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Category: Coaching Page 2 of 15

Fencing Coach Perspective on Importance of Private Lessons during the Quarantine

AFM Coaches Dima Chumak and Slava Zingerman
Coaches Dima Chumak (right) and Slava Zingerman at Summer Nationals 2019

By: Coach Dima Chumak

Dear Parents of Fencers!

      On behalf of all fencing coaches, I would like to thank you for supporting your child in keeping on learning the Olympic sport of fencing during this challenging time. Your commitment and dedication are truly amazing and inspiring.

      Our team has been working a lot to find the best solutions to conduct group and private lessons in new circumstances. Online fencing lessons are new to everyone, so we are all constantly and continuously learning (personally, I am far from being a computer geek -)). As you all know, we have already held a month of group classes/lessons on ZOOM platform which proved to be efficient and cool/fun! However, each student has his/her strengths and weaknesses as well as unique talents which often require an individual approach to develop one’s own pattern.

      Let me point out one aspect of fencing lessons from the perspective of a coach. As you may have noticed, each professional fencing club has walls with mirrors in its premises which are used to let sportsmen see their reflection and fencing positions. Nonetheless, the initial purpose of mirrors was to enable a coach to observe students not only from the front perspective but also from different angles. During online lessons, cameras to some extent replicate mirrors by allowing coaches to clearly see students’ movements and positions as during face-to-face lessons. Without any doubt, this option provides a great potential to conduct not only group classes but also individual ones to enhance fencers’ skills.

       You may be wondering what indisputable advantages of individual lessons are. Throughout my years of fencing/coaching, I have always been convinced that only individual/private lessons give a chance to adopt general strategical fencing tactics to unique individual abilities of each student. It allows to focus on developing most efficient systematic and simultaneously  quite flexible lesson plans to meet needs of each individual student. 20-minute online private lessons will be an essential part of a sport life for those young ambitious fencers who strive for new achievements, tournaments and victories!

       Eventually, life will go back to normal. We are all eagerly waiting to come back to our AFM premises and meet with our students. We miss them all! Hopefully, it will be soon! Meanwhile, I would like to encourage those who are willing to pursue new goals, enhance fencing skills, keep fit and motivated, to sign up for private lessons even during this virus-infected time. Show must go on! 🙂

Stay safe and healthy!

Your coach,

Dima Chumak    

Maximizing Online Fencing Training Part 2 – A Guide for Fencers and Fencing Parents

Maximizing Online Fencing Sessions Part 2 - A Guide for Fencers and Fencing Parents

Screen time has become fencing time in the bold new world of coronavirus with online fencing training. It’s a time that is unusual and challenging, but it’s one that we know we can get through if we work together and stay positive. Fencing is a sport that is remarkable in all of its adaptability, and today we are pushing the boundaries of that adaptability. 

That all sounds well and good, but how do fencing families take the most advantage of online fencing classes during the time of COVID-19? Many schools are offering online classes, and for those fencers who don’t have access to online classes from their own school, some fencing clubs have opened online classes to fencers who still want instruction even when their clubs are not offering socially distanced options. 

When you do participate in online fencing training , things are a bit different than when you participate in in-person fencing classes. The platform is different, and so there are different ways to maximize the benefit. Here are our tips for making online fencing training work out for fencers at home. 

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Maximizing Online Fencing Sessions Part 1 – A Guide for Fencing Clubs and Coaches

Maximizing Online Fencing Sessions - A Guide for Fencing Clubs and Coaches

This is a brave new world that we are living in. It’s one that none of us has any experience with, not even the experts that are our fencing coaches and fencing club owners. It can be daunting to try to translate the real and in person experience of teaching fencing to this new age of social distancing. 

The truth is that fencing training has been basically unchanged for hundreds of years. You have an experienced coach. You have a fencer who wants to learn. You put them together in a room and let the magic happen. Being in the same room has been a necessary requirement for learning fencing since its inception. Now, we cannot be in the same room anymore. As such, there is no playbook for this scenario. You can’t pick up a book by Aldo Nadi and learn how to effectively teach fencing through screens.

We have learned a lot in the almost month long quarantine that we have been under, and our coaches have done a whole lot of learning in real time through our online fencing programs

Here’s what we’ve learned so far, and what we want to share with fencing clubs and coaches to help you maximize the benefits of online learning. 

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Talking Fencing and Coronavirus with Michael Aufrichtig, Fencing Head Coach at Columbia University

Talking Fencing and Coronavirus with Michael Aufrichtig, Head Fencing Coach at Columbia University

AFM recently had the amazing opportunity to sit down (virtually) with Michael Aufrichtig, the head coach of the Columbia University fencing team. He lives and coaches in New York City, which is of course the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. Through our interview, we were able to talk about training during the coronavirus pandemic, how competitive fencing is going to be potentially affected by all of this, and to gain some insight into the uncertainty for fencers who are pursuing their college fencing dream during a global crisis.

We cannot say enough how honored we were to be able to get this insight from one of the top fencing coaches in the United States. If you are not familiar with Michael, then after you read this interview we highly recommend that you watch his TED talk about his innovative coaching style, which is incredibly unusual in fencing. He is nothing short of a titan in the collegiate sport today, and his insight is invaluable to all fencers.

Thank you Michael for your time and your insight! It is of a great help to the fencing community in this time of uncertainty.

(When the Zoom call opens, Michael is sitting in what appears to be the fencing training facility at Columbia University.)

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Saving Fencing During the Coronavirus Pandemic – How Fencing Clubs Can Make Online Classes Work

How Fencing Clubs Can Make Online Classes Work

We are right now experiencing one of the most extraordinary moments in modern history. The coronavirus pandemic has totally changed the way that we live our lives, and that change has fundamentally threatened fencing as we know it. I am not being dramatic here, I am being realistic. Yes, things will go back to something resembling normal eventually. Of course that will happen. In the meantime, we risk losing not only the progress that our fencers have made, but also potentially the clubs that train them. Make no mistake – fencing as we know it is something that we have to protect right now.

What are fencing clubs doing to be safe? What can fencing clubs do to maintain our sport while staying safe? What can fencing clubs do to keep the spark in the eyes of their fencers?

We can only share with you what we’re doing to help save fencing in the United States and keep our fencers engaged based on our experience. I want to share with the fencing community the steps that we did so that any other club in the United States or anywhere else in the world can do what we have done. Anyone affected by COVID-19 can follow these steps and continue to train their members so that we will feel as little effect of the quarantine as possible under these circumstances. 

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