Academy of Fencing Masters Blog

Art of Fencing, Art of Life

Author: Igor Chirashnya Page 1 of 53

Why Pool Rounds are So Important for Fencers

Why Pool Rounds are So Important for Fencers

The nature of competitive sports is to widdle the field down from a large group of competitors to just one, that one being the final victor, the champion of the competition. 

We tend to put a lot of focus on that victor, the end person who takes the top medal home. That’s where the glory is! The last stage of fencing competition, the direct elimination rounds, is exciting because the stakes feel high. To be fair, the stakes are high in the final rounds of competition. In the DE rounds, one wrong move can easily lead to being done with the dream of making it to the top of that podium.

The problem with putting all of that emphasis on the DE is that it ignores the importance of the pool rounds. The pools are radically important for fencers. The high stakes of the DE might feel more important, but sometimes feeling can be deceptive.

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Which Fencing Weapon is the Most Prestigious?

Which fencing weapon is the most prestigious

A common question that I get from fencing parents is this one: “Which fencing weapon is the most prestigious?”

It makes sense in a way. It’s a kind of logical question when you think about it, because these people don’t know a whole lot about fencing, and so they’re trying to make sense of something that they don’t have a reference for. They know that there are three different weapons. They know that their child is going to have to choose one. They want to guide their kids in the right direction, but they don’t know at all how to do it. So they ask questions that make sense to them. It’s a good thing.

Which one is it? Is it epee, foil, or sabre? Which fencing weapon is the most prestigious? It’s a big question that there must be an answer to! People who are new to fencing rightly want to have some understanding. 

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How Fencers and their Parents Can Live Like Olympians

How Fencers and their Parents Can Live Like Olympians

How do you train like an Olympian? This year, we are going to see the biggest sports stage in the world, with fencing taking center stage more than it does at any other time. Naturally, many fencers and many fencing parents are wondering how they can train like these incredible Olympians. 

The Olympics are very cool because we have so many resources to learn from these athletes. They don’t keep secrets about how they got to where they are. You can literally just go and listen to them, soak up the information. When you talk to Olympic fencers, they tell you how they got there and what their lives were like. There are similarities that run through their stories, and these are some of the themes that are very common.  

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Ibtihaj Mohammad – Gutsy Woman

Ibtihaj Mohammad - One of the women in the Hilary and Chelsea Clinton book Gutsy Women

We never know where life is going to take us to, and I was pleasantly surprised to make a fantastic discovery at my local library today. Walking into the front door of my local public library, I saw a shelf with the label “Lucky Day”, which is a place where the staff curates a series of new releases for lucky readers. Sitting front and center on the shelf was a book about women who have left their mark on the world. It looked interesting, so I picked it up and it fell open. You’ll never believe where it fell open to! It was a page about a fencer! 

Wow!  Needless to say, I was totally shocked. I could not have imagined a fencer in such a prominent book. I’d actually heard of the book before I picked it up. Hillary and Chelsea Clinton recently released a book that they collaborated on called The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience. I’d noticed an interview with the authors on TV not long before in which they were talking about the book. Though I knew the idea of the book from seeing that, I had no idea that I would find our very own Ibtihaj Muhammad would be featured, though it certainly makes total sense that she would be a part of a book about gutsy women and trailblazers. 

The authors describe the vision of the book like this – “If history shows one thing, it’s that the world needs gutsy women. So in the moments when the long haul seems awfully long, we hope you will draw strength from these stories. We do.” How can you argue with that? As a man who is blessed to have gutsy woman in my life, as well as the father of daughters, I see the importance of this book. I see the importance of these women. 

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What the WADA Ban on Russia Means for Fencing in the 2020 Olympics

What the WADA Ban on Russia Means for Fencing in the 2020 Olympics

Recently we saw a big step taken by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in the fight against performance enhancing substances in international sport. 

This is a hugely controversial topic. Everyone seems to have an opinion on it, and those opinions can be shouted loudly as well as whispered quietly. We’re not here to wade into the fray of who’s right and what the ramifications should be, we just want to let our readers know what’s going on and how it relates to fencing. This is an area that not everyone knows a lot about, and so making sense of it can be tough. We’re here to help you make sense of it!

This is going to be a huge topic of conversation going into the 2020 Olympics next summer, but remember that the ramifications of these decisions by WADA reach out to all international competitions. 

What brought on the ban for Russia

It doesn’t take a great deal for an individual athlete to get banned from competing in international sport. A single positive test result that is verified for a banned substance is enough to get you removed from the competition. The consequences get bigger every time you’re caught doping, escalating all the way to a lifetime ban from international competition.

What makes the Russian case unique is that it involved a systematic doping policy that was driven by the officials behind sport in that country. We are not talking about a single individual or a group of individuals who did this, we’re talking about an organization.

This whole thing is nothing new. The Russian team was censured for this same reason in the 2018 Olympics in Korea. Many athletes did not compete under the Russian flag. When the hockey team won gold, they and members of the crowd actually drowned out the sound of the Olympic theme when it was playing – that’s how loud they were singing! The country also had many of its medals stripped following the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia because of doping. 

The allegations of state-sponsored, organized doping by Russia go back to 2012 and a lab that purportedly altered hundreds of test results. The whole situation has become highly politicized, with the Russian government offering a feisty and sustained defense. 

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