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JEFF BUKANTZ author of Rules & Referees, was a member of the FIE Rules Commission and has been captain of multiple U.S. international teams, including the 2006 World Championships Team and the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games Teams.

PUBLISHER/ADVERTISING SALES Nicole Jomantas EDITOR Serge Timacheff PRODUCTION/DESIGN Manna Creations PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS Peter Burchard Please send all correspondence and articles for submission to Editor, American Fencing 210 USA Cycling Point, Suite 120, Colorado Springs, CO 80919, American Fencing is published quarterly in March, June, September and December. Please contact the editor regarding submission deadlines. Please contact Nicole Jomantas at (719) 866-4548 or regarding advertising. American Fencing (ISSN 0002-8436) is published quarterly by the United States Fencing Association, Inc., 210 USA Cycling Point, Suite 120, Colorado Springs, CO 80919. Periodicals postage is paid at Colorado Springs, CO 80909-5774, and additional offices. Subscriptions to American Fencing are included with membership in the association. Individuals can subscribe for $25 in the United States and $37 elsewhere. Postmaster: Send address changes to 210 USA Cycling Point, Suite 120, Colorado Springs, CO 80919. DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed by the authors and contributors of content in this magazine are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect any position or policy of the United States Fencing Association (“USFA”). No author or contributor is authorized to speak herein on behalf of USFA or otherwise bind USFA. USFA does not warrant the accuracy of, nor intend reliance upon, any fact or opinions stated herein. The rules and policies of USFA are set forth in, among other things, USFA’s Fencing Rules, Athlete Handbook, Operations Manual, and Bylaws. Nothing herein shall be deemed an amendment or modification of any such rule or policy, nor a binding interpretation thereof.

Cover Photo: Cover Photo Images Courtesy of Getty Images.


KRISTEN HENNEMAN tells the stories of fencers on and off the strip in this issue, including health care workers within the USA Fencing family who are dedicated to helping beat the COVID-19 pandemic. She also goes Behind the Mask with 2021 Olympic hopeful Eliza Stone who is training for Tokyo while preparing to enroll in med school after the Games. Henneman joined the USA Fencing National Office staff as the communications coordinator in 2016.

INA HARIZANOVA serves on the Professional Development Committee of US Fencing Coaches Association and offers guidance on helping students find motivation in the Club Tips column. Dr. Harizanova’s background in psychology, kinesiology and education has allowed her to successfully work at the NCAA and club levels in several sports. She has coached fencing for over 20 years developing multiple national and international medalists. She is a former modern pentathlon World Cup winner. She can be reached at

JUSTIN TAUSIG examines emotional coping mechanisms when for dealing with the changes that come from the COVID-19 pandemic in the Sports Science column. Tausign trained in Paris, France, for 11 years, won two World Cup medals as a six-time U.S. National Team member and was the last stu­dent of Maestro Giorgio Santelli. He currently works with athletes to help hone their emo­tional and mental preparedness for competi­tion.

TED LI (Tech Talk) is a member of the SEMI Commission for both the FIE and USA Fencing. He was the chef de contrôle or head site armourer for three Olympic Games (1984, 1996, 2000). Li has also served as the head armourer at the NCAA National Championships and countless USA Fencing North American Cups. He is a proud student of Joe Byrnes and Dan DeChaine, and has been armouring for more than 30 years.

JENNY PETITE (Parent’s Corner) is both a fencing mom and a veteran epeeist herself at Music City Fencing Club. A former college heptathlete, Petite looks into how to keep your children injury-free in a two-part column.

JEREMY SUMMERS is the director of sports medicine for USA Fencing and a former World Team member himself. In this issue, Summers looks at seven strategies athletes and clubs can use to stay safe during training and competition during the COVID-19 pandemic.

KAROLYN SZOT is a former foil fencer at Northwestern University and current coach at Silverlake Fencing. In the Women in Fencing Column, Szot focuses on how to truly take each bout “touch by touch” and takes a deep dive into the mental aspects of the sport with former World Team member Natalie Vie and the writings of former Olympic Coach Aladar Kogler.




am honored to begin my term as president of the board of USA Fencing. Thank you for trusting me to listen to your concerns, and to drive the organization to better serve you during this trying time.

Your board of directors and National Office are dedicated to steering through the pandemic, and to provide governance for all or the diverse membership. Survival of the organization is foremost and, with the pending COVID-19 vaccine, we seem to be in good shape. Diversity, equity and inclusion is an overarching concern, and we are working to make the governance side reflect the makeup of the membership. Please make yourselves available for open spots, so you can help drive this effort forward. We are here to serve the entire membership, from the U.S. National Team to the recreational fencer. Be a part of it. Many of us are anxious about and the survival of our clubs, our competitive season, our national teams, and the status of our organization. In “normal” times, gathering in the club, having a space to train, to meet your teammates and traveling to national tournaments would provide a welcome respite from the troubles of the real world but, in most areas, we are still denied many of those opportunities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is vital to find creative, safe ways to stay connected to your fencing community both for personal wellbeing and the survival of the sport.

