Academy of Fencing Masters Blog

Art of Fencing, Art of Life

Category: Spirit Page 1 of 17

Mindset Reset – From “Have to” to “Get to” to “Want to”

Mindset Reset - From “Have to” to “Get to” to “Want to”
Beautiful flower seedling growing in the center trunk as a concept of new life

The mind is the most powerful thing that we have. In both fencing and in daily life, we have the opportunity to change our manifested world when we adapt our mindset. It’s no easy thing to do, and in the midst of a global pandemic that has changed our daily lives, it is both more important than ever before and also more difficult than ever before. 

There are a great many things that the pandemic calls on us to adapt to. We must adapt to a new physical environments and models of learning. We must adapt to wearing masks and social distancing. We must adapt to new ways of fencing, with socially distanced instruction and new modalities of practice. It’s all well and good to recognize that we have to adapt, but how do we adapt effectively?

The answer is that we must change our mindset. This doesn’t happen easily or without focus. Changing one’s mindset is a tough process, but that’s why it’s transformative! A mindset reset allows us to push ourselves in new directions and to take advantage of the opportunities that are sitting right in front of us. 

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Why Size DOESN’T Matter in Fencing

Why Size DOESN’T Matter in Fencing

A common question from parents in regards to fencing is whether the size of their child matters. This is one question with a quick answer: It doesn’t.

It does not matter if a child, or even an adult, fencer is much shorter or much taller than their opponent. The nature of fencing is such that you can be successful whether you are small in stature or whether you are large in stature. There are advantages and disadvantages to either one, and they are evenly split. No matter your level.

Size doesn’t matter!

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7 Ways to Help Kids Balance Sports and Academics in the Time of COVID

7 Ways to Help Kids Balance Sports and Academics in the Time of COVID

There has always been a careful balance between school and sports, but now the facets of this challenge have changed completely. Not only is school and sport totally different than it has been before, there is also the added struggle of navigating a crisis. Everyone is stressed in ways that they have never been stressed before. 

We must all keep moving forward, so how does that work for fencers who also have academic obligations during the time of COVID? School and sport have not stopped, then have just changed. Everyone must find a workable balance between their interests and their education. This is not something that we can teach all in one fell swoop, but there is also a pressing immediacy to this issue right now. We have to give all of the tools we can to our kids. 

Parents, we know that you are stretched right now too. Juggling working and distance learning for kids, well it is exhausting. I know this firsthand with trying to balance every aspect of my own family life. Hopefully this post will help some of you to feel less alone while providing practical solutions.

Here are seven ways to help kids balance fencing and academics during the time of coronavirus.

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A Veteran Fencer’s Guide to Training through Difficult Times

Alan Buchwald at the finals of the International Veteran Foil tournament in Torino, Italy

Alan Buchwald is a true long distance fencer. Not only has he been fencing for many years with tremendous success, but he is also fencing from a long distance thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. This veteran fencer continues to inspire me every day, and oftentimes I mention his name in discussions about persistence and goal setting.

These are difficult times for everyone. For some of us, they are definitely more difficult. 2020 has been a year that has turned the whole world upside down, and it’s easy to get caught up in all of that and forget who you are and why you’re here training. 

The older we get, the more understanding we have of how time and events work. Turbulent times have come before, but if you’ve never experienced that then this can all seem like the end of the world. I don’t think it is. I think it’s the beginning of a new and better world. One thing that I find helpful is to look towards people like Alan who have more experience and a longer vision. It keeps me going. 

Good role models matter

I recently saw a post from a very good young fencer who publicly notified the whole fencing community about her intention to quit the sport, right at the top of her career. It resonated with the fencing community because many young fencers are feeling this kind of deep uncertainty about the future. While it’s possible that her decision had nothing to do with the pandemic, the timing is impossible to ignore. It got kids messaging each other about the future in fencing being less than bright for them, that this might be a good time to step back from training and rethink fencing. The whole scenario evoked a sadness for me. I saw the influence in my own children, and in other fencers at our club. They questioned the rigor of what we did, of what we continue to do, and they were upset at the loss of a member of their community. 

It’s a situation that is difficult to navigate, for everyone. It’s both incredibly complex and also shockingly simple. Staying positive is the key. That’s simple. How to stay positive, that’s the complex part.

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Six-time Olympic Champion Valentina Vezzali on Foil, Female Empowerment, and Forward Thinking

6 Times Olympic Champion from Jesi - Valentina Vezzali.  Photo Augusto Bizzi
6 Times Olympic Champion from Jesi – Valentina Vezzali. Photo Augusto Bizzi

Getting to the top doesn’t happen in isolation. Though we are all feeling the isolation right now, for fencers we know that it takes a community to create a champion. During our in-depth interview with fencing dynamo Valentina Vezzali, we dived deep into what it means to get to the top of the fencing world.

Valentina Vezzali is a champion’s champion. With six Olympic gold medals, one silver, and two bronze beginning in Atlanta in 1996, she is undoubtedly one of the most accomplished fencers in modern history. She was the first foilist ever to win individual gold at three consecutive Olympics, in 2000, 2004, and 2008. Beyond the Olympics, she holds sixteen gold medals at the World Fencing Championships and thirteen gold medals at the European Championships. Beyond fencing, she is a twice published author and served as a member of the Italian Parliament.

What comes from this interview is the importance of inclusion, of the possibilities when we pursue women’s empowerment. Vezzali is so special not just because of her skills on the strip, but also because of her vision for what fencing, and the world beyond fencing, can be if we commit to making change. A fundamental part of her story is her burning desire and her unbeatable willpower. She is driven to push her own limits, whether in fencing or in any area of her life. These are the qualities that you need to have to succeed. Don’t settle for the status quo, always strive to do better! It’s a theme that we see again and again in her words.

A special thank you to Riccardo Calvi for helping us with the translation to and from Italian.

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