Art of Fencing, Art of Life

Month: May 2023

Manifesto of a Fencing Parent

Manifesto of a Fencing Parent

As a fencing parent, you play a vital role in supporting and guiding your child’s journey in this remarkable sport. Fencing is not just about wins and medals; it’s a personal and transformative journey for your young athlete. The following ten essential principles will help you create a positive and nurturing environment for your child and enable them to thrive in their fencing pursuits.

1. Embrace the Journey of Your Child

Recognize that fencing is a unique journey filled with ups and downs. Encourage your child to set personal goals and enjoy the process of improvement. It’s crucial to celebrate progress, regardless of the outcome. Remember, success in fencing is not just about winning – it’s about personal growth and development.

2. Support Your Child’s Passion

Wholeheartedly support and respect your child’s love for fencing. Show genuine interest in their experiences, listen to their aspirations, and provide the necessary encouragement. Your support and enthusiasm will fuel their motivation and confidence, helping them excel in the sport they love.

3. Foster a Healthy Balance

While commitment is crucial, ensure your child maintains a healthy balance between fencing and other aspects of life. Encourage them to pursue diverse interests, maintain friendships, and excel academically. Balancing different areas of life will prevent burnout and contribute to their overall well-being.

4. Cultivate a Growth Mindset

Teach your child the power of a growth mindset – the belief that abilities can be developed through effort and dedication. Encourage them to embrace challenges, learn from setbacks, and persist in the face of adversity. By fostering a growth mindset, you empower your child to overcome obstacles and reach their full potential.

5. Promote Sportsmanship and Respect

Emphasize the values of good sportsmanship and respect for opponents, coaches, and officials. Teach your child the importance of fair play, integrity, and kindness. Success in fencing goes beyond winning – it’s about conducting oneself with grace and dignity both on and off the strip.

6. Trust the Coaching Process

Have faith in your child’s coach and their expertise. Refrain from interfering with the training or offering unsolicited advice. Instead, provide unwavering support and encouragement to your child. Trust that the coach will guide their technical and tactical development while you focus on being their biggest cheerleader.

7. Nurture Independence and Responsibility

Encourage your child to take ownership of their fencing journey. Involve them in decision-making processes, such as goal setting and managing their training schedule. Teach them the importance of responsibility, including being punctual, maintaining their equipment, and practicing self-discipline.

8. Prioritize Safety and Well-being

Ensure your child’s safety and well-being are paramount. Provide the necessary protective gear, promote warm-up and conditioning routines, and educate them about injury prevention. Prioritize rest and recovery to avoid overtraining, and listen to their body’s needs to maintain a healthy balance between training and rest.

9. Create a Supportive Community

Build connections with other fencing parents to create a supportive community. Engage in positive and respectful interactions, share experiences, and offer encouragement to fellow athletes and their families. By fostering a sense of belonging, you contribute to a nurturing environment that enhances the fencing experience for all.

10. Celebrate the Journey, Not Just the Destination

Remember to celebrate every step of your child’s fencing journey. Acknowledge and applaud their achievements, no matter how small. Whether it’s a personal best, a hard-fought bout, or the joy of participation, celebrate these milestones. By doing so, you reinforce their love for the sport and inspire continued growth and development.

By embracing these principles, you create a supportive and positive environment where your child can flourish. Fencing is not just a sport – it’s a transformative experience that shapes character, resilience, and lifelong skills. With your unwavering support, your child can embrace the journey and find joy and fulfillment in the world of fencing.

Breaking News of Tomorrow – my debut thriller launched today

Igor Chirashnya: Author of Breaking News of Tomorrow

If you read this blog consistently, you should know that I have at least three main passions that come across on these pages: fencing, education, and writing. For the last 9 years, this blog has provided me with a great platform to merge these passions into a single mission: educate as many people as I can about the great benefits of the sport of fencing via my writing.

During the pandemic, I had a daring desire to expand my writing beyond fencing and to write a novel. I had an idea, an ambition to make it happen, and, most importantly, full support from my family. And so, I did it!

