Art of Fencing, Art of Life

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What are USA Fencing Divisions 1, 1A, 2 and 3

What are USA Fencing Divisions 1, 1A, 2 and 3

For the most part, fencing categories are easily identifiable and distinguishable. It’s clear from the name what they are and what groups comprise their ranks. 

Youth categories are labeled with age-specific titles – Y8 through Y14 are clearly moving up through specific ages. It’s right there in the title. Veterans are mature fencers, which again makes sense because a veteran indicates someone who has been around for a long time. Cadet, Junior, and Senior all sound like military ranks as well, and they all give the idea of someone who is training or coming of age in the sport. 

Where it’s easy to get confused when we move to the divisional categories. This is all the more confusing because there are also divisional competitions within the structure of qualification for the Junior Olympics and Fencing Summer Nationals. Those competitions aren’t related to Divisions 1, 1A, 2, and 3, but rather they just share a name. There are many, many divisional competitions that cover a specific region or even down to a specific city. These hyper regionally focused tournaments cover a wide range of qualifying event classes, which are often tailored to the kind of fencing that is popular in that particular area.

For Divisions 1, 1A, 2 and 3, participation is actually fairly straightforward. These four categories have their own set of parameters, and they carry a specific weight in the fencing competition circuit. Like other fencing categories, they are separated by age, but there are other extraordinary things about the divisional level of competition. It’s not just another place that fencers progress to when they have a birthday!

Getting Out-fenced Doesn’t Mean You’re a Bad Fencer

Getting Out-fenced Doesn't Mean You're a Bad Fencer
sad puppy on the street

When a fencer loses a match, one of the most natural things to do is to start looking for a reason why they lost. 

  • What if my lunges had been longer?
  • What if I had controlled the distance more effectively?
  • What if I were more focused during the match?
  • What if I had cross trained better?

These are pretty standard questions that fencers ask themselves, but they aren’t the only things that roll around in the minds of athletes when they lose. The big question, the elephant in the room, is this one:

What if I’m just a bad fencer?

Building on Strength vs Pointing Out Weaknesses

We all make mistakes. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’re doing, you’re going to miss a cue, lose track of time, or take an extra step. 

There is a fine line between showing our kids that we love them unconditionally and also giving them the right kind of guidance to keep moving forward. They have to keep on moving forward if they’re going to become the successful and happy adults that we want them to grow up to be. 

To do this, we need to learn to help them build on their strengths, rather than pointing out their weaknesses. 

Fulfillment and achievement are two sides of the same coin

As parents, we are charged with giving our kids the space and support to grow from their mistakes. It’s we who are responsible for showing them the path forward. Oftentimes we get fixated on the ways that we quantify that path forward. We look for the things that we can measure, like fencing rankings or test scores. 

The less tangible things, like happiness and self-fulfillment, well we cannot easily measure those things. It’s not so easy to say “My child is highly fulfilled in their life.” That’s subjective. You can’t just measure it. On the other hand, it’s very easy to point directly to an achievement – “My child is the top-ranked fencer in their age category.”

The true conundrum here is that both of these are necessary. If you go too far to one side, you won’t give your child the scaffolding they need to succeed. Achievement does equal self-fulfillment, in one sense at least. If a child, or an adult for that matter, does not believe that they are capable of achieving the things they want to achieve in life, then they don’t value themselves. In the right context, chasing those big goals is an integral part of self-fulfillment.

One way to think of this is as two gears in a machine (the machine would be your child). You have to have both gears, fitting together and spinning at the correct speed, to make it work. Neither is less important.

NEW Fencing Competition Service! Gear & Tournament Delivery Makes Competition Easy for Families & Fencers

Gear & Tournament Delivery Makes Competition Easy for Families & Fencers

Coming soon for the 2022-23 fencing season is a fantastic fencing competition service that will support competitive fencers like never before. 

The hassle and struggle of carting gear back and forth to the venue, all while making sure it’s clean, sanitized, and in working order, is one of the toughest things about the life of a competitive fencer. It distracts from the focus that competitors can have on competition, and it’s a big stress on fencing families. 

