Art of Fencing, Art of Life

Month: January 2017 Page 1 of 2

Don’t Judge the Fencing Referees – A Lesson in Good Sportsmanship

Fencing Referee Making a Call - Illustration to the Don't Judge Fencing RefereesA familiar refrain that I hear from parents at fencing competition goes something like this: “The ref was completely wrong. He called so many touches incorrectly, and he gave way too many red cards.” The might go on about some other issue with the fencing referees, some way that the ref called the match unfairly and so caused their child of this parent some ill end.

It’s tempting to take part in this kind of conversation after a match that doesn’t go our way –  we’re naturally looking for somewhere to put that responsibility. If we know that our fencer worked hard and did their best, it’s easy to lay blame at the feet of one of the people who were on that strip, and that person who gets the blame is often the ref.

Why it’s time to stop judging the fencing refs

This is a big issue for me, because I feel strongly about the role that fencing refs play in this sport. Not only that, I think that there are some compelling reasons why we shouldn’t be modeling this kind of behavior for our kids.

Let’s dig a little deeper into why it’s time to lay off of the fencing referees.

The Magic Carpet Ride of 2016 – The Journey of Veteran Fencer Alan Buchwald

Alan Buchwald, a veteran fencer, at the European Masters Games 2015 in Nice, FranceWhat is it that drives us to keep going? To keep achieving as fencers? And how do we even define achievement?

Fencing tends to be viewed as a pursuit of the young. Clubs are brimming with kids holding swords, teenagers on the strip, college students in fencing masks. Adult fencers, though there are many of them, tend to be less common.  Maybe that’s because life gets busy with responsibilities, or because adults who want to start fencing think that it’s too late. Whatever the reason, the veteran fencing category is thinner than the others.

That reality makes Alan Buchwald all the more impressive. He defies nearly every expectation of what a man his age is supposed to be, with a spark and a spirit that is contagious. Alan is ready to pick up his foil anytime, anywhere, and to fence against anyone.  At sixty-six years old, Alan is both spry and wizened, both incredibly physical and marvelously mentally precise.

Alan was an emergency medical physician. Quick decisions are a major part of his profession, and he views fencing as a hobby that helps him stay sharp and quick on his feet. For Alan, fencing is an integrated part of life. He first picked up the foil in 1973 in college, and has kept it up almost continually since then, through raising a family and building his career. His view is that fencing helps to bring balance to his life, enhancing  his ability to live well rather than taking time away from his other responsibilities. Fencing helps him to do more in all areas, even though it takes time and energy.

Hitting the Books and Hitting the Strip – Fencing for High School Students

Fencing High School Students - How Fencing Can Them to Cope with Their StressHigh school is a seminal time in the life of just about everyone. Young people are starting to form their own identities during this critical point in life. They’re figuring out who they are and getting ready to step out into the world beyond their home and family.

It’s also a time when much more is expected of them than ever before. There’s a great deal of stress and expectation placed on high school students. Prepping for that college resume is a major issue, and many parents find that their children feel overwhelmed by the whole high school experience. Fencing can be a big boost for teens, helping them learn to negotiate life during this time with better success.

Let’s dig deeper into what fencing means for high school students.  

Risk vs Danger in Fencing

Opportunity and risk vs danger in fencingMaybe it’s the fact that we’re holding weapons, but many people believe that there is a fair amount of danger in the sport of fencing. It’s one of the things that makes the sport romantic, even though it is one of the safest sports that a child or an adult can participate in.

Risk and danger are two ideas that are easily and often conflated. They are by no means the same thing. There are many good and noble reasons that risk is a part of what we do as fencers. Danger on the other hand is not something that we want to be a part of the equation.

Learning to take positive risks in life is a powerful way that we can learn to move forward and to grow as fencers as well as to grow as people. Partaking in dangerous activities isn’t the same thing, as doesn’t offer the same rewards as risk taking. Understanding the difference between the two can help fencers to grow.

Best Fencing Blogs

Best Fencing Blogs 2017When it comes to fencing, unfortunately there are very few quality resources online. We’d love to see more fencing blogs or YouTube dedicated fencing channels for people to read and learn about fencing. But fencing is a very niche sport, so most people have a very limited knowledge about it and there are definitely a lot of wrong assumptions among those who aren’t a part of the community.

Most of the knowledge of our sport in the general public comes from movies and books, like Pirates of Caribbean, the Princess Bride, and Star Wars. I think it’s pretty safe to assume that nearly every child has at least once during their childhood picked up a plastic sword or even just a stick in the backyard and played at sword fighting with their friends or siblings. But when it comes to education about the sport of fencing, it seems that many beginners and their parents know very little.

This is kind of sad when you think about it – apparently fencing professionals are not that sharp with their pens as they are with their foils (pun intended). So when a new fencing blog is created,  a lot of fencing enthusiasts flock to it.

To help you find some of what’s great out there in the wild world of the internet, I’ve compiled a list of the best fencing blogs to watch in 2017. These aren’t ranked in any order, as they are so different and generally cover aspects of our sport that don’t overlap. My hope is that reading these blogs will help you learn more about our great sport, to explore the different aspects of it that you might be unfamiliar with, and to share your love and enthusiasm with others.

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