Art of Fencing, Art of Life

Category: Rules and Regulations Page 2 of 9

AFM Safe Shield – Returning to Training Guidelines & Plan

AFM Safe Shield - Returning to Training Guidelines & Plan

The “AFM Safe Shield” Returning to Training Guidelines are based on CDC health considerations and tools for operating during COVID-19, California schools’ guidelines, CDC Considerations for Youth Sports and Summer Camps,  and Santa Clara County’s Public Health update and restrictions

Fencing is traditionally about swords, but now we are in a time when we need to act as a shield for our fencing community.

The last several months have been a whirlwind of change for everyone. Lockdowns, quarantine, social distancing, and a hefty dose of everyone feeling trapped and overwhelmed. Reopening is something that we all want to do, but we also want to do it safely. 

The problem is, most of us in the fencing world aren’t health experts. The good news is that we don’t have to be. There are a whole host of guidelines and structures that have been published to help businesses create safety plans that will make reopening fencing clubs as safe as possible. 

We’ve pulled information from the CDC, the government of California, and the Santa Clara County Health Department to create a plan for reopening fencing clubs, adapting it to the specifics of the fencing club training. Of course, there is always a risk and no system is perfect. However we have worked with experts and expert advice to come up with procedures that will minimize the risk of spreading the virus while also creating an environment where fencing training can continue. AFM is only working in clear accordance with the safety procedures laid out by Santa Clara County, all governmental restrictions and guidance, and what has been set out by Santa Clara County Schools. 

AFM continues to keep the wellbeing of our fencers, their families, and our coaching team as our highest priority. 

Flexibility, input, and accommodation 

Safety is what matters, whether it is in small groups classes or in private lessons as we move towards a new normal. The AFM Safe Shield Plan brings together the power of leading experts, parent’s suggestions, and the shared responsibility between us all.

AFM is adopting the hybrid approach for training our fencers. Members have several options for training with AFM. 

  • Small group training with precautions
  • Indoor or outdoor classes and private lessons
  • Zoom training
  • Any combination of the above

Everyone has their own considerations for safety and their own concerns about exposure. Whatever decision each family makes about their training, we support all of them. Accommodations and flexibility from us are a central tenet of our philosophy, especially now. Whatever we can do for fencing families, whether it is within these policies or not, we would love to hear it. All fencers deserve to have individual goals for training in fencing, no matter if they are in the club or training remotely. Growth is possible and still so important!

The input of families is a critical part of this process. This is a living document. 

How Postponing the 2020 Olympics will Affect Fencing – First Thoughts

How Postponing the 2020 Olympics will Affect Fencing - First Thoughts

This week, the International Olympic Committee announced that the 2020 Olympic Games will be postponed. The games will retain their name, the 2020 Olympic Games, but they will not be held until 2021.

This move is unprecedented in the history of the Olympic Games. Since they began, there have only been three Olympics that have been canceled. One in 1916, due to World War I, then two in 1940 and 1944 due to World War II. Two other times the Games were disrupted by world events, first the Moscow Games in 1980 that were boycotted by the Western Bloc, and then the Los Angeles Games in 1984 that were boycotted by the Eastern Bloc of countries. There have been a few other smaller boycotts, such as when Nazi Germany hosted the Games in 1936. Other than that, the Olympic Games have been held as planned and have been a show of world unity.

Postponing the Olympics is good

First of all, I have to give great kudos to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for postponing the Games. It shows what a fantastic movement this is. This decision communicates the commitment of the IOC to the safety of  everyone – the athletes, the organizers, the spectators, and the support personnel. The Olympic Games should bring joy and unity of people versus fear and concerns. It’s a great thing.

The Dilemma of “Going Easy” on a Fencing Opponent

The Dilemma of “Going Easy” on a Fencing Opponent

Is there ever a time when it’s appropriate “going easy” on your fencing opponent? The knee-jerk reaction might be to say “Of course not! Always fence your best!” It’s not really that simple though. 

Complicated situations

Fencing is a small community. Even in competition, we can see that there are nuances to various situations. Here are a few that might not seem so straightforward.

  1. What if you are fencing a clearly inexperienced opponent in a pool round at a local competition?  
  2. Sometimes in a school competition you might come across an opponent who is also a friend that you know is having a hard time, should you let them win to make them feel better? 
  3. What about in a simple practice, should you let an inexperienced fencer win just to boost their confidence?
  4. If you have already qualified for Summer Nationals and you end up fencing your friend who needs to win this bout to qualify, should you let them beat you?

These are some complex, nuanced situations. It is not always just a matter of going in and getting the point in order to win the bout. We are all humans and we would hope that we as fencers care about our opponents as fellow human beings.

The question is, well what exactly is caring?

Which Fencing Weapon is the Most Prestigious?

Which fencing weapon is the most prestigious

A common question that I get from fencing parents is this one: “Which fencing weapon is the most prestigious?”

It makes sense in a way. It’s a kind of logical question when you think about it, because these people don’t know a whole lot about fencing, and so they’re trying to make sense of something that they don’t have a reference for. They know that there are three different weapons. They know that their child is going to have to choose one. They want to guide their kids in the right direction, but they don’t know at all how to do it. So they ask questions that make sense to them. It’s a good thing.

Which one is it? Is it epee, foil, or sabre? Which fencing weapon is the most prestigious? It’s a big question that there must be an answer to! People who are new to fencing rightly want to have some understanding. 

What the WADA Ban on Russia Means for Fencing in the 2020 Olympics

What the WADA Ban on Russia Means for Fencing in the 2020 Olympics

Recently we saw a big step taken by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in the fight against performance enhancing substances in international sport. 

This is a hugely controversial topic. Everyone seems to have an opinion on it, and those opinions can be shouted loudly as well as whispered quietly. We’re not here to wade into the fray of who’s right and what the ramifications should be, we just want to let our readers know what’s going on and how it relates to fencing. This is an area that not everyone knows a lot about, and so making sense of it can be tough. We’re here to help you make sense of it!

This is going to be a huge topic of conversation going into the 2020 Olympics next summer, but remember that the ramifications of these decisions by WADA reach out to all international competitions. 

What brought on the ban for Russia

It doesn’t take a great deal for an individual athlete to get banned from competing in international sport. A single positive test result that is verified for a banned substance is enough to get you removed from the competition. The consequences get bigger every time you’re caught doping, escalating all the way to a lifetime ban from international competition.

What makes the Russian case unique is that it involved a systematic doping policy that was driven by the officials behind sport in that country. We are not talking about a single individual or a group of individuals who did this, we’re talking about an organization.

This whole thing is nothing new. The Russian team was censured for this same reason in the 2018 Olympics in Korea. Many athletes did not compete under the Russian flag. When the hockey team won gold, they and members of the crowd actually drowned out the sound of the Olympic theme when it was playing – that’s how loud they were singing! The country also had many of its medals stripped following the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia because of doping. 

The allegations of state-sponsored, organized doping by Russia go back to 2012 and a lab that purportedly altered hundreds of test results. The whole situation has become highly politicized, with the Russian government offering a feisty and sustained defense. 

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