When we look for information and guidance, the first place we almost always go today is the internet. Blogs give us concise, focused insight into specific subjects like fencing from lots of different points of view. The variety is part of the appeal.
This is a unique year because we have time to delve into ideas more deeply, because we’re all at home. Many platforms and individuals are organizing new content online, and that’s an exciting thing that we can all get behind! A silver lining in 2020. Fencing has seen a whole thrust of new content, from inspirational to educational to innovative.
Fencing as a sport is very niche. This means that there are very few, if any, big name blogs. Everything you’ll find online is written by people who love it – this is not a topic that people write about unless they are passionate about it! Writing about fencing is a pure labor of love. As someone who blogs about fencing regularly, I can certify this myself. It requires a huge amount of time, commitment, and deduction to continuously produce.
If I am putting all of this effort in, why am I promoting my rivals to my readers? The answer is that it’s not about rivalry! More is more. My goal is to promote the sport of fencing, not myself. More perspectives are only a good thing. This is the same philosophy as it is for fencing – the person on the other side of the strip is not the enemy, they are the catapult that helps you become better. The same goes for blogging.
There are some great fencing bloggers who had been going for many years who have now gone on hiatus or into semi-retirement. It’s a sad thing to see those perspectives fall to the wayside. As those happen, we’ve also seen many new works and lots of high quality content recently. To that end, I’m happy to introduce my final list of the Best Fencing Blogs 2020! It was hard to choose this year, to decide on the relevance of the wonderful blogs out there and to prioritize them. This list is of course subjective, based on my preferences and point of view.
The criteria that the fencing blogs were evaluated for are:
- relevance beyond current events
- wide geography (not country/region/club specific)
- educational content
- innovative ideas
- originality (not re-publishing from other sources).
I am myself more of a reader than a watcher – I would rather read an article on a subject than watch a video on it. However, I recognize that the world is changing. More and more people are more comfortable and interested in video content than written content and I appreciate that. That’s why this list highlights all formats – video, audio and written blogs.
I’ve also noted the demise of a few great blogs, which I mention below with a heavy heart. The good news is that, while there may not be any new content coming to those blogs, you’ll still find their old blogs up. Nothing really dies on the internet!
The internet is a vast universe of content, so there is no doubt that I (hopefully!) missed some great fencing resources. Please leave a comment if you know of something that I’ve left off the list! We want everyone to get the most out of what’s out there.
If you haven’t checked out these resources, then I cannot recommend them highly enough to you. The top fencing blogs of 2020 are worth reading!
Rest in Peace Fencing Blogs
8 – Better Fencer
Just as summer 2020 got going, Better Fencer slowed down. On June thirtieth, Jason Rogers finally announced that his Better Fencer blog was officially going on hiatus. This reality had been written on the wall for some time as Jason was clearly busy with other engagements (men’s health issues, his other marketing gigs). Recently, he’d been writing less and less. It’s a real pity because his blog was emerging as one of the best and deepest resources on fencing out there. It was not only well written, it was also packed with great content.
Though Better Fencer is discontinuing new content, there is a lot of material up there that’s worth reading. If this is a blog that you haven’t read, or one that you haven’t visited in a while, now is the time. Eventually, it will go to the graveyard of the internet and disappear altogether. Catch Jason’s tremendous content before that happens!
For a long time, fencing.net was the go-to resource for fencing fans all over the world. It was legitimately the most credible resource, with its constant stream of in-depth content and its fantastic crowd-run forum that was divided into different topics.
Hardly a day went by when I didn’t check out what was going on in the fencing world through fencing.net. You could find everything there that you wanted to find, but also stumble across lots of things that you didn’t know you needed but realized you couldn’t live without. The forum was the absolute best resource to ask if you couldn’t find something, and the answers were always there.
Unfortunately, with the recent change of ownership and the reprioritization of the forum, the quality of the material has dropped. The blog itself is almost never updated, and the forum is now closed. Though you can still find some few great articles here and there, most of the new content is in the form of updates about the Senior circuit events rather than on broader topics. Even that is quite rare now.
Out of my sentimentality about this oldie but goodie, I continue to include this resource in my list in the hope that things will change for the better. Signs are their destiny will follow the same path as Better Fencer – it will go on hiatus. Which is its de facto status now anyway.
This doesn’t mean there aren’t still fencing forums to be found online. The fencing Subreddit on Reddit has somehow replaced the function that the forums on fencing.net used to serve. The difference, which is significant, is that these are not organized into topic categories and are thus much more difficult to navigate. This isn’t robust enough to warrant its own separate listing here, but it is still an important resource for fencers.
The Fencing Coach is a longtime favorite blog of mine. I love Damien’s sense of humor, which is oftentimes sarcastic. He puts forth a clear civil position, which is earnestly expressed at each opportunity and across all of his platforms. The main reason why this blog does not rank in the top position in my list is because the content is updated like once in a century.
