Academy of Fencing Masters Blog

Art of Fencing, Art of Life

Category: Interviews Page 1 of 5

Attention in Fencing and How It Transforms to Life

Attention in Fencing and How It Transforms to Life - Nine Gifts Book Cover

Attention is basically the action of fixating the mind on some activity or some event. And when I say fixating the mind, it means being able to carefully listen and watch, and be in constant and instant awareness of everything happening in the event of interest. Driving is a fantastic example, right? You’re fixing your mind on the road, and you’re constantly aware of everything that happens near you—whether it’s other cars, pedestrians, traffic signs, a policeman, any obstacles on the road like potholes or objects, animals, whatever it is. 

You are constantly watching, you’re constantly listening to what happens. You are in a driving mind zone, where not only you’re aware of what is going on around you, but—because of that—you can essentially predict what will happen in the next moment, because you catch some subtle cues from the surrounding that allows you to predict. You see the body language of a pedestrian, showing that he or she is about to cross. A car starts to do a change of lane, or use their signal. The traffic light turns from green to yellow. 

So: Attention is the action of fixing your mind on something by carefully listening and watching, and being constantly and instantly aware of everything that happens around you. And, because of that, being able to predict the next moment. 

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The Best Fencing Referee in the World – A Conversation with Natalia Zhuravleva

Natalia Zhuravleva - World #1 Fencing Referee

We usually think of the accomplishments in fencing as something that is for fencers, but referees are chasing their own achievement as well. The most accomplished referees are those who are striving to always be better than they are, who are working hard to make the sport better. One of the referee shining stars right now is Natalia Zhuravleva, the best fencing referee in the world. 

It’s not lightly that we call her the best fencing referee in the world – Natalia was awarded this honor by the International Fencing Federation. She is a remarkable individual who deserves this highest accolade, and the reason why she was chosen is clear to anyone who speaks to her at any length. I was lucky enough to interview this truly amazing referee about what is important for fencers, the development of referees, and the direction of our sport. We all have a lot to learn from this powerful woman who is not just calling the shots, but who is teaching us all how to call them for ourselves. 

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Intersectional Championship Philosophy with Italian Epee World Champion Mara Navarria

2019  World Championships - Mara Navarria won Bronze medal with Italian Team
2019 World Championships – Mara Navarria won Bronze medal with Italian Team Photo by #BizziTeam

All fencers grow over the course of their career, but Italian epee powerhouse Mara Navarria has taken that growth to championship heights. She is a fencer with what might be called a simmering longevity in the sport, one who puts the time and hard work into her craft in order to build something that looks to be impossible to ignore in Tokyo next summer.

Though the Italian school of fencing is known for its tradition and rigidity, Mara has consistently broken with tradition in her training. This happened first with her formative coach Oleg Pouzanov, who incorporated Russian sensibilities into her fencing. After his tragic death in 2015, Mara refocused and rebuilt with French trained coach Roberto Cirillo. She currently trains away from the bustle of Rome in Rapallo, Italy, where she lived for 4 years. After the lockdown she moved to Carlino, her hometown in Friuli Venezia Giulia with her son Samuele and her physical trainer and husband Andrea Lo Coco.

What we learned from Mara Navarria through this interview is that innovation and creativity can meet with tradition and diligent work to create a new kind of champion. Her insight and her story is truly remarkable.

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Picking Apart Fencing Greatness with Cyrus of Chaos

Andrew Fischl, aka Cyrus of Chaos, videotaping a fencing bout

Some fencing figures are more than what they seem, and one such figure is Andrew Fischl, known to most of us as Cyrus of Chaos.

For those of you who might not know it, Cyrus of Chaos is a major resource for fencers on YouTube. I’ve been subscribed to this channel for many years, and his fencing videos and analysis have been a wonderful addition to my own fencing knowledge. They are in depth and thoughtful, and totally unlike anything else out there. It’s a resource that has become a huge value for many fencers, no matter your weapon.

In the last few months, the channel has branched out in a wonderful way, featuring analysis with fencing coaches, great fencers, and sometimes even with fencers themselves as they analyze their own bouts. It is refreshing, it is mind blowing, and it is positively brilliant.

This is a positive source of next-level fencing understanding who’s importance cannot be overestimated, particularly during these pandemic times when we are forced to be innovative and when we are looking more and more at our screens. Cyrus of Chaos offers us the perfect mix of a solid, tried and true member of the fencing community who knows what fencing is about, mixed with youthful, out-of-the-box thinking. 

In this interview, we learn more about the man behind Cyrus of Chaos, including how Andrew came to find this wonderful resource and what keeps him going. Some of the answers will surprise you, and all of the interview will enlighten you. 

If you aren’t already subscribed to Cyrus of Chaos’s YouTube Channel, hop on over and subscribe!

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Keeping it Moving with Epee World Champion Max Heinzer

Max Heinzer picking mushrooms

Everyone who follows epee fencing knows Max Heinzer. He is the greatest showman of epee, but he’s not just putting on a show – he’s got the competitive chops underneath to earn his place on the podium.

Max Heinzer is one of the most high energy fencers to take on the strip. Whether it is at the World Cup, the World Championships, or the Grand Prix, he is moving and making things happen. No one can miss his signature style. It draws the eye and it draws the crowds – something that we can all agree is important for drawing people to the sport.

What makes Max Heinzer so tremendous is that it is not all show. His flare is pronounced, but it’s pronounced in such a way because it is effective for him. What he’s doing, it works. More than that, you’ll find out in this interview that he is leveraging his natural talent and style to get the result that he is after. It’s unusual and it’s fascinating for anyone who is a fencer or a fan, and hopefully for those who are new to the sport. That same personality that you see with him on the piste, you’ll see it here in this interview as well.

Thank you so much to Max for taking the time to speak with us!

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