Art of Fencing, Art of Life

Do Not Hang Noodles On My Ears – What Did RUSSIAN FENCING COACH SAY?

Dont put noodles on my ears - An English-to-English Translation of Russian Fencing Coach Speech

Drawing: Kseniya Bulavko, AFM talented fencing mom!

If you have been in fencing for more than 10 minutes, then you’ve probably noticed that it is dominated by Russian speaking coaches who came from the big old Soviet Union and who share many similar traits and habits. Generally speaking, all Russian fencing coaches speak pretty much the same.

What did he say?

Have you ever wondered what your Russian coach means when they say something to you in English? Then you’ve come to the right place.

You can praise yourself for learning to adapt to the heavy accent by mastering the skill of super fast, simultaneous mental transcribing of phonetic pronunciations of each word along with mental spelling and then saying it (in your mind) correctly. Yet, you find yourself again and again clueless as to what your coach just said you in “plain English!” And heaven help you if you show your fencing coach that you have no clue what he wants! Fear no more!

AFM Comprehensive English-to-English guide to Russian

will save you in your times of need!

Finally my Master’s degree in Russian philology and literature blends nicely with my passion for fencing 🙂

Your Fencing coach said… What he really means…
Do not hang noodles on my ears! Listen, there is no chance you could have done 100 push-ups in less than a minute unless you are Race Imboden. So, please, stop hanging noodles on my ears.

Translation: Always tell the truth!


Let’s go back to our sheeps.

I see, it is a very interesting story about why the monkey bars in your school are too high and how your parents think that you have a great potential as violist and your sister actually got a medal in gymnastics, but the truth is that I do not care about any of this, so please let’s focus on a simple answer to a simple question – Why you didn’t complete this task?

Translation: “Explain  from the beginning again”

When a lobster whistles on the mountain. In Russia where there are lobsters there are no mountains nearby, and where there are mountains there are no lobsters around, so it takes quite a time for a lobster to crawl to the mountain to whistle…

Translation: Not in the near future

Let’s show them Kuzma’s mother. You don’t know who Kuzma is or why his mom is so dangerous. But when your Russian fencing coach threatens to show somebody Kuzma’s mom, they better be worried! She is no joke!

Translation: Do your best!

I ate a dog on that! Your coach knows how “hard” you work. When he was your age, after 3 hours of hard training his coach gave him a 100 pound kettlebell to lift for the next half hour as a cool down. Then he walked 5 miles home when it was snowing and only -25 degrees centigrade…

Translation: I have a lot of experience in that!

After the rain on Thursday. First, the good news – there is no rain on Thursday. Trust me, I checked. Not this Thursday or the next one. Just know that you shouldn’t  bother your coach with nonsense questions again.

Translation: Probably never.

Eggs do not teach chickens. He knows better, because he really ate a dog on it. (oops, looks like I felt into my own trap!)

Translation: “Don’t teach your teacher”.

Don’t make an elephant from a fly! Don’t worry, you are not a fly. Nor are you an elephant in your coach’s eyes.

Translation: “It’s not a big deal, do not exaggerate!”

Are you counting crows?


Did you just clap your ears?

Both are essentially the same – you didn’t listen to him and he is probably about to punish you with 100 more push-ups anyway.

Translation: “Listen carefully next time!”

Are you professor of sour shchi? (Russian cabbage soup) If you make yourself out to be more smart than you actually are, your coach may smile in his mustache (did you notice Russian coaches love mustaches?) and think that you’d better cook some soup rather than try to teach him fencing.

Translation: Be professional in what you do

Show them where the lobster spends his winter. Now you have a choice, either you show them Kuzma’s mom or where the lobster spends his winter. Either way just do your best!

Translation: Be strong and perform well.

Take  yourself in your hands When your coach was in your age and was nervous before a competition, he always took himself into his own hands, and it worked for him.

Translation: Pull yourself together.

I don’t like galloping across Europe He spent a lot of time travelling all of Europe on different competitions (do you know how many countries are in Europe?!), and he has few fond memories. Now it is time to settle in one place…

Translation: I prefer not to do something haphazardly.

Don’t jump out of your pants! To accurately jump out of pants is something that only Baron Munchausen can do, and this trick is similar to pulling the hair stunt. So don’t even try!

Translation: Chill down, don’t be overexcited!

I see a raisin in you! Apparently after Russians discovered raisins they saw them in many places.

Translation: There is something special in your character!

“Kill the worm” before training! Don’t even dare to have a big hamburger with big plate of fries – in Russian sport nutrition philosophy this kills not only worms but people as well.

Translation: Eat only a light snack before training.

All your  work  went under a dog’s tail! You know what is under the dog’s tail, and you don’t want your work to be there. So better start from the beginning and do it right!

Translation: You worked for nothing!

Now see? Suddenly it ALL MAKES SENSE! Doesn’t it? You might want to print this chart out just for reference and tuck it into your jacket during practice. Be careful though, as your coach might not be too happy if he sees it, leading to more push-ups and potentially tens of other phrases that we may cover in the future posts.

While we take the sport of fencing very seriously, we believe that a sense of humor is healthy for the soul. Happy April Fool’s Day!


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  1. Mike

    Great blog post….many of these are just an attempt by the native Russian speakers to translate famous Russian proverbs into English….which often becomes “lost in translation”. However, some have quite decent parallel equalivalents (but typically they aren’t aware of these).

    For example:

    Russian proverb “Don’t make and elephant out of a fly” can be directly translated to the English proverb of “Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill”

    Also, typically Russia is not home to “lobsters” but rather crawfish….so those are typically the animals mentioned in proverbs.

    • Irina Chirashnya

      Thanks Mike for the comment! That’s exactly right, so we hope this posts helps to those lost in translation and gets few smiles in a process. And I would bet that most Russians will translate “рак” as lobster rather than crawfish, including myself 🙂 And since this post was published on April 1st, I hope we succeeded to decently contribute to the world’s level of laugh.

  2. Chris

    This is great. The two I, vaguely, remember are

    “If you are like a mushroom get in the bucket” which was later explained by helpful Russian teammates as being similar to “birds of a feather flock together”

    “Your father was not a glassmaker” was spoken to me when I was blocking my coaches view of something, means “you are a better door than window.” In this case I like the Russian one better.

    • Irina Chirashnya

      Hi Chris,
      Thanks! With the help of our readers we will be able to prepare a comprehensive dictionary for the next year April Fools!

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