Academy of Fencing Masters Blog

Art of Fencing, Art of Life

Month: January 2019 Page 1 of 2

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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10 Things Fencing Parents Should Do for Themselves

10 Things Fencing Parents Should Do for ThemselvesGetting lost in the role of parenting is easy to do – we want to give the absolute best to our children naturally. That’s especially true if you’re a parent who is heavily involved in fostering your child’s success, a thing that fencing parents tend to do naturally and often. The more time a child invests into becoming a better fencer, the more you as a fencing parent disappear into that role.

It’s of course a good thing that you’re putting yourself out there for your child. It feels good for them, but it’s also good for you. You’re there for as many competitions and practices as you can be. You spend time learning about the sport and connecting with their coaches and fellow fencers. You hunt down the best possible diet and home structure to help them reach their potential as an athlete and make it to those big dreams. Through all of this, hopefully you and your child are becoming closer and creating memories that will last for long after they take off their fencing mask.

With all of the focus on your child, where do you as a fencing parent fit in? It’s no good for anyone if you lose the balance in yourself. A big part of great parenting is modeling the kind of holistically healthy lifestyle that you want your children to live when they are adults.

Sometimes the focus needs to be on you, the fencing parent, and how you can become more mentally strong – for everyone’s sake. Here are ten ways to parent for yourself.

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Building and Safeguarding Your Fencing Reputation

Building and Safeguarding Your Fencing ReputationIn the highest levels of fencing there is a saying:

Half of your fencing career you work for your reputation. The other half your reputation works for you.

This is true of every level of fencing, even at the local fencing competitions that seem so far from the international level. Fencing is a small community, and within that community, news spreads quickly. Everyone knows everyone, whether you’re at a small tournament in your area or at a national one with fencers from all over the country. That’s especially true as social media runs away with our ability to connect. There will be people who will know you, know your coaches, know even your family members that come along, and many of these people you will never have seen before!

This forces us as fencers to make sure that we are doing what we need to do in order to build and safeguard the kind of reputation that we want to have. Most often this happens organically, but knowing what you’re doing and so creating your reputation with intention is a good idea.

Here are some ways that you can make the most of your competitive fencing reputation.

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How Niche is Niche? Exploring the Reach of Fencing

How Niche is Niche? Exploring the Reach of FencingThough people throw around the word “sport” as though it’s just one thing, that’s of course a blanket way to use the term. There are dozens of sports that have risen up to the mainstream in the United States, many more if you count those around the world. Even the world’s most widely known athletic competition, the Olympics, does not include popular sports like American football and cricket, while at the same time highlighting smaller niche sports like archery, curling, and yes fencing.

That reality got me to thinking, how niche is our niche sport? Unlike many other sports, it seems like even people who have never dreamed of fencing know at least that it is out there. The footprint of our sport is bigger than that of say rowing or polo. Maybe it’s because of the history or the movies, or because everyone picked up sticks in the backyard when they were kids. However though everyone seems to have an idea of what fencing is, the sport itself is extraordinarily small.

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Don’t Cruise the Pools in Fencing Competitions: A Fencing Life Lesson

Don’t Cruise the Pools in Fencing Competitions: A Fencing Life LessonAt what point is it ok to just get by? You know, do the least amount of effort to get the biggest reward. It’s a strategy that we offer our fencers quite often on the strip. Conserve your energy, get that point with the least expenditure of movement as possible. That’s effective in the context of a match, but taken out of context it’s a recipe for overconfidence and eventual decline.

Taking the easy way

Sometimes we see fencers, particularly relatively new fencers, try to make it through a fencing competition with the least amount of effort. They figure out that they are the best fencer in their pool, so they don’t try their best. “The idea is to make it through to the Direct Elimination (DE) round anyway right? It doesn’t matter how you get there, just that you get there, and it’s better to be seeded high” they think.

To do this, these fencers will use the same advance again and again. They’ll score the same type of touches over and over, phoning in scores and cruising their way to the DE’s. It’s an easy ego boost, a puffed up way to progress through the rounds of fencing competition.

It’s the same thing that we see sometimes in very smart children, which to be fair our fencers are often very bright students in school. They go to class and get through the work without being challenged. Rather than ask their teacher for harder work that pushes them to grow, they just do the work that comes easily to them and get those grades.

In fact you can go through your whole life like this right? Do the easy thing, get the easy praise, never push yourself to your full potential. It doesn’t matter anyway as long as you are better than someone else, even if that someone else is much less developed than you are. Better to be a confident big fish in a little pond. Or in this case a little “pool”.

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