Art of Fencing, Art of Life

Author: Igor Chirashnya Page 1 of 89

Starting Fencing as an Adult: Why It’s Worth It

Jere Bothelio, 2022 USA Champion in Veteran 70 Men's Epee. He started fencing as an adult

Recently we received a lot of calls from adults inquiring about starting fencing.

Is that even possible, they asked, isn’t this a skill that you must learn in your childhood to be able to be even remotely good? Can you compete as an adult?

The answer is simple – it’s never late to start fencing. And you might soon find yourself competing on local, regional, and even the national circuit.

Moreover, you can even compete against Olympians! Show me any sport, which you start at age 30, 40, 50, and beyond, and in which you can qualify to compete at the national level against World and Olympic Champions. Fencing is unique in that sense.

There are so many things that are so great and unique in fencing, from mental health to physical, that I accepted an invitation from Leon Paul and wrote an article about starting fencing as an adult. You can read it here.

[P.S., in the picture, our Adult Coach Jere Bothelio, earning his National Title in the Veterans 70 category and securing the #1 spot on the national team. Next week he competes in Croatia in the Veteran World Championship. Good luck, Jere! Jere started fencing in his adulthood, about 30 years ago. Since then, he has been on the rise.]

AFM Super Regional at Santa Clara Convention Center in November

AFM Super Regional at Santa Clara Convention Center in November - Winners Trophies

What is a “mega tournament”? In this case, it’s a massive regional competition that combines three circuits into one. It’s a Super Youth Circuit (SYC), and Regional Junior and Cadet Circuit (RJCC), and it’s a Regional Open Circuit (ROC) all in one weekend and under one roof. Academy of Fencing Masters is hosting this combined competition, AFM Super Regional, November 4-6, 2022! (You can register here!)

The competition will include 53 metal strips and scoring apparatus from Absolute Fencing Gear, with an Olympic-size fencing strip for the finals. The tournament setup will be similar to NACs and Fencing Summer Nationals, with national-level referees and officials. It will give fencers the chance to compete in an exciting format. 

Take note that all of the events are capped, so please register early to participate. This is the biggest event on the West Coast in the 22-23 season, and we are expecting a lot of fencers from all over the country, especially from the West and Southwest, to come out for the competition. 

Ownership and Responsibility as Fencers

Ownership and Responsibility as Fencers
Silhouetted electricity pylon grid

Who owns your performance in fencing? 

How much responsibility does your coach/club/family have for your success?

What responsibility does the fencer have to their club, to their fellow fencers, to their support network, and to themselves?

In the Venn diagram of a fencing club, the fencer is necessarily at the center – aren’t they? At least, that’s the simplest way to look at it. After all, the fencer is the most visible part of the whole process as they stand up on the piste and go head to head with their opponent. The club, the family, the teammates, the coach – everyone is cheering for them to evolve and grow, becoming the best version of themselves in the sport. 

This isn’t just the case with fencing, it’s the case with all individual sports. There’s a deep support network of people who are pulling together to get this one person to where they are. It can make it seem like that individual athlete is getting all of this energy poured into them, like everyone else is building a foundation and they are the top of the mountain. 

It’s not that simple, however. It’s not even close to that linear. 

September 10 is World Fencing Day! How to Celebrate

September 10 is World Fencing Day! How to Celebrate

Fencing is not just a sport that we love, it’s a sport that we live. World Fencing Day is a fantastic moment to celebrate fencing and to join the wider fencing community. This year, it falls on September 10, 2022, and we’re incredibly excited to have a reason to share our sport!

Fencing is for Life

The message this year is “Fencing is for Life”, which is such a heartfelt message, and it’s one that fencing families can relate to. This sport gets into our blood and bodies and enlivens our spirit. Though we might only be at the fencing club or the tournament for a few hours a week, the lessons and fortitude that we gain from fencing spill out into our lives in the most positive ways. 

Fencing fills us with a bright hope and a feeling of mastery that allows us to reach higher and be more confident. There’s power in holding a sword, and there’s even more power in pursuing this sport in a supportive environment. We build community, both in our clubs and around the world. 

One of the best things about fencing is the international community that it’s a part of. In fact, World Fencing Day is celebrated all over! FIE, the international fencing body, has affiliates on every continent (except Antarctica). We are truly a global sport, with a community that is varied and incredibly diverse. 

This is a universal sport, and one that reaches everyone, no matter what age they are. Competitive fencing goes from eight years old all the way to eighty years old and beyond. When we say this sport is for life, we mean your whole life. It’s accessible, and it’s remarkable. 

Sometimes the Best Way to Support Your Fencer is to Step Back

Sometimes the Best Way to Support Your Fencer is to Step Back

As parents, we always want to be there for our kids. There’s no doubt that we love them, and to express that love we’re drawn to be right there with them, giving them everything we possibly can to support them as much of the time as possible. 

This tends to be especially true of sports parents in general and fencing parents in particular. Showing up, both physically and emotionally, is important. There’s a cliche about the enthusiastic sports parent on the sidelines with the camera, clapping and shouting out their kid’s name, for a reason. It’s absolutely true. 

Certainly, this kind of enthusiasm and this constant presence is a good thing. It must be, right? Not necessarily. 

When support turns to stress

I recently had a long discussion with a fencing dad who said that his son always underperforms in competition. In class, the young man went at his opponents with wonderful focus and confidence, but once he got into the competition he was suddenly not as confident or as capable. 

This father couldn’t imagine what must be happening because it seemed so night and day. The father didn’t come by to watch at practice often, but he was at every single competition right there on the side of the piste, cheering and watching intently. 

My suggestion to the father was this – walk away. Though it can really help fencers to have someone there for them, it can also put a lot of pressure on them.  

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