Though individual fencing is strong and getting stronger all of the United States thanks to the supportive clubs and the increasingly competitive web of tournaments in America, there is one place that we are sorely lacking – the team events.
In our current system, from local to regional to national events, individual fencing takes the top priority. Team events are not a priority. Even when we have team events in the competition, they are still not well attended. Clubs don’t encourage participation because they aren’t emphasized from the top, and fencers don’t participate because they are not emphasized from the club level.
It is absolutely time for this to change. While the team fencing events are so important on the international level, it has been too slow a trickle for them to become important down here.
Yes, it is different. Yes, it is slightly complicated and challenging for new fencers to enter into. However it’s not really that complicated, and we can’t wait around forever. We need to see some shift in the way that this is done so that our fencers can get the right tools to succeed at the top.
Here are the last place Junior fencers in each category.
Women’s Sabre – Elizaveta Shvets of Israel and Carla Hernandez from Equador at #125
Men’s Sabre – Mathias Planckh of Austria at #152
Women’s Foil – Sofia Tsoneva of Bulgaria at #148
Men’s Foil – Michael Jones of Antigua and Barbuda at #180
Women’s Epee – Maysa Guerreiro of Angola at #160
Men’s Epee – Nathan Ra of Cambodia and Al Yacine Ouro-Agora of Togo at #208
Strictly speaking, these are lowest ranking Junior fencers at the Cadet and Junior World Fencing Championships in each category. They’re last place.
Here’s the question – does that make them the worst fencers?
Where you measure from matters
The worst fencer at the Cadet and Junior World Fencing Championships is still a fencer who made it that far. In the country that they came from, they would rank among the best fencers. To get to the World Championships, they would have had to be among the highest-ranked fencers in their country.
When you look at these fencers in the context of the global stage, when you measure them from the top of the top and only through the lens of that single competition, you perceive them as the lowest ranked. When you measure them in the context of their national stage, you perceive them as the highest ranked. The “worst” fencer (which is a harsh term) at the World Fencing Championships, was probably the best fencer at their national championship.
Who is the worst fencer?
I recently saw a post by Seth Godin, a motivational writer who I find consistent inspiration from.He’s always giving me food for thought. Oftentimes, his writing is about how we are able to put things in perspective, and how that perspective can help us to achieve.
The following is adapted from one of his pieces.
The worst fencer in the country came in last place at Fencing Summer Nationals.
Wait, that’s not true.
The worst fencer didn’t qualify for SN.
The worst fencer in the region didn’t get a podium finish at the regional competition.
Hold on, that’s not true.
The worst fencer didn’t drive from their town to the regional competition.
The worst fencer in town came in last in the club tournament.
Actually, that’s not true.
The worst fencer didn’t even enter the club tournament.
The worst fencer is at the bottom of the class.
Well, that’s not true either.
The worst fencer never even picked up a sword.
No matter how you place in competition, no matter what level that competition is, you are still ahead of the others who never even picked up a fencing sword.
It’s so critically important for us to understand that rankings and ratings have meaning, but they are only useful when we look at them with the right perspective. Fencing is not some isolated venture. All of the ways that we measure ourselves happen within the wider context of who and where we are competing.
In the end, there will always be someone who is further up the path than you are, and there will always be someone who is behind you on the path. It does us no good to put our value based on any ranking, no matter how high.
If the fencers competing at the World Championships spent all of their time and emotional energy thinking how they were at the bottom of the rankings in that one competition, they would miss out on the incredible accomplishment that it is to have qualified at all and to go to Dubai to compete.
If you spend all of your time and emotional energy thinking about how you are not at the top of whatever competition, you will miss out on the incredible accomplishment and privilege that it is to be fencing at all.
Every fencer is on their own path. Every path is one worth celebrating.
Competing early and competing often is invaluable. Why? Because fencing is a skill that’s developed over time.
The Y10 is the youngest age category that competes at the national level. There is a burgeoning Y8 category, but it’s not yet part of the national or regional level. Y10 is as low as we go, and there’s a lot of reasoning behind getting these youngest fencers up on the national stage.
