Art of Fencing, Art of Life

Month: July 2023

Signing Kids Up for Fencing this School Year: Everything a Beginner Needs to Know

Signing Kids Up for Fencing this School Year: Everything a Beginner Needs to Know

A new school year is a busy time of year for families that’s full of excitement and new beginnings. Kids are starting new grades in school with new teachers and new classmates, and everyone is full of energy after the summer. 

This time of year is also when extracurricular activities get going, and choosing which one is right for children is both exciting and daunting. Fitting it all in and knowing how to effectively plan out time and commitments can be difficult. We don’t want to overload our kids with activities, but at the same time we don’t want them to miss out. 

Fencing combines athleticism, strategy, and a touch of elegance, making it a thrilling and engaging extracurricular for children. Competitive fencing is certainly an option, but beginner fencers who have never tried the sport before don’t jump into the deep end – they just dip a toe in. 

If your child is considering fencing this fall, this blog will give you everything you need to know. 

Understanding the Thrill

Fencing is a sport that involves dueling with a weapon. Sword dueling is an exhilarating and enjoyable activity that brings with it a sense of comfort and excitement. Unlike other sports, where players are bound by various rules and equipment, dueling with a sword allows for a thrilling and immersive experience. 

Imagine standing across from your opponent, the weight of the sword in your hand, and the anticipation of the bout ahead. The world around you seems to fade away, leaving only you and your opponent in a dance of skill and strategy. As the duel commences, your senses heighten, and each movement becomes crucial, requiring precision and quick thinking. 

The beauty of sword dueling is that it welcomes participants of all ages. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned duelist, the joy lies in the act of wielding a sword and engaging in a friendly clash. Beginners need not fret about choosing a specific weapon; it’s the thrill of the fight that matters most.

If your child picks a stick and imagines it’s a sword, if your child thrusts into you or their friends with pool noodles, then fencing is a sport that most likely they would love. And then you should learn what’s the next step and what this sport will give your child, as well as what preparations to make for your child to pursue this beautiful sport.

The 2023 Fencing World Championships are Happening! What You Should Know and Why You Should Care Right Now!

2023 Fencing World Championships - Milan, Italy

The Fencing World Championships just started on July 22nd and will run through Sunday the 30th in Milan, Italy. This is a major international fencing event that happens every year as the culmination of the season, except during the Olympics, where the Games serve the same purpose. 

All three weapons and both women and men participate in the competition, in team and individual events. It’s a smorgasbord of world-class fencing, the closest thing to the Olympics outside of the Games themselves, and definitely something fencers want to keep an eye out for. Especially this year, the World Championships are an essential part of the run-up to next year’s Paris Olympiad. 

Let’s delve into the format of the championship, the significance of team events in Olympic qualification, and the software used to manage this incredible and incredibly important competition.

Individual Events – Preliminaries and Eliminations

The individual events are the heart of the championship, spanning the first six days of the tournament. 

During each day of competition, there’s a great mix of gender and weapon. This mix theoretically allows people from countries that don’t have a lot of fencers to participate in several events (for example, the same fencer can participate one day in the Women’s Foil event and another day in the Women’s Sabre event). On one single day, there will be a women’s individual round from one weapon and then a men’s individual from another weapon, and then the same kind of pattern for the team competition. It’s always interchanged. 

Each individual competition at the Fencing World Championship is divided into two phases over two days. The first day consists of the preliminary round, establishing the final top 64 table. Then, a few days later, the competition moves on to the second stage, which is fencing the final table of 64, where the world champion will be determined.

Toasting to Success: Celebrating the Outstanding AFM Competitors at Summer Nationals & the July Challenge!

Celebrating the Outstanding AFM Competitors at Summer Nationals & the July Challenge 2023 in Phoenix, AZ!

First off, let us send out a huge thank you to the American fencing community for their continued striving and the inspiration that it brings to all of us! Every year we have the privilege of coming together to push ourselves to get better, and it’s a true honor to be able to bring our fencers to this competition every year. 

To the national champions and all participants, we extend our heartfelt congratulations. Your achievements inspire a new generation of fencers and serve as a reminder of the heights that can be reached through passion and perseverance. May you continue to excel, push boundaries, and serve as beacons of inspiration for aspiring fencers around the world.

The weather might have been hot in Fencing, but the fencing was even hotter! Whether you brought home a medal or not, reached your personal goals, or found challenges that kept them at bay, we hope you got as much out of the experience as we did. 