There are lots of great articles for you out there to explore for certain on The Fencing Coach. Maybe with the uptick in visits from this mention and all of you clicking over there, he will become inspired to write more. Otherwise, I wonder that this blog will go the way of Better Fencer and take a hiatus.
Live Long and Prosper Fencing Blogs
5 – Fencing Parents
In my opinion, this blog has dipped down from the #2 position last year because they have pivoted to focus more on the internal politics of USA Fencing. The blog is now dominated by topics like elections, money management, and tournament organization.
These are all important topics of course, and it’s important that we all stay current on them and to have a voice from the fencing community about USA Fencing’s affairs. The reality is though that this is relevant to and interesting for a much smaller group of people if for no other reason than it is absolutely limited to the United States (and maybe to anthropologists from other countries who are studying modern fencing in the United States).
Where there is content that is of a broader appeal, it’s of high quality and always interesting.
4 – PBT Blog
There are ways in which the pandemic has pushed some things in the right direction. Silver lining, remember?
PBT Fencing Equipment is a Hungarian manufacturer of fencing gear. This brand started a new blog at the beginning of the pandemic. It’s focus is as a venue to support world fencers. The international appeal is appreciated and needed, and their content is solid.
Currently, what you’ll find here are short interviews with some of the world’s best athletes. These interviews are very interesting to see as we get to see an up close view of the lives and thoughts of these incredibly accomplished fencers. Whether this blog keeps going and develops along the way remains to be seen, but we are crossing our fingers that it will become a staple of online information. Hopefully, PBT will continue beyond the current crisis and will evolve beyond simply interviews. Even if it stays with the interviews, that will be ok too! It’s a wonderful format and important information either way.
3 – Leon Paul Blog
Over the last few months, the Leon Paul blog has emerged as a really good source of information.
Previously, this blog didn’t get much of my attention because of their infrequent writing and the lack of an easy way to subscribe (Alex and Ben Paul, if you are reading – make it happen!). This lack of accessibility and consistent, fresh content pushed it even further out of my vision. As they say, “far from sight, far from heart”.
The pandemic has brought a fresh wave of content and activity here, and now that I have re-discovered this blog, I very much hope it will grow. One very distinct feature of this blog is that it is primarily written by guest authors – athletes, coaches, armorers, and referees. This gives a great perspective on the fencing world because it all comes from the variety of sources. Bookmark this resource for binge reading.
FIE is the international governing body of fencing, and it gives a wide ranging and important resource for fencers everywhere.
Over the last while, most probably due to the lack of fresh material from competitions, FIE has upped their game a lot by providing great video snippets of leading international athletes. This has made them to be more personal, more approachable, and tremendously valuable for fencers. There are tons of great facts to learn here about fencers and fencing teams. That intimacy with these high level athletes in the sport, it’s nothing short of marvelous. Especially in this time when we are so cut off.
This is something that has been missing from the fencing community, and it is so needed if we are to grow the sport in the wider culture. Other sports have a great history of providing tons of information about their athletes. You know what Serena Williams likes to eat for lunch and what Shaun White’s favorite music is, which makes them much more relatable. Why is this important? It makes world famous athletes feel just like the rest of us. When you make these personal connections, that makes it much more fun to watch their progress and to become invested in their journey. It also inspires young fencers to want to be like these heroes of the sport. It just enriches the experience all around!
During the pandemic, FIE has done a great job of putting this material out there more frequently, and I sincerely hope that this level is the new normal for their online presence. These fencers really are just like us! They’re humans who have an additional stubbornness (as the great Valentina Vezzali characterized herself) to pursue their goals. While this Facebook and Instagram format is definitely not blog, I’ll make an exception for them due to the importance of their content.
1 – Cyrus of Chaos
This YouTube blog is by far, by far, the best fencing resources available out there right now!
Cyrus of Chaos has been around forever, and his content has been constantly improving with each passing minute. It is gratifying and exciting to see him grow and expand. What a wonderful platform! There is no serious fencer in the world who has not come across his platform and delved into his videos.
This is an important distinction of Cyrus of Chaos – his content is video based. Andrew’s videos are spot on and so well done. In the pandemic, his content has only gotten deeper and more insightful. We all know that’s needed right now! His analysis of fencing videos with fencing coaches and sometimes great fencers themselves is a highly important and needed resource. If you are not watching his YouTube videos, you are absolutely missing out and I cannot encourage you enough to click through and go down this rabbit hole of amazing fencing insight. It is easy to get wonderfully lost and learn a lot. Cyrus of Chaos covers all three weapons, so it doesn’t matter where you fall on the spectrum, you will find something that will fulfill you.
This one is a simply must see!
What are the blogs and resources that you love? Do you know about a great fencing blog that I have missed? Please reply in comments below.