Thanksgiving Thoughts - Practicing Gratitude in FencingIt’s nearly Thanksgiving, and this is a time of year when we start to think about the things that we’re thankful for in our lives. We’re meditating on the good people in our lives and the good things that have happened to us this year. But gratitude isn’t something that we should focus on only once a year, it’s a sensibility and a system of living that we need to bring into our lives all year long.

Gratitude isn’t something you think, it’s something that you live. Practicing gratitude is a proven way for athletes to not only improve their performance, but also for them to improve the quality of their lives as a whole. That’s because fencing is not just the art of the sword, it’s the art of living.

What gratitude is for fencers

In fencing, gratitude is something that encompasses everything that we do. It starts before we get to the club, goes through our time changing in the locker room, out onto the strip as we interact with our coach and fellow fencers, all the way back home to our families. Gratitude for fencers follows us to competitions when we show an appreciation for the opportunity that we have to be fencing in the first place.

Every moment that we are working is a blessing. Being thankful for the opportunity to train can be transformative for fencers. Training isn’t a chore – it’s an absolute privilege! That’s hard for us to realize sometimes when we’re in the thick of the training regimen and we’re tired and sore and mentally exhausted, but it’s nonetheless the real truth.

Bringing that gratitude into our training consistently is a huge boost for fencers. It can help us to be more productive and to train more effectively. There’s plenty of scientific evidence that practicing gratitude is a way for athletes to boost their performance. Practicing gratitude boosts self-esteem in young athletes, allowing them to feel more confident in themselves and therefore to fence better on the strip. Working towards gratitude actually creates a broad foundation of well-being in young fencers, something that goes with them off the strip.

Gratitude isn’t just about affecting one person. Practicing gratitude allows athletes to build more trust in their coaches. That’s important for fencers, because the coaching relationship is central to our sport. Fencers who form strong bonds with their fencing coaches are happier and get more out of their coaching experience.

What we want to see is that fencers are able to use gratitude as a tool to help them get a better foundation in their sport. When we talk about what we want our fencers to be, the kind of athletes that we want to grow and groom, gratitude must be the center.

Gratitude beyond the strip

If there’s any one thing that we believe, it’s that fencing is not solely about what our athletes do in training or in competition. What makes this sport great are the life lessons that we take from it and impart into our lives.

Learning to incorporate gratitude into fencing is only the beginning. We are not just training our bodies to hold fencing forms and to move in certain ways, we are training our minds to be quicker and more agile. We are not only training our minds to be faster and more focused, we’re also training our emotions to be more inclusive and robust.

Fencing is by definition a sport of inclusion. We have an opportunity to educate others about gratitude through our sport, to be ambassadors of goodwill. Though fencing is about competition and pushing each other to become better, it’s also a community of athletes who genuinely want our peers to succeed. Building character is just as important as building fencing prowess. It’s so, so important that we as fencers live well in relation to our community! We are not isolated, but part of a wider circle. Fencing affects families very deeply, well beyond what happens in the club. The way that families come together to support fencers in their pursuit of their goals is truly inspiring, and it’s a part of this process that many people miss. Parents and siblings make huge sacrifices for fencers, from giving up weekends to rushing around on weekday afternoons for practice.

Any serious fencer will tell you that fencing doesn’t stay in the club or the competition arena – it becomes part of our lives everywhere we go! That means the gratitude should follow us everywhere too.

Affirmations of gratitude for fencers

To walk the walk of gratitude, we have to change the way that we think. During this time of year when we are thinking about how thankful we are for the good things in our lives, it’s a perfect time to add some gratitude affirmations to our fencing practice. These are simple sayings that we repeat to ourselves to remind us about being grateful.

We encourage you to write one or more of these down and repeat them throughout your day during this season of thanksgiving!

  • I am so grateful for supportive teammates and coaches.
  • My challenges are opportunities for growth and I am thankful for the chance to grow.
  • I’m grateful for my body and the way that it helps me reach my goals.
  • Tough times are hard, but I recognize that they help me move forward and I am thankful for them.
  • I see the beauty in competition, both wins and losses.
  • My fencing mentors have helped me to get where I am – I’m grateful for their guidance.
  • I know that every situation has a purpose, and I’m thankful for the lessons I’m learning.
  • I appreciate the abundance in my life and in my fencing.
  • I’m grateful for rules and referees, they help me learn control and boundaries.
  • My thanksgiving extends beyond my fencing – I am thankful for all of the good in my life.
  • I’m grateful for my club and the people there who guide me towards success.
  • I am continually amazed by the good things that come to me through fencing.
  • My sword is a tool that helps me to become stronger, smarter, and better as a person. I’m thankful for my weapon’s role in my life.
  • I am thankful for my family and their support of my fencing dreams.
  • Every day I see the wonderful blessings that I’ve been given.

These are just a few ideas that can help you to get started. Go out and write your own fencing gratitude affirmations! The more grounded you become in your attitude towards fencing, the better you’ll be able fence.

Fencing is an incredible sport that we are privileged to be a part of, and being grateful for our ability to participate in it helps us to feel better about ourselves and about our coaches, our teammates, and our opponents.

This Thanksgiving, we are so grateful for the good that’s in our lives from fencing! Our fencing community is wonderful, and it’s a blessing that we’re able to be a part of it. Thank you to all of our fencers and their families for their wonderful contributions to our lives. Thank you to the referees who make competitions possible, and to the officials who guide us in competition and in the constant evolution of our sport. Our coaches keep us going, giving our fencers the guidance and support that they deserve.

This wonderful sport that we’re privileged to be a part of is worth being grateful for! Living from a place of gratitude in our fencing is good for us, and it’s good for the people around us. And we look forward to the better life that we’re living through our fencing!