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How to Learn to Start Fencing Online

How to Learn to Start Fencing Online

Six months ago, I would have told you that this isn’t worth it. I would have said to you that it was all temporary and that start fencing online was a stop gap for a few weeks until we figured things out. 

Today of course we know differently. We know now that we have to adapt and learn in a situation that is far from what we have traditionally worked with. Learning fencing is different.

It’s important to realize here that adaptation is everything. There is not a straight line from the start of the pandemic to the end of the pandemic – it is back and forth, up and down. Moving forward and backwards on the strip. We have seen stay at home orders loosen and tighten, and who knows what will happen in the coming months. The only sure thing is change, so we have to change with it. If you want to fence and have not before, now is the time to start!

Most clubs and coaches in the world now see this online option as part of their job. It is what fencing is now, with all of its frustrating disadvantages and all of its wonderful advantages. We have learned, adapted, and created programs to teach fencers of any level, from total novices to the most advanced fencers.

You can start fencing online. Whether you are uncomfortable in person because of the pandemic or whether you have other factors that keep you away from physical instruction in person, it doesn’t matter. You can definitely start fencing right now!

Step-by-step guide to getting started with online fencing

Starting is the hardest part!  If you’re reading this, then you are probably lost with how to get going with your fencing. It can seem like a big task if you’re new to it, but don’t worry – we’re here to walk you through. Step-by-step and easy do it is the way to get going. 

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8 Reasons to Start Fencing During the Pandemic

8 Reasons to Start Fencing During the Pandemic Lockdown

How can this possibly be a good time to start a new sport? Is it even possible to start a new sport right now?

The answer is that yes, it is absolutely possible to start a new sport right now. In fact, now is a really awesome time to start a new sport. We are all searching for some kind of meaning in the madness of the last few months. That meaning can come in the form of a sport like fencing!

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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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