We often get questions from fencers or parents as they complete the first cycle of beginner classes, “What’s next for me or my kid in fencing?”
Progressing in the sport of fencing at Fencing Club Asheville will look like this:
- Complete one Beginner Classes.
- Start attending Intermediate Classes
- Choose Foil or Epee. (We don’t have a sabre group…yet)
- Start buying equipment and attending Open Fencing either in addition to or as a replacement for intermediate class.
- Attend tournaments, camps, clinics and other events in nearby cities.
- Attend regional or national tournaments.
A bit more about each stage.
Beginner Foil classes are designed to teach new people a little bit about fencing and let them see if they like the sport. A complete set of techniques is not taught in a month, but the class will let you know if you like sweating in fencing gear, hitting people with metal sticks, and getting hit with metal sticks.
Intermediate Foil Classes are designed for people who have been through the beginner class. It is designed as a flexible class to teach the basics of foil fencing and get them ready to move on to Open fencing. Fencers may move through the class at their own pace. Athletic adults may want to start Open Fencing after one cycle, and younger kids may want to spend 3-6 months in intermediate until they feel ready for Open Fencing. Fencers in the Intermediate class may attend Open fencing afterwards if they feel ready.
Open Fencing is where fencers move on to high intensity boutwork against stronger opponents. Generally new fencers to Open Fencing should play around a bit with both foil and Epee and choose the weapon that suits their personality. Fencers below high school age should stick to foil. Practicing two weapons at the same time is not advised, as this tends to confuse the all important “muscle memory”. If a fencer gets bored in one, they can always switch later, but focus is key starting out.
Open Fencing is fenced mainly with electric scoring equipment. Fencers may not attend open fencing while permanently borrowing club gear, because we don’t have enough to go around. Therefore, if you want to attend open fencing, a fencer will need to begin obtaining their own gear (see equipment page) Having 100% of your own gear is not required, but you have to be moving towards having all your own gear.
Open fencing is designed to be self-directed and fun. During beginner classes a coach will direct the entire class, while fencers who attend open fencing take responsibility for their own training and try to use their time as best they can and get better. Coaches will often work with fencers individually during this time. However fencers are encouraged to ask for coaches or clubmates to help them with things. We’re not going to push individual fencers (well we’ll push a little bit, but you gotta WANT to fence!)
It’s fine to attend beginner classes and then stay for Open Fencing. However, if a kid has homework, or an adult has adult demands on their time, we recommend making sure there is time for Open Fencing even if it means coming later, it will be a more fun, personalized and intense experience.
Tournaments within a couple hours drive are essential to further development once a fencer has gear and attends open fencing. FC Asheville is a tiny part of the fencing universe and seeing other fencers, coaches and referees in action will help a fencer get the most out of each Wednesday night Open Fencing sessions. In addition, there are Fencing Camps and Clinics put on by larger clubs and universities in the nearby cities. www.askfred.net is the best place to find out info about these events. Please let coaches know if you plan to attend. We often attend local tournaments as well and are more likely to make a point of it if we know you’re going.
Regional and National Tournaments are where a fencer can find both better competition and competition more suitable to their age (national events have both veteran and youth age groups, unlike local tournaments.) Attending these tournaments requires overnight travel and is slightly expensive. Generally fencers who have a comfort level with local tournaments have a better experience at regional or national events. But be warned, competition can be intense and rules will be strictly enforced!
As always, feel free to give Bren a call about this stuff at 301-537-0211 or send email. Coaches can also talk about it at practice, but we do have limited time, so we have to stick to shorter conversations while practice is going on.