Academy of Fencing Masters Blog

Art of Fencing, Art of Life

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Olympic Fencing Commentator Karim Bashir on Passion, Knowledge, and Storytelling

Karim Bashir: "Sometimes great sponsors like Leon Paul let me go to the World Cups"
Karim Bashir: Enjoying Leon Paul’s sponsorship at World Cup

Karim Bashir is a commentator extraordinaire, bringing his fast and in depth knowledge of fencing to high level championships all over the world. He’s been the voice of fencing in commentary all the way up to the Olympics for many years, bringing new people into this sport from near and far as well as giving serious fencers the insight they need. He knows his way around the commentators booth and around the piste.

In this interview, we learn how Karim made his way from college fencing, through competition, and eventually to the Olympic commentator’s chair for fencing and other sports. It’s an exciting window into what it means to be passionate about our sport, as well as how powerful narratives can help us all to understand what it means to be a fencer. The answer to the question of how he got here and where he thinks the sport is going might surprise you.

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51 Questions to Ask Your Fencer Besides “How was class?”

51 questions to ask your fencer besides "how was class?"

Here’s a play-by-play of the conversation that lots of fencers have when they get home from fencing practice.

“How was fencing class?”

“Fine.”

“Great! Make sure you put your fencing bag in the hall closet.”

It’s a functional conversation for sure, and it gets the job done. The thing is, it’s not bringing anything new, nor is it really enriching what we’ve already got. It’s not that the fencing parent here doesn’t care what went on in class, and it’s not as if the child doesn’t have anything more to say, it’s just that life is busy and we get into routines that get us through. 

What we want with our kids is more than just those one word answers. We are looking for engagement, because they need it and so do we. Making that relationship with our kids deeper and more meaningful has to be built each and every day. Working on the casual communication that we have with each other is one way to do that. 

Author Glennon Doyle gives us some awesome insight into this. “If you don’t want throw away answers, you can’t ask throw away questions.”

To make this easier for fencing parents, we’ve put together fifty one questions to ask your fencer that will get you and them both talking. 

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Fencing in Rural America

Fencing in Rural America

Traditionally, fencing is a sport that has been niche for many reasons, not the least of which is that fencing clubs are not easy to come by. For people who live in rural America, fencing is often totally inaccessible because they don’t live close enough to a place to learn it. 

For our sport, this is an incredibly important subject. We want more fencers so that we can have more competitors, and also because we love the sport and want to share it. It’s a shame that distance is such a barrier, but for those who live outside of urban areas, especially in rural America, it’s a huge issue. How many potentially amazing fencers are there out there who will never make it to the strip because there is not a club nearby?

For many fencers, this isn’t something that they even consider. They think about their own sport, what their ranking is, where their next competition will be, and in the times of the pandemic they are understandably concerned about their own training. However, this is still a subject that is worth considering. We want our sport to thrive, and so that means thinking globally. Sometimes the biggest opportunities are in the most unlikely places. 

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Farewell 2020! (And Thank You.)

Farewell 2020!

This year has been one that we will never forget, but also one that we might wish not to remember, as we are saying to it – farewell 2020!

There is a running sentiment among everyone that 2020 is a year that we need to just put behind us. It’s been horrible, miserable, and is better left in the rearview mirror. There is certainly some ring of truth in that feeling, but to dwell on that idea is to ignore all of the great things that have happened this year. There have been positive things in 2020, and we don’t even have to wear rose colored glasses in order to see them. 

This was a year of discovery, in wonderful ways that will affect our future and that we can build on. There is a sense that the world has shifted through the demands of this year, and with that shift we have grown.

As we say farewell to 2020, we cannot help but reflect on the good that we have found in it. Here are eight great things that we will take with us from this challenging year. 

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Kindness in the Darkest Times – a Pandemic Fairy Tale

Kitoo Dubb and X'Pressions Team
Kitoo Dubb (third from the left) and her X’Pressions team

Bright things are happening, even in the seeming darkness of winter. 

We have experienced some wonderful, uplifting and beautiful acts during the pandemic. It is easy to focus on the hardships that the last year has brought us, but there are such good things that have come this year too! The community support and building each other up has been a true testament to our resilience. 

This is not something that we would normally publish on our blog, but then again this has not been a normal time. We wanted to share something uplifting and happy, something that would remind us that kindness exists.

This is a real magical Christmas story that will make you feel good!

Do you remember the fairy tales from Hans Christian Andersen that look like a regular story about ordinary people, but suddenly turn into extraordinary twists and turns, making you believe in magic? This is the type of story that I am going to tell you, dear friends. 

When we are at the end of the story, we shall know more than we know now. But for now, let us begin. 

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