Art of Fencing, Art of Life

Month: July 2022

Five Safe Steps for Fencers to Keep Training While Injured

Five Safe Steps for Fencers to Keep Training While Injured

No matter how safe a sport might be, it still involves moving the body in a wide variety of ways, and there will always be injuries. 

In our club, we have been incredibly fortunate to only have (knock on wood!) a few injuries during training or competition. Most of the injuries that we see are from things that happen outside of the club – something during gym class at school, an accident at home, a fall on a bike or a tumble on rollerblades or a skateboard, a skiing injury, etc. Though these didn’t happen during fencing itself, they are still injuries that require modification of fencing training. 

The options for injured fencers

Whether it’s a sprained ankle, a broken wrist, a pulled muscle, or any number of potential injuries, the immediate concern has to be safety and long-term healing. The first priority in any situation is to keep the body safe. Though in the past there was a great deal of pressure on young athletes to push through their injuries and keep on going, things have thankfully progressed now to a point where the long-term health of athletes takes priority over pushing past the breaking point. 

However, that does not mean that we are giving up. 

What do you do? There are three options: 

  1. stop training altogether
  2. do some modified training
  3. keep training as normal. 

Which option you choose to do will depend on the specifics of your injury and the demands of your current situation. If it’s a week before Fencing Summer Nationals, that’s a very different place to be than if you’re hurt at the beginning of the season. 

No matter the situation, time wasted is time wasted. The reasoning is irrelevant. People tend to think that only options one and three are viable, and that is so wrong! We have many more possibilities, and they all center around modified training. Injury downtime can be a great opportunity to enrich your training and expand your abilities in new directions. 

Where Do We Go From Here? An Open Letter to USA Fencing about the 2022-23 National Calendar

Where Do We Go From Here? An Open Letter to USA Fencing about the 2022-23 National Events Calendar

USA Fencing just released the national calendar for next season today, and it’s already a hot topic of conversation online and among the fencing community in clubs all over the United States. While we were anxiously anticipating this national calendar, what was revealed is, to put it bluntly, a big disappointment. 

Normally, I refrained from criticizing USA Fencing here on the AFM blog and in general within the community because it doesn’t help to grow the reputation of the organization and by extension it doesn’t help the sport to grow and become more widespread in the world. I also understand the immense amount of work that it takes to bring these huge events to life all over the country, especially when a lot of people have a lot of different opinions. 

Every region is hugely different. Every club is different from every other club. There are many, many stakeholders that need to be satisfied. The members have a multitude of different requirements, the coaches have needs and ideas, the clubs are always looking for ways to keep going, and fencing parents have an important perspective. For all of these reasons, I usually try to refrain from criticizing. Even here, with this controversy about the schedule, I hope to not wade into criticizing, but rather that it will be looked on by USA Fencing as an opportunity to improve for next year. 

Why You Should Try Again if You Didn’t do Well at Fencing Summer Nationals

Why You Should Try Again if You Didn't do Well at Fencing Summer Nationals

Every fencer has bad days, but if your bad day falls during Fencing Summer Nationals, it can feel devastating. 

Too often, we see fencers who don’t perform to the level that they’d like to at Fencing Summer Nationals go on to struggle with the idea of facing the climb back up to the tournament next year. It’s understandable how hard it can be to put all of this work into getting to the national competition, only to have it all seeming come to nothing. 

This isn’t the time to give up! If you’ve made it this far, then you’ve shown that you can make it this far. Whether you made it through the pools and got knocked out in the first round of the DE or faltered just before the medal rounds, you still got all the way to the big competition. 

It’s easy enough just to say that, but how can you transform your thinking to come at this competition in way that sets you up to take another stab at it? 

When is the Time to Worry about your Fencing?

Time to Worry about your Fencing

There is a time to worry, and there’s a time to let go and go with it. 

The competition is too late. All of the touches that you lost along the way to get to this bout, all of the phrases your opponent wins, it’s not the time to think about them now. Part of being a great athlete is trusting yourself and your coaches when the moment comes because that’s the only way that you can really be in the moment against your opponent. 

The weight of all that came before 

Right now, I want you to stop and take a moment to think about all of the mistakes that you made in the last week. Maybe you forgot to close the back door and the dog got out, so you had to run through the neighborhood and go catch her. Maybe you forgot to pack your lunch and realized it in the middle of the day, so you had to scramble to find something to eat. 

Take a moment and think back through yours. If you’re like everyone else, you’ve made a ton of little mistakes in the last seven days, and maybe even a few big ones as well.  You’ll probably notice that it makes you feel heavier and less sure of yourself when you think back about the time you wasted and the people who had to accommodate you when you made all of those mistakes. 

Now, imagine that those mistakes were something that you didn’t let go of. You just kept going over them in your mind, again and again. If you went around and around about the things that you didn’t do right, could you ever do anything else? How would that affect your ability to do other things?

Obsessing about what we did or didn’t prepare puts a weight on our minds. It steals away our focus and keeps us from enjoying where we are. Those feelings of inadequacy tend to grow, becoming heavier and heavier. It’s something that we don’t need to carry with us in everyday life.

It’s not normal for us to carry the constant weight of every little thing we’ve done wrong with us in our daily life. We tell people to stand up, dust off, and move on. Yet, somehow, we see fencers so often carrying the weight of their mistakes in training with them into competition and think that it’s ok. It’s not! Just as it’s so counterproductive to go to school or work with all of the worry about past mistakes, so too is it counterproductive to do that in a fencing competition. Fencing competition is definitely not the right time to worry about all your previous mistakes.

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