Academy of Fencing Masters Blog

Art of Fencing, Art of Life

30 Last Minute Gifts for Fencers

30 Last Minute Gifts for FencersThe holidays are almost here! By almost we mean they’re right around the corner and we can see them pulling into the driveway. But oh no, you’ve forgotten to get the gift for them that you meant to pick up and now you’re feeling like a heel. There’s got to be a solution!

If you’ve waited until the last minute to get a gift for that special fencer in your life don’t worry, we understand. It’s not easy to juggle the thousand things you have to do! But never fear, because we’ve put together a massive list of last minute gifts ideas for fencers that you can order and  have at your door in plenty of time.

Links included! All of these gifts can be ordered and get to your front door in two days, so you can get them wrapped and under the tree before the holiday.

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Put Down Your Weapon – A Parent’s Guide to Helping Young Fencers in Competition

Put Down Your Weapon - A Parent’s Guide to Helping Young Fencers in CompetitionNew fencers often struggle with knowing what to do in competition, and naturally so. Y8, Y10, and Y12 fencing competitors are on the whole new to all of this, new to big deal that competition is. And a fencing competition is a big deal. Remember though that these kids are still learning how to navigate life all the way round, from putting their clothes away properly to checking out a book at the library. We can’t expect them to just know how to do this in the best way.

Meanwhile parents want to help, especially when their fencers are on the younger side as you are of course used to shepherding your child to learn all kinds of new things. The world of fencing is often a new one for parents too though, so you might not even know how to help your child. That’s frustrating!

After watching many new fencing parents in competition, I’ve noticed some of the same things again and again. You don’t have to feel lost! Here is a guide to help you know how to support your young fencer in competition so that they can do their absolute best. And the best thing – it is not in the area of fencing rules or calls!

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Competition Brain vs. Training Brain in Fencing

competition brain vs training brainTraining is simply not the same as competing. The mindset that an athlete immerses themselves in during competition is nothing like the way they need to think in the day-to-day training in the sport. When you compete, you’ve got a need to focus and concentrate in a way that isn’t necessary in training. That being said, during training there is still a need to have another kind of focus, but one that is more malleable and less intense.

The difference in how athletes must think during training versus on the day of competition is a subject that has been widely studied by psychologists, including those who work for the International Olympic Committee. Learning to manage the anxiety that comes on the day of competition is a major hurdle to overcome.

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Stop Measuring Your Child’s Fencing Progress

Stop Measuring Your Child’s Fencing ProgressHow long has your child been fencing? What’s your child’s fencing rating? What was the result from the last fencing competition that your child competed in? What’s the highest level competition that your fencing child has competed in?

If you’re a fencing parent, then reading those questions probably just elicited a whole list of mental answers. Maybe you even said them out loud to yourself while you look at this blog on a screen.

We like to quantify things. It’s natural. We want to know how many minutes it is until dinner time, how much money we have in the bank, how many miles to the next exit on the highway. That kind of hard measurement can and does serve us well in life generally, but what happens when you do that to a child?

Putting your child’s fencing progress into hard numbers is intuitive, but it’s bad for you and most importantly it’s bad for them.

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Epee Fencing Grips: Pistol Grip vs. French Grip

Epee fencing grips - french grip vs pistol gripThe nuance of fencing becomes automatic to people who have been in it for a long time, but to newcomers, whether fencers or parents, the terminology can sound very unfamiliar. The detail can be challenging to master for those who are new to it. Epee grips are one of these instances.

Often it just takes a clear, simple, high level explanation of what these things mean to facilitate mastery of the concept. A newbie might still not totally understand the intricate differences, but it lays a solid foundation that can inform fencing in the future.

The grip is simply the part of the fencing sword that the fencer holds. Think of it as being the other side of a handshake, the place where the sword unites with the fencer to become an extension of their own body. How that interface happens is important, and over the years there have been many various grips developed by fencers. It is one of the most important parts of the fencing sword  because the comfort, agility, mobility, strength, reach, and many other factors are affected by how the hand holds the weapon.

Over the centuries, grips have been developed by master sword makers to to uniquely address different facets of fencing and different styles adopted by fencers. In modern fencing there are two primary grips, namely the pistol and the french grip. Those two are actually broad categories however, and there are variations on each of the grips. Eventually each fencer chooses her or his own style, or modifies an existing grip to suit their own style.

Almost every fencer will start fencing with a french grip, whether they are a foilist or an epeeist. This is because the french grip handle “forces” a new fencer to correctly hold the weapon and to work with their fingers. Those novice mistakes in holding technique are much more visible to a coach with a french grip  and thus this grip provides a better mechanism for a coach to correct such mistakes.

Eventually with experience, foil fencers will transition to the pistol grip, while epee fencers will split into two major camps – french grip fencers and pistol grip fencers. It means epeeists have the luxury of choice, and neither is strictly correct or incorrect. That choice can be challenging if you don’t understand the good and the not so good of the two mainstream epee fencing grips.

Let’s break down the advantages and disadvantages of each.

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