Academy of Fencing Masters Blog

Art of Fencing, Art of Life

Category: Rules and Regulations Page 1 of 7

How to Strategize Regional Path Qualification in Fencing

How to Strategize Regional Path Qualification in Fencing

Regional path qualification for Fencing Summer Nationals is an important path to the big competition. It’s a path that offers what I think is one of the most accessible ways to get to Fencing Summer Nationals, and it’s a way that I encourage my fencers to pursue.

Strategizing for regional qualification is important! To make it to Fencing Summer Nationals is no easy task, and it’s one that requires thinking ahead. If you plan things out smartly and with the help of some good advice, well you can make everything not only possible, but a lot easier. 

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Fencing Safety Rules [Infographic]

Fencing Safety Rules Infographic

Fencing is a very safe sport, actually one of the safest. But as with any physical activity, especially those that involve swinging swords, it is up to fencers and everyone else in the venue to ensure the safety.

In the past we extensively wrote about fencing safety rules and measures and I’ve decided to convert this post into infographic.

If you want to print and hang it in your club, please let me know and we will send you a high resolution printable version.

How to Qualify for 2020 USA Fencing Summer Nationals [Infographic]

How to Qualify for the 2020 USA Fencing Summer Nationals - Infographic

Fencing season 2019-2020 had started! Which means you should start thinking about how you want your fencing season to go. Every year there are some changes to the rules and qualifying paths for USA Fencing Summer Nationals, not to mention that fencers progress through the age divisions and previous year path might be not relevant anymore. 2020 USA Fencing Summer Nationals are not exception.

This year there are not that many changes in the qualification process for USA Fencing Summer Nationals, but there are some changes to the eligibility and format for some divisions and the youth 12 and 14 events. In the previous post we covered all these changes.

To summarize these changes:

  1. All initial seeding will be based on national points, which is applicable for Division 1 and Junior events
  2. Division 2/3 eligibility will be based on the classification at the time of registration for the appropriate event at the nationals.
  3. Youth 12 and Youth 14 events will have an 80% cut off from the pools
  4. The maximum DE table will be 256 fencers

Everything you see on this infographic is information you’ll find on the USA Fencing website and in Athlete Handbook. We’re simply presenting it in a format that is visual and hopefully easy to follow.

Click here to view the updated infographics for USA Fencing Summer Nationals 2020 qualification.

Please share with your fencing friends on social media! Spread the word about how to qualify for USA Fencing Summer Nationals, and see you in Louisville, Kentucky next July!

Essential USA Fencing Tournament Changes for the 2019-2020 Season

Essential USA Fencing Tournament Changes for the 2019-2020 Season

There are some big changes coming to fencing tournaments for United States fencers this season. Most of the changes will affect the USA Fencing Summer Nationals that will happen in Louisville, Kentucky on June 28-July 7, 2020.  

While it might feel like it’s a little bit too soon to be talking about what’s going to happen with fencing next summer, given that this season has just started, it’s better to know ahead of time than to get behind! 

New rule changes

Fencing rules change every single year. This is because there is a belief that we can always make things better, and that’s of course true. 

The USFA Fencing Board met back in February during the Junior Olympics in Denver, and during their meeting they talked about a lot of things, one of which was how the USFA will improve its tournament structure next year. Every year, the USFA adds new updates to its existing rules to make things better for fencers who compete in USFA sponsored tournaments. 

Frankly, with some changes it will take space to make sense of whether they will be good or bad changes. How this might play out is something that I’ll explore below in depth, though the reality is that it just takes time. I find myself arguing internally about how I think these will unfold, which makes me all the more excited to talk about the changes and to see how they change fencing in the next year and beyond. 

Here are the major changes coming to fencing for the 2019-2020 season, as well as my commentary on what I think they mean. 

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At the Crossroads of Fencing and Freedom

Race Imboden Kneeling - At the Crossroads of Fencing and Freedom

I have a tough time wrapping my head around where sport and sociopolitical issues come together. Should they be totally disconnected? Is there a place for taking a stand for right and wrong among the points and competitions that we spend so much of our life participating in?