My first novel, Breaking News of Tomorrow, is launched today and is available on Amazon and in your favorite Barnes and Noble bookstore. It is available in three formats: hardcover, paperback, and ebook.

Here is the novel’s blurb: 

What would you do if you knew what would happen in the world news of tomorrow?

Mike leads a quiet, unremarkable life. He is smart but lacks the charisma to rise in the ranks of his job. Tired of always being overlooked, Mike isn’t sure what to do. But all of that changes late one night, when he accidently discovers a mysterious website: Breaking News of Tomorrow.

At first, Mike assumes the website is some kind of hoax, until he realizes that it seems to know the details of a string of murders happening in his neighborhood. With Mike and his fiancé, Jenn, convinced the website may be run by the killer himself, they fear for their own safety. 

Mike soon learns that the website is much more than it seems—and Mike is not the only one paying attention. 

With Rachel Sorrow, a reporter with a reputation for cracking impossible stories, the FBI, and even the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service plotting to learn the secrets behind The Breaking News of Tomorrow, no one is safe. 

What will Mike do with the knowledge of the world’s biggest events at his fingertips the day before they happen, and when the choice is between the addiction to power or his own family, what will he choose? 

Breaking News of Tomorrow is a fast-paced, suspenseful page-turner. Packed with action, a colorful cast of characters, and philosophical questions to make you reflect on your own morals, Breaking News of Tomorrow is a debut novel you won’t be able to put down.

Today is the Launch of my book, which means that for the next 5 days, the Kindle version on Amazon is FREE! You are welcome to download it, and hopefully, you will love it so much that you will feel the urge to leave a 5-star review.

My first readers, Irina, my wife, my children, especially Daniel, and my mother-in-law, loved the book. I received tons of compliments and even a pat on the back from my mother-in-law, which I consider the highest praise for me in the last twenty years. 

However, suspecting that their judgment might be a bit biased due to their personal connection with an author, I decided to submit my book to a bunch of review sites, you know, just to get a little more sense of whether my book is a literary BS, or the opposite, a piece of irresistible art. In the following link you can find these reviews, which I am sharing with you in the act of shameless bragging, trying to convince you to make an effort and download the free Kindle version.

So, don’t wait. Go to this link and grab a free Kindle copy. You can, of course, purchase printed versions of the book if your bookshelf has a spare space or if you want me to sign it at the next competition.

And if you pay attention to the opening sentence about this novel’s debut, you will notice that I used a rather brave word combination “my first novel.” You surely know what it means. So if you want to learn more about upcoming releases of my other novels, head over to my author website and sign up for the newsletter there. Or alternatively, follow my newly minted author page on Facebook. And even better – do both! I don’t want to overuse this fencing blog with my non-fencing musings.

So I hope that if you were still on the fence about whether to download my book, you were finally convinced by those independent critics who are supposed to be good at spotting a good read.

Launching a book is like launching a startup – your success depends on customer traction and responses.

So, just click here, download the ebook, and if you enjoyed it, please leave your honest review on Amazon!

Thank you!

The Power of Three – Taking Control of Our Future in the USA Fencing Board Election

By: Andrey Geva, Ann Marsh-Senic, and Igor Chirashnya

Who we are as a community must be reflected in the leadership that guides our sport. At the top of USA Fencing, the organization that governs the direction of both today and tomorrow, there has to be a grounded understanding of what it takes to raise a fencer. It’s what we’re about. With three at-large seats open, we need a holistic move towards better leadership, and we have the opportunity to get there if we elect three candidates for those critical positions. 

Who has the power to shape our sport? Who should have that power? A wide variety of voices are important, but decisions should be guided by people who have long-lasting, direct involvement in the sport. Without their input, there are far-reaching implications for the present and future of fencing. 

Three seats – three candidates

The direction of our present and future is at stake in the current board election. There are three at-large director positions open – a potentially game-changing block of votes in the leadership of USA Fencing. Only five positions on the board are chosen by the body of fencing, and it’s a golden moment that three of them are open at once. These positions are meant for people who have the most direct understanding of the sport.  We must take advantage of it!

