been this year is a normal part of life as the year turns. It’s as natural as making New Year’s resolutions. The problem is, we all know that those resolutions don’t usually get very far into the future, falling away by February. 

I propose an alternative, one that’s rooted in a growth mindset and that we can apply well to fencing. Rather than thinking about resolutions for you to change your fencing habits in the new year, instead take a realistic inventory of the last year. Looking back is sometimes the best way to look forward!

Finding opportunities is important

This is a great tool, even though it can be challenging to look at both the good and the bad over the last year. Our intuition is often to look ahead, to just barrel forward and get on with it. However, looking backwards slightly can let you see opportunities that you didn’t know were there. 

There are two ways to find opportunities by reflecting on the last year:

  • Pivot from mistakes
  • Build on successes

Both of these are happy and encouraging options. We’ve said this many times before – you can learn more from failure than you can from success. It’s much more challenging to look at our failures than it is to look at our successes. We cringe at the thought of the hard things that we did, the points when we did not live up to our expectations. 

The question we must always ask is this one – why didn’t we live up to those expectations? We have to remove the judgement from our reaction here, because that only leads to emotional turmoil. Failure doesn’t mean you are a bad fencer, it just means that you need to come at whatever that option is in a different way. Better tools mean better outcomes. 

As you go through the following five areas, look at your fencing through the lens of opportunity rather than failures and steps up rather than finished accomplishments. You can write these down in your fencing journal or put it all into a spreadsheet. 

Deliverables, Guarantees, & the Many Dimensions of Success

Deliverables, Guarantees, & the Many Dimensions of Success

“You must feel a lot of pressure from parents to ‘guarantee’ the success of their child,” a parent in our club said to me the other day. 

Youth sports in general put a lot of pressure on both kids and on organizations to do more and to be more. Indeed, there are definitely people out there who think that if they are paying for lessons and equipment it should “guarantee” that their child reaches a certain level of success in a given sport. It’s an unfortunate side effect of a culture in which we tend to think that we can buy anything if we put enough cash on the table. With fencing, and with any kind of endeavor in life, money doesn’t mean success. You could spend more money than your opponent, be paying the highest rate for the best coaches, and train in the most deluxe fencing facility in the world and still lose. We see this even at the elite level – more resources don’t always equate to a win. 

Of course as a club we want to make sure that each child’s potential is maximized. We always try to do the best we can, both from the standpoint of our goals and parent’s goals. That’s not a question in the slightest. 

The question really is – what can we as a fencing club deliver to parents and to fencers?

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