The fencing match started out well. You felt confident, missed a touch at the very beginning but almost got in. Your opponent jumped right back in with an answer, getting a point against you. That’s ok, you brush it off, focus and go again. You miss, and they come back with back-to-back touches. You shake it off, take a deep breath and come back to your en guarde, ready to go for your opponent again. This continues, on and on until you look up at the score and realize the match is 14:0.
Should you give up? Just one more touch and the match will be over. With time running out, you don’t possibly have enough time to get the points and save the match, so it would be very easy and even have some logic to just pulling back to let your opponent have the point. Get on with things and move on.
Don’t give up!
You know that you’ll probably lose. You know that it would take a miracle to win. Fencing isn’t about winning. Fencing isn’t about beating your opponent. It’s about you becoming better, it’s about you improving over yourself. Oftentimes we see fencers just give up, sometimes well before the match really is over. They think it’s impossible to catch up and they just think it’s not worth it. It’s never worth it to give up.
Here are twelve reasons why you shouldn’t give up in a losing fencing match.
Oftentimes in fencing it can seem like we don’t have control over everything. That’s not just the way that it seems, the truth is that we don’t have control over everything in fencing. There are plenty of aspects of this sport that do come down to chance, like the draw of opponents in competition or even the chance encounter that brought someone to fencing in the first place.
It’s ok, even good, to get a firm understanding of how you as a fencer do have a lack of control in some situations in fencing. The problem comes for fencers, whether they are young fencers or seasoned fencers, who start to think that they don’t have control over anything in the bout. They get into this dangerous mindset that they are no longer in charge of how their fencing goes, and that leads to everything from poor performance to stagnation.
Injuries are unavoidable in any sport, not just in fencing. When you’re using your body, things are going to happen to it. Generally these things are along the lines of pulled muscles, sprained ankles, or simple broken bones. Bruises in any sport are unavoidable, just like they are in school PE. Everyone has gotten hurt a little bit when doing physical activities, and many of us had some injury downtime in our sports.
The daily injuries are one thing. You can still train and compete with bruises or sore muscles. When a bigger injury like a sprain or a pulled muscle happens, it can seriously impede our training and competition. What do you do when you can’t train anymore because you’ve got an injury? Worse yet, what if you are going to miss a competition because of an injury?
There are two ways that you can look at thing. Either you dwell on the unfairness of the situation, or you use it as an opportunity to grow as a fencer.
You know that you love fencing, and if you’re like the rest of us then you’re probably follow fencing on social media too. You want to keep up to date with the best fencing that is out there, and honestly there’s a lot of great fencing people to connect with on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. We’ve put together dozens of fencing channels to check out.
Note that this does not constitute our endorsement of every single one of the posts on every single one of these pages, nor are we directly or indirectly affiliated with any of these fencers. We just wanted to share the fencing on social media that we’ve found to be awesome through our own experience.
I have a tough time wrapping my head around where sport and sociopolitical issues come together. Should they be totally disconnected? Is there a place for taking a stand for right and wrong among the points and competitions that we spend so much of our life participating in?
This is an issue that has been weighing on me lately. I feel sure it’s an issue that’s weighing on just about everyone right now. There are always lots of things going on in the world, but right now it’s hard to ignore the divisiveness and hurt that is running rampant all around us.
The more I think about it, the more I believe that it would be hypocritical to separate sport from the social and political issues that are swirling around them. We are not disconnected. Whether we like it or not, we are a part of something bigger.
It was never just about sport
Sport was, is and always will be connected to politics.
If this weren’t the case, how could we define the Olympic Games boycotts of 1980 and 1984? What does it mean when athletes of one country refuse to compete against athletes in another country due to political conflicts between the two?
You don’t even have to look backwards, you can look at today. Why do we count the medals of each country? As if somehow this were only about athletes when it is clear that the political and social structures of the countries are what’s really competing for superiority. Why does the country’s medal count mean anything if this isn’t political?
There are countries who are not recognized by the rest of the world, who compete under a unified flag at the Olympics. Borders and boundaries that are determined by war and politics spill over into international sport. We saw war spill over with tragic results in 1972 when eleven coaches and athletes from Israel were murdered at the Olympics in Munich after the political turmoil with Palestine spilled over into sport. Russian doping in the 2018 Olympics was undoubtedly political.
I would even dare to argue that the very fact that we play the anthem of the winning country is a political thing in and of itself.
If this is the case and sports are political, then let’s explore what that means. When a country’s athletes win, and they rise to the top of that podium, then it is logically appropriate for them not only to wear the country’s colors on their uniforms, but also to say that they represent what that country is. What it is at its heart, what it means to be from that place.
In Nazi Germany, when the anthem was played at the Berlin Olympic Games in 1936, the athletes raised their right hand in the Nazi salute to hail Hitler. Was this not political?
One of the beauties of the United States is freedom. This is the defining mark of America, the thing that sets this country apart more than anything else. So when an athlete, who is representing this country with the highest level of pride, rises to the podium, he or she is representing not only themselves and their nation, but the ideals which this country stands for. It is their responsibility, not just their right, to stand as a citizen who is representative of the truest values of the United States.
How we draw lines
Rules are what holds sport together. They hold fencing together. They are also what holds society together. They are created by people.
If the IOC, which is a body of people, have in the past allowed such harsh things as we talked about above to go unpunished, then how is it not hypocritical to mark protest with such a black mark? If a boycott because of a war or a Nazi salute is acceptable because an entire country went political, then free speech should be acceptable, should it not? We cannot say that one is ok and then deny the right of a country’s athlete to express what her/his country stands for – freedom of speech, freedom of opinion, and freedom of expression.
The lines become arbitrary, and that is not good for anyone involved. We cannot brush one under the rug and demonize another.
Look back, leap forward
Today we applaud the great athletes of the past, like Muhammad Ali, Tommie Smith, and John Carlos. More than just applaud them, we revere them. In the 1960’s, these athletes had the courage to use their platform to raise critical social issues, despite a huge personal cost. We call them heroes.
Do we really need fifty years of time to pass before we understand that what Race Imboden and Gwendolyn Berry did at the Pan America Games is what we would expect a free American to do?
We raise the flag and play the anthem of the country when its athletes win at the Games. The whole world is watching the glory and the pride these athletes have brought to their home nation. In my opinion, it is not only the Stars and Stripes that represent America, but also an athlete standing at the top of the podium who isn’t afraid to be American. Who isn’t afraid to express his feelings towards global issues. In a world that reflects American ideals, he should not be afraid of losing everything. The freedom to be open and push back, to speak out, this is what America is to me.
I do not say here, in this post, what my personal view on any political or social issue is. I certainly have them and I am vocal about them in my personal and private mediums where I represent myself. Here at AFM, we serve the entire community. We are united by the love of the sport and undivided by any facet of who we are (political leanings, race, gender, etc.).