The new Gear & Tournament Delivery Service is here to make that all a lot easier. Families no longer have to feel crushed by the weight of fencing gear, and they don’t have to struggle with trying to be a jack of all trades with regard to fencing gear and equipment. 

There’s a special pilot rollout of the program that’s coming for Fencing Summer Nationals 2022, but there are only a few spots available for the pilot program ahead of the full rollout next season. 

Fencing competitions can be overwhelming

If you are a veteran fencing parent, you can tell countless stories about how difficult it is to arrive at fencing tournaments. There are a million little things that can come in and make a mess of the competitive experience, and if you miss even one of them then it can have a potentially devastating effect on your fencer and how they perform. 

There’s the problem of transportation. You get to the airport after packing all the gear and roll through with everything just right, but then you have to change planes and you are suddenly not sure that your bag will arrive. 

Even more frustrating, you might rush from the airport to the venue on the day before a big national tournament to make the weapon check, only to find out that the armorer has already left for the day. Now it’s late and you have to sacrifice that morning time before the tournament to get to the venue at 6:00 am to get your place in line and ensure the gear is marked

There are so many other problems, the little things that only fencers have to face and that only fencing parents really know how to deal with. 

Advanced Fencing Mom Services (AFMS) is a new company that’s created a fantastic solution to help fencers figure out how to work this out when traveling for fencing competitions. Unlike other courier services, AFMS is specific to fencing. That niche knowledge can help families to get the most out of their competitive experience.  

A one-stop solution for competition service

The travel to go to fencing tournaments is great, but it’s also straining. AFMS created these incredible services that will travel to you to perform weapon checks so that you can be ready for any level of fencing tournament in a stress-free environment. 

It’s a one-stop, subscription-based service solution for fencers. 

When you subscribe to the service, they will come to wherever you are and take care of your equipment from start to finish, just like a fencing mom would. Imagine having the best fencing mom come to pick up your gear, wash it, fix any problems with it, package it up, and deliver it right to the venue after it passed the weapon check of the most scrutinizing armorers! 

AFMS will come to any location that you need to in order to get your gear:

  • School
  • Home
  • Work
  • Fencing club
  • Airport 
  • Bus station
  • Hotel
  • Airbnb
  • Anywhere!

All of the people who work here are actual fencing parents who are also trained in fixing equipment. (Disclaimer – they aren’t all moms, there are some fencing dads and grandparents who work at AFMS). They’re highly skilled at cleaning the fencing bag, getting stains out of knickers, even patching any frayed seams on the fencing glove! It’s an easy way to make sure your fencing gear is as good as new ahead of the competition. 

Timely delivery

One of the best parts about this is the timely delivery of your now like-new equipment to the venue. 

AFMS has a special packaging service that takes the equipment directly from location to location, with stops at every major and minor airport in the country. Unfortunately, they don’t yet offer international service, but we’re told that this is on the horizon as this service continues to grow. Through dual partnerships with FedEx and UPS, they can get your fencing gear back into your hands no matter where you are for fencing competition. Moreover, before they hand over it to you, they make sure the armorers checked your gear and placed their stamps.

A company representative shows up at your chosen location to hand-deliver the equipment from there all the way to the venue or hotel. There’s never a question that your fencing equipment will become damaged in the transition thanks to this personalized service.

Once it’s their hands, an AFMS representative makes another quality check and does any additional cleaning or repair that could be necessary before they do the final delivery. It’s important that all parts of the weapon are fully operational and that everything is clean and sanitized. High levels of quality control are a hallmark of this service.

Should you choose to have your equipment delivered to the venue, it will be waiting for you clean, inspected, and marked with your name either in the area of your club banner or near the strip where you’ll be competing. Nowadays, for example, at the big national competitions from USA Fencing or even the larger regional competitions, the fencing strips are miles away from the entrance. There’s no need to haul your equipment across the acres of space inside – it’ll just show up there for you! And thanks to the USA Fencing for announcing the strips one day before – the AFMS will deliver your gear right to your strip!

Premium competition service add ons

For fencers who want that extra level of service to take all of the preparation out of the equation, AFMS offers a series of premium service add ons. 

