Academy of Fencing Masters Blog

Art of Fencing, Art of Life

Category: For Parents Page 1 of 51

Refreshing Olympic Parenting Insight with Cathy Zagunis

Ed Korfanty, Mariel Zagunis and Cathy Zagunis in the Oregon Fencing Alliance
Ed Korfanty, Mariel Zagunis and Cathy Zagunis

The dream of the Olympics is something that every fencer and every fencing parent thinks of at some point. It is a big dream, maybe a romantic dream, and definitely a far away dream for most fencers and their parents. 

Cathy Zagunis is the mother of the most decorated American fencer in the history of our sport, sabre fencer Mariel Zagunis. Mariel is a four-time Olympian, with individual gold in both Athens and Beijing, and team bronze in Beijing and Rio. She was the Olympic flag bearer at the Opening Ceremonies in London, though she just missed the podium with a fourth place finish. At the World Championships, Mariel has won four gold, five silver, and four bronze medals in the last twenty years. Recently, she was inducted into the FIE Hall of Fame. She is a fencer with longevity and vision, and when you talk to her mom you can see where she gets it from.

Since 1998, Cathy has been the Director of Programs at the Oregon Fencing Alliance in Portland. She herself is an Olympian, having competed in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal as a rower. She’s also a National Champion in rowing.

What we learned from powerhouse fencing mom Cathy Zagunis in this interview is that these things are not as far away as they feel. Cathy is a parent who is grounded in the support of her children and the unconditional love she has for them. We found her to be the opposite of a tiger mom. In this interview, you’ll get some refreshing parenting insight that might change the way you think about what it means to parent a champion. (Hint: the secret isn’t pushing your child harder).

Read More

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. 

Read More

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. 

Read More

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.

Read More

Fencing Coach Perspective on Importance of Private Lessons during the Quarantine

AFM Coaches Dima Chumak and Slava Zingerman
Coaches Dima Chumak (right) and Slava Zingerman at Summer Nationals 2019

By: Coach Dima Chumak

Dear Parents of Fencers!

      On behalf of all fencing coaches, I would like to thank you for supporting your child in keeping on learning the Olympic sport of fencing during this challenging time. Your commitment and dedication are truly amazing and inspiring.

      Our team has been working a lot to find the best solutions to conduct group and private lessons in new circumstances. Online fencing lessons are new to everyone, so we are all constantly and continuously learning (personally, I am far from being a computer geek -)). As you all know, we have already held a month of group classes/lessons on ZOOM platform which proved to be efficient and cool/fun! However, each student has his/her strengths and weaknesses as well as unique talents which often require an individual approach to develop one’s own pattern.

      Let me point out one aspect of fencing lessons from the perspective of a coach. As you may have noticed, each professional fencing club has walls with mirrors in its premises which are used to let sportsmen see their reflection and fencing positions. Nonetheless, the initial purpose of mirrors was to enable a coach to observe students not only from the front perspective but also from different angles. During online lessons, cameras to some extent replicate mirrors by allowing coaches to clearly see students’ movements and positions as during face-to-face lessons. Without any doubt, this option provides a great potential to conduct not only group classes but also individual ones to enhance fencers’ skills.

       You may be wondering what indisputable advantages of individual lessons are. Throughout my years of fencing/coaching, I have always been convinced that only individual/private lessons give a chance to adopt general strategical fencing tactics to unique individual abilities of each student. It allows to focus on developing most efficient systematic and simultaneously  quite flexible lesson plans to meet needs of each individual student. 20-minute online private lessons will be an essential part of a sport life for those young ambitious fencers who strive for new achievements, tournaments and victories!

       Eventually, life will go back to normal. We are all eagerly waiting to come back to our AFM premises and meet with our students. We miss them all! Hopefully, it will be soon! Meanwhile, I would like to encourage those who are willing to pursue new goals, enhance fencing skills, keep fit and motivated, to sign up for private lessons even during this virus-infected time. Show must go on! 🙂

Stay safe and healthy!

Your coach,

Dima Chumak    

Page 1 of 51

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén