Academy of Fencing Masters Blog

Art of Fencing, Art of Life

Fencing, Music, and the Divide Between Enrichment and Competition

There’s a great misunderstanding about what fencing does for kids and where it should fall in their lives, both now and in the future. Not so much within the fencing community, but definitely with people who are looking at it from the outside. 

With other activities, like music, for example, it’s perfectly acceptable for a child just to do the activity, and it is understood that simple enrichment is worthwhile. It doesn’t matter if they will become the best violinist or pianist who plays in Carnegie Hall. Parents understand that it’s enough for them to simply do this activity now. Even if they don’t play the piano into adulthood, it’s ok. 

The discipline and creative thinking skills, not to mention the joy, are enough for everyone. 

Yet, for some reason, fencing is not seen in this same light. Oftentimes, parents will come into the club to start their kids in the sport, and they’ll be laser-focused on how fencing’s biggest benefit is if their fencer goes all the way to the Olympics or at least gets recruited into a college. Anything short of these massive goals is not going to be enough. 

It’s a frustrating situation, but one that I think we should explore. Not because music or other activities aren’t worthwhile, but because fencing is one that is just as worthwhile and which deserves to be seen in the same light. 

Mastering Patience in Fencing

Mastering Patience in Fencing

As a fencer, you’re no stranger to the challenges and rewards of this exhilarating sport. However, there’s a universal truth that resonates deeply with fencers: it’s the importance of mastering patience in our journey toward success.

In competitive fencing, everything often takes longer than we anticipate. We set our sights on achieving specific skills or rankings, winning that national medal, or getting recruited to a top college, and often we envision a swift ascent to success. But reality teaches us that the path to excellence is more of a marathon than a sprint and that patience is not just a virtue but an indispensable ally in your fencing journey.

USA Fencing Points – USA Fencing 101 Series

USA Fencing Points - USA Fencing 101 Series

As USA Fencing recently published on their USA Fencing 101 social media post, the organization maintains a comprehensive points system, encompassing various categories and divisions, that play a pivotal role in the competitive landscape of the sport. Understanding these points systems is essential for fencers and their families, as they provide a roadmap for participation, qualification, and recognition within the fencing community. In this installment of our “USA Fencing 101” series, we will delve into the intricacies of USA Fencing points, breaking down the five major points lists and shedding light on how fencers can earn and utilize these points to further their fencing journeys in the hope that all these different post systems will make sense to aspiring fencers and their parents.

In particular, there are 5 major points lists that fencers should be aware:

  1. Regional Points Standing (Youth, Cadet, Junior)
  2. Regional Open Circuit Standing (Div1A, Div2)
  3. National Rolling Points Standing (Youth, Cadet, Junior, Senior, Veteran)
  4. National Team Point Standing (Cadet, Junior, Senior, Veteran)
  5. Parafencing National Point Standing

The Road to Confidence in Fencing: Why You Need Competition Experience

I recently had a discussion with a concerned parent who made the decision not to sign up her daughter for a fencing competition. Her reasoning was that in her last tournament, her daughter had only won three bouts in the pools and lost her first Direct Elimination (DE) bout. To her, it seemed evident that her daughter’s level of experience was insufficient, and she planned to wait until her daughter’s win rate improved.

I explained to her that this situation is akin to a classic chicken-and-egg dilemma. To become a proficient fencer, you need to participate in competitions, as your statistics are an integral part of the competition experience. Making judgments based on a single competition is unreliable and shortsighted.

Take, for instance, a recent occurrence at the Vancouver Epee World Cup, where some of the world’s top fencers, such as Olympic and World Champions and medalists, lost their first bout and were subsequently eliminated. If we only consider this single snapshot, their performance appears subpar. However, when we analyze their performance over the past five or six seasons and across numerous competitions, we see that they consistently rank among the world’s top fencers. This one competition means nothing in isolation and serves as a testament to the necessity of a broader perspective when evaluating a fencer’s skill and experience.

The Driving Analogy

To illustrate this concept, I often draw a comparison between competing in fencing and learning to drive. No matter how many times you read the rulebook or play video simulation games, becoming a skilled driver takes a considerable amount of practice.

Imagine learning to drive: you encounter hundreds, if not thousands, of diverse situations on the road. You navigate local roads, different highways, deal with aggressive drivers, decipher confusing GPS instructions, decipher graffiti-covered road signs, cope with blinding sun, adapt to sudden road construction, tackle driving in rain with faulty wipers, and traverse fog as thick as milk. Just when you begin feeling confident as a driver, you encounter challenging conditions, like winding, icy mountain roads with inadequate tires, and your confidence vanishes instantly.

This analogy resonates with many parents because it highlights the importance of experience. Just as you must accumulate extensive driving experience to become a confident driver, fencers must gain significant competition experience to excel in their sport.

How Youth Fencing Can Help Kids Forge Deep and Meaningful Friendships

How Youth Fencing Can Help Kids Forge Deep and Meaningful Friendships

What are the things that make life really rich and meaningful? When you think about your own childhood, you probably don’t remember the things you did so much as the people you did them with. Your best friend who sat next to you in math class and made you laugh every day, or the kid on the playground who you lobbed pinecones at during recess, and all other meaningful friendships you had back then. 

Though we put a lot of emphasis on what it means to be a great fencer, where kids end up getting a lot of what matters in this sport is through the close friendships they forge with one another. This doesn’t just happen by magic – it’s grounded in the shared experiences that they have with one another and the ways that those experiences knit them together. 

This is important for kids. Today more than ever, kids are disconnected from one another thanks to technology and the increasing ways that we’re spread out. In the wake of the pandemic, which will have repercussions for many years in terms of childhood socialization according to experts, kids have to figure out again how to build relationships with each other, and that’s no easy thing. 

Fencing can do that in remarkable ways. Let’s explore how. 

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