We (my 10 year old daughter and I) are members at VRI Fencing, Melbourne, Australia (the club focuses on mainly on epee). We had our first online session for the junior squad today. Life in lockdown is suddenly looking much better!
I had totally underestimated the utility of this “cat toy” (=ball on a string) for fencing training. I put together this easy DIY tutorial after being asked by our head coach to get one, and deciding that it was easier (and in keeping with social isolation recommendations) to make our own. Not rocket science, but if this post encourages a few people to see the fun of training at home and understanding that really if their have their gear, that’s all they need, it is totally worth it.
Please feel free to share/publicise this for others to use!
Thanks, Imme (Kaschner)
How to make a ball on a string (for fencing drills) in four easy steps
This week, the International Olympic Committee announced that the 2020 Olympic Games will be postponed. The games will retain their name, the 2020 Olympic Games, but they will not be held until 2021.
This move is unprecedented in the history of the Olympic Games. Since they began, there have only been three Olympics that have been canceled. One in 1916, due to World War I, then two in 1940 and 1944 due to World War II. Two other times the Games were disrupted by world events, first the Moscow Games in 1980 that were boycotted by the Western Bloc, and then the Los Angeles Games in 1984 that were boycotted by the Eastern Bloc of countries. There have been a few other smaller boycotts, such as when Nazi Germany hosted the Games in 1936. Other than that, the Olympic Games have been held as planned and have been a show of world unity.
Postponing the Olympics is good
First of all, I have to give great kudos to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for postponing the Games. It shows what a fantastic movement this is. This decision communicates the commitment of the IOC to the safety of everyone – the athletes, the organizers, the spectators, and the support personnel. The Olympic Games should bring joy and unity of people versus fear and concerns. It’s a great thing.
We are right now experiencing one of the most extraordinary moments in modern history. The coronavirus pandemic has totally changed the way that we live our lives, and that change has fundamentally threatened fencing as we know it. I am not being dramatic here, I am being realistic. Yes, things will go back to something resembling normal eventually. Of course that will happen. In the meantime, we risk losing not only the progress that our fencers have made, but also potentially the clubs that train them. Make no mistake – fencing as we know it is something that we have to protect right now.
What are fencing clubs doing to be safe? What can fencing clubs do to maintain our sport while staying safe? What can fencing clubs do to keep the spark in the eyes of their fencers?
We can only share with you what we’re doing to help save fencing in the United States and keep our fencers engaged based on our experience. I want to share with the fencing community the steps that we did so that any other club in the United States or anywhere else in the world can do what we have done. Anyone affected by COVID-19 can follow these steps and continue to train their members so that we will feel as little effect of the quarantine as possible under these circumstances.
You can continue to train even when the entire world seems to come to halt. Our first online fencing training today was a real blast – we had more than 160 kids who participated in all classes and their energy, smiles, and joy were really contagious!
Don’t wait – join the movement! #OnlineFencingTraining
FACT #1: Many fencing clubs around the world are closed to classes and lessons right now due to coronavirus.
FACT #2: Fencers still need to practice their fencing, which means practicing at home.
FACT #3: Fencing swords are long and pointy.
FACT #4: When long and pointy things poke furniture and walls, they leave marks and holes.
FACT #5: You can make your own fencing target at home with very little trouble, which will help avoid holes in the things.
There are of course many options to buy a fencing target from places that sell fencing gear, however, you can easily make one at home that will have a significant effect. The point here is to be creative, to save some money, and to create a target that works for you so that no fencer hurts another person or damages your home.
Always, always remember that safety should come first. Protective gear at home is just as important as protective gear in the club. Fencing with a target is a great way to hone and maintain those fencing skills, but it should be done only with the considerations of safety. This means for the fencer and the other people.
There needs to be plenty of space in your home fencing area, as much as you can find. There has to be enough room that you can thrust forward and lunge without hitting something other than your target. Outside or a garage are wonderful options if you have them.
We created one in our backyard with a chair that we had outside. It is so simple! Here’s what you need:
Old (or current) fencing jacket
Foil tape or another tape
Step 1 – Stuff the cushions into the fencing jacket.
Step 2 – Mark targets with the tape
Step 3 – Stabilize the target in the chair
Step 4 – Place the chair against a table, tree, wall, countertop, second chair, etc. for stability.
Step 5 – Fence!
This is the easiest and most straightforward way to make a fencing target! It takes only a few minutes and can be done with things that you have around the house already. No need to risk going out into the world when you are in quarantine!
Many parents out there are very handy, we know that. Pinterest is full of DIY targets that can be made from materials that you have at home. Put together with some creativity, it’s possible to create a fencing target that will last for the length of this quarantine and beyond.
Here are some important things that you should remember.
Material – It MUST be a fencing jacket or some other very tough material. Fencing swords have metal points, and anything that is not made of a tough material will quickly become destroyed. Don’t poke the chair! Soon you will find the need to replace it if this starts happening.
Stuffing – The jacket MUST be stuffed. Just a jacket is not enough. You need to have something dense underneath the jacket. A firm material like a heavy-duty dense foam, or of course a pillow as we used, would be best. The pillow that we used in the picture is a small garden pillow, but something even more firm would be best. You could also try folding a bath towel or two over and over again, using an old bath mat, or even an old yoga mat. It needs to be firm but have some give as well, or else it will damage the blade.
Height – The target needs to be at chest height for the fencer. Not too low or too high. If you have a chair that is tall, like a counter chair, then that works well! If not, you may need to elevate the chair that you are using.
Walls – If you decide to put a target on a wall, then take careful consideration that you protect your wall. Fencers, even those with experience but especially kids, are going to miss! Think about how to protect whatever is behind your target before you get started.
What it looks like doesn’t matter! Your fencing target doesn’t have to be Instagram worthy in order to be effective. Be creative and enjoy the DIY aspect of this fencing piece. It should be fun!
Other ideas for home targets
There are lots of other ways to create home targets, and many of them we have written about in the past. Check out these other blogs for more information on how to create home training areas for fencers who are stuck without being able to come to the club!
Targets for fencing practice allow fencers to work on skills that they need during this time away from training. We highly recommend coming up with some kind of home target system, always in concert with your fencing coach of course. They will be able to give you drills and ideas to get the most out of your personal training. Stay connected to AFM through our Facebook page, email, and here on our blog for announcements about online classes and private lessons. We’ll continue to share information about how to keep fencing going during this time!