Demand the same of all of them. We must all do our part. Follow the science. And, as your coach has been telling you since the first day you picked up a weapon: PLEASE WEAR A MASK. This is the easiest, and best way to beat this thing. Let’s use our best tactical minds, developed from our years of fencing, to help each other, both locally and as a national community, to innovate and mitigate our biggest common problem: COVID-19. We can get through this together with discipline and dedication. The present is daunting, exhausting at times, but the future is bright. Our Olympic and Paralympic Teams and the promise of glory in Tokyo is something we can all look forward to and be proud of. Look to the ingenuity and spirit of our National Team members who continued their training under unprecedented constraints. The pursuit of excellence can happen anywhere when you love swords enough. We can all shoot for personal goals in our sport also. Keep practicing, keep improving, develop new skills and actions, and find and share ways to emerge a better athlete, and a better member of our fencing community. In this way, we will come out of this stronger, better and more conscious of our place in the fencing family. We can do this together.

USA Fencing stands ready to help in every way possible. We must take every measure to keep ourselves and fencing at large safe. Any individual lapse in diligence endangers the whole. Protect your teammates, protect your students, protect your coaches, protect your club. Peter Burchard USA Fencing Board President




e’re coming to the close of what is arguably one of the most challenging and strange years we will hopefully ever experience in our collective lifetimes. With the cancellation of so many events; the fundamental changes in how we interact, train and compete together; the uncertainty and dangers of a frightening pandemic; and the interruption to so much of how we work and play has made for a year not to be forgotten. Yet, fencing has endured much in its rich history, and virtually every time our sport faces a challenge it has risen to the occasion and overcome adversity only to become stronger and more enduring. We are a community. We are a team. We are a family. We are Americans. We stand together. This Thanksgiving, I found myself not lamenting the problems so much, but instead counting my blessings for being part of the fencing world. Through social media and the Web, being able to stay in touch without being face-to-face is easier than ever before. YouTube training sessions, Zoom gatherings, Facebook and Instagram, and even cell phones have all become creative opportunities and resources for us to commune and share our fears and hopes, losses and achievements, talents and gifts in diverse ways all serving to reinforce our resilience and strength. The downtime has given us the chance to reflect, forgive and revitalize how we see ourselves, and what we want for the future.

We must never forget the losses and tragedies among our ranks, and the sacrifices made facing the common enemy of COVID-19. We owe it to the ones who have worked so hard and tirelessly and given so much – and continue to do so – to keep fencing alive and carry the torch forward. The saying goes, “This too shall pass.” And this difficult period will be behind us one day. What will we have learned? What will we cherish? What will we have that is new and different? How did we use the downtime? And how will we look back to appreciate what we did to make ourselves better, individually, as a family and as a sport? Let’s do all in our power to leverage the events of this year to once again rise above and show the world how fencing inspires determination, unity and success not only on the strip, but in life.

Serge Timacheff Editor, American Fencing Magazine



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he U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee announced on on Dec. 21 that twotime Senior World team bronze medalist Daria Schneider will serve as an Athletes’ Advisory Council representative on the USOPC Board of Directors beginning in January. Schneider will serve as one of three AAC representatives on the 15-person board, joining 2010 Olympic Champion bobsledder Steve Mesler and five-time Paralympic Champion swimmer Brad Snyder who have held their positions since 2015 and 2019, respectively. “I am honored to have been elected by my fellow AAC members to serve on the USOPC Board of Directors. I have felt incredibly supported by my fellow athletes and teammates within USA Fencing who have guided and mentored me while serving our NGB and on the AAC,” Schneider said. “Their guidance and support is a testament to the development of our athlete community within USA Fencing and the progress we have made in learning how to serve and better the future of our NGB. I look forward to bringing this experience to my new role and, in turn, to the entire NGB family. Schneider represented the United States at four straight Senior World Championships (20092012), helping the U.S. Women’s Saber Team win back-to-back bronze medals in 2011 and 2012. A 2011 USA Fencing Division I National Champion, Schneider also won gold for Columbia at the 2007 NCAA Championships. Upon graduation from Columbia with a Bachelor’s degree in Russian literature, Schneider returned as an assistant coach for the Lions for three years and served as the team’s director of operations from 2013-14. Schneider retired from competition in 2016 and accepted a position as the head coach for the women’s fencing team at Cornell University. During her tenure with the Big Red, Schneider led the team to a program record 19 wins in 2016-17. The 2018 Ivy League Co-Coach of the Year had eight athletes qualify for the NCAA

IN THE NEWS Championships and three earn All-Ivy honors during her three seasons with the program. In 2019, Schneider became the first woman to be named head coach of the Harvard Men’s and Women’s Fencing Teams. In her first season, Schneider guided the men’s team to a record 20 wins over the season and its first outright Ivy League title since 2013 after which Schneider was named the Ivy League’s Men’s Fencing Coach of the Year. With Schneider at the helm, Harvard also qualified 11 fencers for the 2020 NCAA Championships prior to the cancellation of the event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Schneider has served as an athlete representative on the USA Fencing Board of Directors since 2012 and as fencing’s athlete representative to the USOPC Athletes’ Advisory Council since 2017. Following her retirement from competition, she remains actively involved in supporting Team USA, serving as team captain at the last two Senior World Championships, including the 2018 Worlds where the United States won a record six medals, including firstever titles by the women’s foil and epee teams.



