Academy of Fencing Masters Blog

Art of Fencing, Art of Life

Category: COVID-19

Mask during exercise – Right or Wrong?

Face mask or face covering during exercise

There are many people asking the important question of whether to mask during exercise or not. It’s a valid question, because once again we are in uncharted territory in this new era of coronavirus.

There are articles and advice on the subject all over the internet. It’s an important subject, and it’s one that there are not clear answers to just yet. There is still good information out there. 

Our take, which is still yet to be tested, is below. We aren’t experts in this subject. We have seen many other fencing clubs start to do lessons with masks, and we’ve talked to many club owners. Masks are also what we require. It’s an evolving topic! We expect it to continue to be an evolving topic. 

The science indicates that if everyone wears a mask, it will drastically reduce the spread of the virus. We all want to reopen, and wearing a mask is the path to reopening as safely as possible. Wearing a mask is not mainly about protecting your health, it’s mainly about protecting the health of others. Since people without symptoms can be active spreaders of the virus, wearing a mask prevents you from breathing the virus into the air if you are asymptomatic. If you have any symptoms, please stay home!

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AFM Safe Shield – Returning to Training Guidelines & Plan

AFM Safe Shield - Returning to Training Guidelines & Plan

The “AFM Safe Shield” Returning to Training Guidelines are based on CDC health considerations and tools for operating during COVID-19, California schools’ guidelines, CDC Considerations for Youth Sports and Summer Camps,  and Santa Clara County’s Public Health update and restrictions

Fencing is traditionally about swords, but now we are in a time when we need to act as a shield for our fencing community.

The last several months have been a whirlwind of change for everyone. Lockdowns, quarantine, social distancing, and a hefty dose of everyone feeling trapped and overwhelmed. Reopening is something that we all want to do, but we also want to do it safely. 

The problem is, most of us in the fencing world aren’t health experts. The good news is that we don’t have to be. There are a whole host of guidelines and structures that have been published to help businesses create safety plans that will make reopening fencing clubs as safe as possible. 

We’ve pulled information from the CDC, the government of California, and the Santa Clara County Health Department to create a plan for reopening fencing clubs, adapting it to the specifics of the fencing club training. Of course, there is always a risk and no system is perfect. However we have worked with experts and expert advice to come up with procedures that will minimize the risk of spreading the virus while also creating an environment where fencing training can continue. AFM is only working in clear accordance with the safety procedures laid out by Santa Clara County, all governmental restrictions and guidance, and what has been set out by Santa Clara County Schools. 

AFM continues to keep the wellbeing of our fencers, their families, and our coaching team as our highest priority. 

Flexibility, input, and accommodation 

Safety is what matters, whether it is in small groups classes or in private lessons as we move towards a new normal. The AFM Safe Shield Plan brings together the power of leading experts, parent’s suggestions, and the shared responsibility between us all.

AFM is adopting the hybrid approach for training our fencers. Members have several options for training with AFM. 

  • Small group training with precautions
  • Indoor or outdoor classes and private lessons
  • Zoom training
  • Any combination of the above

Everyone has their own considerations for safety and their own concerns about exposure. Whatever decision each family makes about their training, we support all of them. Accommodations and flexibility from us are a central tenet of our philosophy, especially now. Whatever we can do for fencing families, whether it is within these policies or not, we would love to hear it. All fencers deserve to have individual goals for training in fencing, no matter if they are in the club or training remotely. Growth is possible and still so important!

The input of families is a critical part of this process. This is a living document. 

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Parenting Insight from Elena Grishina, Champion Fencing Mom of the World’s #1 Epee Fencer, Sergey Bida

Sergey Bida and Elena Grishina
Sergey Bida and Elena Grishina

Even if you are a fencing champion yourself, there is still a lot of learning that happens on the job when you’re a fencing parent. This is something that we learned from Elena Grishina, mom of Russian epee fencer Sergey Bida, part of a championship sporting family, during our recent interview with her. 

Grishina is a Russian foilist who competed in the 1988 and 1992 Olympics, barely missing out on a podium finish. She comes from an Olympic family – her father was an Olympic water polo medalist, and her brother is an Olympic water polo champion. Her mother was a foil fencer who also made it to the podiums in two Olympics, was a six time World Champion, and was Russian sport royalty. Her son, Sergey, is now poised to take his place among the upper echelon of sport with his current number one world rank in epee. She herself is a highly visible writer and commentator in fencing.

We were lucky to sit down (via zoom) with Elena to talk about her perspective on fencing today, and on her role as a mother to a high level fencing competitor. It’s an interview that delighted and challenged us, pushing our understanding of fencing parenting into new areas. 

Thank you tremendously for your incredible point of view and for sharing it with us! This interview will be a great read for fencing parents and fencers alike as well word to improve, even in these liminal times. 

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Don Anthony, President of USA Fencing on COVID-19, College, and the Future of Fencing

Donald Anthony, Jr, President of USA Fencing and Alisher Usmanov, President of FIE
Don Anthony with FIE President Alisher Usmanov

In a time when things are constantly changing, one thing that remains constant is the sport of fencing. During this time, we have been honored to be able to sit down for a Zoom interview with the indomitable Don Anthony, president of USA Fencing, Vice President of the International Fencing Federation, and head fencing coach at the Ohio State University. He’s a man who has a long history of success on and off the strip, as a former championship fencer and a highly successful businessman. He has the kind of credentials and success that put him comfortably among the leaders in American fencing.

What you’ll get from Don in this interview is some true and fascinating insight in this global pandemic, from the standpoint of fencing. It’s a moment of clarity for us in what are undeniably uncertain times. There are not easy answers presented here, but rather a pragmatic and realistic approach to what the impact of COVID-19 can and might well be on college fencing, training, fencing clubs, and beyond. 

Don Anthony, thank you so much for this remarkable conversation. It is an important part of the wider conversation that we must have as a fencing community.

An Interview with USA Fencing’s Don Anthony

Igor – It’s a pleasure seeing you. Thank you so much for your time. It’s a big honor. Please tell us first of all how you are doing?

Don Anthony – It’s a pleasure seeing you too. We’re all doing fine, we’re quite well. I thought I was going to have a lot of down time, but I haven’t had any downtime. It’s been just video and conference calls, just managing the changing environment. From that perspective, it’s not been what I thought.

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