Elitism in an Elite Sport: Strategies to Avoid Creating Entitled Fencers

Elitism in an Elite Sport
<a href="">Designed by upklyak / Freepik</a>

There’s a high level of skill, dedication, and commitment that goes along with fencing. We are part of an Olympic sport that has a strong, proud history.

While it’s great for us to pursue excellence, and we definitely encourage everyone to try to be the best they possibly can be, there is a danger that an environment of elitism can develop in such a way that it is detrimental to our own goals. If we put up roadblocks to participation or even progress because we are so focused on this concept of being set apart, it can harm everything we’re working towards. And it can happen to such young fencers as Youth 10 and all the way to seniors.

It’s important for us to talk about the negative aspects of elitism in fencing, such as bullying, trash talk, and entitlement, and discuss strategies to cultivate a more inclusive and supportive culture within our beloved sport. 

Why we need excellence but not entitlement

Elitism can lead to a toxic environment where certain fencers believe they are superior to others based on their achievements or skill level. Achievement is important, and we of course want to encourage it, but being at the top of the podium doesn’t make someone better than anyone else. We are always competing with ourselves to become better – not with anyone else. 

It’s a topic that’s relevant not just to our sport of fencing, but across youth sports. We’ve seen a lot of discussion in the past few years about bullying, but oftentimes we miss the bigger picture when we just focus on that one aspect. 

Fencing is unique. Because of the combat nature of the sport coupled with the strong historical ties of this sport to the upper class, we hold a special place in the world of sports. When you hold a sword and step out onto that strip, it puts you in a headspace that feels powerful, and that’s something to encourage and be celebrated. It’s one of the things that makes our sport so amazing, but we have to put that within an environment that is positive for everyone. 

Elitism can manifest in various ways, and it can happen online as well as in person. It’s when you are building yourself up by creating a divide between yourself and others. Excellence means you are getting better than you were yesterday. You are competing against yourself to become the best possible fencer you can be. 

Here’s a simple way to think about it:

  • “I am great because I am better than you.”
  • “I am great because I am better than I was yesterday.”

How Fencers can Maintain Momentum Through the Summer Break

How Fencers can Maintain Momentum Through the Summer Break

Keeping momentum in the summer for youth fencers can be crucial for their development and performance. If you don’t keep working on it, then those skills you’ve invested all of that energy into developing will dull with time. Coming back into the full swing of things in the fall when school and other activities are all going  will be that much harder, making the road forward more challenging than it needs to be. 

For fencers who are qualified for Fencing Summer Nationals, maintaining that momentum is easier, because they’re pouring themselves into their preparation for the big tournament. Most fencers in America aren’t there yet, and the national championship is naturally selective in its participation. That leaves a huge swath of competitive and recreational fencers out there who don’t have a major competition to keep them focused and going. 

How can fencers maintain their progress during the summer months without competitions to motivate them? Here are some ways to make it happen.

Being specific makes all the difference

Work with your fencer to set clear and achievable goals for the summer. This is something you can define with their coach, but it can also come a lot from your fencer and what they feel they need. 

Goals could include improving specific skills, increasing strength or endurance, or participating in summer competitions that aren’t part of USA Fencing. Keep in mind that competing outside of the qualifying paths is still incredibly helpful. Go for things that are as challenging as possible, but also realize that summer training can be less intense and more fun. Setting goals to participate in specific local or even intramural competitions can keep things light for the break while also pushing them forward.

Setting targets will provide direction and motivation throughout the season, but keep in mind that you don’t have to be harsh or incredibly rigid. Structure that works for youth fencers works best when it accommodates their needs. Given that, you will be happy if you develop a structured training plan that outlines specific activities and workouts for your fencer to follow during the summer. This plan should include a combination of skill development, physical conditioning, and rest days. Having a plan in place will help your fencer stay focused and organized without feeling boxed in.

Encourage your fencer to continue practicing their sport regularly in their club, even during the summer break when things are looser. Consistent practice will help them maintain and enhance their skills on the strip. This could involve working on individual drills, participating in open fencing, or attending fencing camps or clinics

That last one – camps and clinics – is really important for the summer because it’s an unusual time with opportunities that you won’t often have. Take advantage of the possibilities during the summer that kids can’t get during the year. Summer camps are a unique way of building camaraderie but also building skills and having fun. They’re lower pressure than competition, but the skill development is real and impactful. Fencing clubs often bring in special guests during the summer, allowing kids to train with a different and valuable perspective. 

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