So many times people think that fencing is just about hitting each other with swords – it’s really and truly not. In order to be of real help and use to children in terms of their long growth and development, it’s essential that you find a fencing club with a supportive environment and solid, whole child coaching.
When you’re exploring fencing clubs to enroll your child in, there are some things that you need to look for to ensure that you’re going to get the kind of outcome that you want. Most of these things you’ll be able to see right as you walk in the door, after just observing the club for a lesson.
When you enter a fencing club, you should never hear coaches shaming or harshly punishing students. Students should feel free to ask questions and to challenge what they’re being asked to do. Coaches should be consistently engaged in the learning that’s taking place, never leaving their students without direction. You should feel free to talk to fencers, parents and coaches without being intimidated or afraid of what might happen. Look for posted or distributed rules and regulations, which allow everyone to know what’s expected of them. Healthy clubs have very clear boundaries and consistent implementation of those boundaries.
Fencing really fosters healthy peer connections, particularly when the environment is structured in a way that encourages them. After a bout, there should be a sense of camaraderie with the opponent, never as sense of disdain for each other. In a great fencing club, you’ll see that friends can fight each other, then hug and go talk about what was great about the match or how to improve. Good fencing clubs are places where lifelong friendships are forged, and that starts with coaches who encourage fencers to get along. This also means that fencers are given the space to create those connections during downtime during training.
Competition is a core part of the fencing experience – whether it be there in the club or in a broader competitive sense during local, regional and even national tournaments. However that doesn’t mean that competition is the focus of fencing.
If you walk into a club and all that they talk about is the number of trophies that they’ve won or the history of competitive wins that they’ve racked up, then you’re not in the right place. There has to be balance between focusing on competition and focusing on the physical, mental and emotional improvements that come with kids fencing. That balance should be evident in the conversations that you have with coaches as well as in the things that you see on the walls and around the club. It must be about helping fencers grow and find balance, not just about getting onto the podium.
We absolutely love the picture above, as it really captures what a healthy environment looks like in a fencing club! See the feeling that you get from looking at these smiling faces, engaged in fun and physical competition without direction from adults? That same feeling is what you’ll get when you walk into a great fencing club, and it’s how you’ll know that it’s the right place for your child.