Academy of Fencing Masters Blog

Art of Fencing, Art of Life

Month: October 2020

The Best Fencing Referee in the World – A Conversation with Natalia Zhuravleva

Natalia Zhuravleva - World #1 Fencing Referee

We usually think of the accomplishments in fencing as something that is for fencers, but referees are chasing their own achievement as well. The most accomplished referees are those who are striving to always be better than they are, who are working hard to make the sport better. One of the referee shining stars right now is Natalia Zhuravleva, the best fencing referee in the world. 

It’s not lightly that we call her the best fencing referee in the world – Natalia was awarded this honor by the International Fencing Federation. She is a remarkable individual who deserves this highest accolade, and the reason why she was chosen is clear to anyone who speaks to her at any length. I was lucky enough to interview this truly amazing referee about what is important for fencers, the development of referees, and the direction of our sport. We all have a lot to learn from this powerful woman who is not just calling the shots, but who is teaching us all how to call them for ourselves. 

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Why Introverts Make Great Fencers (And How to Help Them Become Even Better)

introverts in fencing







Though there are introverts in every sport, in fencing we see lots of them. Enough that we believe it’s a topic we felt was worth exploring – we want to support everyone in this sport!

When people think of introverts, they often think of the kid in the corner at a school function who isn’t interacting with their peers or the child at the fencing club who is sitting far away from their peers. Introverts are easily cast as shy and reserved, quiet and rigid, reliable and passive. That’s not entirely accurate, and even though it may be the case for some introverts.

On the whole, extroverts are boosted by time with people, introverts are drained by time with people. Ambiverts are a mix of the two. 

This is a spectrum, just like most things, and we are certainly not experts on the subject. Some introverted people are buoyed by one-on-one interactions but need breaks from large groups. Some introverted people need to take solitary solace after interacting even in a one-on-one setting. It’s all about who you are, and everyone is unique. What’s fantastic is that introverts and fencing go together like peanut butter and jelly. 

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Intersectional Championship Philosophy with Italian Epee World Champion Mara Navarria

2019  World Championships - Mara Navarria won Bronze medal with Italian Team
2019 World Championships – Mara Navarria won Bronze medal with Italian Team Photo by #BizziTeam

All fencers grow over the course of their career, but Italian epee powerhouse Mara Navarria has taken that growth to championship heights. She is a fencer with what might be called a simmering longevity in the sport, one who puts the time and hard work into her craft in order to build something that looks to be impossible to ignore in Tokyo next summer.

Though the Italian school of fencing is known for its tradition and rigidity, Mara has consistently broken with tradition in her training. This happened first with her formative coach Oleg Pouzanov, who incorporated Russian sensibilities into her fencing. After his tragic death in 2015, Mara refocused and rebuilt with French trained coach Roberto Cirillo. She currently trains away from the bustle of Rome in Rapallo, Italy, where she lived for 4 years. After the lockdown she moved to Carlino, her hometown in Friuli Venezia Giulia with her son Samuele and her physical trainer and husband Andrea Lo Coco.

What we learned from Mara Navarria through this interview is that innovation and creativity can meet with tradition and diligent work to create a new kind of champion. Her insight and her story is truly remarkable.

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Why Size DOESN’T Matter in Fencing

Why Size DOESN’T Matter in Fencing

A common question from parents in regards to fencing is whether the size of their child matters. This is one question with a quick answer: It doesn’t.

It does not matter if a child, or even an adult, fencer is much shorter or much taller than their opponent. The nature of fencing is such that you can be successful whether you are small in stature or whether you are large in stature. There are advantages and disadvantages to either one, and they are evenly split. No matter your level.

Size doesn’t matter!

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