Why We’re Thankful for Tough Times in Fencing

Fencing is hard work. Very hard work. There are bruises and sore muscles, long days and sometimes too much to balance it seems. Yet we are still thankful for everything that these tough challenges bring to us, for so many reasons. 

Everyone right now seems to be reflecting on what it means to be thankful, and we are not an exception. It’s nice to pause and reflect, to take stock of what we are getting out of the things that we are doing in life. Fencing is obviously one of the big things that we’re doing! 

Thinking of thanks on this fencing journey

This sport, like lots of sports, can be very hard. We fencers all have a love/hate relationship with that hardness. If we didn’t enjoy the challenge, none of us would be here, but it takes grit and determination to get through it. We have to continue to push through, no matter what, or else leave the sport. That last one isn’t an option for those who are passionate about fencing. 

We are thankful for growth.

Honestly, I feel as though the hardness is what makes it so special We are constantly pushing, and it feels amazing to get to the other side of something. It’s not about winning, it’s about growing. One thing that I always encourage is for fencers to video themselves, as it allows us to go back and see the growth that we’ve had over time. It’s easy to forget that your stance was once very clunky, or that your bladework reminded a wood chopping. 

The best part about this is that we know that, if we keep training, that growth is going to keep going! Take a video today, then come back in a year and you’ll see the improvements you’ve made. That’s definitely something to be thankful for.

We’re thankful for goals.

Every fencer has some kind of goal in mind. It might not be a huge goal like making it to the Olympics, but the goal of participating in your first local competition is just as significant as the goal of making it to an international competition.

One of the things that is so wonderful about fencing is that there are challenges for every fencer to rise to, no matter what level they are at.

We have seen veteran fencers who came to this sport at an age far past what you would think was viable for someone to become an international competitor, then push themselves to a very high level through tons of hard work. That hard work has shaped them, helped to keep them sharp and youthful. It’s remarkable honestly, and inspiring. 

We’ve seen young people blossom through setting goals in their fencing, jumping out of their comfort zone to accomplish things that they didn’t know were possible. It’s a good thing, a wonderful way for them to have learned that they really can accomplish anything if they put in those hours and that effort. 

We’ve also seen people realize their Olympic dream. There’s nothing wrong with having that lofty goal at the end of your fencing rainbow and working towards it. Any high level athlete is going to tell you that they are thankful for the hard work, more than they are for the medals in many cases. 

We’re thankful for the process. 

Every day, showing up to the fencing club to practice, it’s hard work. 

We come back to this so many times – if you are focused on the medal or the podium, then you will never get to it. If you are focused on the training, making your body and mind better at the parts and pieces that make up fencing, well then you’ll get there.

The process is where the hours are. Fencers spend the bulk of their time in the club, running their drills over and over, or sparring with their teammates. There are the hours of cross training and the days of travel. You have to learn to love all of that, the quiet times away from the spotlight. You have to learn to love epsom salt baths that feel so good on sore muscles. You have to learn to love the smell of Tiger Balm on bruises and the relief that a joint wrap gives a sore elbow. It’s ok to embrace these things, to be thankful for them. Even the sore muscles and the bruises have value, as much as we want to avoid them. We are not embracing the pain for its sake, but we are embracing the discomfort as part of the journey to becoming better athletes, better fencers.

Along this path, there are many lost points and many lost matches. We are incredibly thankful for every one of those, because they are the best learning opportunities that we could ever hope for. Learning through loss is a thing that we can all be thankful for. 

For us, it is not about the outcome, it is about the process to get there. This is what we love, and this is what we are thankful for. 

We’re thankful for individual strength.

It’s an individual sport, which can feel a little lonely at times. It’s nice to be on that podium and winning, but getting there can feel like a solitary effort. Standing on the strip, we are bare to the world in many ways, ultimately alone against our opponents. And we are thankful to our teammates that stay with us, cheer us up and support us in competitions and in training.

The other side of that sense of being on your own is being empowered. Sword in hand, there is a power in looking the opponent in the eye (well, the mask), and testing yourself. Even if you fail to win the match, you have won in that you pushed yourself to get here. Doing this over and over again in fencing, it makes you grow and become stronger. Individual strength is not only beautiful, it’s something that spreads to other areas of life. 

We are very lucky to have the chance to grow as individuals through fencing.

We’re thankful for strength through community.

While we are alone on the strip, we are not alone in how we got there. The fencing community is one of support yes, but it’s also one of constant striving. You can trust that you coach is going to make your training hard, and in a good way! The coach is oftentimes the core of the community for a fencer, the tether than connects an individual to the future fencer that they are capable of being. They are there with you at the strip, barking at you to follow the instructions that they gave you and to keep pushing yourself to improve. 

Tough love through the fencing community is wonderful and warm. If you don’t know how to get better, well there’s always someone out there who has more experience and will be able to help you figure it out. 

Teammates are a joyful part of the fencing community as well. Mind you, these teammates are often opponents in individual competition, but the spirit of camaraderie even in competition is a special thing. It’s challenging at times, but that challenge makes it all the richer. 

We’re thankful that you’re reading this.

We’re thankful to you, our readers, for sticking with us as we spread the word about this beautiful sport that we are so passionate about. It gives us the chance to dig deeper into topics surrounding this sport, to push ourselves and our knowledge. We always want to learn more about fencing, and we find that this blog has enriched our lives too.

We’re incredibly thankful for everyone who read our book, From Cool Runnings to World Superpower: The Rise of American Fencing. This year we pushed our own comfort zone with this release, and we found so much support for it. Thank you!

The connection that we feel with our readers all over the country and even the world is tangible, and we are so very lucky to do this. Thanks to our fencing community for encouraging us to be more, to go further, and to be unafraid of failure and of success.