hrough a partnership between USA Fencing and the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee this year, the Denver Fencing Center became the first club to receive a $20,000 grant to expand its parafencing program with the goals of identifying new fencers and preparing athletes for national and international competition. Club owner Nathan Anderson first became involved in parafencing in 2007 when his club’s teenaged fencers began working with the Colorado Wheelchair Sports Camp to teach fencing during the event. “It was great and the kids really loved doing it, so we’ve been slowly building our program. Two of my students – Edwin and Evelyn Bodoni – even decided to take it upon themselves to create the Colorado Wheelchair Fencing Foundation to help introduce kids with physical disabilities to fencing,” Anderson said. In addition to the USOPC grant, Denver Fencing Center and the Colorado Wheelchair Fencing Foundation also have partnered with the City of Denver to receive funding for parafencing summer camps and the University of Colorado Denver to work with students seeking non-profit experience on developing a marketing plan for the program. They also have worked with Craig Hospital – one of the facilities in the country for individuals with spinal cord or brain injuries – to reach potential new athletes. “We’re moving in the right direction. It was great to get the backing of USA Fencing and the USOPC for the program and it feels really good to have somebody verify that you’re doing the right things and you’re on the right mission,” Anderson said. “Now we want to take that one step further. We want to get more people into the parafencing community and make that community more a part of the club.” Since the creation of the parafencing program, Anderson said Denver Fencing Center’s able-bodied athletes have been in support of helping to support and expand parafencing. “Starting the program brought new people to the club and a diverse population to the club and a level of excitement,” Anderson said. “People want to help the program. They want to get involved. All of our able-bodied people are willing to get in a chair and fence and do anything they can.” One way Anderson sees the potential for expansion of parafencing throughout the United States is through the creation of Walk and Roll events in which able-bodied and para athletes fence each other in the same field. When an able-bodied fencer meets a parafencer in the draw, both athletes fence seated and when two able-bodied fencers compete against each oth-

er, they fence standing. “In order for parafencing to really be parallel, they need to be equal members of the club and equal members of everything we do. One way fencing can basically beat out a lot of other sports is that we can make them equal members of what we do,” said Anderson, who envisions the opportunity for both able-bodied and parafencers to earn classifications during joint events. Currently, Denver Fencing Center includes a mix of new recreational parafencers learning to love the sport as well as athletes such as 20-year-old Hailey Bauer who has won more than 20 medals on the North American Cup circuit since making her debut in 2015 and is just one of the athletes from Denver Fencing Center with the potential to qualify for the 2024 or 2028 Paralympic Games.


“Nathan has already made great strides in his efforts to grow his para program. He has worked hard to make sure para athletes are able to have the same opportunities to compete at the local level as their able-bodied counterparts,” said Brandon Dyett, USA Fencing’s senior manager of culture, sports performance and marketing. “I look forward to working with Nathan as I am sure his program will continue to be a great example of para inclusion at the club level.”




n order to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, as of October 29, all attendees at USA Fencing sanctioned tournaments are required to wear a mask covering both mouth and nose at all times, including athletes during competition. Face coverings must be two-layer cloth masks or surgical face coverings. Single-layer gaiters, bandannas, masks with vents and inserts that clip into the fencing mask and do not fully contact the athlete’s face are not permitted. Athletes who do not comply with this policy will not be allowed to compete. Other individuals, including spectators and coaches, who do not wear a mask or face covering will be assessed a Group 3 penalty for “any person not on strip disturbing order” which includes a yellow card warning for the first infraction and a black card resulting in expulsion from the venue for a second infraction. There will be no exceptions, for athletes or any other tournament attendee, to the mask mandate.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS RULE PROVISIONS FOR MASK WEARING DURING COMPETITION USA Fencing has agreed on several provisions to account for the additional equipment:

Training Materials by Dr. John Heil & Associates

• The rest period during direct elimination bouts has been extended to 90 seconds. • Referees should make allowances for fencers needing to adjust/reset their mask; consider this akin to retying a shoelace or fixing an equipment fastening. Chronic mask slippage is to be treated in the same manner as, for example, non-conforming hair falling out of position; fencers are expected to make reasonable provisions for keeping their face coverings fixed in place, and referees may enforce that via a Group 1 penalty if necessary. • Consider the face covering a required piece of safety equipment. Fencers not properly equipped are not permitted to take part in the competition. • Masks may be temporarily lowered or repositioned in order for the wearer to eat or drink, for the minimum necessary time to complete that act.

