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Newsletter of Fencing NSW

January 2014

Tokyo (& Hong Kong) adventure see page 5-7 for more pix & reports 2014 Fencing Season NSWFA welcomes all fencers to another year of competitive fencing and we hope you all return refreshed from the summer break and raring to go.

Above Cadet and Junior fencers from NSW and other States spent their new year in Tokyo and Hong Kong on a special tour organised by NSWFA with support from ‘Friends of Fencing’ - see full reports on the tour later in this newsletter.

Referee & coach training

The first event of the Year is the Junior Gilt (all weapons) on Sunday As part of our continuing effort to encourage fencers to become 9 February. proficient referees, clinics will be held on 2 March and 27 July at The following Sunday - 16 February - is the Season Opener for open/ Marrickville. veteran foil and sabre with epee to follow on Sunday 23 February. NSWA will be running a Level 1 Coaching Course this year, startThese comps attract ranking points. ing on 2 March. On that day we’ll also be offering a one-day The Roberta Nutt Shield comps will be held on the weekend of 22- AFF Community Coaching Course. An Advanced Coaches Seminar 23 February with U15 in all weapons on Saturday and U13/U11 on will be held on 4 May. Sunday. These dates are in the calendar and more information is available on Best of luck everyone. the website where you can register for these courses.

Time for membership renewal It’s time for fencers to renew your membership of NSWFA to be eligible to participate in NSW and AFF competitions.

It is not necessary for Honorary Members to renew their memberships.

Membership for Coaches, Coach Fencers, and Honorary Coaches is handled separately. Coaches need to complete and sign the Letter Memberships can be renewed via the portal on the home page of the of Acknowledgement sent to them by the State Coaching Director, website with payment made by credit card. certifying that the coach is currently accredited and complies with the Please note that your membership is only renewed when payment NSW Working with Children Check requirements. When the coach’s is received. A recent glitch in the online membership system has re- declaration is received, an invoice will be sent which can be paid by sulted in a few members being advised that their membership had cheque or via EFT. If you are a coach and have not received your form been renewed although they had not paid. please contact

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PCYC membership

This year, PCYC Marrickville will require all active users to become members. PCYC has advised that ‘active users’ means all competitive fencers, including schools fencers, and coaches who practise at the PCYC. It does not cover visiting fencers, parents and spectators. Active users will have to fill out a PCYC membership form and will be issued with a swipe card. Copies of the application form will be available at the fencing registration desk and also at the front desk at Marrickville. Members will need to swipe their card at the front desk when they enter the venue. PCYC has told NSWFA there will be no charge for membership in 2014 but a ‘nominal’ fee is envisaged from 2015.

New Executive Member appointed

Luke Mansfield (Southern Highlands) has accepted an invitation to join the NSWFA Executive. He has been appointed to a casual vacancy created by the resignation of Michael Seibel who has stepped down as he is a new father. Luke’s appointment will add another young active fencer to the Executive (along with Mitch Fox) to give valuable input to the Executive from the viewpoint of competitive fencers. Luke was recently elected to the AFF Athlete’s Commission and will represent the Commission at general meetings of the AFF.

New Safety Standards

Members are reminded that a new Equipment and Safety Policy comes into force in 2014.The only change this year is that all competitors will be required to wear an 800 newton under-plastron. Fencers and parents are advised to contact their equipment supplier to ensure they are properly equipped for the new fencing season. The safety policy can be found at: docs/nswfa_equipment_and_safety.pdf

Celebrating the life of Professor Joan Beck Around 100 family and friends of Professor Joan Beck gathered in Sydney on 20 January for a memorial service to celebrate a life of accomplishment as an inspirational fencing coach and as an archaeologist. ABOVE: Vince Elias and Corey Spiteri introduce children to the fun of fencing at the recent TRY-athlon at Sydney Olympic Park which attracted more than two thousand young competitors. NSWFA’s display tent proved popular with the young athletes who gave fencing a try.

Proposed New Constitution

A new constitution for NSWFA will be discussed at a workshop on 30 January. The new constitution is intended to replace the existing NSWFA Rules which were introduced in 2003 and require updating to comply with changes to the NSW Incorporated Associations Act and to reflect contemporary thinking in sports governance. The purpose of the workshop is to give members an opportunity to discuss the proposed new constitution before it is presented to members for approval at a general meeting scheduled for 23 February. Workshop details and a draft of the new constitution was sent to members by the Secretary on 6 January.

Both aspects of Joan Beck’s life were remembered by family members, fencing friends and academic colleagues. While academically qualified in archaeology, Joan Beck’s professorship was actually in fencing and she was the only such professor in Australia. For those present, it seemed fitting that Professor Beck had lived to see The Swords Club celebrate its 100th anniversary as she led the club for a quarter of a century through critical points in its history. Along the way she introduced hundreds to the thrill of fencing and trained some of Australia’s most successful fencers. Fencing friends who attended were intrigued to hear about her second career in archaeology, making many visits to Egypt and Greece where on digs at ancient ruins she showed the same commanding enthusiasm as she did at The Swords Club. As a farewell tribute to this remarkable woman ten young Swords Club fencers in whites performed a moving salute.