One of the most common injuries that fencers get is commonly called “fencer’s elbow”, or tendinitis if we’re being technical.
A tender, painful spike of sensation that hangs in the dull curve of the elbow joint is how people usually experience it. Like a pinch that can progress into a fiery, throbbing ache. Without the right kind of support and precautions, it’ll only get worse.
It’s the same thing as tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow, except of course that those come from holding a tennis racket or a golf club. In fact, any repetitive motion or long-term action that uses the arm can cause the same thing. It could happen to hairdressers or plumbers, to carpenters or artists – anyone who uses their arm over and over again in the same motion. The medical term for it is lateral epicondylitis.
Coming soon for the 2022-23 fencing season is a fantastic fencing competition service that will support competitive fencers like never before.
The hassle and struggle of carting gear back and forth to the venue, all while making sure it’s clean, sanitized, and in working order, is one of the toughest things about the life of a competitive fencer. It distracts from the focus that competitors can have on competition, and it’s a big stress on fencing families.
The new Gear & Tournament Delivery Service is here to make that all a lot easier. Families no longer have to feel crushed by the weight of fencing gear, and they don’t have to struggle with trying to be a jack of all trades with regard to fencing gear and equipment.
There’s a special pilot rollout of the program that’s coming for Fencing Summer Nationals 2022, but there are only a few spots available for the pilot program ahead of the full rollout next season.
Fencing competitions can be overwhelming
If you are a veteran fencing parent, you can tell countless stories about how difficult it is to arrive at fencing tournaments. There are a million little things that can come in and make a mess of the competitive experience, and if you miss even one of them then it can have a potentially devastating effect on your fencer and how they perform.
There’s the problem of transportation. You get to the airport after packing all the gear and roll through with everything just right, but then you have to change planes and you are suddenly not sure that your bag will arrive.
Even more frustrating, you might rush from the airport to the venue on the day before a big national tournament to make the weapon check, only to find out that the armorer has already left for the day. Now it’s late and you have to sacrifice that morning time before the tournament to get to the venue at 6:00 am to get your place in line and ensure the gear is marked.
There are so many other problems, the little things that only fencers have to face and that only fencing parents really know how to deal with.
Advanced Fencing Mom Services (AFMS) is a new company that’s created a fantastic solution to help fencers figure out how to work this out when traveling for fencing competitions. Unlike other courier services, AFMS is specific to fencing. That niche knowledge can help families to get the most out of their competitive experience.
A one-stop solution for competition service
The travel to go to fencing tournaments is great, but it’s also straining. AFMS created these incredible services that will travel to you to perform weapon checks so that you can be ready for any level of fencing tournament in a stress-free environment.
It’s a one-stop, subscription-based service solution for fencers.
When you subscribe to the service, they will come to wherever you are and take care of your equipment from start to finish, just like a fencing mom would. Imagine having the best fencing mom come to pick up your gear, wash it, fix any problems with it, package it up, and deliver it right to the venue after it passed the weapon check of the most scrutinizing armorers!
AFMS will come to any location that you need to in order to get your gear:
All of the people who work here are actual fencing parents who are also trained in fixing equipment. (Disclaimer – they aren’t all moms, there are some fencing dads and grandparents who work at AFMS). They’re highly skilled at cleaning the fencing bag, getting stains out of knickers, even patching any frayed seams on the fencing glove! It’s an easy way to make sure your fencing gear is as good as new ahead of the competition.
One of the best parts about this is the timely delivery of your now like-new equipment to the venue.
AFMS has a special packaging service that takes the equipment directly from location to location, with stops at every major and minor airport in the country. Unfortunately, they don’t yet offer international service, but we’re told that this is on the horizon as this service continues to grow. Through dual partnerships with FedEx and UPS, they can get your fencing gear back into your hands no matter where you are for fencing competition. Moreover, before they hand over it to you, they make sure the armorers checked your gear and placed their stamps.
A company representative shows up at your chosen location to hand-deliver the equipment from there all the way to the venue or hotel. There’s never a question that your fencing equipment will become damaged in the transition thanks to this personalized service.