Competition Master Plan Stripside Coaching: A Training Manual with Paul Soter

Mind-Body Relaxation: For Fencing with Chip Magdelinskas Available for streaming at

Fencing Sport Psychology ( DVD’s available from

Absolute Fencing Gear 10 AMERICAN FENCING B



amie Melcher and I crossed path back in the early 1970s. He was at the top of his fencing career preparing for the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich while I was just starting out as a member of the varsity team at the City College of New York. As students, we were encouraged by our coach, Professor Ed Lucia, to compete at as many open tournaments as possible where the top fencers, including Jamie, regularly dominated the fields in events at the Fencers Club or New York Athletic Club. Lucia believed this would improve our game by fencing a variety of competitors. It was proven correct. Besides getting lessons from Lucia, our competition at these opens helped me improve much faster. Fencing more experienced fencers like Jamie kept us at the top of our game. Often, Jamie would give us some pointers after a bout which was particularly helpful to receive from a fellow left-handed fencer. My best showing was my senior year at the Martini and Rossi international tournament. A group of 90 competitors, including some from Europe, came to NYC and participated in this high profile event. I made it to the semifinal round, along with Jamie, and we were in the same pool. I was on cloud nine, just making it to that round. Of course, I lost all my bouts, including the one to Jamie. He went on to the final pool and came in third. At that time, tournaments were round robin only with no direct elimination bouts. The final scores were reported by the New York Times Sports section. I saved the news clipping since it was the first time I saw my name in print. Quite a deal for a 21-year-old kid attending The City College of New York. .

MELCHER THE ROLE MODEL When you are young and starting out in life, you look for role models to look up to. In my case, I had my coaches and some of my professors. They were excellent role models and taught us many things about life and how to navigate through it, but another source of a role model was our fellow fencers and competitors. Jamie was both a few years older and much better skilled at fencing. I looked up to and imitated him, both on and off the strip. Always a gentlemen, Jamie was kind, soft spoken and treated others with respect, even opponents. After a bout, win or lose, he was always gracious. That was one of the things that attracted me to this sport in the first place. It was a sport of honor and sportsmanship. You win by your skill and cunning and strategy and not by brute force. You try to execute the least amount of force to score. There is a beauty to these moves that only a well trained fencer can appreciate. Even when I lose, I can appreciate a good move and can’t help but acknowledge it.

I got that urge to take up fencing again. I decided to join the Fencers Club and just go to practice once a week. I made the conscious decision to just fence for exercise and not for competition. I wanted to reconnect with the sport I loved and also the many friends and acquaintances I met over the years. Soon it became a social event. I would drive down to the city once a week, practice, and later have a late meal with my friends. I also got a few of my fellow teammates from college to 1972 OLYMPIAN JAMIE MELCHER come back as well. They too had retired and wanted some distraction and exercise. Again, I reconnected with Jamie. By this time, he is well over 70. He was on the board of the Fencers Club and I learned about the generous donations he had made over the years to support the organization. Jamie founded a successful hedge fund and had done very well financially during his career and was committed to giving back to help the non-profit club thrive. As we fenced, we would reminisce about the old times.

SUPPORTING THE FUTURE In 2018, the Fencers Club was raising funds for a new facility with the plan to move into the new space in 2020. As we were trying to raise the money needed to complete the deal, Jamie announced his generous donation of $5 million to finally get us over the finish line. With $17 million needed to reach the goal, Jamie made this dream a reality. The personal donation by Jamie to help our club purchase our own facility in Midtown Manhattan is his legacy. His generosity and love of the sport cannot be overstated. His donation inspired me to do more for our club, both in terms of donating time and money to support the club. Despite all of the challenges, Jamie has had a life well lived. By any measure, he was a success in business, in his personal life and, most of all, in the sport of fencing. The fact that he was able to integrate all three and ended up being the benefactor for the Fencers Club is just the icing on the cake. Well played, my friend.

RETURNING TO FENCING A few years ago, when I turned 65, I had just retired from my second career. On a chance reunion with an old friend, he told me about a natural supplement for the knee. I decided to give it a try, nothing to lose. To my surprise, it worked. My knee, which was stiff from sitting or resting, started to feel much better.






t the end of the day, what is the job of the referee?

When I pose that question to the brighteyed and bushy-tailed attendees of referee seminars, it provokes a plethora of responses. Among them are the following: • To enforce the rules • To call the actions • To keep the environment safe • To control the fencers, coaches, parents and spectators All of those answers are, of course, correct. The referee is an arbitrator and a facilitator. The referee is like the conductor of an orchestra, basically in complete control of everything on and around that strip. But, while those answers are key components of the referee’s job, and a referee must handle each of those aspects well, there is something much broader that defines his or her over-arching goal: To maintain a level playing field. First and foremost, that is the ultimate job of the referee. In order to maintain a level playing field, a referee must enforce the rules, call the actions correctly and consistently and control the environment. If, for any reason, the referee allows the playing field to be tilted, in any way, an advantage-disadvantage scenario has been created. Referees must avoid that scenario at all costs. We will start with the premise that referees are honest and fair, and never have a horse in the race. So, if that is the case, how does a referee let the playing field get tilted? Examples abound of how the advantagedisadvantage scenario arises. Some are subtle, some are blatant, but all result in a tilted playing field. Here are a few of them:

The Stargazer Referee It is undeniable that some referees tend to favor the big-name fencer. I have been on both sides of this equation, and when you are on the wrong side of it, it is the most frustrating situation imaginable.


