AFM Fourth Anniversary BlogToday is the fourth anniversary of the Academy of Fencing Masters blog! It seems like only yesterday that our first post was published.

Back in 2014, many parents asked us questions which were difficult to find answers to online. Here and there there were pieces of information, but other than there wasn’t a good source for novice parents. Even was geared mostly towards experienced fencers.  So out of our desire to address common issues we decided to create a blog. We wanted to help novice fencers and novice fencing parents, to do our part to increase the profile of this marvelous sport, and to celebrate it. That’s exactly what we dug into and set out to do. There was a need that we knew needed to be filled, a place where we knew we could offer support. Because that’s what life is all about – sharing your knowledge and passion with the world, all while learning from the knowledge of others and being inspired by their passion.

Five reasons why we blog about fencing

There really are way more than these 5 reasons why we are committed to this blog, but these are good start.

A niche sport

Four years ago, there wasn’t a great deal of fencing information online, and frankly there is still a big gap today. We were frustrated that such a gorgeous sport, one with this incredibly rich tradition, didn’t have adequate resources online either for parents of fencers or for new fencers. Fencing is much smaller than the big sports like baseball or gymnastics, and as such most of the parents whose children start in fencing are clueless about this sport.   Other youth sports in the United States like soccer or basketball had these huge resources online, not to mention a huge cultural knowledge basis.  In other mainstream sports in the United States, most non-sport parents have some knowledge and experience from their life, from school sports or TV or being fans and going to games. Fencing parents usually don’t have that foundational understanding – they simply have no idea what it is. So while in some European countries a lot of people are exposed one way or another to fencing, in the U.S. the sport is in its relative infancy.

Supporting fencing parents

For most parents, the life of a fencing parent was an exploration of trial and error based on their experience. They kind of just figured it out as they went along. This became even worse once their children started to compete, because it was often unclear which competitions were right to attend and why, what the qualification paths were, what regulations were, or what kind of training was best. We found that it often cost both time and money for parents to figure it all out and the USFA’s Athlete Handbook was oftentimes somewhat confusing for newbies.

Answering common questions

There are common questions with literally everything, those basic things that everyone needs to know. We heard same questions again and again – what uniform is right, where can fencing gear be bought, how competition sign up works, whether fencing is a safe sport, whether it’s open to girls or just to boys, how do private lessons fit in and whether they’re needed, what competitions in fencing are all about, what the competitions are beyond the immediate city, and so many more. It just made sense to put all of this information in one place.

Clear, concise competition information

Once the parents moved on the ladder of their own self-fencing-education and became knowledgeable in one area, they found themselves faced with a new set of challenges. Fencing competition is a huge piece of this process, and it’s one that requires a significant amount of knowledge to navigate. All the questions of qualifications and ratings and rankings of course bothered parents, who were lost in the sea of information. Given that sports evolve on a daily basis, rules and regulations constantly change, this created a new layer of complication and confusion. We knew that there was a better, more concise, clearer way to get the information out about competition to parents who needed it.

Our own passion

We adore this sport. That’s just the long and short of it. It’s a thing that makes us smile, that propels us forward and inspires us not just to be better fencers, but to enhance life all around. Perhaps the biggest reason that the Academy of Fencing Masters blog exists is because we can’t contain our enthusiasm!

Thank you to our readers

Over the last four years, we’ve tried to address all of the issues that have been asked about, as well as talking about our own ideas. This has lent itself to creating a library of content that’s quite extensive, with now hundreds of entries.

Frankly, it’s really you, our readers, who are our biggest inspiration. We receive tons of emails with questions and comments. We value those comments greatly! First off, they are an acknowledgement of our work, which gives us wings to continue. We all know that as humans, we thrive on having our work recognized. Those rare words of praise in the midst of working to accomplish our goals give us motivation to continue. Secondly, we love your questions! More often than not, those questions give us an opportunity to think and to develop a dialogue with you. When we get a question, we have the golden chance to reflect on our own experiences as both parents and as coaches. We get the chance to look deeper into topics that we didn’t know as much about as we needed to. We love that we get the chance to learn more! We love being challenged to explore our sport.

So thank you for that! Please continue bombarding us with your questions and stories. You do not overwhelm us – quite contrarily, you drive us to do more. The more that you send us, the better our blog gets.

We aren’t going anywhere

Four years ago, when our finger was resting on that “publish” button for the first time, we were thinking about whether this would be a short term thing. How would our blog be received by the fencing community? Would we have enough things to tell and information to share? Was the need for this blog really there? We were nervous, just as everyone is nervous when they start something new, just like novice fencers are the first time they pick up that sword.

Four years later, we discovered that this is a platform that works for fencing, thanks to your feedback! We learned that we’ve barely scratched the surface of what can and should be said about fencing. We’ve learned that this fantastic sport is growing! The more people that know about fencing, the more our sport is going to grow. With more new fencers comes a bigger need to address those questions.

The AFM blog is here to stay, and not only because we love doing it but really because the response from you, our readers, has been so wonderful. We cannot help but thank you for being a part of this journey for the last four years and helping us to shape our voice. It’s you who gives us the voice! Thank you for letting us become a small part of your fencing experience.

Thanks for sharing this blog – please share this more! Please help us reach more people that would like to learn about fencing. Please send in your questions and your comments, your insight and your ideas. Please help us learn more and keep growing. This is a community of fencers, one forged on the strip and on the screen.

Here’s to the next four years!