There has always been a careful balance between school and sports, but now the facets of this challenge have changed completely. Not only is school and sport totally different than it has been before, there is also the added struggle of navigating a crisis. Everyone is stressed in ways that they have never been stressed before.
We must all keep moving forward, so how does that work for fencers who also have academic obligations during the time of COVID? School and sport have not stopped, then have just changed. Everyone must find a workable balance between their interests and their education. This is not something that we can teach all in one fell swoop, but there is also a pressing immediacy to this issue right now. We have to give all of the tools we can to our kids.
Parents, we know that you are stretched right now too. Juggling working and distance learning for kids, well it is exhausting. I know this firsthand with trying to balance every aspect of my own family life. Hopefully this post will help some of you to feel less alone while providing practical solutions.
Here are seven ways to help kids balance fencing and academics during the time of coronavirus.
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.
One of the most difficult concepts in all of fencing is the concept of right of way.
This concept and the understanding of it are key to making sense of fencing, no matter if you are a fencer, a coach, a parent, a referee, or a fan. This post is long. It’s long enough that we’ve broken it up into sections to help make it easier to follow. This is a mega post, so get comfortable, or better yet – bookmark this post so you can come back to it!
First, we’ll break down a new way of seeing priority. Then we’ll go through a dozen detailed examples to go even further and let you really get a deep understanding of what it’s all about. Coming at the concept from different angles is so important!
During a match, one that’s going quick as lightning already, it’s almost impossible to understand for non-fencers why the touch was not awarded. Even more difficult to understand is why the decision not to award the touch was the right one.
Before we go any further – priority and right of way are the same. They’re synonyms, and you’ll see them used as synonyms here and in the real world of fencing. You have “right of way” or you get priority. Same thing.
For a lot of people, the whole thing is so confusing, so unclear. This goes especially for newbies in fencing and for parents. It’s not just parents and fencing fans who don’t get it, epee fencers often don’t understand right of way if they didn’t start out with foil before they take on epee! Though they may have a cursory understanding of the concept, they usually don’t really get it. They might have an idea that they know that one action precedes the other, and obviously they can see parries and riposts, but often they cannot decipher complex foil or saber phrases.
The thing is, learning right of way is something that you have to do intentionally. You’re not just going to pick it up by kind of half looking at foil and saber matches. The best way to really learn right of way is to fence it, but naturally that’s not really possible for parents or epee fencers or fans of the sport. That’s why we’re sharing with you a detailed understanding of right of way in fencing, and hopefully by the end of this article you’ll get that wonderful “click” in your brain that we all want to have!
Here, I’m going to break it down in a simple way that makes sense for non-fencers. The most important point is that this post is not explaining the rules or redefining the rules. It is laying out a different way to understand who has gotten priority and thus who wins the point in foil or sabre.
The conventions of right of way have stayed more or less the same through the last century. What’s changed is the commonly used interpretations by fencing referees, pioneered first at the FIE level and then propagated down to the FIE-member countries and their domestic tournaments. Also, the explanation and examples will not cover the whole spectrum of fencing, but it will give you an ability to understand at least 80% of what happened and why a specific call was made. You definitely will not be able to understand the other 20%. Heck, there are calls that even experienced referees argue about! But, guess what? You will be able to understand and comprehend what they are arguing about these calls! Isn’t this cool?
This post is long, complicated, and it took me a few months to write and rewrite it. (Well, the pandemic did hit in the middle!) I suggest you read the first two parts till the end, preferably in the same sitting, and if you do I can guarantee you will acquire some deeper understanding of the concept. Enough that you will be able to see the phrase on Youtube matches and decipher it quite accurately, particularly if you have some training.
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!
Everyone has big feelings about school starting in the fall. Kids. Parents. Teachers.
Should it start online? In person? A hybrid?
What about the spring? What about sports? What about after school activities? What about learning? What about socialization? What about parents? What about work? The “what about”s get flung all over the place, and almost to a person we are all feeling like the rug of life has been pulled out from under us. These are tough things, and we have to face and talk about tough things.
We can all agree on this though – kids have been out of everything for too long.
Every single one of us knows that this is the case.. There is a lot of anger and fear, but honest engagement about it is not easy to come by. The rational dialogue has gotten lost in the swirl of emotions. That’s something we understand – we are emotional too. Exploring and working it out, this is the way to stay grounded.
What is truly controversial is the question of who is responsible for getting our kids back on track now that they have been out of everything for too long. That’s a tough question with a very simple answer.