Art of Fencing, Art of Life

Month: December 2023 Page 1 of 2

Exciting News: Join Me in the “Parents’ Corner” at American Fencer!

Parents' Corner at American Fencer!

I am thrilled to share some exciting news with all of you in the fencing community. Recently, I received a wonderful invitation to become a regular columnist at “American Fencer,” the online reincarnation of the renowned “American Fencing” magazine. American Fencer now offers more in-depth stories, allowing us to explore a wider range of fencing-related topics. It’s truly an honor to be a part of this prestigious platform, and I’m looking forward to contributing valuable insights on fencing parenting and related topics.

As many of you know, I have been passionate about fencing and dedicated to fostering the growth of young fencers through my work at the Academy of Fencing Masters (AFM). Over the years, I have had the privilege of sharing my thoughts and experiences through my AFM blog. Now, I’m excited to expand the reach of these discussions and delve even deeper into the world of fencing parenting with “American Fencer.”

My first article, “How Hard Should Parents and Coaches Push Young Fencers,” has already been published, and I invite you all to read and engage with it. This is just the beginning of what promises to be a great journey, and I can’t wait to continue sharing valuable insights, advice, and stories with the fencing community.

I want to express my gratitude to all of you for your ongoing support and encouragement. It’s your passion for fencing and dedication to the sport that motivates me to explore these important topics further. Together, we can continue to nurture the next generation of fencers and create a positive and enriching environment for all.

Also, I want to thank Serge Timacheff, the Editor-in-Chief of American Fencer, for believing in the value of our discussions on fencing parenting and related themes. I look forward to collaborating with the American Fencer team and sharing valuable insights with the fencing community.

Stay tuned for more articles in the “Parents’ Corner” at American Fencer, and let’s embark on this exciting journey together!

Thank you, and happy fencing!

Fencing, Music, and the Divide Between Enrichment and Competition

There’s a great misunderstanding about what fencing does for kids and where it should fall in their lives, both now and in the future. Not so much within the fencing community, but definitely with people who are looking at it from the outside. 

With other activities, like music, for example, it’s perfectly acceptable for a child just to do the activity, and it is understood that simple enrichment is worthwhile. It doesn’t matter if they will become the best violinist or pianist who plays in Carnegie Hall. Parents understand that it’s enough for them to simply do this activity now. Even if they don’t play the piano into adulthood, it’s ok. 

The discipline and creative thinking skills, not to mention the joy, are enough for everyone. 

Yet, for some reason, fencing is not seen in this same light. Oftentimes, parents will come into the club to start their kids in the sport, and they’ll be laser-focused on how fencing’s biggest benefit is if their fencer goes all the way to the Olympics or at least gets recruited into a college. Anything short of these massive goals is not going to be enough. 

It’s a frustrating situation, but one that I think we should explore. Not because music or other activities aren’t worthwhile, but because fencing is one that is just as worthwhile and which deserves to be seen in the same light. 

Mastering Patience in Fencing

Mastering Patience in Fencing

As a fencer, you’re no stranger to the challenges and rewards of this exhilarating sport. However, there’s a universal truth that resonates deeply with fencers: it’s the importance of mastering patience in our journey toward success.

In competitive fencing, everything often takes longer than we anticipate. We set our sights on achieving specific skills or rankings, winning that national medal, or getting recruited to a top college, and often we envision a swift ascent to success. But reality teaches us that the path to excellence is more of a marathon than a sprint and that patience is not just a virtue but an indispensable ally in your fencing journey.

USA Fencing Points – USA Fencing 101 Series

USA Fencing Points - USA Fencing 101 Series

As USA Fencing recently published on their USA Fencing 101 social media post, the organization maintains a comprehensive points system, encompassing various categories and divisions, that play a pivotal role in the competitive landscape of the sport. Understanding these points systems is essential for fencers and their families, as they provide a roadmap for participation, qualification, and recognition within the fencing community. In this installment of our “USA Fencing 101” series, we will delve into the intricacies of USA Fencing points, breaking down the five major points lists and shedding light on how fencers can earn and utilize these points to further their fencing journeys in the hope that all these different post systems will make sense to aspiring fencers and their parents.

In particular, there are 5 major points lists that fencers should be aware:

  1. Regional Points Standing (Youth, Cadet, Junior)
  2. Regional Open Circuit Standing (Div1A, Div2)
  3. National Rolling Points Standing (Youth, Cadet, Junior, Senior, Veteran)
  4. National Team Point Standing (Cadet, Junior, Senior, Veteran)
  5. Parafencing National Point Standing

The Road to Confidence in Fencing: Why You Need Competition Experience

I recently had a discussion with a concerned parent who made the decision not to sign up her daughter for a fencing competition. Her reasoning was that in her last tournament, her daughter had only won three bouts in the pools and lost her first Direct Elimination (DE) bout. To her, it seemed evident that her daughter’s level of experience was insufficient, and she planned to wait until her daughter’s win rate improved.

I explained to her that this situation is akin to a classic chicken-and-egg dilemma. To become a proficient fencer, you need to participate in competitions, as your statistics are an integral part of the competition experience. Making judgments based on a single competition is unreliable and shortsighted.

Take, for instance, a recent occurrence at the Vancouver Epee World Cup, where some of the world’s top fencers, such as Olympic and World Champions and medalists, lost their first bout and were subsequently eliminated. If we only consider this single snapshot, their performance appears subpar. However, when we analyze their performance over the past five or six seasons and across numerous competitions, we see that they consistently rank among the world’s top fencers. This one competition means nothing in isolation and serves as a testament to the necessity of a broader perspective when evaluating a fencer’s skill and experience.

The Driving Analogy

To illustrate this concept, I often draw a comparison between competing in fencing and learning to drive. No matter how many times you read the rulebook or play video simulation games, becoming a skilled driver takes a considerable amount of practice.

Imagine learning to drive: you encounter hundreds, if not thousands, of diverse situations on the road. You navigate local roads, different highways, deal with aggressive drivers, decipher confusing GPS instructions, decipher graffiti-covered road signs, cope with blinding sun, adapt to sudden road construction, tackle driving in rain with faulty wipers, and traverse fog as thick as milk. Just when you begin feeling confident as a driver, you encounter challenging conditions, like winding, icy mountain roads with inadequate tires, and your confidence vanishes instantly.

This analogy resonates with many parents because it highlights the importance of experience. Just as you must accumulate extensive driving experience to become a confident driver, fencers must gain significant competition experience to excel in their sport.

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