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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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A Comprehensive Guide to Cleaning Fencing Gear in the Time of COVID-19

A Comprehensive Guide to Cleaning Fencing Gear in the Time of COVID-19

We’ve written a lot about cleaning fencing gear over the years. In normal use, gear gets all kinds of stuff on it. Sweat, tears, more sweat, bits of fluff from the floor of the club, more sweat, etc. Fencing is a hugely physical sport, which means there are all of the normal things that you’d find with any sports gear. 

These are not normal times though. As fencers start to look towards getting back into clubs for socially distanced and safe fencing practice, cleaning fencing gear takes on a new significance. It’s not just about maintaining your fencing equipment anymore, it’s about preventing the spread of the coronavirus. 

The good news is that fencing gear is easy to clean. In an age where we have gotten to the point of washing our grocery bags, cleaning fencing gear will seem like a simple thing!

Note that these are our recommendations. We’re not health experts. We have read lots of guidelines from lots of experts. We obviously know our way around fencing gear already. These guidelines are what we are recommending to our fencers and their families as we reopen physically. Best practices. These guidelines are comprehensive, with instructions for every facet of fencing equipment that requires attention for cleaning, which is pretty much everything.

Some things might seem like they’re repeated. That’s on purpose. We want to emphasize that this is important, and that cleaning every piece of equipment needs to become a habit for the foreseeable future. We want you to be sick of reading the cleaning steps instead of actually getting sick. 

Now let’s get into it!

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Important Fencing Safety Rules

Important Fencing Safety Rules

There are some general fencing safety rules that all fencers should follow, though sometimes they aren’t as obvious as we imagine they should be!

Fencing is naturally a sport of weapons. Despite this, it’s consistently one of the safest sports that anyone can participate in, regardless of age. Many people are shocked to realize that sports like soccer and gymnastics have much higher rates of injury. The most dangerous part of fencing actually isn’t from swords at all, it’s from muscle strains and other sports related injuries

That being said, there are some safety instructions that every fencer should be aware of. Many of you have heard these before, but it’s never a bad idea to review them again and again. Naturally your coach will have additional rules that you want to be aware of and follow, and always apply your best judgement 

Also, it is very important to realize that safety is not only a concern for the fencers themselves, but also for anyone around them. It is equally important that parents, siblings and other people visiting a fencing venue follow fencing rules. For example, don’t allow your loose toddler to run towards a strip when people are fencing there. Even if they themselves follow strict fencing safety rules, a small child who is running through can get hit. It is super important that anyone who happens to be in the fencing venue respects and follows safety rules. 

As it is impossible to state all situations and conditions, a good rule of thumb for fencing safety is this –  make sure there enough space between an unprotected person and a person with a sword. Always. Use your best common sense and judgement.

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Coach fraud

Coach Fraud

A fraud issue that we’ve heard reported at major competitions is also one that many fencers are afraid to talk about. It’s hard to call out fellow coaches on bad behavior, and it takes a brave person to do it. You might have seen some of these same things happen yourself, but either didn’t know what to do or maybe were too timid to confront the individual.

Luckily, we have a guest poster who isn’t afraid to tackle the tough issues in fencing. Read on to learn more about one of the dark sides of high level fencing competitions that no one is talking about, but that we should all be more aware of.

This opinion piece is offered to us by Coach Yakov Danilenko, head coach and owner of the Medeo Fencing Club. We think that his perspective is an important one to share!

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Epee Fencing Grips: Pistol Grip vs. French Grip

Epee fencing grips - french grip vs pistol gripThe nuance of fencing becomes automatic to people who have been in it for a long time, but to newcomers, whether fencers or parents, the terminology can sound very unfamiliar. The detail can be challenging to master for those who are new to it. Epee grips are one of these instances.

Often it just takes a clear, simple, high level explanation of what these things mean to facilitate mastery of the concept. A newbie might still not totally understand the intricate differences, but it lays a solid foundation that can inform fencing in the future.

The grip is simply the part of the fencing sword that the fencer holds. Think of it as being the other side of a handshake, the place where the sword unites with the fencer to become an extension of their own body. How that interface happens is important, and over the years there have been many various grips developed by fencers. It is one of the most important parts of the fencing sword  because the comfort, agility, mobility, strength, reach, and many other factors are affected by how the hand holds the weapon.

Over the centuries, grips have been developed by master sword makers to to uniquely address different facets of fencing and different styles adopted by fencers. In modern fencing there are two primary grips, namely the pistol and the french grip. Those two are actually broad categories however, and there are variations on each of the grips. Eventually each fencer chooses her or his own style, or modifies an existing grip to suit their own style.

Almost every fencer will start fencing with a french grip, whether they are a foilist or an epeeist. This is because the french grip handle “forces” a new fencer to correctly hold the weapon and to work with their fingers. Those novice mistakes in holding technique are much more visible to a coach with a french grip  and thus this grip provides a better mechanism for a coach to correct such mistakes.

Eventually with experience, foil fencers will transition to the pistol grip, while epee fencers will split into two major camps – french grip fencers and pistol grip fencers. It means epeeists have the luxury of choice, and neither is strictly correct or incorrect. That choice can be challenging if you don’t understand the good and the not so good of the two mainstream epee fencing grips.

Let’s break down the advantages and disadvantages of each.

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