The three of us – Andrey Geva, Ann Marsh-Senic, and Igor Chirashnya, all have the kind of direct experience with fencing that is necessary to right the ship. 

Why are we endorsing our rivals? Because we cannot do this alone. After many, many discussions between the three of us, we saw that we shared the kind of real world experience that is so important to all of us. We don’t agree on every single thing, and that’s important too – this is not politics, it’s authenticity. 

Running for the board requires a great deal of bandwidth. It takes time. It takes mental capacity. It takes resources. All three of us have a long-term investment in the sport, and running for the board is something that we are each doing out of a sense of service to the community. We’re not here to make a name for ourselves or to advance a personal agenda. Not one of the three of us “needs” to be on the board for any kind of personal reason. We all have fulfilling lives outside of this position. Running for the board is about service to the sport and to the fencers and fencing families who make it run. 

Fencers, parents and coaches are essential voices! We must give them a way to be heard. None of us wants to be a bystander anymore. We can’t. It’s not possible to do it alone, which is why all three of us, together, are a strong part of the solution. 

Similar missions, varied perspectives

Andrey Geva has been discussing these issues with people for a very long time. A former Olympic coach, he’s also a club owner and a fencing parent. That experience matters. We have to have voices of people who have been there as a fencing parent navigating what the sport looks like from the perspective of people who have walked through the system. 

His ideas about accessibility and increasing the possibilities for coaches and the expansion of training are exactly the kind of direction we need. Most importantly, he speaks from experience. 

Ann Marsh-Senic is a three time Olympian. That’s exactly the kind of experience that we want for our fencers, and here we have a board candidate who has done the work to get there! What better person to have on the leadership team than someone who has put in the diligence to get to the top?! It’s not just her view as an athlete, but also her understanding of fencing training that is so important here. 

She’s a longtime leader in the Renaissance Fencing Club in Michigan and has almost forty years in the sport, and the parent of two fencers. Her focus on lifting the voices of parents and her ideas about practical ways to get there are exactly what we need.

Igor Chirashnya is a club owner and parent of four fencers who has a broad reach thanks to his AFM blog and extensive writing about the sport of fencing. He brings a passionate voice for parents and coaches, as well as a history of corporate leadership that can help him push the gears of the organization.  

Real experience in fencing from all angles is needed for these board positions. The three of us have collectively interacted with thousands of fencers, parents, and hundreds of coaches over decades in the sport of fencing. This is not a monolithic sport, but rather a collection of people who have varied backgrounds and needs. This is why three experienced candidates must find their places on the governing board of fencing. 

Your vote is CRITICAL

You can learn more about all of the candidates through their fliers, videos, and in the debates, all of which are available online and are linked here. Learn for yourself and make an independent, informed decision about USFA Board of Directors candidates. 

The polls open on May 15th, and the sad truth is that history tells us that a large majority of people won’t vote, even if they have every opportunity to. In previous USFA board elections, only 25% of eligible voters have voted. You can change that! 

Being on the board means you’re exposing yourself for everything. It’s a huge undertaking and major responsibility. Being brutally honest with our values and with our vision is not easy, but for all three of us it’s necessary. 

We cannot sit back and watch this sport be pushed by the interests of those who are not invested in the experiences of the people who participate in it. Your vote for me, for Andrey, and for Ann helps to push the sport back towards fundamentally valuing parents, coaches, and most importantly fencers as this sport continues to move forward. 

Fencing needs your vote. 


Andrey, Ann, and Igor

In Defense of Crazy Fencing Parents

In Defense of Crazy Fencing Parents

Written by an anonymous Crazy Fencing Parent

I’ve known some crazy fencing parents. I’m one myself.

Not that I scream curse words at the fencing referees when my child gets carded. Nor do I jump up and throw things when my young fencer loses a match. I don’t berate the coach if my child gets knocked out in the first DE or give evil looks to the opponent’s parents at competition. When my child doesn’t want to go to that private lesson or whines about the long drive to a fencing competition, I don’t get mad and yell at them.

