The sport of fencing continues to grow, and the good news is that means there are more and more ways to watch fencing bouts online.
In the last few years, there has been an increase in high quality videos of competitions especially on both stand alone websites and social media platforms. In the last several years, these channels have uploaded thousands of bout recordings and other fencing videos that have become a huge resource for athletes looking to study film and hone their craft.
It should be noted that the best way for fencers to learn about the sport is through in-person training with respected coaches and accredited organizations. Nothing replaces the personal touch of having a coach give you instructions on what to do and how to do it. While watching footage of bouts is no substitute for participating in them, studying film from these events is an opportunity to learn from and about opponents, Olympic athletes, and even yourself.
How watching bouts helps your fencing
If you simply watch a bout from beginning to end, you’re likely missing a learning opportunity and wasting the limited time you have. Constantly pausing, rewinding, and replaying sections of bout footage are necessary functions for studying fencing through film. If you do not pay careful attention to the bouts you watch, then you’re not going to have a chance to closely study the fencers’ techniques and adjustments.
Studying the small details will help you understand what separates the competitors from victory and defeat. Write down what you see, what interests you, and perhaps most importantly, what confuses or surprises you. Making and reviewing notes will keep you aware of your findings which will keep you focused on what you learned when competing in a bout yourself.
Some fencers benefit from studying videos more than others. Whatever works is what works – don’t overthink it. One athlete might pick up on something in training that another athlete would discover while reviewing tape. That being said, studying film is a skill that you can develop in order to expand your cache of training supports.
Always keep in the front of your mind that seeing a bout and being in a bout are two very different things. Studying spatial awareness, depth perception, and execution are totally different experiences when watching a bout as opposed to competing in one. Use footage of bouts to supplement your fundamentals, find your weaknesses, and exploit those of your opponents.
Best sources of fencing content
USA Fencing is the national governing body for fencing in the United States. Almost all of the videos that they upload to their website are bouts between fencers from USA Fencing sanction competitions, which is why this is such a valuable resource for athletes.
Their content covers many competitions which include the North American and Pan American Championships as well as the Foil Grand Prix and Saber World Cup tournaments the USA Fencing organizes. You’ll also find bouts of young fencers and recordings from the Junior Olympics competitions on their platforms. Though they host a variety of content on their official site, USA Fencing regularly uploads their new bouts to their YouTube page.
It’s well worth it to follow their social media channels for occasional content, then to dive deeper and spend more time on the specific bouts on their YouTube channel that cover your level and weapon. Especially if you want to qualify and participate in Fencing Summer Nationals, you can learn a lot from watching USA Fencing footage.
International level fencing is a whole different ballgame. Féderation Internationale d’Escrime (FIE) is the governing body of international fencing, and it’s home to a wide swath of fencing footage that is helpful for even novice fencers.
FIE releases all of their fencing bout videos to their official FIE Fencing Channel on YouTube. In addition to Olympic replays and highlight reels, FIE’s videos consist of celebrity bouts, promotional videos, awareness campaigns, and interviews with world class fencers. The content has a stunningly high production quality, taking great measures to detail the world of competitive fencing. Surfing through their content will get you excited about fencing!
FIE also live streams their tournaments to the channel, so if you’re unable to catch a scheduled tournament, you can always go back and rewatch the recordings of the events once they end. Many of these videos are several hours long and are uncut live-stream recordings of their bouts. Not only are these long videos great for uninterrupted study time, but they provide an opportunity for students of the sport to gain an understanding of turnaround between bouts, see the layout of various venues, and experience the tournament processes along with the fencers. Gold Mine!
When it comes to YouTube, Andrew Fischl is arguably the most popular fencer online. If you don’t know him yet, here’s your sign to go check him out.
A late bloomer to fencing, Andrew relied on video analysis to learn as much as he could about the sport when he was starting out. However, Andrew ran into a problem–there was little to no fencing content out there on the internet. Inspired by the encouragement of his father, Andrew decided to produce his own channel about fencing: Cyrus of Chaos. Much like USA Fencing, Cyrus of Chaos primarily uploads footage of fencing bouts like the NACs and World Cup tournaments. Andrew’s videos also cover an array of competitions like the Grand Prix, Summer Nationals, and President’s Cup events.
When COVID hit, Andrew’s channel quickly became the go-to place for fencing analysis. With everything shut down, Andrew gained the opportunity to interview some of the sport’s top athletes and coaches, hosting long roundtable discussions with these individuals. These conversations with elite performers and coaches provide high-level analysis and insight, offering an in-depth look into a sport that needs and demands coverage.
We had the pleasure of speaking with Andrew a couple years ago at the height of the pandemic. In this interview, Andrew tells us about his background as an athlete, tips on studying fencing, and what’s next for the sport and his channel. Check out Andrew’s YouTube Channel Cyrus of Chaos and be sure to subscribe! His channel on all platforms is something really fantastic!
Operated by the IOC, the Olympic Channel was founded six years ago in conjunction with the 2016 Summer Olympics to distribute the games in locations around the world, including online. It was a major pivot, and we’re definitely still hoping for even better online coverage of the games in 2024.
Right now, there are over 300 videos featuring the sport on the Fencing section of the platform. The Olympic Channel hosts the most prestigious fencing bouts recorded, airing high quality and beautifully shot tournaments with some of the world’s best fencers. The platform carries all of the Olympic events, including qualifying tournaments, medal games, and finals performances.
In addition to the Olympic fencing bouts, these videos range in content between live events, tournament recaps, interviews with fencers, historical documentaries, news recaps, short films, animated clips, and much, much more.
Due to a reshuffling of television programming at Comcast’s NBC, the American localization of the Olympic Channel has been dropped from all television channels and their providers. While it aims to relaunch ahead of the 2024 Olympics, events and content from the games remain available online on their official website. Though there is no confirmation on where the American Olympic Channel will return to or what it will be called, it expects to find a home on major streaming services ahead of the next Olympic games.
Breaking in to fencing video
If you’re trying to make studying film easier on yourself, look out for interesting fencers that inspire you! Study teammates and competitors that bring out the best in you. Follow these people on social media and pay attention to the kind of fencing content that they share and post about. It’s a perfect way to integrate your studies into your routine.
Watching videos over and over again can become tedious and boring very quickly. If you study from someone who offers a fresh and engaging way to connect with your craft, they are worth paying attention to! If you’re interested in a specific university fencing program, check out some of the bouts that these programs host on their websites or YouTube channels. See if these schools have social media dedicated to their fencing team and pay close attention to the athletes that are involved in the program. These college athletes and fencing coaches may also be reputable sources to study and draw inspiration from.
At the end of the day, take everything you see with a grain of salt. Be wary of how-to videos that demonstrate fencing techniques or outline methods of training, and instead look to your coach for that kind of detailed advice. The best learning experience a fencer can receive is from a club that they attend regularly. If you are watching fencing content from someone online and something feels or looks wrong, then it probably is! Always go with your gut, and when in doubt, talk to your coach.
Studying film is a useful tool to educate athletes and make them more dynamic fencers, and it s a great supplement to your training.