Art of Fencing, Art of Life

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Qualification Update: Fencing Summer Nationals 2022

Qualification Update: Fencing Summer Nationals 2022

Fencing season 2021-2022 is roaring along, and we couldn’t be more excited about what this post-pandemic competition season will look like. This will be the first time in three years that USA Fencing has been able to hold its national competition in the regular format! 

We were lucky enough to have a national fencing competition last year, but the points were combined from the canceled 2019-2020 season and last season. This year, the competition will stand on its own for the season. 

2022 will see its first NAC will be held on the West Coast – right in San Jose. For the first time, Fencing Summer Nationals and the July Challenge will be held in Minneapolis, Minnesota. All around, we are just incredibly thankful for the chance to get our fencing on track once again for the biggest competition in the United States. 

Now the big question is – how do fencers qualify for Fencing Summer Nationals? Here’s what you need to know.

The Basics of Olympic Fencing, Part 3 – Qualification & Competition

The Basics of Olympic Fencing, Part 3 - Qualification & Competition

The most high-profile event for fencers in the world is the Olympics. The sport itself is pretty much the same as what the novice fencer practices – fencing is fencing. However, it’s easy for people to get lost in the whole winding road of qualification and style. The more we can understand how Olympic fencing works, the more we’ll enjoy it! 

In our previous two posts on the Basics of Olympic Fencing, we walked you through the history of the Games and how fencing fits into that history. In Part 1, we shared with you how the Olympics came about and how the Olympic spirit flows through fencing. In Part 2, you learned how the structure of the Olympics affects fencing. Now, we’ll take you through the qualification path that leads to the Olympics for fencers, as well as exploring what qualities an Olympic fencer must have in order to reach these heights. 

Fencing Summer Nationals 2021 Qualification

Fencing Summer Nationals 2021 Qualification

Great news! Fencing Summer Nationals 2021 looks to be on! After losing our biggest event to the pandemic in 2020, it’s exhilarating to think that we are on the road back to our capstone national tournament!

The last year has turned the entire system of fencing competition upside down, making it hard to keep up with the ever-changing schedule and qualifications. We are now in the fourth stage of the Return to Fencing Plan from USA Fencing, which brings back national-level tournaments. That’s an exciting step towards Summer Nationals and the July Challenge!

Qualification Paths for Fencing Summer Nationals 2021

Obviously, with all of the changes to the schedule and the cancellation of large parts of the season, qualification has changed, though perhaps not as much as you might think. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if some qualification rules are changed, so stay tuned for any updates from the USA Fencing!

The national points (NRPS) in each respective age category (Y10/12/14/Cadet/Junior/Division 1)  was frozen on March 11, which allows fencers who could not travel to still qualify if they were on the standings at that point and of course age eligible

Referees and Right of Way/Priority

Referee judging a foil bout, looking who has a final Right of Way or Priority

We can learn everything about right of way or priority, as it more often called, we could master every aspect of its understanding, and yet we would not be the final word on it. The referee is. Always. 

Some people say that right of way is subjective. It is not. But since it is up to the referee to decipher the fencing phrase, some referees might see it differently than other referees. In their head, the referees are shaping the actions of each fencer into these phrases. They are looking at the actions of the fencers with a keen eye that is clued into this specific and important point of right of way, because it is so essential. 

To understand right of way, you need to understand the referee’s perspective. It’s so incredibly important for fencers, because without understanding this you will always be stuck. Let’s dig into some specifics of referees and right of way. 

A Dummy’s Guide to Right of Way or Priority in Fencing

A Dummy’s Guide to Right of Way or Priority in Fencing

One of the most difficult concepts in all of fencing is the concept of right of way.

This concept and the understanding of it are key to making sense of fencing, no matter if you are a fencer, a coach, a parent, a referee, or a fan. This post is long. It’s long enough that we’ve broken it up into sections to help make it easier to follow. This is a mega post, so get comfortable, or better yet –  bookmark this post so you can come back to it!

First, we’ll break down a new way of seeing priority. Then we’ll go through a dozen detailed examples to go even further and let you really get a deep understanding of what it’s all about. Coming at the concept from different angles is so important!

During a match, one that’s going quick as lightning already, it’s almost impossible to understand for non-fencers why the touch was not awarded. Even more difficult to understand is why the decision not to award the touch was the right one. 

Before we go any further – priority and right of way are the same. They’re synonyms, and you’ll see them used as synonyms here and in the real world of fencing. You have “right of way” or you get priority. Same thing. 

For a lot of people, the whole thing is so confusing, so unclear. This goes especially for newbies in fencing and for parents. It’s not just parents and fencing fans who don’t get it, epee fencers often don’t understand right of way if they didn’t start out with foil before they take on epee! Though they may have a cursory understanding of the concept, they usually don’t really get it. They might have an idea that they know that one action precedes the other, and obviously they can see parries and riposts, but often they cannot decipher complex foil or saber phrases. 

The thing is, learning right of way is something that you have to do intentionally. You’re not just going to pick it up by kind of half looking at foil and saber matches. The best way to really learn right of way is to fence it, but naturally that’s not really possible for parents or epee fencers or fans of the sport. That’s why we’re sharing with you a detailed understanding of right of way in fencing, and hopefully by the end of this article you’ll get that wonderful “click” in your brain that we all want to have!

Here, I’m going to break it down in a simple way that makes sense for non-fencers. The most important point is that this post is not explaining the rules or redefining the rules. It is laying out a different way to understand who has gotten priority and thus who wins the point in foil or sabre.

The conventions of right of way have stayed more or less the same through the last century. What’s changed is the commonly used interpretations by fencing referees, pioneered first at the FIE level and then propagated down to the FIE-member countries and their domestic tournaments. Also, the explanation and examples will not cover the whole spectrum of fencing, but it will give you an ability to understand at least 80% of what happened and why a specific call was made. You definitely will not be able to understand the other 20%. Heck, there are calls that even experienced referees argue about! But, guess what? You will be able to understand and comprehend what they are arguing about these calls! Isn’t this cool?

This post is long, complicated, and it took me a few months to write and rewrite it. (Well, the pandemic did hit in the middle!)  I suggest you read the first two parts till the end, preferably in the same sitting, and if you do I can guarantee you will acquire some deeper understanding of the concept. Enough that you will be able to see the phrase on Youtube matches and decipher it quite accurately, particularly if you have some training. 

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