Art of Fencing, Art of Life

Month: December 2019

Ibtihaj Mohammad – Gutsy Woman

Ibtihaj Mohammad - One of the women in the Hilary and Chelsea Clinton book Gutsy Women

We never know where life is going to take us to, and I was pleasantly surprised to make a fantastic discovery at my local library today. Walking into the front door of my local public library, I saw a shelf with the label “Lucky Day”, which is a place where the staff curates a series of new releases for lucky readers. Sitting front and center on the shelf was a book about women who have left their mark on the world. It looked interesting, so I picked it up and it fell open. You’ll never believe where it fell open to! It was a page about a fencer! 

Wow!  Needless to say, I was totally shocked. I could not have imagined a fencer in such a prominent book. I’d actually heard of the book before I picked it up. Hillary and Chelsea Clinton recently released a book that they collaborated on called The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience. I’d noticed an interview with the authors on TV not long before in which they were talking about the book. Though I knew the idea of the book from seeing that, I had no idea that I would find our very own Ibtihaj Muhammad would be featured, though it certainly makes total sense that she would be a part of a book about gutsy women and trailblazers. 

The authors describe the vision of the book like this – “If history shows one thing, it’s that the world needs gutsy women. So in the moments when the long haul seems awfully long, we hope you will draw strength from these stories. We do.” How can you argue with that? As a man who is blessed to have gutsy woman in my life, as well as the father of daughters, I see the importance of this book. I see the importance of these women. 

What the WADA Ban on Russia Means for Fencing in the 2020 Olympics

What the WADA Ban on Russia Means for Fencing in the 2020 Olympics

Recently we saw a big step taken by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in the fight against performance enhancing substances in international sport. 

This is a hugely controversial topic. Everyone seems to have an opinion on it, and those opinions can be shouted loudly as well as whispered quietly. We’re not here to wade into the fray of who’s right and what the ramifications should be, we just want to let our readers know what’s going on and how it relates to fencing. This is an area that not everyone knows a lot about, and so making sense of it can be tough. We’re here to help you make sense of it!

This is going to be a huge topic of conversation going into the 2020 Olympics next summer, but remember that the ramifications of these decisions by WADA reach out to all international competitions. 

What brought on the ban for Russia

It doesn’t take a great deal for an individual athlete to get banned from competing in international sport. A single positive test result that is verified for a banned substance is enough to get you removed from the competition. The consequences get bigger every time you’re caught doping, escalating all the way to a lifetime ban from international competition.

What makes the Russian case unique is that it involved a systematic doping policy that was driven by the officials behind sport in that country. We are not talking about a single individual or a group of individuals who did this, we’re talking about an organization.

This whole thing is nothing new. The Russian team was censured for this same reason in the 2018 Olympics in Korea. Many athletes did not compete under the Russian flag. When the hockey team won gold, they and members of the crowd actually drowned out the sound of the Olympic theme when it was playing – that’s how loud they were singing! The country also had many of its medals stripped following the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia because of doping. 

The allegations of state-sponsored, organized doping by Russia go back to 2012 and a lab that purportedly altered hundreds of test results. The whole situation has become highly politicized, with the Russian government offering a feisty and sustained defense. 

How to Put on Fencing Gear, With Illustration

How to Put on Fencing Gear, With Illustration

Congratulations! Your child has received their first full set of fencing gear and now they’re eager to dress up and start training. You’re probably a little nervous about the gear, because of course you want your child to be safe when they are fencing, and that’s a reasonable concern.

Excitedly, they open up the fencing bag that they received from their fencing club or from a fencing shop and suddenly it hits you – how do you put all of these things on?

Fencing gear is here to help keep your child safe on the strip, and many parents are already a little concerned about their child picking up a sword. Though it can look a little intimidating, it’s actually not that intense! Like anything else, learning to put on fencing gear is just a matter of breaking things down.

A Fencer’s Guide to Holiday Gifts – Olympic & Star Wars Edition

Fencer Holiday Gifts Guide - A set of Star War Thumb lightsabers

It’s that time of year again, when everyone is thinking towards holiday cheer and, of course, holiday gift giving. Fencers tend to go all in for their sport, and every fencer appreciates thoughtful holidays gifts that come from the heart (but is also related to fencing!). 

This year is a little special because it is an Olympic year. We’ve got Tokyo 2020 to look forward to! We know that we’re extremely excited for the coming games and all that international fencing that’ll be at the heart of the whole thing. That’s why we’ve put together a list of fencing gifts for the holidays that are perfect for the Olympic fencing fan in your life! They range from the very practical to the lots of fun, but they all have one thing in common – Tokyo 2020!

The other thing that we’re celebrating this year is the big new Star Wars movie that’s got everyone excited about picking up those lightsabers again. It’s no secret that lightsaber fights and fencing are tactitly connected, and we love to see the enthusiasm for swordsmanship.

Whatever the answer is, we do know that the holidays and fencing go hand in hand. Check out these holiday gifts that will have everyone in your fencing life ready to shout for joy this season.

What Makes Sport So Important for All of Us?

What Makes Sport So Important for All of Us?

Why is it that sport is common among so many cultures and all over the world? As we head towards the Olympics, everyone is going to be talking about how sports bring the world together. They do bring us all together, and they are something that we all share more freely than we perhaps share other things. 

We will see our fencers take the center stage during this time. Our sport will be highlighted in ways that it is not usually, giving us a bigger platform than we usually have. People will be connected to and inspired by fencers at the Olympics in a way that they are not at any other time. That’s pretty amazing of course, but why is it?

There are the standard explanations, but from the years that we’ve been watching athletes move through this process and from our time with many individuals from all over the world, we think that there might be something else to it all. 

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