There are a thousand things that fencing moms do for us, from scheduling lessons to arranging our gear to cheering us on when we are competing. Our fencing moms make our world work, and we are so deeply thankful for them that we know we can’t repay their generosity and guidance. Fencing moms step in every day to keep fencers training, in a thousand little ways that we most probably don’t even know about. There is true magic around moms!
Though there is not ever a way to totally repay them for all that they do, we do try our best. This year, we decided to give them some jokes that might make them laugh and also let them know how much we see all the things they’re doing. Though we might not say it enough, we appreciate our fencing moms every day of the year.
We are not utterly original in our jokes, and some of them are free improvisations based on timeless classics, but hey, we righteously stole them at a swordpoint. 🙂
We all like to be comfortable. Especially in times when things out there are making us feel discomfort.
In fencing, we see comfort in all kinds of ways. Fencers learn that certain things work and begin to rely on this kind of parry or that kind of footwork to give them a quick point. It’s possible to make this work for a while, but if you aren’t adapting and growing then it won’t continue to work for long. Staying static is the path to stagnating.
There’s nothing wrong with seeking comfort in things that make life easier or allow us to recharge. However, there is also always room to push ourselves and improve our lives. Oftentimes we think that we need comfort when growth would actually make us feel better. Fighting the pull towards easing into social media, extra sleep, Netflix, or any other passive routine, does involve self-discipline and expansion. How can we do that?
It’s been hard to keep this secret for so long, but we are finally able to share our good news! After a long year of negotiating and working through concepts, we are proud to announce that we are taking fencing to SPACE! We are now the official training partners of the inaugural fencing program for astronauts. We’re announcing it first, right here on our blog, before it hits the media!
Last year when SpaceX and NASA contacted us with a request to provide fencing training to astronauts, our first reaction was one of bewilderment. That feeling quickly turned to intrigue, which became intimidation, and eventually only joy and excitement. Now we are confident that we can make this happen, and we could not be more thrilled with the innovation that this will bring to fencing and to the pilots and scientists who voyage beyond Earth’s atmosphere.
Why fence in space?
Why would NASA and SpaceX be interested in fencing in space? At first, it sounds like an odd pairing, but it makes sense when you work out the reasoning behind it.
Space travel is not what it was many years ago, with explorers going up in the shuttle for limited trips around the planet. Today, astronauts travel via NASA’s partner agencies to the International Space Station, where they spend an average of about 6 months, though many astronauts spend even longer stretches of time. During this time they must keep up their physical fitness, which is done through many with sometimes even longer stretches of time. Obviously this time they must train.
Modern fencing, for the purposes of our exploration of the history of fencing, starts with the modern Olympics in 1896, which were founded by Pierre de Coubertin. We have already explored fencing in the Ancient World in Part 1 and moved through the development of fencing as a distinct discipline in Part 2. You don’t have to read those two pieces in order to understand this next step in fencing history, but it’s highly encouraged!
It’s in this period that fencing looks like what we know of fencing today. We see the onset of modern fencing equipment and scoring. There is also the solidification of the three weapons and all of the differences that go along with each of those. The tournament system that is such a driving force behind our current view of fencing rises during this time. We’ll talk a little bit about what fencing is today in the modern world here, and we’ll give some insight into American fencing and how it came to be what we know of.
Fencing takes its style, substance, and sensibilities from the European schools of fencing that arose in the Renaissance and then grew over the next several centuries.
We learned about Fencing in the Ancient World in Part 1 of our not-so-brief history of fencing, and we’ll dig through the era of the modern Olympics in Part 3, but for now we are right in the middle. This is where fencing begins to take the shape that we know it to have now, and it’s where we can start to see the distinctive nature of our sport as different from other forms of military combat.
What is very similar to what comes before is that fencing is not a sport yet, it is still a skill that is largely centered around keeping the individual alive during a real fight. Over the course of five hundred years or so, from the end of the Middle Ages in the sixteenth century to the modern Olympic era that begins at the dawn of the twentieth century, fencing moves from a test of mettle that can end in death to a test of mettle that can end on a podium. This happens through the development of fencing schools and the move of fencing from military combat to the nobility.
This section is focused on how fencing came to be in Europe, because that’s where our sport has its origins. There was sword fighting that developed in other parts of the world through this time period, like kendo in Japan, but it’s not related to sport fencing today. We are a diverse sport in the modern era, but the origins of fencing are fundamentally European. We also cannot help but point out that, though there were women fencing throughout its history, it is a history that is predominantly made up of men. The transition to total inclusion of women in fencing wouldn’t be complete until the 2004 Olympics with adding women’s sabre competition, by that having all 3 weapons represented in women’s fencing!
The part of fencing history that we’re exploring now could be thought of as the adolescence of the sport. This is where we’re figuring out who we are, and a lot of things are changing along the way. It’s a big transition, and it wasn’t always easy.