After months of slow upticks in coronavirus cases, it looks as though the winter is bringing with it a new wave of cases and a new reality for us to face. Safety has to be our priority, and so we find ourselves having to step back and restock how fencing training will go forward.
This process has been long and exhausting, but we are in it together. Fencing is helping so many to get through the hardest parts of this pandemic – it is a touchstone that helps us to make sense of a world that keeps changing. COVID restrictions are coming back with a vengeance as numbers rise, and we have to find ways to keep fencing. We cannot lose faith.
Think like a fencer amid new reality
Perhaps the hardest part of all of this is the inability to know what to do. As fencers, we like to know exactly what is going on and how to move forward with our training. We have come to rely on the regularity of our classes and our competition season to craft goals that move us to where we want to go. Though we cannot control the outcome of a match, we have always been able to control our preparation.
That’s not something that we can do right now. We can’t know that we’ll be able to fence in our clubs or go to tournaments. We can’t know that there will be major competitions to prepare for, or when things might return to some kind of normal. We can’t even count on consistent forward progress.
In response to the changing realities of the pandemic, the State of California has returned to the most limiting tier of COVID restrictions. While under the purple guidelines, most indoor operations need to be moved outdoors in our county.
So we’ll go outside whenever the weather permits and to Zoom whenever it rains or gets too cold.
We may not be able to control the coronavirus numbers in our state, but we can follow the guidelines and maximize the safety of our communities. We can do this while we still train, because no matter what we will keep fencing. For our school that means that in-person classes are still on for now. Our classes are not stopping, not a bit. We are moving our classes outside to comply with the increased restrictions. In the event of rain, students will zoom into those same classes. We will once again adapt, and the good thing to know is that we are participating in practical solutions that will slow the spread of coronavirus. Zoom fencing classes never stopped, so they will continue on as scheduled. We are moving the way that we can move and controlling what we can control.
In this way, we are doing the same thing that a fencer does in order to prepare for competition. We know the safety protocols, we know the possibilities. We prepare for whatever may be coming our way on the strip from the opponent. Whatever our opponent does, we will meet them with the best possible preparation and mold ourselves to the needs of the match. No matter what the match looks like.
Over the last five months, since we first reopened our doors in-person students, AFM has not experienced a single case of COVID. Not one. That’s a testament to the digilgence of our coaching staff and the conscientiousness of our students. Fencing training works in these times, and we need it more than ever to help maintain goals and stability.
We must think like a fencer thinks during a match, with heart and intellect as well as adaptability. Those lessons we learn in this sport apply to us everywhere.
Short term and long term solutions
There is more good news. Recent vaccine developments mean that, though we aren’t there yet, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It will be a while before we get there, but there is hope. In the new year, we have every reason to believe there will be a turnaround, for many reasons. The trends are tough right now, and our hearts are with everyone affected by coronavirus, but we are putting our trust in the experts and are hopeful for trends in a better direction. Lockdown gets harder with every day, but we are strong together.
This pandemic reality is not forever, though it might seem like forever. It might seem like we can never get out and that things will keep cycling. They won’t. When we follow the experts and make the necessary adjustments, we can slow the spread and keep our communities safe. We must think about this time as a short term reality, and with that we must be careful not to unthinkingly create long term issues for our fencing community.
Our students rely on fencing to give them an essential purpose during this tough time. We encourage you to continue to train, keeping your students enrolled and attending in whatever form we are able to offer. This training time is valuable for progress, for physical health, and for mental health. There will be future fencing competitions and future fencing goals to achieve.
This next point applies to fencing clubs across the United States, including ours. Our coaches rely on you to continue to participate in fencing. Our coaches rely on your steadfastness and continued enrollment. Good fencing coaches are not easy to find, and we are so fortunate to have them here to train our students. Many fencing coaches are here on work visas, so every class fencers attend helps them to stay here and keep teaching. There is so much at stake in this pandemic reality.