Art of Fencing, Art of Life

Cheering against your Fencing Clubmates: DON’T DO IT!

The fencing team is ready to cheer up each other during fencing competitionWatching a fencing bout is exciting! I mean, come on, it’s basically a modern-day sword fight, who wouldn’t get pulled into the action? We’ve written previous posts on cheering for your fellow fencers, and of course it’s encouraged to support your children, clubmates, and friends in their bouts. But what about when you’re watching a bout and BOTH fencers are from your club?

The short answer is this: never cheer against someone from your club. Maybe one of the fencers is your best friend and you’re tempted to throw your support behind them. Well, think first how the other fencer might feel if you start cheering against them. Maybe it’s even your sibling—it’s still best to remain impartial while you watch. If you find it hard to do so, simply walk away. It’s better to skip watching this bout than to risk disrespectful or inappropriate behavior.

Have you ever seen what coaches do when two of their fencers face off? They simply walk away without cheering for anyone. Can you imagine how unacceptable it would be for a coach to cheer for one fencer over another, or to even seem to be doing this? The other fencer would most likely feel completely betrayed and dejected. On top of the hurt feelings, this behavior would likely have a huge impact on the outcome of the bout.

Well, it’s just as inappropriate and unacceptable for fencers from the same club to cheer against each other. Parents, watch for this behavior in your children and use it as a learning opportunity. Put yourself in the situation of the opposite fencer for a second, and you can feel empathy for being cheered against. Your clubmates are your clubmates through good and bad, and you should stand behind all of them. Not to mention that when you attend these tournaments, you represent yourselves and your club, and cheering against your own club just downright looks bad.

As a general rule, tournament organizers try to avoid this situation. They typically don’t assign to the same pool fencers that belong to the same organization, but sometimes these situations are unavoidable. In addition, in a competition with many fencers of the same age, skill level, or gender that are all from the same club, it’s likely that teammates will meet during DEs. Depending on how the pools work out, fencers cannot be certain they won’t see some familiar and friendly faces on the strip.

So when you find yourself watching your clubmates face off, watch impartially and make sure not to cheer against either side. You don’t want to upset your friends or worse, cause one of your clubmates to fence poorly because of your cheering. When you find yourself facing a clubmate, you’ll be glad for your teammates to stay impartial too!

Let skill decide—not cheering.


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  1. Fencing mom

    I would like to know your opinion on a specific situation my son experienced recently. During DE, one of his friends (who belongs to another club) fenced against one of his clubmates. My son didn’t openly cheer for either one, but at the end of the bout (which his friend lost) he walked up to him and offered his support. His coach was not happy about this. I am interested to know your take. Thank you.

    • Igor Chirashnya

      Hi Fencing mom,
      This is quite a common situation and with more your son fences, more people from other clubs will become his friends. My take is simple: during the bout keep as much neutral as possible, congratulate a teammate after the win (wholeheartedly!) and then go and support your friend from other club. Nothing wrong with that. This way your child shows reasonable and real support for all parties involved in a respectful way.

  2. Tina

    What happens when you cheer for your child when he or she is fencing their club mate? Isn’t that a normal thing to do bc it’s your child?

    • Igor Chirashnya

      Hi Tina,
      I strongly advise against it. The same principles apply. If this is difficult for you then it’s better to take a distance from the bout or even leave the venue and return after the bout ends.

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