With the recent successes of American fencers on the International scene and the Gold Medal of Lee Keifer, American fencing has experienced a renewed interest in both the sport and appreciation for all the ways it can benefit students and parents alike.
If you’re interested in trying out competitive fencing, or even recreational fencing, there are a few things to keep in mind before you dive in. Here are nine factors you’ll need to consider as you evaluate joining a fencing club or working with a fencing coach.
The first competition for new fencers and new fencing parents can be both thrilling and very challenging. What do I need to bring? How will I manage the schedule? What protocols will impact my day? There are so many different variables that go into a large fencing tournament, and they all have the potential to derail a fencer’s focus and cause stress. It’s good to know that you can minimize all of that with some advice from experienced fencing parents.
Depending on who you are and what kind of youth sports experience you have, you might find that you’re comfortable with some aspects of the process, but this guide is truly a primer – it’s written with the assumption that you don’t have any experience with large youth sports competitions.
It’s important to note here that large competitions are different from local competitions and inter-club tournaments. RYCs, NACs, RJCCs, etc. are on a bigger scale with more moving pieces. What’s more, fencers and their families are often traveling a considerable distance to go to regional and national fencing tournaments. Those layers add up to a broader scope and a greater level of intensity that warrants more preparation.
Once you get the hang of it, that level of intensity is both satisfying and familiar. The fencing community is a warm and supportive space for young people to grow, and the connections forged at these large fencing tournaments are both comforting and deeply satisfying. Friendships between fencing families as well as individual fencers are forged on the road and in the tournament halls during regional and national fencing tournaments, all while fencers challenge themselves to become better people in a holistic way.
Starting off is not always easy. That’s why we’ve put together this thorough primer for fencers and fencing parents who are going into their first competition. We’ve broken it down into sections that are easy to follow and straightforward. It’s comprehensive enough to give you everything you need to know about your first fencing tournament, while at the same time being short enough that you can read it in the few minutes you have as you dash between school and fencing practice. If you don’t have time to dig through all of it, that’s ok! Scan the headlines and focus on the areas that you have the most questions about. Hopefully, you’ll find the answers here! If you don’t, please drop us an email or comment at the bottom of this list to let us know what we’re missing.
Fencing equipment is expensive and most of it will last for a long time. On the other hand, if your fencer decides to change weapons, do they need a new mask for their new weapon?
Every fencing weapon is different, from scoring, to some elements of the uniform, to the weapon. Though there are some things that are totally interchangeable, like fencing knickers and the fencing jacket, other things like the mask are not exactly the same for each weapon.
This is a problem we’ve come across recently as we moved from a foil/epee club to an epee-only club. Luckily, we found a simple solution!
Electric vs. Non-Electric Masks
The big difference between foil masks and epee masks is that foil masks are conductive in their bib.
Epee masks are straightforward, simple insulated mesh coverings over the face and a plain white bib. The entire body is the target area in epee.
For the most part, a foil mask is the same as the epee mask – an insulated mesh covering over the face and a bib. The difference is that there is lame material sewn onto the bib at the neck, a potential target area during the match. The mask cord connects to the bib to allow for scoring to register.
One of the worst things that we all do, and we all do it to some extent, is to compare ourselves to others. It’s easy to do, especially in the world of social media and the constant measurement of value that society places on everything.
It doesn’t matter how good you might be as a fencer, there will always be someone who is better on a given day. Life and fencing are too fluid and changing for us to get trapped in the notion of who is the best, even within the competitive fencing environment.
For fencers, it’s especially easy to fall into the habit of comparing ourselves to others because we are based on the comparison of one fencer to another in every bout. Is the best fencer the one who gets the most points? Is there such a thing as the “best” fencer?
Getting your child started in fencing is exciting and can also be intimidating, depending on your child’s age and personality. Don’t worry! We’ve got all the information you need about what to do and how to make it work. Fall is a perfect time to try the sport out.
1. Gauge your child’s interest in fencing
The first thing you’ll want to do is to determine what your child’s interest level is in fencing. Lots of kids are ultra excited about the sport thanks to having seen swordfighting in movies and read about it in books. Just the mention of learning how to fence is enough to have some kids jumping up and down with excitement. For other kids, the idea of swordfighting is fun, but then they get a little shy and intimidated about it once it comes down to the reality of it.
Often it’s kids that bring the idea to their parents, but it can go both ways. If fencing is something that you think your child might be interested in, start by talking to them about it before you move to the next step.