Academy of Fencing Masters Blog

Art of Fencing, Art of Life

Month: April 2021

Fencing Summer Nationals 2021 Qualification

Fencing Summer Nationals 2021 Qualification

Great news! Fencing Summer Nationals 2021 looks to be on! After losing our biggest event to the pandemic in 2020, it’s exhilarating to think that we are on the road back to our capstone national tournament!

The last year has turned the entire system of fencing competition upside down, making it hard to keep up with the ever-changing schedule and qualifications. We are now in the fourth stage of the Return to Fencing Plan from USA Fencing, which brings back national-level tournaments. That’s an exciting step towards Summer Nationals and the July Challenge!

Qualification Paths for Fencing Summer Nationals 2021

Obviously, with all of the changes to the schedule and the cancellation of large parts of the season, qualification has changed, though perhaps not as much as you might think. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if some qualification rules are changed, so stay tuned for any updates from the USA Fencing!

The national points (NRPS) in each respective age category (Y10/12/14/Cadet/Junior/Division 1)  was frozen on March 11, which allows fencers who could not travel to still qualify if they were on the standings at that point and of course age eligible

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Why Most Fencing Coaches Start Students with the French Grip

Why most fencing coaches start students with the French grip

The point at which the fencer and the sword connect is the grip, and it is an important starting point for fencers. 

In fencing, the French grip is the simplest. It is a straight or slightly curved piece of metal, wrapped in some kind of cushioning material, with an enlarged piece at the end called a pommel. It’s old, but it’s been around for centuries for a reason – it’s effective. 

Other kinds of grips, like the pistol grip, are molded in various ways to fit into the hand, but the French grip offers no special finger support. It is up to the fencer to create the structure of the hand. Because of this, the French grip is the most malleable and gives the fencer the most latitude in use. 

Epee fencers use the characteristic adaptability of the french grip to create a very distinctive fencing style. An epee fencer can hold close to the handguard or further down at the pommel. How the fingers wrap around the grip is also variable, with fencers able to hold the grip any number of ways. With this grip, a fencer can “post”, or hold at the bottom of the grip in order to extend their reach, which can give a slight advantage if used in the right way during a bout. 

That flexibility is the hallmark of the French grip, and it’s why it’s been consistently a favorite one of many epee fencers. Those are the basics of the French grip, but why is it so popular at the beginning of fencing training for both foil and epee fencers?

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Is Fencing a Difficult Sport?

Is fencing a difficult sport

There’s a range of what is difficult sport and what is not, with lots of places to start and lots of places to go. In the world of sports, this range is broad and always changing. 

No, fencing is not a difficult sport. We should start off by saying that. Is it difficult to become an Olympic fencer? Of course, it is. But it is not difficult to enter into fencing or to even become a competitive fencer. This is true no matter your age. 

As with anything, how hard fencing is has everything to do with the amount of practice that someone puts into it. If you practice often and smart and train with good coaches in a supportive environment, you can fence well by any measure. It is not hard to get started in fencing and it’s not hard to make positive progress.

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Fight Your Discomfort to Grow

Fighting your inner discomfort to grow

We all like to be comfortable. Especially in times when things out there are making us feel discomfort. 

In fencing, we see comfort in all kinds of ways. Fencers learn that certain things work and begin to rely on this kind of parry or that kind of footwork to give them a quick point. It’s possible to make this work for a while, but if you aren’t adapting and growing then it won’t continue to work for long. Staying static is the path to stagnating. 

There’s nothing wrong with seeking comfort in things that make life easier or allow us to recharge. However, there is also always room to push ourselves and improve our lives. Oftentimes we think that we need comfort when growth would actually make us feel better. Fighting the pull towards easing into social media, extra sleep, Netflix, or any other passive routine, does involve self-discipline and expansion. How can we do that?

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Fencing Goes to Space!

Fencing goes to Space - foil fencing at the SpaceX station

It’s been hard to keep this secret for so long, but we are finally able to share our good news! After a long year of negotiating and working through concepts, we are proud to announce that we are taking fencing to SPACE! We are now the official training partners of the inaugural fencing program for astronauts. We’re announcing it first, right here on our blog, before it hits the media! 

Last year when SpaceX and NASA contacted us with a request to provide fencing training to astronauts, our first reaction was one of bewilderment. That feeling quickly turned to intrigue, which became intimidation, and eventually only joy and excitement. Now we are confident that we can make this happen, and we could not be more thrilled with the innovation that this will bring to fencing and to the pilots and scientists who voyage beyond Earth’s atmosphere. 

Why fence in space?

Why would NASA and SpaceX be interested in fencing in space? At first, it sounds like an odd pairing, but it makes sense when you work out the reasoning behind it. 

Space travel is not what it was many years ago, with explorers going up in the shuttle for limited trips around the planet. Today, astronauts travel via NASA’s partner agencies to the International Space Station, where they spend an average of about 6 months, though many astronauts spend even longer stretches of time. During this time they must keep up their physical fitness, which is done through many with sometimes even longer stretches of time. Obviously this time they must train. 

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