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$1,000 Incentive for Young Athletes 2014 Athlete Grant Program

NSWFA has received the following announcement from the NSW Olympic Council about new cash grants for U18 athletes. Applications and nominations are to be made on an individual basis - please apply online click here.* The New South Wales Olympic Council (NSWOC) has announced the introduction of a new Athlete Grant Program. The NSWOC Council will distribute five $1,000 cash grants to ‘up and coming’ junior NSW athletes in 2014. The focus of this program is to provide increased opportunities and assist with the funding for the development of young, ‘up and coming’ NSW athletes. The program has been created to reach athletes outside of the NSWIS scholarship program and those that are not already receiving significant support from their State, National Sporting Bodies or third parties. Applications are now open, for more information or to nominate an athlete please read and complete the attached form. Alternatively, click here to complete the online application. The recipients of the grants will be announced at the NSWOC Annual General Meeting on Wednesday, 2 April 2014 at NSWIS.

* or

enter the following into your browser: fromEmail=true&formkey=dGJka2h1UTc2MklTS HJZa2w3VFdVVGc6MA

Past and Present Epee Champions Graham Mills, Australian epee champion in 1972 and 1973 caught up with the 2013 epee champion Kristian Radford from Queensland at the national fencing championships last December. If any members have photos from national epee championships from 1965 to 1980, Graham would like to hear from you. Email him at: rgmaustralia@

NSW Fencing is supported by:

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Japan & Hong Kong Tour 2014 by Matt Donald

tic looking blokes, were the friendliest guys you’d ever meet. The second and last leg of the tour was a 3 night stay in Hong Kong. Here the foilists fenced a junior national competition while

A contingent of junior and cadet national members from across the states were invited to join a tour to Japan and Hong Kong. In my opinion the tour went well; I know the fencers enjoyed it and Hugh Cotman looked like he had a good time! Our first destination on the tour was the winter wonderland, Tokyo. While there we trained at the Japanese Institute of Sports Science (JISS), an immense facility with space enough for all sports and accommodation for most of their national teams as well as we visiting Aussies. Three square meals were provided by the JISS; the food here was far better than any other training camp food I have ever had. Portions could be easily monitored, the food tasted good and there was so much on offer. Meals could be tailored to your liking with different meats, vegetables and various breads and rices. Not to mention the amount of green tea, so much of it at every meal, at least from my experience. The rooms were clean and comfortable and after a day’s training there it was easy to envision a good life of eat, sleep, train. Each of us got the chance to train with the Japanese national team, an amazing experience and the training was hard. Every training day was similar; wake up, breakfast, train with the Japanese national team (an Olympic medal winning team in the case of men’s foil), have lunch, rest, train again. We learned a lot about the sport, Above Matt Donald and friends our technique, their technique – small changes were made to each fencer’s style and with the help of Hugh, Alex and Antonio we be- sabre and epee trained. We arrived at night and immediately noticed come cleaner, more precise, in order to keep up with the Japanese. the difference between the two nations. While Tokyo was crowded, Training twice a day (three, if you elected to follow Hugh to the gym) Hong Kong bustled. It was dirtier than Tokyo and densely packed. was not new to us but it was hard and I think we all learned a lesson The competition was very different, the style of Hong Kong fencers in intensity from fencing the Japanese seniors. Few of us didn’t have was completely different; they were less clean than the Japanese and wore chest plates to a man. Again mixed results were achieved aches and pains by the time we finished. but it can be said that enthusiasm after this comp was low. The competitions were huge in Japan with nearly 200 fencers in some categories. The DT and the refs were amazing in their organi- However if one good thing was found in Hong Kong it was that, sation and the refereeing was very fair. We learnt so much about by this stage, the team were comfortable with each other and the attacks in preparation in one day. The quality of fencing there was dinners out were full of laughs, in-jokes and general high spirits. amazing. There were no easy bouts; you had to fence and fight the We left for home on the 20th of January and fencers split in Hong whole way. Out of these competitions there were mixed results but it Kong airport to travel back to their own states. We left having had was fun and we learned. After all the training and the competitions, some decent competition, great training, awesome food and, in my opinion, amazing laughs. simply put, we made progress. Downtime was spent writing, reading, trying crazy flavoured drinks or playing cards, which often became more intense than competition. We had a day off in Tokyo after every one had finished their competitions. On this day, we braved the fresh winter air. We travelled firstly to the Imperial Palace, which was unfortunately closed, but we endeavoured to find an entrance, resulting in walking all along the circumference of its vast wall. It was a nice looking wall. We commuted to Asakusa next, a temple and market place which provided shopping and entertainment opportunities for the rest of the afternoon. What I loved about to Tokyo was the cleanliness and the politeness of the people. Never were we harassed or turned down by these amazing people. Even the wrestlers, these cauliflower-eared gigan-

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2014 Asian Tour: Japan & Hong Kong Antonio Signorello