This is an issue that has been weighing on me lately. I feel sure it’s an issue that’s weighing on just about everyone right now. There are always lots of things going on in the world, but right now it’s hard to ignore the divisiveness and hurt that is running rampant all around us.

The more I think about it, the more I believe that it would be hypocritical to separate sport from the social and political issues that are swirling around them. We are not disconnected. Whether we like it or not, we are a part of something bigger. 

It was never just about sport

Sport was, is and always will be connected to politics. 

If this weren’t the case, how could we define the Olympic Games boycotts of 1980 and 1984? What does it mean when athletes of one country refuse to compete against athletes in another country due to political conflicts between the two? 

You don’t even have to look backwards, you can look at today. Why do we count the medals of each country? As if somehow this were only about athletes when it is clear that the political and social structures of the countries are what’s really competing for superiority. Why does the country’s medal count mean anything if this isn’t political? 

There are countries who are not recognized by the rest of the world, who compete under a unified flag at the Olympics. Borders and boundaries that are determined by war and politics spill over into international sport. We saw war spill over with tragic results in 1972 when eleven coaches and athletes from Israel were murdered at the Olympics in Munich after the political turmoil with Palestine spilled over into sport. Russian doping in the 2018 Olympics was undoubtedly political.

I would even dare to argue that the very fact that we play the anthem of the winning country is a political thing in and of itself. 

If this is the case and sports are political, then let’s explore what that means. When a country’s athletes win, and they rise to the top of that podium, then it is logically appropriate for them not only to wear the country’s colors on their uniforms, but also to say that they represent what that country is. What it is at its heart, what it means to be from that place. 

In Nazi Germany, when the anthem was played at the Berlin Olympic Games in 1936, the athletes raised their right hand in the Nazi salute to hail Hitler. Was this not political?

One of the beauties of the United States is freedom. This is the defining mark of America, the thing that sets this country apart more than anything else. So when an athlete, who is representing this country with the highest level of pride, rises to the podium, he or she is representing not only themselves and their nation, but the ideals which this country stands for. It is their responsibility, not just their right, to stand as a citizen who is representative of the truest values of the United States.

How we draw lines

Rules are what holds sport together. They hold fencing together. They are also what holds society together. They are created by people. 

If the IOC, which is a body of people, have in the past allowed such harsh things as we talked about above to go unpunished, then how is it not hypocritical to mark protest with such a black mark? If a boycott because of a war or a Nazi salute is acceptable because an entire country went political, then free speech should be acceptable, should it not? We cannot say that one is ok and then deny the right of a country’s athlete to express what her/his country stands for – freedom of speech, freedom of opinion, and freedom of expression. 

The lines become arbitrary, and that is not good for anyone involved. We cannot brush one under the rug and demonize another. 

Look back, leap forward

Today we applaud the great athletes of the past, like Muhammad Ali, Tommie Smith, and John Carlos. More than just applaud them, we revere them. In the 1960’s, these athletes had the courage to use their platform to raise critical social issues, despite a huge personal cost. We call them heroes. 

Do we really need fifty years of time to pass before we understand that what Race Imboden and Gwendolyn Berry did at the Pan America Games is what we would expect a free American to do? 

We raise the flag and play the anthem of the country when its athletes win at the Games. The whole world is watching the glory and the pride these athletes have brought to their home nation. In my opinion, it is not only the Stars and Stripes that represent America, but also an athlete standing at the top of the podium who isn’t afraid to be American. Who isn’t afraid to express his feelings towards global issues. In a world that reflects American ideals, he should not be afraid of losing everything. The freedom to be open and push back, to speak out, this is what America is to me. 

I do not say here, in this post, what my personal view on any political or social issue is. I certainly have them and I am vocal about them in my personal and private mediums where I represent myself. Here at AFM, we serve the entire community. We are united by the love of the sport and undivided by any facet of who we are (political leanings, race, gender, etc.). 

Here, my opinion is only about one thing: did Race Imboden have a right to take a knee at the Pan American Games?

I think that, in representing a country, you inherit what this country represents. In America, that is freedom. To express that freedom, in any way, is as patriotic for an American as waving the flag.

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