The big-name fencer comes onto the strip with the advantage of being the better fencer. That alone causes the lower-ranked fencer to fence uphill, as the playing field is tilted based on skill. The last thing that fencer needs it to have well-earned touches against a better opponent be reversed by a stargazer. When that happened to me, it would put me on tilt!

The Caucus after Every Action There are some fencers who want to have a private chat with the referee after every action. Now, let me stipulate it is absolutely correct for a referee to engage the fencers when a question or need for clarification arises regarding a call. It creates a cooperative and healthy environment. That being said, it should not be abused. There was a well-mannered saber fencer from a prominent university who abused this and referees allowed it to happen. After what seemed like every action, the fencer walked off the strip to the referee to discuss the call. The issue is not that he regularly left the strip without permission; rather, the issue was that by systematically attempting to discuss every call, the fencer was able to delay the bout, potentially stop the opponent’s momentum, get a physical and mental breather and basically dictate the tempo of the bout. By allowing this to happen, the referee allowed the playing field to be tilted and a blatant advantage-disadvantage scenario to take place.

The Caged Lion At the end of the last century, there was a foil fencer who dominated the field with outstanding international success, which was relatively new to American fencing at that time. This fencer was super-aggressive and basically went forward 100 percent of the time. Candidly, this superstar didn’t need any advantage at all. But well-meaning referees universally allowed this fencer to gain an advantage.

And the problem was exacerbated by the fact that many referees didn’t understand they were doing anything wrong. This falls into the subtle category. There is nothing written in the rules about how a fencer must come on guard. There is only a picture of a fencer with the feet about shoulder-length apart. Hence, many referees did not and still do not properly enforce the correct on guard position. The Caged Lion would come on guard with his feet together, as his heels were basically touching. In addition, the fencer was overtly leaning forward, almost diagonally facing his opponent. Doesn’t appear to be so threatening, does it? However, at the command of “fence,” all he had to do was move the front leg forward and he basically stole a meter on his opponent. While this might appear to be subtle to some, it really isn’t subtle at all. The Caged Lion gained a significant advantage, and the onus was on the referees to stop it. They didn’t, and as a result, many opponents were easy prey.

The Path of Least Resistance, Part 1 Contrary to popular belief, referees are human. They want to perform at their best, provide the best possible competitive environment for the fencers and maintain that level playing field.

But, in the heat of battle, some succumb to the pressure. In my 35-year international refereeing career, the pressure was omnipresent. It came from wanting to be perfect. It came from wanting to impress my assignors in order to earn the best assignments. It came from some fencers who were bombastic and occasionally threatening. It came from team captains and coaches yelling at me in various languages. But, most of all, it came when officiating for the strongest and most politically powerful countries. I certainly felt it as a referee. I tried extremely hard not to succumb to path of least resistance and give some close calls to the big-name countries. The temptation, whether consciously or subconsciously, exists for all referees. This is a variation on the Stargazer theme. Imagine being up against a stronger team or fencer, and even when you killed yourself to earn a great touch, it was negated due to a referee taking the path of least resistance. And the irony is that the stronger team or fencer didn’t need any help at all.

The Path of Least Resistance, Part 2 Some referees thrive on making the “La Belle” calls and get most of them right. Others dread the pressure of the La Belle call and make more mistakes than normal.

The bottom line is that the pressure is immense. This one call could determine the wrong champion of a competition. It could bump a fencer from a World Championship Team. There is a college coach and good friend who is still busting my chops over a call I made in the semifinals of the NCAAs in 2003! The reality is some referees handle the pressure better than others. But there are some who succumb to the pressure by taking the path of least resistance. These referees, when faced with a close call at La Belle, take that path of least resistance by simply throwing out the touch. Now, having interviewed many top fencers and coaches, let me stipulate they prefer a referee throwing out a close call to getting it wrong. Fair enough. But they also agree they prefer a referee who makes the tough call as opposed to the one who regularly takes the path of least resistance. By chickening out on the tough call, the referee has tilted the playing field to give the benefit of the doubt to the fencer who definitely didn’t have a chance of getting the call. Some referees take the path of least resistance when ignoring an infraction at la belle that would result in the loss of the bout or match. By chickening out, the referee has completely tilted the playing field. To make matters worse, and by giving the benefit of

the doubt to the fencer who committed the infraction, the referee has actually punished the victim! As I’ve said before, the job of the referee is not an easy one. The referee enters the competition as perfect, and often leaves being accused of being incompetent or unscrupulous, or both. The referee cannot win a bout but is often accused of having lost it. As my father Dan told me: “The life of the referee is like an ever-decreasing concentric circle until there is nobody left who loves you.” While that may be true, I can tell you the type of referee the fencers love. It is the referee who is fair, competent, consistent, open to interaction, courageous at crunch time and who will always maintain a level playing field. It is forgivable for referees to make mistakes. It is unforgivable for referees to allow one fencer to gain an unfair advantage over another.






