What We’re Looking Forward to in Fencing in 2021

A new year means new goals and new possibilities. Though the last twelve months have been defining and challenging in ways that we haven’t seen for decades on a global scale AND on a personal level, there is every reason to think that things the new year 2021 will be different and improved.

This year is one that has the potential to be extraordinary, for many reasons. We have learned lots of lessons and explored so many ways of living that we didn’t know were even possible, and now we get to take those with us into a brand new, unblemished turning of the calendar.

From competitions to movies, here’s what we’re most looking forward to in fencing in 2021.

The return to in-person fencing training

Our highest and most dear hope for 2021 is that we can return to training in a capacity that makes sense for our fencers from a safety perspective and from a growth perspective. There is every reason to believe that we will be in the clubs in some capacity to train again when the warm weather returns and COVID numbers slow down. 

This seems far away, and there are many hurdles to get through to get there, but it’s also a doable goal for this coming year. There will still be protocols and safety measures, but we can confidently expect to hear the clicks of swords against one another in fencing clubs!

National fencing competitions in 2021

We aren’t sure what to expect yet given worsening COVID situation, but we are full of hope.

Currently the national competitions calendar is very tentative. How they play out will depend on what conditions there are surrounding the virus between here and there, but what we do know is that there is a chance that they will happen, at least at summer. How many fencers attend and what safety precautions look like are wild cards we can’t know yet. 

We are cautiously excited about national competitions right now, and our real hope for them to return to normal is for fall of 2021 rather than these spring competitions. Either way, that we can even a little bit think about them is exciting. 

Zoom fencing lessons

Not everything that came out of 2020 is bad, and one thing that we are actually looking forward to is continuing with zoom fencing lessons. There are some wonderful benefits to doing online fencing lessons, in particular how they have opened up fencing to people in rural areas who could not have had access to the sport without them. We are excited to keep connecting with fencers, no matter where they are, through virtual lessons. 

TWO major Hollywood fencing movies

This coming year is set to be a big one for fencing in the movies, and not just action movies either. (Though both of these movies star actresses who are famous for their roles in Marvel movies.)

Fencer, a drama of writer-director and a fencer herself Jasmine McGlade, will star Zoe Saldana as a high level fencing competitor who is working to make it to the Olympic team. It’s a drama that explores what life is like for an international competitor and an NCAA champion who dreams of fulfilling her biggest goals, only to get stuck along the way and have to overcome hardship.The last word was that this movie was filming last spring and it is set to come out this year. 

Balestra is a totally different kind of fencing film, starring Tessa Thompson. This film is a thriller about experimental technological training method that lets her keep on training while she sleeps. Thompson said in an interview last summer about the movie “Like the sport that Balestra explores, the conception of this piece is sharp and riveting – its is a fascinating look at the price of winning, and what trouble dreams can become when our sense of self worth, reality and identity are tethered too tightly to them.” Definitely not the training we want to take part in, but it will be something fun to see on the film. 

We haven’t seen a feature length film about the world of competitive fencing like either of these before, so these are something big to look forward to. Whether we see them in the movie theatre or at home streaming. 

Open conversation

2020 opened up a lot of new conversations on the nature of our relationship to each other. It was hard at times, almost brutal to challenge long held ideas and to face inequities that exist on a societal level. These were not new problems, but catalyst events that made many of us aware of the plight of our fellow human beings. We saw this conversation open up in the fencing community as well, where we found that there is still a lot of work to be done. 

In 2021 we are looking forward to continuing to grow. 

New fencers!

One of the great things about fencing is sharing it with others. Last year, we didn’t see the normal number of new people coming into fencing and that spark of joy that comes with it. We have really missed outreach and connecting with new fencing families, and in 2021 we are excited to see who will come into our sport and learn to love it the way that we did. 

Focusing closer to home

There were so many global and national things that necessarily had to hold our attention in 2020, but thankfully those things have been decided and (mostly) settled. 

We’ve missed the one-on-one connections with people that helped us to create a community. We definitely had a lot of community building in the last year, but hopefully in the coming year we won’t feel the division from things that are spinning on the national stage. 

The Tokyo Olympics

The head of the games in Japan, Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto, said all the way back in September that “I think we have to hold the games at any cost.” Now with the distribution of a vaccine in at least parts of the world, it can be reasonable to assume that this will happen. 

We don’t know what form the Olympics will take – whether there will be live spectators or what kinds of rigorous protocols will be put into place to prevent them from becoming the biggest super spreader event imaginable, but we can say with some confidence that we think they will happen. There has been movement from hopeful optimism on this issue to a reasonable expectation that we will see fencers compete in the biggest competition in the world this year. (Fingers still crossed though!)

The Tokyo Olympics are set to be held from July 23 – August 8. We’ll hold our breath with excitement. 

Though there are always challenges, we are strong when we are together. Fencing is a sport that we have blessedly been able to continue to practice, despite the harsh realities of the pandemic, in some capacity. We are looking forward to the next year of possibilities and developments in fencing! After a year of being paused, it will be incredible to move forward.