That’s not being crazy, it’s being controlling. It’s being disrespectful. It’s the opposite of what the fencing community is about. Let’s be clear – doing those things is the mark of a disordered fencing parent. That kind of behavior gives youth sports a bad name, and I think we can all agree that no one likes to see it. The worst part is that behavior like that makes fencing unpleasant for kids!

I’m crazy in that I’m crazy in love with my child fencing.

Crazy in love with my child fencing

I’m the kind of parent that has a fencing bumper sticker on my car. The kind of parent who has fencing parent t-shirts and a spare protein bar in my purse at all times for my young athlete. I’m the parent who’s got a Pinterest board full of ideas for storing fencing equipment, cooking healthy meals, and prepping for tournament travel. (Granted I’ll probably never get to most of what’s on there!) I’m the kind of parent that reads fencing blogs to learn how to do this better!

I’d like to think of myself as the GOOD kind of crazy fencing parent.

What I love about being a fencing parent is the incredible growth that I see in my children. I’ve seen my kids blossom through fencing to become more confident, more independent, and happier! They’ve got goals that they want to reach, they make priorities, they work hard. The other adults they interact with and the positive relationships they form with their peers. The sibling relationships in my house are even better for fencing!

It’s not just the kid fencers who benefit

I’m also a crazy fencing parent because I’ve grown myself, even though I’m not the one on the strip holding a sword. Part of being a fencing parent is learning ourselves! How crazy is that?! Who would have ever thought that in all of these chaotic times, with the focus seemingly totally on the kids, that we parents would grow too.

Here are some of the crazy ways that fencing has helped me, the parent, grow.

I’m an amateur dietician

With my kids fencing and needing to fuel their athletic fire, I have had to learn how to feed them more effectively and efficiently. I’ve read and read and read on what the best food for young athletes is, and my house is now stocked with protein bars, oatmeal, far less sugar and far more whole foods than it was before I was a fencing parent. I now know the importance of hydration and eating small meals across the day. While we don’t eat perfectly by any stretch, I can definitely say that being a fencing parent has made me choose better food for our family. 

I’m a master multitasker

I hesitate to even really bring this up, because the expectations for parents to multitask can go extreme. Please know that I’m not here to pressure you or anyone. At the same time I’m really proud of the multitasking skills I’ve developed since being a fencing parent! I’ve learned to bake muffins for the tournament drive while soaking a load of fencing uniforms and quizzing my kids on their math facts. I’m shocked at how well I can keep it all straight while doing lots of things at once. It’s a skill I have grown so much with!

I’m a calendar champion

There’s nothing quite so beautiful as my calendar! I’m getting all fluttery thinking about it right now. It’s a truly marvelous thing, and it’s something I never did this well before I was a fencing parent. I’ve got it down to a science! Juggling competitions and training and school and work, I could not do it at all without a solid calendar. As for growth, this is a spot I feel it, because becoming a fencing parent forced me to get it together, and I love it.

I can identify weird smells

What’s that funk? Is it sweaty fencing shoes or a moldy yogurt pouch? Since becoming a fencing parent, I can name smells I never imagined I’d be able to name. Thank you fencing, thank you so much. 

I can let go of control

Fencing has helped be promote independence in my kids. I can’t hold onto them and protect them when they’re on the strip with a sword coming at them! I have learned so much about letting go of control as a fencing parent, and through that I’ve seen my children thrive on that independence. I took the act of letting go of control to an extreme level! Now I refrain from shouting instructions to my children during their bouts, and stopped dictating the steps for making parry-6, despite having watched a video tutorial countless times and memorizing the process. I don’t criticize referees for making bad calls when my children lose their bouts. Without fencing, I never would have believed how many amazing things my kids could do on their own. 

I can appreciate everyone

I’ve learned a crazy appreciation for the parents and volunteers who make tournaments run smoothly. For the coaches and staff at the club who make it all run smoothly too. I have learned to keep my cool and go with the flow as a fencing parent, to appreciate the effort rather than the outcome. That seems nuts! Instead of getting more uptight, I have insanely become less uptight and more appreciative. Sometimes I still get ornery about things for sure, and frustration comes up for me at times, but for the most part, I have learned to focus on my gratitude instead of the things that bother me. 