encers across the globe are beginning to restart training following long layoffs of weeks or months due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and sifting through the information among sport participants and citizens can be a confusing process even for medical professionals. Many strategies in sport have been attempted to mitigate transmission of COVID-19. Over the past few months, professional sports across the United States have demonstrated strategies that work and some that do not. Almost everyone has heard of a sports training bubble within the media. However, many do not understand the learned history of attempting a training bubble within the professional sports model. As the USA Fencing Director of Sports Medicine, over the last six months, I have had the opportunity to attend COVID-19 guideline meetings within a variety of sport organizations, including the NFL, US Soccer, United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee and many others. There has been a common goal of unity among sports medicine professionals across the U.S. for collaboration on how to deal with COVID-19 and sports participation. One of the areas we have learned a great deal about in recent months has been the experiential sport “bubbles” and I want to share some of the takeaways with the fencing community. What is a training bubble or a sports bubble? A bubble is an odd metaphor used in virus mitigation strategies due to its weak structure, however, we all seem to think we understand the concept. Simply put, a training or sports bubble is a virus-free environment accomplished by strategic quarantine and testing to ensure participants within the bubble are free of COVID-19 upon entry into the bubble and remain unexposed to the virus during their time there due to a lack of interaction with individuals outside the bubble. How the bubble is constructed is crucial for maintaining a safe virus free environment. This is mainly accomplished by strict guidelines to ensure zero or minimal


contact from any public setting or an individual outside of the bubble. Different bubble models have come and gone due to the learning experience in professional sports. A 14-day quarantine with no testing, quarantine with one test or even up to a half dozen have been tried. Due to a variety of factors, including the size and length of competitions, USA Fencing and most National Governing Bodies of sport are not able to create such a bubble for an event such as a North American Cup or a National Championship and comparisons between such events and professional tournaments such as the NBA Championships do not take into consideration the whole picture.. For example, the NBA allowed teams to enter its bubble at Disney World® on July 7 and both the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers remained in the bubble for more than three months until the season concluded on Oct. 12. While the bubble experiment proved to be successful with no positive cases reported, few, if any amateur athletes would be able to quarantine for a competitive season of fencing. Even a five-day quarantine period with a testing cycle inside a bubble prior to the start of a single tournament would not be feasible for almost any participants. What we do know is that the COVID-19 risk is not going away in the foreseeable future and to maintain a “safer” training and competitive environment for the sport of fencing we must be able to rely on others within our fencing community. This extends to our friends, families and loved ones for they must understand that their social distancing behaviors may affect others and even may indirectly affect our fencing community. It must be said that transmission risks are greatest • When traveling or inside public places for prolonged periods • When you are closer than 6 feet from another individual for prolonged periods • When you are not wearing a mask in public places or around other individuals

There is growing scientific evidence that this virus is airborne which is incredibly significant for sports in general, especially indoor, and close contact sports. Wearing masks indoors during exercise indoors does not eradicate the risk of exposure but they do absorb some respiratory droplets and limit the radius of respiratory aerosols. The airborne virus is still lingering in the air and did not just dissipate to nothing. Risk of transmission will not reach zero until the pandemic is eradicated. Social and physical distancing are the best mitigation tools against infection. So, what are the best strategies for creating a SAFER training and competitive training environment? The following information will include seven key strategies for creating a SAFER training and travel environment.


A COMMON UNIFYING THEME FOR THE SPORT OF FENCING The best move forward for sport organizations and their participating clubs is to pledge to adhere to best practices surrounding mitigation strategies not only in their training environment, but in their daily lives. US Soccer created the “Play on Pledge” for the organization which encompasses professional soccer, US National Teams, and youth soccer leagues around the nation. The “Play on Pledge” is now starting to be recognized internationally. The Play on Pledge is a powerful and unifying “call to action,” providing a foundation and opportunity for coaches, clubs, athletes, and communities to provocatively affirm their commitment to the health and safety during this challenging time. While every club and team situation are different, the Pledge enables training partners and the US Soccer community to come together as one, in respect for the sport, each other and

themselves. Together, we can keep our community healthy and safe. • I pledge to STAY INFORMED and follow instructions from medical professionals • I pledge to be HONEST about my health and tell others if I am experiencing any symptoms • I pledge to do my best to ADHERE to the recommendations for good hygiene and social distancing

test within 72 hours upon arrival and/or a travel form document to submit before your arrival. In some states, failure to follow guidelines regarding entry into the state or mask wearing while you are in that state may even result in fines. It is important that all sport participants investigate the COVID-19 risk within their local community and/or travel destination.



2. Is COVID-19 spreading where you live? 3. Is COVID-19 spreading where you are considering travelling to? 4. Will you or your travel companion(s) and training partners be in close contact with others during training or travel? 5. Are you, your training/travel companion(s), or family members at higher risk of severe illness if you do get COVID-19?



Determining your community and/or the community you are traveling to is a simple process to investigate. Research COVID-19 travel guidelines in your state which should be available on the internet in most areas. It is important to understand the risk level not only in your state, but to research where your county stands as well. If you are considering travel to another state, it is important to understand the guidelines of the state that you are coming from and entering. Some states may have quarantine mandates or to provide a negative

• No. 1 Best practice is single room. • It is NOT recommended to have a roommate or share a room with another individual that you are not in regular contact with e.g. spouse or family member.


