How long does it take to learn fencing? That’s a straightforward question with a less than straightforward answer. That’s because what it means to “learn fencing” could mean a lot of different things.
It takes a lifetime to master fencing, but that is part of the joy of the sport. We are always growing, always improving, no matter how long we have been fencing. Obviously, becoming an elite fencer on the international level takes many years of heavy practice and training. Elite fencers are not the only fencers though, and most fencers aren’t pushing towards that level, certainly not in the beginning.
That pulls us down to the basics of fencers. If you’re an average person who wants to do this sport for enjoyment, for the thrill of competition, and personal growth, how long will it take you to learn fencing?
There is movement in the right direction when it comes to the pandemic, and so we are now looking at promising possibilities for the coming summer. Last summer was tough with COVID keeping everyone at home. We didn’t even know the full extent of the virus then, and it’s hard to even remember how much fear and uncertainty there was at that time. There was no choice but to keep kids home out of summer camps and to keep them on Zoom. That made for a long, difficult time period as we know that kids need social interaction in order to thrive. What could be next and how could we go about it? It’s a topic that we have to explore.
Prudence paired with practicality
At this point, kids MUST get out of their houses for the sake of their mental health and social development. There was a point in time where the danger of going out of the house was real, but that time is coming to a close. We aren’t quite there yet, but with the vaccine rolling out quickly and projections that every eligible adult will be able to get a vaccine by early summer, we can have some practical optimism that activities will be able to resume, even in a modified form.
We cannot run recklessly towards any activities that might not be safe. It is always, always better to err on the side of caution than it is to go too fast and find ourselves in a bad situation. Whatever the CDC’s guidelines are, we have always believed that it was best to go at least that far and then a little further where we could as a precaution. However, there is every indication that we will be able to reopen for longer periods of time this summer safely. Not to jump too fast, but what a remarkable possibility!
It is this balancing act of deciding what is safe that every parent is trying to judge. Some kids are going back to school now, while others will be learning at a distance for the rest of the summer. It all just depends on what a family’s given comfort level is, as has always been the case. Right now, we are all ready to get back to a normal life. But how can we pair prudence with practicality so that we can do it safely?
There should still be caution, still distance, and still masks. There are new variants out there flying around, and these measures all protect against infection. There’s just no reason to jump too quickly when the end is in sight. But we can take steps towards the finish line. Last year, lockdown happened pretty much instantly. This year, reopening will happen slowly and methodically.
There’s a push and pull between every child and parent, it’s a natural part of the relationship. For fencing parents, there is an added layer of push and pull because of the balance of training, and because of the pressures of competition, and unintentionally parents can drive kids nuts.
Just about everyone has seen a parent lose it at a sporting event. It’s unfortunately not uncommon to see parents pressuring young athletes in a wide variety of ways, from the sidelines or after practice. Fencing is not immune to this reality, and it’s important for parents to think about what their actions are so that they can strike the right chord.
We’ve all been guilty of pushing things a little too hard with our kids, and that’s ok. What we want to do is to keep growing and to find the ways that we can improve. That starts with understanding the potential pitfalls.
Here are seven things that fencing parents do that drive their kids crazy.
Pandemic-era parenting challenges is completely new territory. Before coronavirus, there were challenges in parenting, but on the whole we felt like we had a handle on what we were doing. There wasn’t a roadmap per se, but there were people who had been there before. We could follow the advice that we knew had been tried and tested by other parents. If your child wanted to make it to Summer Nationals, well there were other parents whose children had done that and could tell you the way. If your child was struggling with self-confidence after a loss, a parent could go to another parent who had experienced that and find a wise ear.
During the pandemic there is none of that. There are no other fencing parents who can talk us through what it’s like to fence with social distancing outside and no competitions.
Encouraging your child to keep fencing
The way that we support kids has a lot to do with their eventual success. We start off by doing a lot for them, then we step back bit-by-bit until they are totally on their own. Want your child to stick with fencing? Here are seven ways to help that happen.
Here’s a play-by-play of the conversation that lots of fencers have when they get home from fencing practice.
“How was fencing class?”
“Great! Make sure you put your fencing bag in the hall closet.”
It’s a functional conversation for sure, and it gets the job done. The thing is, it’s not bringing anything new, nor is it really enriching what we’ve already got. It’s not that the fencing parent here doesn’t care what went on in class, and it’s not as if the child doesn’t have anything more to say, it’s just that life is busy and we get into routines that get us through.
What we want with our kids is more than just those one word answers. We are looking for engagement, because they need it and so do we. Making that relationship with our kids deeper and more meaningful has to be built each and every day. Working on the casual communication that we have with each other is one way to do that.
Author Glennon Doyle gives us some awesome insight into this. “If you don’t want throw away answers, you can’t ask throw away questions.”
To make this easier for fencing parents, we’ve put together fifty one questions to ask your fencer that will get you and them both talking.