If you’re a parent that’s new to fencing, you may be a bit confused by all of the different types of fencing competitions discussed at your club or among other fencing parents. Fencing competitions vary in size, location, type, qualification process, and more. While you don’t need to understand every little detail if you’re just getting started, it’s important to begin learning the terms and understanding the different types of competitions.
Let’s talk through the basic types of fencing competitions in the USA you can expect to encounter as your child begins to compete in fencing.
Note that USFA is continuously improving the way fencing competitions are run and the respective qualification paths. Therefore, keep in mind that the information presented is current at the time of writing, but the latest information is always available in the official USFA documentation (www.usfencing.org).
National Fencing Championships
Let’s start at the top! National championships are held once a year at three different levels: Division I, Junior Olympics (Juniors and Cadets), and Summer Nationals (all other divisions and age categories). They are only open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. So if you’re new to fencing, you may soon be shooting for a Summer Nationals qualification!
Summer Nationals are typically the end of June through the beginning of July and last for two weeks. Fencers qualify differently based on the age category:
- Y10 qualifies by being on either the national or regional Y10 point standings (must have earned either national or regional points through previous competitions).
- Y12 qualifies by either (1) being in the top 50% for Y12 regional points, (2) being on the Y12 national point standings, (3) being in the top eight of the Y10 national point standings, or (4) being in the top four of the Y10 regional point standings.
- Y14 qualifies by either (1) being on the Y14 national point standings, (2) being in the top 25% for Y14 regional points, (3) being in the top 16 of the Y12 national point standings, (4) being in the top eight of the Y12 regional point standings, or (5) placing in the top 25% in the Y14 Division qualifying competition for the current season.
To summarize, Y10 and Y12 qualify through points and Y14 can qualify through points or by doing well enough in a qualifying competition. If you’re not yet familiar with national and regional points, look for an upcoming post!
Also note that the above qualification paths were changed for the current season, and the changes are described in this blog post. Also, we have posts that walk through an example for both Y12 and Y14 qualification paths based on these rules: Y12 qualification, Y14 qualification.
North American Cups
North American Cups (NACs) are a series of competitions held by US Fencing that provide an opportunity to gain national points. They cover all divisions and ages and each NAC focuses on a subset of categories. No qualification or U.S. citizenship is required, only eligibility by age and division. That means any fencer can participate if you’re willing to travel!
Super Youth Circuit
The Super Youth Circuit (SYC) consists of national events for all Youth fencers (Y10, Y12, and Y14). These events are held about once every month throughout the country. The SYC is one of the qualifying paths for the youth Summer Nationals.
Regional circuits are held multiple times a year, with frequency depending on your region and changing sometimes from year to year. They are held at three different levels similar to national championships: Seniors, Juniors and Cadets, and Youth. They are only open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents.
The Senior events are on the Regional Open Circuit (ROC). The Juniors and Cadets events are on the Regional Juniors and Cadets Circuit (RJCC), and the Youth events are on the Regional Youth Circuit (RYC). The RJCC is new for the 2014-2015 season.
As an example for number of events, the San Francisco Bay Area had three RYC events in the 2013-2014 season. The RYC is one of the qualifying paths for the youth Summer Nationals and winning fencers are awarded regional points.
The Regional Open Circuit (ROC) consists of regional events for Senior fencers. The frequency of these events depends on your region.
Additional Local Circuit Competitions
Depending on where you live, you may have other local circuit competitions that are run by a separate organization from the other circuits. For example, in the San Francisco Bay Area, we have the Bay Cup tournaments. The Bay Cup is a non-profit organization that coordinates a circuit of fencing tournaments within the Greater San Francisco Bay Area. For those of you in the area or close by, these tournaments are a great opportunity to attend more competitions. They vary greatly in size and are hosted by local fencing clubs.
If you’re in a different area, ask your club or Google options for additional local tournament opportunities!
Open Fencing Competitions
You can also find open competitions in your area in addition to the circuits and championships. Open competitions are held by divisional/regional committees or local clubs and can be sanctioned by USFA (meaning rankings can be earned with particular finishes). They are typically age-based rather than restricting based on ranking, so they can be a good opportunity for newer fencers to compete more often if they’re not yet ready for the circuit competitions.
Internal Fencing Competitions
Clubs often hold internal competitions so that fencers can get more practice. These events are held at the hosting club and typically include only fencers from the club.
For the new parents, this much information might be a bit overwhelming. Read it through a couple times and then ask any questions below!