Art of Fencing, Art of Life

Month: February 2022

Why You Aren’t Done When You Get to the Top of the Mountain

Why You Aren’t Done When You Get to the Top of the Mountain

It’s very difficult to climb the mountain.

It’s very easy to fall down.

I recently had the privilege of seeing a fencer get his A-rating. It’s a long, hard road that goes over a lot of years to get to this point, and it’s a huge accomplishment. There’s a feeling about this achievement that is something akin to getting to the top of a mountain, because it’s a long way up! It’s hard not to look at how far you’ve come up to this point and not marvel at the height of it. 

What happens when you get to the top of that mountain though?

Staying at the top

What happens when you scramble up to the top of something? Do you stay there, or do you have to keep on holding on? After everything that you’ve put into the journey thus far, you want to maintain your position at least. 

A big misnomer is that, when you get to the top, that you’re stable there. As though you can stand on the ledge and just look around, take a long sip of water and maybe a nap. Anyone who has ever been rock climbing will tell you that it doesn’t work like that. 

When you’re actually on a rope and climbing up a mountain, there’s no real rest. There are moments of quiet and reflection, but you can’t just hang there on the rope all day. You have to put your hands back on the rock and keep on moving. Even when you stand on a ledge for a while, turning around to take in the view, you’re not stopping. 

Once you get to that peak, that doesn’t mean that the work is over. The work doesn’t even slow down here, because life is a constant push to stay where you are. 

Principles of Pool Assignments

Principles of Pool Assignments

There’s something mysterious about the way that fencing pool assignments happen. To uninitiated it’s can feel like a hidden secret that no one really understands. It doesn’t have to be confusing or frustrating though! 

Fencing competitions are not a straight line from start to finish. To narrow the competitors from a wide group to the finalists, there are two layers of competition – the pool rounds and the direct elimination rounds. Everyone knows that there are two parts, but what we’re interested in is making sense of how they work. 

It’s time to demystify the seeding and pool assignment process. We’ll explain how it’s done, why it’s done, and what everyone can and should expect from the process. You will also learn how to manually make correct pool assignments if you ever need to run a competition in your club and have no access to tournament software!

Patience in Fencing: Everything Takes Longer than You Think

Patience in Fencing

Everything in fencing takes longer than you think it will. Just as we have to practice footwork and hand position until we get it, we also have to practice patience.

One virtue that you need more than almost any other in fencing is patience. 

The first big jump

There is the initial feeling of mastery that comes from just picking up the sword. You go from never having held a fencing sword, just a normal person walking around, to the next moment when you are suddenly a fencer. The contrast is so drastic that it can make us feel like we have made a big leap, which we have. 

Then there’s the steep learning curve for all of the things surrounding fencing. You have to learn about all of the ins and outs of fencing, from the gear to the rules. There’s a new environment to become acclimated to. Fencing has a lot of gear, what with the masks and the electronic scoring equipment. It’s absolutely transformative in the beginning. That whole feeling of starting something new, what with the connections we’re making in our mind and the way that we feel physically. It’s so much to process, but it’s also such an exciting thing to process! 

Fencing in the beginning is all about acclimating to the new experience, and there’s zero patience required. In fact, in the beginning we don’t need much patience because we’re scrambling so much just to get our feet under us. Literally, trying to get our feet under us because we’re working on our footwork. 

This isn’t to say that it’s all roses when it comes to learning fencing. Those first few months might be exciting, but they’re also intimidating and can be overwhelming at times. There’s no doubt that there’s a lot of growth happening though.

Using Small Tactical Breaks to Break Your Opponent’s Flow

Using Small Tactical Breaks to Break Your Opponent’s Flow

Fencers build up an impressive toolkit through experience and constant learning. There’s a cache of potential proactive and reactive movements that we have stored in our mental files that we pull out to try to beat our opponent. What happens when you’ve used up all of those files? What happens when you get caught off guard and don’t know how to respond to your opponent effectively at all? What happens when you just run out of ideas?

Fencing matches go so quickly. Did you know that it’ll take the average person around six minutes to read this article? That’s as long as two periods in a fencing match. It’s so quick that it can feel like it evaporates right beneath you. Sometimes it goes so quickly that you get swept up in the wave of your opponent. Luckily, there are ways you can pull yourself up and take a breath of air. 

When your opponent is a mind reader

We’ve all had these matches. The person on the other side of the strip seems to be a mind reader. Every time you attempt to take a step, she seems to always know and takes one step to counter you just a moment before you can make headway. 

It’s like she’s inside your head. 

Obviously, she’s not actually inside your head. It just seems that way. All that’s really going on is that your action isn’t quite as good as you want it to be, that your distance isn’t quite right, or that you aren’t executing the movements in quite the right way. There could be a thousand reasons that this plays out this way. None of them have to do with psychic powers. 

The result is the same as if she did have psychic powers, though. Your opponent is effectively stopping you before you can score, and once you get into that rhythm of fencing, it’s difficult to get out of it. 

Is Fencing an Expensive Sport?

Is fencing an expensive sport

Fencing has a reputation for being an expensive sport. People often think that it is an elite sport that is too far out of the reach of many families. It’s one of the aspects of fencing that holds it back from becoming more mainstream.

This reputation is not necessarily well deserved, but then information is power in all things. And so I decided to write a blog that gives parents and fencers a good perspective on the expenses roadmap.

It is incredibly important to note that these are general figures that are based on our research and experience at the time of this writing. Every fencing club is different, and prices will vary depending on the cost of living where you are and what the fencing marketplace looks like. Clubs have a range of offerings and structures, so you will want to speak to your local club about what their requirements are.  In general however, this is a guideline that will give you an idea of what you can expect: now as you enrolled into fencing, and down the road, when you reach a high competitive level.

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