Part of what makes fencing special is its uniqueness and, from our experience, the supportive community. At the same time, a niche sport with tight-knit clubs means that you will inevitably faceoff against your teammates. These aren’t ideal circumstances, but with a little forethought and sensitivity, you can avoid any drama, hurt feelings, or negative impacts to your bouting. Use these six tips to point you in the right direction.
1. Teammates should be assigned to different pools.
Tournament organizers usually seed fencers from the same club into different pools. This is done in order to avoid conflicts as much as possible during the initial stage of the competition. This is not always possible, but if you see that one pool has several of your teammates while other has none, approach the bout committee and ask whether they can reassign the pools.
2. Teammates should fence first in a pool.
Tournament organizers should plan for fencers from the same club to be the first bout of the pool. This is done in order to keep pools as honest as possible and avoid fixing bouts later when both teammates know where they stand. For example, if one fencer has secured the top spot in the pool and their teammate needs another fencer to lose in order to make it to DE, the first fencer could throw a bout. We know you’d never do that, but that’s the reason for the guideline.
The good news is that the rule is advantageous because fellow fencers can get their faceoff out of the way and then fully support each other moving forward. If you’re in a pool with a teammate and you’re not scheduled to face each other first, ask the referee if the schedule can be adjusted. It may just be an oversight.
3. Win or lose, be respectful.
In our noble sport, it’s always important to be respectful, but you want to give this even more consideration when fencing teammates. If you win, don’t gloat. Any celebration should be more modest out of respect for your teammate. If you lose, don’t be a poor sport. Show maturity and pride, congratulate the winner, and move forward with your day. Next time you’ll be the one to win and you’ll want the same treatment from your opponent.
4. Show no mercy!
Whatever you do, don’t let your relationship with your teammate affect your bouting! When you’re in the heart of the competition, you should fence just like any other bout. You probably know more about your teammate’s strengths and weaknesses than other opponents, and don’t be afraid to use that information! Chances are they’ll use what they know about you. You owe it to yourself and to your teammate to fence your best no matter what.
5. Save the friendliness for after the bout.
Say you’re fencing one of your good friends from your club. It may be tempting to joke or act more friendly than you would to a different fencer. While this behavior may seem okay, the problem is that it can be distracting to you or your opponent and it can also make it harder to put the friendship out of your mind when you’re actually fencing. Do your best to treat the bout like any other. It’s the sign of a disciplined and respectful competitor.
6. Set a good example when you’re the spectator.
Not only are you likely to complete against teammates in fencing, you’re also likely to face situations where you’re watching two of your teammates fence against each other. The respectful thing to do is not to cheer against either of your teammates. Even if you’ve been fencing with one of them for three years and the other just joined your club a month ago—your teammates are your teammates. Lead by example when you’re watching so that when you’re the one on the strip, you won’t find yourself facing the jeers of people you thought were your support system. See our recent post on this specific topic for more guidance.
Now you can head into your next pool with teammates without any awkward feeling or worries. Be respectful, fence your best, and may the best fencer win.