Academy of Fencing Masters Blog

Art of Fencing, Art of Life

A Love Letter to the Fencing Referee

A Love Letter to the Fencing RefereeDear Fencing Referee,

We know that the most hated person in pretty much any sport is the referee. No matter how hard you try, no matter how evenly you call a match, somehow you always end up with someone unhappy with the choices that you make. Whatever decision a fencing referee makes, one side or the other is going to be on the receiving end of bad news. In the eyes of many fencers who get on the wrong side of the call, you are taking the side of their opponent and keeping them from winning their match. This is of course a totally unfair assessment.

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The New Unwillingness to Fight Rule in Fencing: A Huge Change for Fencers

The New Unwillingness to Fight Rule in FencingUnwillingness to fight.

Passivity.

Non-combativity.

All of these things mean the same thing. They mean that two fencers are not fencing, they are just standing there looking at each other. In effect, the fencers who are supposed to be big and bold masters of the sword are pretending to be statues instead, waiting for the other fencer to do something.

In competitive fencing, non-combativity has been rampant. It’s been everywhere, and for a very long time, and was often used as a tactical move at high competitive level. That’s all about to change with one swift stroke for every fencer not only in America, but across the world. Soon, it won’t be. Here we’re going to explain the new unwillingness to fight rule that was adopted by FIE (the international governing body for fencing) for all competitions starting January 1st, 2019. It’s the same rule that was adopted by the USFA, with only some slight modification for the United States and that goes into effect on February 14th, 2019.

This is one of the most dramatic changes in fencing rules in recent history. There are of course always a lot of changes, every year we find new changes to adopt, but this one is completely different.

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Why You Should Solidify Your Rating in Fencing

Why You Should Solidify Your Rating in FencingYou’ve done it! After months upon months of hard work and diligent progress, listening to your coach and spending plenty of time at the club, you’ve finally done it! You finally reached that goal and got the fencing rating you were looking for.

Often fencers think that when they get that rating for the first time, they’re done. They’ve reached their goal. They feel like this is a huge accomplishment, one that can carry them forward for a while and maybe they can coast without so much focus and attention on their fencing. At least for a little while. It feels great, a big thing to have accomplished! Which is true, it is a big thing to have accomplished.

But just like everything else in life, it’s important that this kind of accomplishment be put into context. Fencers, especially young fencers, can get into the habit of stopping there, of thinking that because they got that rating that it’s time to sit still for a while. It’s not!

Quick note: We know that those of you who are sticklers for the details would call this not a rating but a fencing classification, and you’d be right that it’s the right term! Technically. However everyone generally calls the letter classification as a “rating”, so for the purposes of mass adaptation we continue to use this unofficial term. Just so you know that we know so you can know.

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Celebrating Five Years of the AFM Blog

Celebration Five Years of the AFM BlogLet’s take you back, way back. Half a decade back. All the way to 2014.

It was a good year overall! Here’s a quick reminder of what was happening.

  • The Winter Olympics in Sochi were held under the cloud of Russian state-sponsored doping.
  • People poured buckets of ice over their heads on the internet in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
  • Americans could visit Cuba again for the first time in more than fifty years.
  • A spacecraft landed on a comet.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy topped the box office.
  • Jimmy Fallon took over as host of the Tonight Show.
  • Barack Obama had another two years left as president.

Can you remember it yet?

Early in the year though, something remarkable happened for us. On Monday, February 3rd, 2014 we published our very first AFM blog post, which is still our most popular post. We can’t believe five years have gone by so fast! How is it possible? When we look back, those events seem like so long ago!

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Quit Fencing Only When You’re Winning

Quit Fencing Only When You’re WinningFencing isn’t for everyone. We don’t assume that it is, and we don’t expect anyone to stay with it should they figure out that it’s not their thing. But how can you know that it’s not your thing? When is the right time to quit fencing? How do you know that you’re quitting for the right reasons?

There is a very simple answer to this: quit fencing only when you’re winning.

What? Isn’t the whole thing that if your child isn’t winning in fencing, then it’s time to let it go? NO! Not a all. If your child is losing in fencing, if they’re constantly struggling, then that’s the time to dig in and stick it out. It might not be that they don’t like fencing, it might be that they don’t like losing. Which is a fair thing to not like! (It’s a fair thing not to like fencing as well, we don’t judge.)

There are all kinds of reasons why it’s a bad idea to give up when you are knocked down, but the words of Rocky Balboa stick with me when I think about quitting when you’re losing.

“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward.“ – Rocky Balboa

If you quit while you’re behind, you’re robbing yourself of your ability to get back up again. That goes for letting your child quit when they’re behind too. This is a solid bit of wisdom that great fencing parents know, and it’s a bit of advice that we’ve seen in action right in our own club.  

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