Training guidelines are by far the most extensive list of measures and tactics for mitigation. First, club owners should investigate their state and county guidelines for businesses to help ensure compliance with local health officials. Due to vast amounts of information and differences between states and counties we have highlighted a few here and will guide you to USA Fencing Training Guidelines for COVID-19 Mitigation link.

• I pledge to PLAY ON safely when I feel comfortable and ready to return and encourage others to do the same.

1. Do you and your training partners/club share a common mission to create a safe training environment?



• I pledge to be RESPONSIBLE to myself, my family, my team, and my community

Once members of the fencing community commit to doing their best to take actions that are socially responsible and help mitigate risk of virus transmission, club owners, athletes, coaches and parents can investigate things to consider before you begin training or traveling within the public. There are many questions to consider, however, here are five important questions to answer.




Training facilities • Training partners/group selected – only this group trains at one time • Posted information of guidelines in facility

• Safest form of travel is alone and driving.

• Labeled open strips vs closed strips

• If flying, it is recommended that all participants follow strict guidelines for proper safety during flight and travel within airports.

• Water stations not in use

• If traveling by train, it is recommended that all participants follow strict guidelines for proper safety by maintaining social distancing, wearing a mask, and limiting interaction with individuals and surfaces. • It is NOT recommended to travel via bus.

• Clean and disinfect equipment often • Avoid participants from stretching around the strip area • Preparation before training • Multiple masks (do not want to wear a damp mask) During training • Maintain social distancing

• It is NOT recommended to travel by taxi or uber for long distances (over 15 minutes).

• Always wear a mask under your fencing mask

• It is NOT recommended to travel with other companions that you do not live with, unless it is mutually agreed upon to strictly limit all interaction and situations of possible infection five days prior to departure for destination.

• Refrain from screaming or yelling during training



• No. 1 Best practice is cooking for yourself, ordering-in or using a catering service. • Outdoor restaurants with appropriate social distancing are acceptable. • It is NOT recommended to have a roommate or share a room with another individual outside of your immediate family.

• Bring your personal drinking water After training • Clean/sanitize all surfaces • Remove all uniforms and equipment of training session • Minimize exchange of administrative supplies such as pens, clipboards etc. • Sanitize all shared supplies and equipment Together we can make a difference for a healthy and safe training and competitive environment and each fencer, coach, and parent must decide what is best in their situation and to return to sport when they feel it’s safe and ready to return.

For more information we strongly recommend you visit This information source will provide you with key insights and information to help build a safer training and competitive environment for the sport of fencing.








or most fencers, there have not been any meaningful competitions since February. With the exception of injury, it is likely the longest any active fencer has gone without competing. So, how can we navigate getting back to it after so many months of inactivity?

1. UNDERSTAND WHAT YOUR GOALS ARE NOW This means not what they were last season, but what they are now. Very often, individuals who handle a crisis situation better tend to take a longer-range view. The emphasis needs to be on long-term development rather than on how good or bad you are this fall. It will be a long road back and that must be accepted.

2. SET DAILY PROCESS GOALS Improving bladework, footwork, point control, agility and your mental game are all process goals you can be working on now. Work with your coach to develop a plan. Have a plan in mind when you step on the strip for every practice. Maestro Giorgio Santelli used to tell me there were too many fencers who put on their masks and take out their brains. Before you put your foot behind the en gaarde line, you must have a plan. If you don’t, step off and come up with one.

3. DAILY MENTAL PRACTICE This is a great time to improve your mental game! Find a meditation style that works for you. Start a training log where you write down all of your objectives for each practice and training session. After practices, write down a debrief of how that practice went for you, what worked and what didn’t. This can help chart your progress and this data collection can be useful as you learn more about what elements you need to emphasize while training.

4. IMAGINE SITUATIONS YOU’LL HAVE IN COMPETITION There can be a shock element of going to a big venue. Visualize what that experience will be like for you. Imagine every detail, from the travel to the venue, weapons check, the warmup, and the competition itself. Practice every element of what you may encounter during the entire experience. This kind of mental rehearsal can do wonders for being more prepared and confident.


5. HAVE A MENTAL HEALTH PLAN If you have watched the Michael Phelps documentary “The Weight of Gold,” you will have seen how even top athletes can struggle with mental health. This winter will be even more challenging in some ways than the previous months of the pandemic have been. With the colder weather making spending time outside uncomfortable for many, the feelings of isolation are likely to increase. Put a structure in place to deal with this now. Make sure you have family or friends you can speak with about your struggles and also have a certified counselor in case you feel the need to speak about your mental health with a professional.

6. KNOW WHEN TO CONNECT The term “social distancing” is misleading. It is important to practice physical distancing in order to avoid spreading COVIC-19, but be as social as you like! Arrange virtual coffee/tea/ happy hours over Zoom/Skype/FaceTime with people you’d like to catch up with. This is a time to be more social, not less. The impulse is often to stay away from others, but only do that physically. Stay social and stay connected!