I adore my kids more

You know how when your child is born, you think that you couldn’t possibly love them more than you do in those first few weeks? I’ve shockingly discovered that the glow of adoration for my kids still shines that bright. When I see them step back from their frustration on the strip, or listen intently to their coach, or get that hard-won point, I find that same flood of happy emotions that I did in the early weeks with them. It’s sappy, but it’s true. With fencing, I’ve found this great culture that values what you put into the sport instead of what you win, and it’s helped me adore my kids even more!

Sometimes I feel really crazy for handing my child an actual sword – isn’t that the opposite of the kind of thing that a parent is supposed to do? Shouldn’t I be keeping them away from weapons? The simple fact of what fencing is with the swords makes me seem like a crazy parent. But a crazy parent with a gleam in my eye, and my kids have the gleam in their eyes too!

Through all of it, I embrace the wild ride that fencing is. I might not be your average parent, and I might be more enthusiastic than many people think is reasonable, but I can say that I’m happier and my kids seem happier for my giant feelings and unabashed adoration of this sport. 

So go ahead, call me a crazy fencing parent! I’ll take it any day. 

A Quick Primer on What Igor Chirashnya Brings to the USA Fencing Board

A Quick Primer on What Igor Chirashnya Brings to the USA Fencing Board

Fencing in America is a wonderful thing, and as a community we are constantly looking for ways to make it better. 

I’m running to sit on the Board of Directors of USA Fencing because I believe that we need a positive, supportive direction for our sport that’s informed by the needs of the people on the ground. The reality of what is happening in clubs and on the floor of competitions is not always the same as what it looks like from the boardroom. 

My candidacy brings a bottom up approach to leadership, rather than a top down view. 

A voice for fencers, parents, and coaches

As a parent, coach, and former fencer, I have a unique perspective that provides empathy and understanding for each of these important groups within our sport. AFM has grown from small beginnings to one of the largest clubs in the country, but we are still intricately involved in the sport trajectory of everyone involved. 

The board must have a clear voice from the people who are living this world, and that’s what I bring. Because I am right here with you, I have the ability to be that voice. Through the AFM blog over almost a decade, I’ve had the privilege of hearing what parents, coaches, and fencers all over the United States are talking about and what they see for the future of our sport. 

A central goal of my candidacy is to focus on the voices that I hear every day and give them a microphone to the decision makers at the top. 

Common sense approach

We can reach the lofty goals that we want for the sport  and that are almost universally agreed on – higher visibility, improved training, better competitions, stronger pathways to achievement, and so on. Those big dreams are important and they keep us going. 

To get there, we must rely on a common sense approach. How we structure our competitions, how we support and develop our fencers, starting from youth, how we take care of families’ needs, what we require of our coaches, and how we support our clubs has to happen with our feet on the ground. 

I bring a common sense, realistic approach to the board that can get things done in ways that really work. My experience in large organizations and the strength of my network in fencing means that I have the skills to guide our future that relies on the collective imagination and intelligence of our amazing people. The answers are here! We can think big while making smart moves to get to that future that is within reach. 

Leadership as service, not politics

Being on the board is not an ego venture for me – it’s about supporting the people. Yes, I have to put all of these things out there with my face on them and you’re seeing a lot of my words, but I don’t need any of that. I’m running because I know that I have the skills to lift up the tremendous voices in our community that deserve to be heard. 

The board, USA Fencing, and all of the supporting personnel are there to make the lives of fencers, parents, and coaches easier and better by understanding their needs and adding more opportunities. This is how we grow. The people know best, and leadership should be here to support the people who live in this sport. 

Inter-organizational politics, agendas, and self-interest happen in every organization, but my goal is to minimize if not eliminate these distractions from our core needs. The service of our community is what matters and it’s how we can move forward in the best way possible. 

As a leader, I am intrinsically motivated by helping the community, a community that is made up of individuals who are all here to revel and grow through this sport. You deserve leaders who are always mindful of who they serve. 

We can move USA Fencing in the right direction by listening to the community and expanding our opportunities.

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