Academy of Fencing Masters Blog

Art of Fencing, Art of Life

Category: For Parents Page 1 of 48

Critical Preparations Before Each Fencing Bout

Critical Preparation Before Each Fencing Bout

Just before you step onto the strip for a bout, what’s going through your mind? In those few minutes before the bout, as you’re ready to step onto the strip and face your opponent, there are a lot of things to consider. How can you maximize your preparation? That’s exactly the question we are going to answer. 

What we’re talking about here aren’t the big, sweeping parts. We’re not talking about what you need in order to prepare for the fencing competition, like how to pack your bag or what you need to do in the days before. This is right in those few moments before the match itself, the heat and height of the competitive experience. These things go for bouts that you might experience in your club on a daily basis, but they also apply to big bouts that you participate in at regional or national tournaments. This is what you do each time, every time before you go to fence, no matter where you are. 

This has got to be a habit. Just as you want to get your footwork or your form so ingrained into your mind that you don’t give it another thought, so too do you want to get these things to be automatic. Doing so is going to free your mind to focus on other things like strategy. 

We’re going to break down fencing bout preparation into two parts here – the small physical things and the mental. Each of these is important in its own right and has to be taken into account, and when you put them both together it’s absolutely wonderful.

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Fencing Parents & Patience (or Lack Thereof)

Fencing Parents & Patience (or Lack Thereof)

Patience is a virtue, but it’s one that many of us struggle with. 

I know that I struggle with patience, particularly when it comes to things that I don’t feel like I have a great deal of control over. I get frustrated when I get stuck in traffic or lose my patience when I get stuck on hold with my cable company. It’s a tough thing. I get that.

Patience is something that I see a lot of other parents struggling with as well, particularly as I watch parents navigate their kids in beginner fencing. How a child progresses in fencing can be frustrating for parents, in large part because it is out of their control. Whether your child “gets” it and moves forward in the sport isn’t anything that a parent can do for them.

Instant Validation, Instant Success

People talk a lot about how kids today want nothing but instant gratification. It’s not just kids – parents want instant gratification too sometimes. 

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Your Child Fencer Sacrifices a Lot

There is no competition between parents and kids when it comes to sacrifice. Just as we sacrifice a lot for our kids to fence, so they too sacrifice a lot.

What exactly is sacrifice?

Everyone has a different definition of what it means to give a sacrifice. Something that is easy for one person to give up might be heart wrenching for someone else to give up. It’s hard for us to see that, because it’s inherently unnatural for us to get into the mind of another person. We naturally see things from our own perspective.

Flexing our empathy muscles can be important for all of us, especially when it comes to being a parent. It was a long time ago that you were a kid yourself. Though you might remember it in a vague way, you probably don’t have your head really in the understanding of what it was like for you then, so you can’t get what it’s like for your child now. That’s where the work comes. 

What Parents Put In

Recently I had a discussion with a mom who said that her child does not appreciate all the sacrifices she makes for fencing – family vacations, money, weekends, errands, etc. There is a lot to being a competitive fencer, and it is definitely a whole family venture. Any of us who have been in the position of a sports parent of any kind will recognize this reality.

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What If You’re Not Cut Out to be a Fencing Parent?

What If You’re Not Cut Out to be a Fencing Parent?

Your child is into fencing. Really into fencing. They want to be at their fencing club five days a week, taking classes and private lessons and going to open fencing nights. They love to compete, and are willing to work hard to make their dreams of qualifying for top competitions. You’re a couple of years into this now, or maybe even a few years into it, and you know that fencing is not going anywhere. 

But you’re tired. Exhausted by it. Your child has all of this enthusiasm, and that’s wonderful, but after a while you’re struggling to keep up your enthusiasm for them. There you are anyway, cheering from the sidelines as your child goes for another point, grunting and panting while you jump up and down in your “Best Fencing Mom Ever” sweatshirt. You love your kids, you love that they are fencers, and you want to love the sport!

What happens if you don’t though? Deep down, what if you secretly don’t like fencing at all? Maybe you find it boring or repetitive. You might not like that you can’t see the athletes’ faces or that it uses weapons, even if it is in a non-violent way. There are lots of people who don’t like fencing. That doesn’t make them bad people. Not even if those people who don’t like fencing are the parents of children who adore it.  

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Why Fencers Should Hate Luck

Why fencers should hate luck

“He got lucky with that referee’s call.”

“You sure were lucky to get that point!”

“The matches pools are the luck of the draw.”

“I wish I had her luck in getting a good coach.”

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.  

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