You have the option to add-on snacks and drinks for your event. If you’re a Gatorade kind of fencer, you can specify the flavor that you want in your snack pack. If you like Frost Glacier Cherry (aka white) or Riptide Rush (aka purple), they’ll source it locally and put it in your bag. Looking for a specific protein bar to power you through the competition? You can add it to your snack requests and have that Blueberry & Almond Clif Bar or that Caramel Walnut Luna bar ready for you in your bag. No need to chase healthy venue snacks with the AFMS service or overpay the venue prices!

It’s not just about the food. You can also subscribe to the “parents and spectators” add-on package, which includes a comfy seat cushion, earplugs for the venue echo, and a hot, made-to-order grande Starbucks drink. Fencing parents and caregivers deserve to be treated well, too!

With these great add-ons, the frantic fencing competitive experience can be so much easier and so much more satisfying for everyone! All you need to do is focus on that good night’s rest and getting to the venue. No worry about missing weapon check or standing in long lines – it’s all taken care of with AFMS. 

It’s all about the fencing experience

Fencers and their families put so much effort, blood, sweat, and tears into getting ready for a fencing competition at the national or upper regional level. Too often, that experience is marred by logistical issues and technical troubles. 

AFMS is all about supporting fencers so that they can focus on the competition instead of the gear and the logistics. This can help to improve fencing performance and to allow those competitors to focus. 

It’s not just about the competitors, either. This competition service also helps fencing moms and dads to have a clearer mind so that they can sit back and enjoy the competition! Fencing parents deserve to take a break and put their attention on their kids. 

Plans and pricing

The best part about this incredible service is that it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg! This world-class, incredibly beneficial service is reasonable and affordable for fencing families. It’s a true value add to any long distance competitive experience. 

There are two levels of pricing that are offered for fencers with AFMS. All pricing includes taxes and fees, and it’s easily payable online through the AFMS website. The whole thing couldn’t be easier! There are two options for pricing, either through a monthly subscription fee for the whole season, or by the tournament. This way, you can find the level that really works for you.

Subscription – $100/month standard or $150/month premium competition service

If you are a regular at fencing competitions all over the country, then this is the level for you. Fencers who compete at least once a month will want to use this subscription service, because it definitely pays for itself.

Pay as you go – $75/tournament standard, $100/tournament premium competition service

If you only fence infrequently, then this is the way for you. You’ll get all of the perks listed above, including the door to venue service and the high quality repairs and maintenance. Fencers who are new to large competitions will get so much out of this, and it’s a great way to make the whole process easier and less stressful!

AFMS is the most advanced fencing equipment management company in America, and they are really driven by their passion for the sport. Their team of fencing parents remembers those days of hauling gear and repairing equipment late at night, and they want to help out fencing families during the stressful time of traveling to competitions! It’s so, so important to pay it forward, and this service is a way to support the next generation of fencers. 


Readers of this blog can take advantage of a special offer with the link below. This is only for readers of this blog, and it’s an exciting way to help AFMS grow while also getting something for your own fencer. Don’t wait! Click below and learn more. 

Please share with your fellow fencers and with your fencing clubs! It’s important that we get the word out about this service so that we can continue to grow it. 

Click here for sign up information for the new competition service!

NEW Fencing Competition Service - Gear and Tournament Delivery

18 Tips for First Time Fencing Parents

18 Tips for First Time Fencing Parents

Every parent thinks about what their child will want to participate in when they get old enough for extracurricular activities. Around the age from seven to ten, kids are generally old enough to start exploring the wide world of activities outside of their family and school in a serious way. Whether it’s the arts like theatre and orchestra, youth organizations like scouting or 4-H Club, or any number of youth sports, keeping kids busy is part of keeping them growing in the right direction. 

Stepping out of a child’s comfort zone, or more pointedly, their parents’ comfort zone, can be a steep learning curve for families. Even if you’re a parent who participated in youth sports or perhaps fencing in particular when you were younger, it’s a whole different ballgame to be on the other side. 

Getting your footing as a first-time fencing parent doesn’t have to be overwhelming. These eighteen tips for new fencing parents will help you to get going in the right direction!

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