Art of Fencing, Art of Life

Month: August 2021

AFM Becomes an Epee-only Fencing Club

AFM Becomes an Epee-only Fencing Club

You can do anything, but you can’t do everything. – David Allen

This quote rings so true for us at this moment. Though we often tell our children that they can do anything they want to in life, we must also balance that with encouraging them to focus on their strengths and to learn to adapt. In fact, adaptation and knowing how to change is what makes a fencer successful. Learning to adapt is a key skill, and it’s something that we have to practice even when things are difficult. Right now, we are making choices about how to adapt to make things as good as possible for our fencers. 

Doing the right thing often means making the most difficult decisions. This was very much the case for AFM when we decided to make the move to close our foil program and become an epee-only fencing club. When you want to grow and become better than what you are, you do well to focus on your strengths. That’s what we’ve decided to do, and it’s a huge step in the right direction for AFM. 

Through the last eight years, we built foil and epee fencing programs from the ground up. We began with two tremendous coaches and a handful of students. From those small beginnings, our club grew and widened its reach, all along the way with us cheering our fencers and their accomplishments. 

We are proud of what the foil program achieved and what everyone involved achieved up to this point. In the last season alone, we had national-level top finishes in every single NAC. Each and every one of our competitive fencers made us proud, growing as people as well as athletes. It’s not possible to put into words how much we appreciate the sacrifices and hard work that our foilists brought for this success. To part ways is heartbreaking, even though we step onto this path knowing that it’s the right thing to do. 

Once the dust settles and the logistics of changing clubs and adjusting to schedules has transformed into a daily routine of training, we hope that both our epeeists and our former foilists will see the integrity in this decision. We as a fencing community build beautiful things together, and that doesn’t stop. We are so privileged to be a part of this community and to have been a jumping-off place for the long and fulfilling journey that these incredible foilists will have in this sport. We will always continue to cheer our foilists on. We know that they will look back and see what a positive step this was in their fencing journey, even as it was an incredibly difficult step to take. 

Our epee coaching team is one of the best in the United States, and we are so grateful for our remarkable coaches. With two Olympians and coaches who have put many fencers through the many national teams, AFM has a core epee program that speaks to the best in our fencers. At every level, our epee fencers provide a strong competitive discipline that rivals any fencing in the United States. We are rightfully confident in our skills and in the direction that AFM will go with this new focus. 

Going forward, we will continue to raise the bar and improve our programs. As a strong fencing club with a laser-sharp focus in epee, our members will now be able to reach even higher heights, to reach out towards new horizons, and to elevate our epee fencers to whatever level they wish to rise to! 

This marks an exciting season for everyone. For the fencers in both disciplines, the future is brighter and better than it ever has been. 

It’s OK if You Didn’t Become a Fencing Master During Quarantine

It’s OK if You Didn’t Become a Fencing Master During Quarantine

It’s ok if you didn’t learn the secrets of the strip when you were quarantined at home. 

It’s ok if you didn’t fence every day when the world was turned upside down. 

It’s ok if you didn’t level up your fencing prowess during lockdown.

It’s ok if you didn’t perfect your parry during a global crisis.

It’s ok if you never once picked up your foil or epee or sabre since March of 2020.

As we come to the other side of lockdown and the start of a new season, there is a lot of pressure on everyone to be some kind of best version of themselves. It’s truly difficult, and it’s an issue that we expect will be even more prominent and challenging in the months to come as the fall and winter offer us new challenges in the pandemic. 

Goal Setting

A guest post by Corwin Duncan.

Goal Setting in Fencing

I saluted my opponent, put on my mask, and got on guard. I listened for the referee’s command to fence, and for just a moment I felt the intense desire to win this bout; this bout I had been waiting for for years, working tirelessly so this one moment I could do my best. I felt that intensity, and then I let it go and focused, and as the referee said ‘fence!’ – I was ready.

It was July 5th 2008, and I was fencing the final of Junior National Championships. That bout was strange for me – every touch seemed to last minutes, but only seconds passed on the clock. Most of the time I made the wrong action, but it seemed like my opponent was moving through molasses, and somehow I could always find a way to land the touch. My mind and my body were more prepared than they had ever been before, and everything flowed together.

One minute and 38 seconds into the bout – just past the first half of the first period – I scored the final touch of the bout, winning 15-1.

It felt amazing to be fencing in the final of national championships, and it felt even better to win. But what I mostly felt in that moment was the culmination of years of preparation. You see, I didn’t just have a good bout, or competition, or season – since I was 15 my goal had been to win Junior National Championships. Every time I took a lesson, fenced a practice bout, or competed, I could connect it to that one goal – and that gave me focus, direction, and motivation.

Fencing History was Made in Tokyo 2020

Fencing history was made in Tokyo 2020 - Italian Women's Foil Team greets their opponents before the match starts
Italian Women’s Foil Team greets their opponents before the match starts

Anyone who either watched the events live or followed the results from Olympic fencing in Tokyo would agree – history was made at Makuhari Messe event hall. These were fascinating Games in general across all sports. There was incredible, real drama at each turn. Decades-old world records were broken. Huge topics that had been hidden beneath the surface of the sport rose to the top. Camaraderie between athletes shown through across countries, with athletes sharing moments of both glory and defeat in union and community. 

These Games were everything the sport can display, once again showing us why so many people across the globe come together for two short weeks every four years. Even those who barely follow sport in their everyday lives watch for the outcome beneath the Olympic rings. Suddenly, everyone across almost the entire population engages in a conversation about the human spirit, achievements, healthy competition, taboo topics, and the real drama unfolding before our eyes. 

Everyone who watched fencing at the Olympics should be awed by such a great tournament. I would call the outcome of the fencing competition at Tokyo as surprising as any we’ve seen in any year, challenging even the most seemingly inevitable predictions. These Games produced, in my opinion, the most diverse results we could imagine and added tons of new fencing records to what we’ve seen.  A lot of things happened for the first time in these Games. Surprises both positive and negative characterized the action both on and off the piste. 

Just a short while ago, I wrote about my predictions in the individual competitions. Now let’s take a closer look at my initial predictions regarding the team competition and how the events played out at Makuhari Messe. 

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