So, we’re in the fencing game, cheering for our kids, dreaming of those podium moments, national team nods, and maybe even a scholarship. Let’s be honest; fencing is no cheap sport, and our time investment is off the charts. We’re in it for the victories, both big and small, because seeing our kids succeed is the ultimate payday for our efforts.
But here’s the twist—amidst the medal dreams and ranking goals, we might be missing the forest for the trees. The focus on external validation shouldn’t overshadow the real gem—the incredible journey our kids are on. We need to find that sweet spot where ambitious dreams meet the everyday joys of fencing. And heck, that’s not that easy!
The holiday season is right around the corner, and that means that everyone is thinking about getting the perfect present for the special people in our lives.
If some of those special people are fencers, then you know the joy that it brings when you give them something that’s not only special, but that speaks to their love of the sport. Choosing a gift that aligns with their love of the sword makes them feel warm, supported, and, most of all, seen.
This year, we’re breaking down our gift guide into areas of interest so that you can zone in on exactly what your fencer needs given their specific taste and personality. Not all fencers are the same, after all. Here’s your guide to selecting a gift for your fencer that will make their holiday season merry and bright!
In a recent scenario at the November NAC in Fort Worth, a fencer faced a challenging bout, losing to an opponent who seemed, at least on par in skill. When asked about the opponent’s scoring actions, the reply was, “in attack.” Further inquiry revealed that the fencer, following the coach’s directive, repeatedly employed the same unsuccessful defense action. The fencer justified this persistence, stating, “because I know the action was correct, and the coach told me to do it, but I just didn’t succeed in the execution!”
Here’s the revelation, dear fencers: Your coach might be WRONG!
Now, before fencing coaches worldwide rally to defend their profession, let’s delve into what this really means.
Fencing isn’t a precise science; it’s an art. Unlike math, there isn’t a single solution for every situation. The goal is to score a point, achievable through myriad strategies. Your coach, experienced and knowledgeable, observes situations and provides specific instructions based on their wealth of experience. They understand your skills and read your opponent well. All of this is correct, but there’s one thing they can’t fully gauge – your current state.
Maybe your fingers are numb, or your sense of distance is off. Perhaps your feet ache, or your timing feels different. A million factors can influence the effectiveness of an action. While your coach’s instruction may be spot-on in theory, executing it successfully rests on your shoulders.
One critical aspect is that the responsibility for the bout’s outcome lies with you, not your coach. They’re involved, but you’re committed. If you win, your coach feels pride, but if you lose, it’s you who bears the weight.
Understanding this fundamental truth is crucial. It’s you on the strip, and your coach is there to assist, not dictate. They’re involved; you’re committed. Once you internalize this, you grasp that the decision on the strip is yours alone.
Your coach is experienced, and their instructions are tailored to the situation, your opponent, and your skills. However, they can’t assess your current physical and mental state. If external conditions impede your execution, persisting with the coach’s advice may lead to repeated failure.
Consider the dynamic nature of a bout. Situations change rapidly – distances alter, rhythms shift, and opponents adapt. While the coach’s instruction may have been perfect a minute ago, it might not fit the evolving dynamics.
So, if you find yourself repeatedly attempting a coach-recommended action without success, don’t persist blindly. Let the authority guide you, not dictate your final decision. The ultimate judgment rests with you.
Let me share a story I heard about a year ago. While I couldn’t verify the details, it emphasizes the point well.
Centuries ago, a Prussian officer defended a position as ordered by the King, persevering until the last of his soldiers fell. Expecting commendation because he succeeded in deflecting the enemy’s army and preserving the Prussian position, the officer was sent to a field court instead. Perplexed, he exclaimed, “Your Majesty, I followed your orders! I held my ground against the enemy!” The King, with a wisdom that transcended blind obedience, responded, “You are a royal officer not to blindly follow my orders but to apply your best judgment in any situation. Your actions cost me the battalion.”
Don’t be that officer; learn to apply judgment.
Now, it’s essential to acknowledge that, in most cases, the coach is right. Their advice, observation, insight, and moral support are crucial. However, there are situations when the prescribed action doesn’t work, and it’s okay to exercise your judgment.
Remember, fencing is not just a physical sport; it’s a mental one. In any competition, you must adapt, assess, and, when needed, make decisions that align with your current reality. In this delicate balance between coach guidance and personal judgment, you’ll find the path to continuous improvement and success on the fencing strip.
In just three months, the fencing community will gather for the highly anticipated Junior Olympics (JO’s) during the Presidents’ Weekend in Charlotte, NC (2/16-19/2024). Beyond being the pinnacle of Cadet and Juniors National Championships, JO’s serve as the ultimate proving ground for athletes vying to secure their place in the national teams bound for the 2024 Cadet and Junior Fencing World Championships.
A lot of parents and fencers, especially those who are new to the JO’s, such as those who just aged into the cadet and junior categories, are still confused somewhat about the JO’s and what options they still have to make it there. The following post is a quick summary of major points you need to know about how to still qualify. Take a look at these, get acquainted with different options, and of course, talk to your coach about what makes sense for you.
To participate in JO’s, fencers fall into two age categories: Cadet (born from 2007 to 2010) and Junior (born from 2004 to 2010). Now, let’s delve into the paths leading to qualification.
There are three distinct qualification paths for any fencer to secure a coveted spot at the JO’s. These paths include the national, regional, and divisional routes, each offering a unique trajectory toward the Junior Olympics (BTW, it is pretty similar to most of the nationals, so once you get the idea how qualification works for any of the national championships, you will quickly understand any other).
You might think that discussing the significance of a club jacket is rather mundane. After all, it’s just a piece of clothing, right? Well, it seems that some things need reiteration, and this is one of them.
How often have you witnessed fencers at tournaments who, after securing a medal, frantically scurry around in search of their club jacket? It’s a scenario that plays out time and time again, in almost every tournament across the country. I’ve seen it happen countless times. Typically, what unfolds – and I believe this holds true in most cases – is that the fencer didn’t anticipate making it to the medal round. They certainly didn’t expect to be standing on the podium, so the thought of bringing their club jacket never even crossed their mind. Why lug it around when you’re just there to compete, right? This situation doesn’t discriminate – it occurs with fencers of all ages, from the youngest Y8 fencers to seasoned veterans.