What I wish I’d known on my first day of Fencing2It’s truly amazing how this journey into fencing rolls us forward and takes us to new places, on new journeys and into things that we’d never thought of. Getting going in this sport means reaching out and learning, as well as the incredible accomplishment that pushes us forward onto the life beyond the strip.

There are some things that I wish that I could go back and tell myself from those first days holding a fencing sword.       

1.  Fencing is much more than swordfighting.

When you first take a step into the club, you think that you’re there to learn to fight other people with epees and sabres and foils. What you’re really there for is to develop yourself as a person and to lay a foundation for the rest of your life! It’s not about points or matches, it’s about people.

2.  You’re going to lose, and you’ll be better for it.

Losing is perhaps the most important part of fencing. Loss builds character, helps us to learn how to move forward and gives us the knowhow for the challenges that lie ahead on the strip and in life.

3.  Other fencers will make the best friends.

It’s absolutely true that fencing is about relationships, and that the relationships that are to be found with fellow fencers are some of the richest and most amazing ones out there! Friendships made with other fencers, competitors and comrades, coaches and officials, are the kinds of things that last a lifetime. I truly had no idea!

4.  Your coaches are a wealth of knowledge – always take their words to heart.

Fencing coaches are supportive and warm, but they’re also often abrasive and a bit rough on us so that we can get better. On that first day on the strip, I wish I’d started off with the knowledge that I didn’t know everything. Coaches mean so much more than just teaching us to step and lunge, quite often they teach us how to be stalwart and compassionate.

5.  Take lots of risks, and don’t be afraid.

Early on I wish I’d known how important risk taking is in fencing. Being afraid of doing something out of the ordinary is a recipe for never being extraordinary. All it takes is a leap of faith!

6.  Savor every moment of it.

Each time you step on the fencing strip is incredible. From the very start I wish that I’d relished the moments rather than being surrounded by fear or unease. There are great things to happen, great things that are happening right there in the club every day and in every fencing lesson. Life goes by so fast, that it can be hard to slow down and really savor it. Soak it up!

7.  This is the start of something big.

Of course on that first day I imagined all of incredibly cool bouts that I’d have, the glory and the fun of it all. What I didn’t have any idea about what the passion that it would spark in me!  Here we are, decades later and I’m still just as excited about it as I was on that first day!

You know, I say that I wish I’d known these things on that first day fencing, but I wonder if perhaps it isn’t better not to have known. Part of the beauty of fencing is the journey that it takes us on, and the surprises that are ahead!