Art of Fencing, Art of Life

Category: Spirit Page 1 of 23

Starting Fencing as an Adult: Why It’s Worth It

Jere Bothelio, 2022 USA Champion in Veteran 70 Men's Epee. He started fencing as an adult

Recently we received a lot of calls from adults inquiring about starting fencing.

Is that even possible, they asked, isn’t this a skill that you must learn in your childhood to be able to be even remotely good? Can you compete as an adult?

The answer is simple – it’s never late to start fencing. And you might soon find yourself competing on local, regional, and even the national circuit.

Moreover, you can even compete against Olympians! Show me any sport, which you start at age 30, 40, 50, and beyond, and in which you can qualify to compete at the national level against World and Olympic Champions. Fencing is unique in that sense.

There are so many things that are so great and unique in fencing, from mental health to physical, that I accepted an invitation from Leon Paul and wrote an article about starting fencing as an adult. You can read it here.

[P.S., in the picture, our Adult Coach Jere Bothelio, earning his National Title in the Veterans 70 category and securing the #1 spot on the national team. Next week he competes in Croatia in the Veteran World Championship. Good luck, Jere! Jere started fencing in his adulthood, about 30 years ago. Since then, he has been on the rise.]

Ownership and Responsibility as Fencers

Ownership and Responsibility as Fencers
Silhouetted electricity pylon grid

Who owns your performance in fencing? 

How much responsibility does your coach/club/family have for your success?

What responsibility does the fencer have to their club, to their fellow fencers, to their support network, and to themselves?

In the Venn diagram of a fencing club, the fencer is necessarily at the center – aren’t they? At least, that’s the simplest way to look at it. After all, the fencer is the most visible part of the whole process as they stand up on the piste and go head to head with their opponent. The club, the family, the teammates, the coach – everyone is cheering for them to evolve and grow, becoming the best version of themselves in the sport. 

This isn’t just the case with fencing, it’s the case with all individual sports. There’s a deep support network of people who are pulling together to get this one person to where they are. It can make it seem like that individual athlete is getting all of this energy poured into them, like everyone else is building a foundation and they are the top of the mountain. 

It’s not that simple, however. It’s not even close to that linear. 

September 10 is World Fencing Day! How to Celebrate

September 10 is World Fencing Day! How to Celebrate

Fencing is not just a sport that we love, it’s a sport that we live. World Fencing Day is a fantastic moment to celebrate fencing and to join the wider fencing community. This year, it falls on September 10, 2022, and we’re incredibly excited to have a reason to share our sport!

Fencing is for Life

The message this year is “Fencing is for Life”, which is such a heartfelt message, and it’s one that fencing families can relate to. This sport gets into our blood and bodies and enlivens our spirit. Though we might only be at the fencing club or the tournament for a few hours a week, the lessons and fortitude that we gain from fencing spill out into our lives in the most positive ways. 

Fencing fills us with a bright hope and a feeling of mastery that allows us to reach higher and be more confident. There’s power in holding a sword, and there’s even more power in pursuing this sport in a supportive environment. We build community, both in our clubs and around the world. 

One of the best things about fencing is the international community that it’s a part of. In fact, World Fencing Day is celebrated all over! FIE, the international fencing body, has affiliates on every continent (except Antarctica). We are truly a global sport, with a community that is varied and incredibly diverse. 

This is a universal sport, and one that reaches everyone, no matter what age they are. Competitive fencing goes from eight years old all the way to eighty years old and beyond. When we say this sport is for life, we mean your whole life. It’s accessible, and it’s remarkable. 

Quitting for the Right Reasons, Quitting for the Wrong Reasons

Quitting for the Right Reasons, Quitting for the Wrong Reasons

“You cannot fail unless you quit.” – Abraham Lincoln.

“Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit.” – Vince Lombardi.

“Quitters don’t win and winners don’t quit.” – Elliott Gouldi

“Nothing I ever want to accomplish will ever become a reality if I always quit.” – Michelle A. Homme

If you do a quick web search for “quotes about quitting,” you’ll come up with page after page of things just like what’s up there. 

There is a deep seeded sentiment in sports culture especially that says that you must continue to keep going no matter what if you want to succeed. It’s what the Rocky movies are all about. It’s what we see constantly in motivational stories at big tournaments – how top athletes stayed the course even when they wanted to give up. 

True, there is a whole lot of good that comes from pushing past obstacles. However, there are also times that we need to step back and take a different direction. There are right and wrong times to quit. 

A healthy perspective

Fencing is a passionate sport to be involved in. For those of us who have discovered that love of the sport, it can be hard to imagine walking away from it. However, there are lots of reasons that people don’t keep fencing, and pushing them isn’t the way to keep them involved. 

We want fencers to stick with it for the right reasons, and those all start and end with taking joy in the sport. Everything flows from there! 

I recently had a conversation with a teenage fencer in our club about quitting. She walked into our office and told me that she wanted to give up the sport. In the many years that we’ve been doing this, this kind of conversation has come up plenty of times. From our point of view, it’s important that we stay impartial. Pushing someone to stick with the sport when it’s not working has never turned out to be the best thing for them or for us. We might keep them coming to classes and competing for a little while, but it never lasts. 

That doesn’t mean that every teenager who walks into our office is told to hang up their fencing mask. Instead, we engage in an honest conversation about the good and the bad reasons to quit fencing. 

The mindset has to be one of a healthy perspective that gives each person the genuine chance to reach their potential. This doesn’t just apply to fencing, but to every area of life. 

Thanking mothers for doing what they do – everything

Thanking mothers for doing what they do - everything

There’s a little anecdote about mothers that’s been going around the internet for some time, and it pops up in many variations. It goes something like this:

When I was a child, my mother would always run back into the house when we were getting ready to leave for vacation. Everyone else was in the car, but she’d always go back and spend such a long time. I never could figure out what she was doing. 

Then, I became a mother and I realized what she was doing. 


She was doing everything.

Moms are the keepers of everything. There are a thousand little things that they take care of that kids and other adults even don’t see. They are the invisible hand that makes sure there’s always food in the pantry and the magical beings that poof birthday cakes out of nowhere. 

Need a pair of socks? Mom knows where to find them.

A snack in the middle of night when you wake up with a nightmare? Mom will pull one out of a hiding spot. 

Dropped a lump of burrito on your fencing jacket while eating between bouts at competition? Mom can get the stain out before the next round.

Knee scraped? Headache? Tummy troubles? Mom will come out with a solution to ease your ailments. 

It doesn’t matter where they are or what their child needs, moms always have a way of finding a solution. It’s why we come back to them again and again, not just as children but as adults, too. Though moms can’t fix all of the things in the world that are wrong, they do always offer us hope that there is a solution.

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