Tokyo The experience in Japan will be remembered as one of the most important for the development of fencing in Australia. The whole “package” is simply perfect for us and, if we will have the chance to be hosted every year, we definitely will come for the next decade. The Japanese Institute of Sport and Science (JISS) and the National Training Center (two enormous buildings hosting most Japanese Olympic sports) were “home” for the entire team, including 8 MF, 2 WF, 2 WE, 5 WS and 5 MS athletes plus 3 coaches. Accommodation, food, training and recovery facilities are there. Thanks to key passes and few steps fencers were able to move from one section to another within a couple of minutes. At the center everything is thought of to best support high level athletes. Meals are served three times a day at the main canteen where every serving is accurately described regarding calories and nutritional values. All rooms are extremely comfortable and fully equipped. Training venues (not just fencing ones) are remarkably organized and extremely well prepared. Men’s foil for instance have their own one (occasionally shared with épée), and includes, beside 8 Olympic size strips, a video filming system with screens on each strip capable of immediate replays. Recovery facilities consisted of Japanese spa, multi accessorized gym and a 25 metre pool with cold jacuzzi and hot bath next to it. Plenty of lounges for “chilling” down after dinner (the guys loved playing cards). But, the most amazing part is the incredible welcoming atmosphere people find once in Tokyo. And the Japanese fencing teams make no exception. Although they are world class fencers and coaches (the head coaches are in fact from other countries) they are humble and always willing to share their time, space and knowledge with their guests. Training with the Japanese Olympic teams, some of them (MF) silver medallists at London Games, has been awesome. Every session we joined their schedule of work, usually including plenty of “fighting” (that’s the way they call it bouting, I like it, it gives the precise idea of it). Fencing such champions has surely increased the technical knowledge of each of our fencers who were also constantly monitored by our coaches. Our coaching team consisting of Hugh Cotman (foil and physical condition), Alex Andre (sabre and logistics management) and myself was perfectly assembled and, it was also able to provide the best technical support to our guys. The competition, which it is to be considered “just” a part of the tour, has given us exactly what we expected, perhaps something more. The large numbers, nearly 200 in JMF!, “allowed” a different formula which consisted of many rounds of 5 fencer pools, 30% of athletes “cut” after pools and DE bouts at 10 hits up to top 8 to make it quicker. An interesting idea. The results can be considered very encouraging: Six Aussie fencers made the top 8 (Bea Hay CWF, Alex Douglas CMS, Boston Fawkes CMS, Matt Foster CMF, Alice Clementson JWS, Alex Douglas JMS), with several in the top 16. In a couple of bouts they actually got very close to a medal. The clean technique, correct mobility and very decent average level of all Japanese fencers in all weapons was precisely what we were

looking for in order to improve our guys through every single bout. The level of an athlete is important but the technical idea on which a system is based on is far more relevant. In a “correct” technical system the lower fencers still fence well and the best ones are the perfect example of how a fencer should perform. This allows any athlete to easily improve beyond their own personal talent and immediate results. Hong Kong The team, after the great experience in Japan, eventually moved to Hong Kong for the last week end of the tour. Saturday was dedicated to training and, as per schedule, we joined the HK Olympic team at their national center. While foil had a morning light gym session and afternoon lessons, épée (morning) and sabre (afternoon) worked under the national coaches direction. Plenty of fencing “fighting” for everybody. Sunday was the day of the foil competitions, both U20 and U17. Once again the guys have generally shown a very decent technical level yet, in some cases, a higher self confidence would have helped better performance. Results: a bronze medal (Matt Foster-CMF), 4 top 8 (Bea Hay-CWF, Tyler Reynolds-CMF, Ned Fitzgerald-CMF, Tyler Reynolds-JMF). I consider very valuable the team results. Hong Kong foil has recently greatly improved and they have guys who are consistently winning medals at Asians. They have just hired a new (Italian) head coach and their resources, funding and infrastructure, are far better than us. They are a semi professional country and their challenge to the big house powers of the continent is well ahead. Consistently reaching top 8 and in fact winning a medal at this comp it shows the clear progress made from our foil. While épée took a day off, sabre had a comp-training day with the Hong Kong senior national team. 3 more hours of fencing and last few drops of energy spent on the strips. Monday morning we finally got on the plane heading home. In our “suitcase” we are bringing back plenty of experience and the certainty that we are on the correct path. We have very little resources, almost none in comparison, but having a clear structure and logical plans that always privilege the whole team development while still increasing individual values. High level (training with Olympic teams and having the national coaches along gives a high standard to the tour) camps organized next to hard competitions creates the perfect environment for a continuous growth of our fencers. The season will carry on with Asians and Worlds both juniors and seniors (Jordan, Bulgaria, Korea, Russia) and some World Cup events (Japan, Korea) or other international events (Singapore, Mongolia, China). There are plenty of challenges for our national team; the guys know it’s not easy but, conscious of their strengths and weaknesses, they do not fear facing anybody. I’d like to thank both coaches, Alex Andre, as usual a remarkable logistics manager and Hugh Cotman, a coach now of international standard. I also would like to thank “Friends of Fencing” and NSWFA who have greatly supported the 2014 Asian tour. Next year’s tour will be organized just after Cadet & Junior worlds in April. We are all looking forward to another adventure.

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