Art of Fencing, Art of Life

Category: Rules and Regulations Page 1 of 10

Where Do We Go From Here? An Open Letter to USA Fencing about the 2022-23 National Calendar

Where Do We Go From Here? An Open Letter to USA Fencing about the 2022-23 National Events Calendar

USA Fencing just released the national calendar for next season today, and it’s already a hot topic of conversation online and among the fencing community in clubs all over the United States. While we were anxiously anticipating this national calendar, what was revealed is, to put it bluntly, a big disappointment. 

Normally, I refrained from criticizing USA Fencing here on the AFM blog and in general within the community because it doesn’t help to grow the reputation of the organization and by extension it doesn’t help the sport to grow and become more widespread in the world. I also understand the immense amount of work that it takes to bring these huge events to life all over the country, especially when a lot of people have a lot of different opinions. 

Every region is hugely different. Every club is different from every other club. There are many, many stakeholders that need to be satisfied. The members have a multitude of different requirements, the coaches have needs and ideas, the clubs are always looking for ways to keep going, and fencing parents have an important perspective. For all of these reasons, I usually try to refrain from criticizing. Even here, with this controversy about the schedule, I hope to not wade into criticizing, but rather that it will be looked on by USA Fencing as an opportunity to improve for next year. 

USA Fencing, Please Add More Team Events!

USA Fencing, Please Add More Team Events!

Though individual fencing is strong and getting stronger all of the United States thanks to the supportive clubs and the increasingly competitive web of tournaments in America, there is one place that we are sorely lacking – the team events. 

In our current system, from local to regional to national events, individual fencing takes the top priority. Team events are not a priority. Even when we have team events in the competition, they are still not well attended. Clubs don’t encourage participation because they aren’t emphasized from the top, and fencers don’t participate because they are not emphasized from the club level. 

It is absolutely time for this to change. While the team fencing events are so important on the international level, it has been too slow a trickle for them to become important down here. 

Yes, it is different. Yes, it is slightly complicated and challenging for new fencers to enter into. However it’s not really that complicated, and we can’t wait around forever. We need to see some shift in the way that this is done so that our fencers can get the right tools to succeed at the top. 

Fencing Summer Nationals Qualifications for Cadet, Juniors, and Divisions 1A, 2, 3, & Youth

Fencing Summer Nationals Qualifications for Cadet, Juniors, and Divisions 1A, 2, 3, & Youth

There is always some question about the path to the national fencing competition. This is especially true during the spring, as fencers start to need to do the math to figure out what they have to do to qualify. This time of year, we always have parents and fencers asking us about their qualification status for Fencing Summer Nationals. 

To make your way from a competitor who wants to compete to a qualified candidate, you have to figure out three things:

  1. How to qualify (the process for everyone)
  2. What your standing is (verifying your individual point standing)
  3. What gaps you have in qualification (and where to go to find them)

This is the same for everyone, no matter what age or stage you are at. It’s not a thing you’ll do just once and then have it figured out, either. Though the whole system is similar for every kind of fencer, it’s not exactly the same for each level. A Cadet and Y10 fencer will find familiarity in their qualification paths, but they will be different enough that they have to figure it out fresh for each of them. 

It’s not that difficult to figure out, so let’s jump in and walk through it!

Principles of Pool Assignments

Principles of Pool Assignments

There’s something mysterious about the way that fencing pool assignments happen. To uninitiated it’s can feel like a hidden secret that no one really understands. It doesn’t have to be confusing or frustrating though! 

Fencing competitions are not a straight line from start to finish. To narrow the competitors from a wide group to the finalists, there are two layers of competition – the pool rounds and the direct elimination rounds. Everyone knows that there are two parts, but what we’re interested in is making sense of how they work. 

It’s time to demystify the seeding and pool assignment process. We’ll explain how it’s done, why it’s done, and what everyone can and should expect from the process. You will also learn how to manually make correct pool assignments if you ever need to run a competition in your club and have no access to tournament software!

Using Small Tactical Breaks to Break Your Opponent’s Flow

Using Small Tactical Breaks to Break Your Opponent’s Flow

Fencers build up an impressive toolkit through experience and constant learning. There’s a cache of potential proactive and reactive movements that we have stored in our mental files that we pull out to try to beat our opponent. What happens when you’ve used up all of those files? What happens when you get caught off guard and don’t know how to respond to your opponent effectively at all? What happens when you just run out of ideas?

Fencing matches go so quickly. Did you know that it’ll take the average person around six minutes to read this article? That’s as long as two periods in a fencing match. It’s so quick that it can feel like it evaporates right beneath you. Sometimes it goes so quickly that you get swept up in the wave of your opponent. Luckily, there are ways you can pull yourself up and take a breath of air. 

When your opponent is a mind reader

We’ve all had these matches. The person on the other side of the strip seems to be a mind reader. Every time you attempt to take a step, she seems to always know and takes one step to counter you just a moment before you can make headway. 

It’s like she’s inside your head. 

Obviously, she’s not actually inside your head. It just seems that way. All that’s really going on is that your action isn’t quite as good as you want it to be, that your distance isn’t quite right, or that you aren’t executing the movements in quite the right way. There could be a thousand reasons that this plays out this way. None of them have to do with psychic powers. 

The result is the same as if she did have psychic powers, though. Your opponent is effectively stopping you before you can score, and once you get into that rhythm of fencing, it’s difficult to get out of it. 

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