What is it that drives us to keep going? To keep achieving as fencers? And how do we even define achievement?
Fencing tends to be viewed as a pursuit of the young. Clubs are brimming with kids holding swords, teenagers on the strip, college students in fencing masks. Adult fencers, though there are many of them, tend to be less common. Maybe that’s because life gets busy with responsibilities, or because adults who want to start fencing think that it’s too late. Whatever the reason, the veteran fencing category is thinner than the others.
That reality makes Alan Buchwald all the more impressive. He defies nearly every expectation of what a man his age is supposed to be, with a spark and a spirit that is contagious. Alan is ready to pick up his foil anytime, anywhere, and to fence against anyone. At sixty-six years old, Alan is both spry and wizened, both incredibly physical and marvelously mentally precise.
Alan was an emergency medical physician. Quick decisions are a major part of his profession, and he views fencing as a hobby that helps him stay sharp and quick on his feet. For Alan, fencing is an integrated part of life. He first picked up the foil in 1973 in college, and has kept it up almost continually since then, through raising a family and building his career. His view is that fencing helps to bring balance to his life, enhancing his ability to live well rather than taking time away from his other responsibilities. Fencing helps him to do more in all areas, even though it takes time and energy.
Magic Carpet Ride of Fencing Around the World 2016
This past year, Alan has spent so much time on the road that the folks at his club have taken to calling it his “Magic carpet ride of fencing around the world”. His travel to competitions all over the globe has been an inspiration to everyone he meets, and it belays his passion for the sport and his willingness to work hard for his goals.
Much of Alan’s success is due to his careful planning and willingness to set goals. He doesn’t just look to the next fencing competition – he creates codified and well planned goals for his progress in a year, in five years. That kind of dedication has truly paid off.
Here’s a list of where his magic carpet took him in 2016. Wouldn’t we all like to come along to these places?
- La Salle Vancouver Veteran Foil, Vancouver Canada 1/2/16 – Silver Medal
- La Salle Vancouver Open Men’s Foil 1/3/16
- Artic Circle Challenge in Levi, Finland- Open Men’s Foil 1/31/16 – Bronze Medal and Gold Medal highest placed Veteran
- Hawaiian Open Mixed Foil ; Veteran Foil, Waikiki 2/20/16 – Bronze Medal
- Bay Cup Veteran Mixed Foil, Santa Rosa, Ca. 4/3/16
- Gryphon Veteran Men’s Foil, Placentia, Ca., 4/17/16 – Gold Medal
- UCSC Open Team Foil, Santa Cruz, Ca., 5/7/16 – Gold Medal
- Canadian American Veteran Cup Men’s Foil, Toronto, 7th in the combined; Silver Medal in the 60-69 age and Bronze Medal in the Team event 5/29/16
- Great Salt Lake Veteran Men’s Foil 6/9/16 – Silver Medal
- Selberg Veteran Invitational Men’s Foil, Berkeley, Ca.,
- Pan American Veteran Foil age 60-69, Ponce, Puerto Rico, USA Team 8/26/16
- Interclub Championship Pre-Veteran Mixed Foil, Ponce, Puerto Rico 8/27/16 – Silver Medal
- Don Appling Veteran Mixed Foil, Waikiki, Hawaii 9/10/16– Bronze Medal
- ROC Division 2 Open Men’s Foil, New Orleans 10/30/16
- ROC Veteran Men’s Foil – New Orleans 10/30/16 – Bronze Medal
- Hungarian Fencing Federation Veteran Men’s Foil, Budapest 11/5/16 – Bronze Medal
- Australian Championship Veteran Men’s Foil, Canberra, 12/13/16, 10/19 in combined and Silver Medal in 60-69 age.
That’s seventeen competitions in twelve months! For any fencer that’s an impressive feat, but then Alan took it to the next level and medaled in most of them. 3 gold, 5 silver, and 6 bronze in a year’s time and in four countries.
What’s most striking about Alan’s incredible list isn’t the list itself – it’s his attitude about the list. He sees constant room for improvement and ways to make himself more the fencer that he thinks he should be. His warmth and welcoming support of fencers is what makes him so special, in addition to his dedication and hard work on his own skill.
We are so grateful to Alan for continuing to inspire us to go after our goals with diligence and perseverance. He’s a model for what fencing is when it’s at its best, an example that we can all take to heart in our training – no matter how old we are.