Once it’s their hands, an AFMS representative makes another quality check and does any additional cleaning or repair that could be necessary before they do the final delivery. It’s important that all parts of the weapon are fully operational and that everything is clean and sanitized. High levels of quality control are a hallmark of this service.
Should you choose to have your equipment delivered to the venue, it will be waiting for you clean, inspected, and marked with your name either in the area of your club banner or near the strip where you’ll be competing. Nowadays, for example, at the big national competitions from USA Fencing or even the larger regional competitions, the fencing strips are miles away from the entrance. There’s no need to haul your equipment across the acres of space inside – it’ll just show up there for you! And thanks to the USA Fencing for announcing the strips one day before – the AFMS will deliver your gear right to your strip!
Premium competition service add ons
For fencers who want that extra level of service to take all of the preparation out of the equation, AFMS offers a series of premium service add ons.
You have the option to add-on snacks and drinks for your event. If you’re a Gatorade kind of fencer, you can specify the flavor that you want in your snack pack. If you like Frost Glacier Cherry (aka white) or Riptide Rush (aka purple), they’ll source it locally and put it in your bag. Looking for a specific protein bar to power you through the competition? You can add it to your snack requests and have that Blueberry & Almond Clif Bar or that Caramel Walnut Luna bar ready for you in your bag. No need to chase healthy venue snacks with the AFMS service or overpay the venue prices!
It’s not just about the food. You can also subscribe to the “parents and spectators” add-on package, which includes a comfy seat cushion, earplugs for the venue echo, and a hot, made-to-order grande Starbucks drink. Fencing parents and caregivers deserve to be treated well, too!
With these great add-ons, the frantic fencing competitive experience can be so much easier and so much more satisfying for everyone! All you need to do is focus on that good night’s rest and getting to the venue. No worry about missing weapon check or standing in long lines – it’s all taken care of with AFMS.
It’s all about the fencing experience
Fencers and their families put so much effort, blood, sweat, and tears into getting ready for a fencing competition at the national or upper regional level. Too often, that experience is marred by logistical issues and technical troubles.
AFMS is all about supporting fencers so that they can focus on the competition instead of the gear and the logistics. This can help to improve fencing performance and to allow those competitors to focus.
It’s not just about the competitors, either. This competition service also helps fencing moms and dads to have a clearer mind so that they can sit back and enjoy the competition! Fencing parents deserve to take a break and put their attention on their kids.
Plans and pricing
The best part about this incredible service is that it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg! This world-class, incredibly beneficial service is reasonable and affordable for fencing families. It’s a true value add to any long distance competitive experience.
There are two levels of pricing that are offered for fencers with AFMS. All pricing includes taxes and fees, and it’s easily payable online through the AFMS website. The whole thing couldn’t be easier! There are two options for pricing, either through a monthly subscription fee for the whole season, or by the tournament. This way, you can find the level that really works for you.
Subscription – $100/month standard or $150/month premium competition service
If you are a regular at fencing competitions all over the country, then this is the level for you. Fencers who compete at least once a month will want to use this subscription service, because it definitely pays for itself.
Pay as you go – $75/tournament standard, $100/tournament premium competition service
If you only fence infrequently, then this is the way for you. You’ll get all of the perks listed above, including the door to venue service and the high quality repairs and maintenance. Fencers who are new to large competitions will get so much out of this, and it’s a great way to make the whole process easier and less stressful!
AFMS is the most advanced fencing equipment management company in America, and they are really driven by their passion for the sport. Their team of fencing parents remembers those days of hauling gear and repairing equipment late at night, and they want to help out fencing families during the stressful time of traveling to competitions! It’s so, so important to pay it forward, and this service is a way to support the next generation of fencers.
Readers of this blog can take advantage of a special offer with the link below. This is only for readers of this blog, and it’s an exciting way to help AFMS grow while also getting something for your own fencer. Don’t wait! Click below and learn more.
Please share with your fellow fencers and with your fencing clubs! It’s important that we get the word out about this service so that we can continue to grow it.
Click here for sign up information for the new competition service!