Academy of Fencing Masters Blog

Art of Fencing, Art of Life

Author: Igor Chirashnya Page 1 of 51

Code of Honor – Understanding the Black Card in Sports

Code of Honor - Understanding the Black Card in Sports

Getting kicked out of a match is something that many fencers have thankfully never experienced. In fencing, the black card is the method that officials use to remove a fencer from competition when they break the code of honor. Severe offences mean an ejection in fencing. While sport is at its heart about good will and good sportsmanship, unfortunate events like ejections do happen.

After the USA Fencing strengthened its protocols on the black card a few weeks ago, it’s been on a lot of people’s minds. Black cards are serious, and they are necessary. Bad behavior or dangerous actions should never be tolerated by the fencing community, or any sport. The new protocols emphasize the seriousness of the black card offense. 

With all this thinking about the black card, we started thinking about how ejection plays out in other sports. Events like the Olympics and World Cups have had a fascinating history of players being removed from matches. Fencing has some remarkable stories too. 

The black card is the end of the road for an athlete in a competition. It marks the definitive and negative end of competition for a fencer, or for any athlete. It’s not even a loss, though the opponent technically gets a win. A black card is worse than a loss, because it is not a measure of athletic skill or prowess. It’s a demonstration that the athlete could not hold up the code of honor within the sport.

A black card ejects an athlete from competition for egregious behavior. 

To be clear, this behavior does not have to be vile or violent. An athlete can get a black card for not showing up to the match on time or for leaving the match early. If they simply stop participating, for any of a number of reasons, they can get a black card. 

It’s notable that the black card is not just for athletes. Coaches, spectators, and even referees (in theory) can get a black card and get ejected from a match. If a parent is disruptive, even if it is through overly loud and inappropriate cheering or repeatedly getting too close to the strip during the match and not following a referee’s instruction, they can be ejected from the tournament with a black card. 

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Critical Preparations Before Each Fencing Bout

Critical Preparation Before Each Fencing Bout

Just before you step onto the strip for a bout, what’s going through your mind? In those few minutes before the bout, as you’re ready to step onto the strip and face your opponent, there are a lot of things to consider. How can you maximize your preparation? That’s exactly the question we are going to answer. 

What we’re talking about here aren’t the big, sweeping parts. We’re not talking about what you need in order to prepare for the fencing competition, like how to pack your bag or what you need to do in the days before. This is right in those few moments before the match itself, the heat and height of the competitive experience. These things go for bouts that you might experience in your club on a daily basis, but they also apply to big bouts that you participate in at regional or national tournaments. This is what you do each time, every time before you go to fence, no matter where you are. 

This has got to be a habit. Just as you want to get your footwork or your form so ingrained into your mind that you don’t give it another thought, so too do you want to get these things to be automatic. Doing so is going to free your mind to focus on other things like strategy. 

We’re going to break down fencing bout preparation into two parts here – the small physical things and the mental. Each of these is important in its own right and has to be taken into account, and when you put them both together it’s absolutely wonderful.

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Victories Won in the Past Become Uninteresting in the Present – Interview with Ildar Mavlyutov [Translated from the Russian Fencing Federation]

Ildar Mavlyutov with Inna Deriglazova

This incredible interview of Ildar Mavlyutov by Tatyana Kolchanova was posted originally on the Russian Fencing blog on October 18, 2019. Ildar Mavlyutov is a major fencing coach from Russia who has been a mentor to Inna Deriglazova. Inna is the 2016 Olympic Champion, a six-time Fencing World Champion, and Olympic powerhouse foilist. 

It is always fascinating to learn from the world’s best athletes and coaches, and Ildar Mavlytov and Inna Deriglazova definitely proven themselves to be of that world’s best caliber. Deriglazova is called by some “the Fencing Goddess”.  They both live in the small city of Kurcharov, which is near Kursk, a city in Russia which became famous due to a World War II battle. Kurchatov is a very small city, with a population of slightly over forty thousand people, yet it is home to multiple World and European foil fencing champions who have been raised by Ildar Mavlyutov. When he offers his insight about fencing, training and motivation, using the example of his best student, Inna Deriglazova, it is definitely worth to read.

A few months ago I translated an interview with Deriglazova, which showed her character. Now it is even more interesting to learn about her character through the lens of her famous coach. So I am happy to bring this insight from Ildar Mavlyutov to an English reading audience.  We’ve kept this translation as true as possible. You can find the original piece here. Happy reading!

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How to Strategize Regional Path Qualification in Fencing

How to Strategize Regional Path Qualification in Fencing

Regional path qualification for Fencing Summer Nationals is an important path to the big competition. It’s a path that offers what I think is one of the most accessible ways to get to Fencing Summer Nationals, and it’s a way that I encourage my fencers to pursue.

Strategizing for regional qualification is important! To make it to Fencing Summer Nationals is no easy task, and it’s one that requires thinking ahead. If you plan things out smartly and with the help of some good advice, well you can make everything not only possible, but a lot easier. 

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Fencing Parents & Patience (or Lack Thereof)

Fencing Parents & Patience (or Lack Thereof)

Patience is a virtue, but it’s one that many of us struggle with. 

I know that I struggle with patience, particularly when it comes to things that I don’t feel like I have a great deal of control over. I get frustrated when I get stuck in traffic or lose my patience when I get stuck on hold with my cable company. It’s a tough thing. I get that.

Patience is something that I see a lot of other parents struggling with as well, particularly as I watch parents navigate their kids in beginner fencing. How a child progresses in fencing can be frustrating for parents, in large part because it is out of their control. Whether your child “gets” it and moves forward in the sport isn’t anything that a parent can do for them.

Instant Validation, Instant Success

People talk a lot about how kids today want nothing but instant gratification. It’s not just kids – parents want instant gratification too sometimes. 

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