7. …AND WHEN TO DISCONNECT We are all spending more time on our electronic devices during this pandemic. Consider setting aside some time to unplug yourself from those devices and interact with your immediate environment. Creating some natural distance between yourself and the constant stream of emails and alerts will help keep you grounded and reduce the fear of missing out that social media can stir up for many of us. Those who will best-off after this pandemic is over will be those who were able to adapt the most during it. This kind of forced adaptation is difficult. That is also what makes it worthwhile.

By Kristen Henneman



hile Eliza Stone’s fencing career may have started by chance, she has been creating a name for herself in the sport ever since. After a standout fencing career at Princeton, Stone just missed qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games. With the goal of representing Team USA in 2021, Stone won individual bronze at the 2018 World Championships and her first individual Pan American Championships gold in 2019. Currently No. 4 in the World, Stone is on the cusp of clinching a spot in Tokyo. Stone talks with American Fencing about competing at Princeton with her siblings, applying to medical school and working to make 2021 her best year yet.


Let’s start at the beginning. Did you play other sports growing up and how did you start fencing? My siblings and I were homeschooled and so the options for sports were limited since we weren’t part of school teams. The girls did ballet for a couple years. I was terrible at it. I had zero grace. My brother was really looking for a sport that he would like, and that’s when my parents started looking around. My parents found a flyer for a fencing club and we thought it was interesting. We went over for the Friday night kiddie class and it was a lot of fun and we kept going. It was me, my brother and my little sister who got sucked into fencing. So it was completely random that your parents found a flyer? Yeah. A lot of my life choices have a little bit random if you really look at them. What is it about fencing? I think the fact that you have to both be physically working hard, but then there’s a huge mental aspect. So it doesn’t get boring. I felt like with running or swimming, it was getting a speed or performing something in a certain way. You’re competing with yourself and it can get a little bit boring. When you have someone to compete with, it’s a lot more interesting. Since I was always competing with my brother and sister – we were always competing with each other – that dynamic was always there. It was a lot more fun. We push each other and you could feel like you were learning quickly because you’d learn the strategy and get a little more fencing footwork correct. You can see yourself improving and knowing that there’s a psychological aspect of controlling yourself and learning from that felt more useful. Did I read you started with a different weapon? The first two weeks I was doing foil because the lady running the fencing club tried to guess at what we would be good at. I was put in foil and my brother and sister were put in saber. That didn’t last long, maybe a week or two, which was like two practices since it was a kid class. And then I went over to épée. I thought I would like épée actually. I was there for like a month and really enjoyed it. And then my parents were like, ‘You’re going over to saber because we have three kids doing this and we’re going to need to share equipment and we’re not getting two types of equipment, so you’re in saber now. Have fun.’ Again, another accident that really ended up shaping my life. It worked out. I know you have three siblings and, like you said, your two younger siblings also fence. What’s your relationship with them like? It was a lot of fun growing up fencing together. The three fencers all went to Princeton. We were all on the same NCAA team. It makes you closer having a sport where you’re required to be together and work through things. You support each other. I think it was really good for us to have these sports that we took part



in together. And my older sister, I overlapped with her in ballet. Even my little sister did ballet with her, so having group activities for kids to do together, it makes us a lot closer. Any sibling rivalry? Always. That’s the best part of it. You always want to win and you’re never going to give up or give up the bout. And you expect your sister or brother to do the same thing. And if you lose, you’re annoyed and you work harder and get better. At the end of the day, it makes you better. What was it like all competing at Princeton and going to NCAAs together? It was a lot of fun. All the cards had to align just right because I was a senior, my brother was a junior and my little sister was a freshman. We had very strong squads and it just happened to work out that all three of us qualified through the NCAA qualification process to the final 12 NCAA fencing team. Once that happened, we’re going to go for it and do as much as we can. I think we all did better because we were all there supporting each other. NCAAs is a hard competition and you have a lot more fun and you do better if you have a group behind you that you like and you have fun with.


Talk to me about the college fencing experience in general. You won the individual and team title in 2013 and became the first four-time All-America women’s saberist in Princeton’s history. What is it like? I’m one of those people who really likes the team aspect of fencing. I think for most of my life I’ve been stronger at team fencing than individual fencing because you have something more to work for. It’s a little more pressure, but they push you and lift you up also. I think when you get a good team together, you all fence way better than you normally would individually, and that kind of magic is hard to find. It’s worth working on. We had it in the Princeton team, and it was great. That’s why we had success. It was lot of fun. You work hard to get there and you push each other and then it’s definitely worth it. You make good friends. It was a lot of fun and I wish I could still be on the team, but obviously you have to move on.

Oleg Stetsiv, and I really had to sit back and take a new view on fencing. I had to learn how to like it again and look at it as a way to stay healthy and push myself. It is what it is, whatever happens. I think that’s a much healthier way to view it, and I really focused on just fencing well for the sake of it. My mind just clicked into the right place in the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, and fencing came a lot easier, and that was the result of slowly rebuilding my mind and body after not making 2016. So [2018 Worlds] was the culmination. It was a very, very happy ending to a rough time. Will qualifying for the Tokyo Games be that much sweeter after missing the team in 2016? Yes. I’ve been waiting a long time for this Olympics. It’s going to be amazing, whenever it happens, especially after this pandemic. The world stops. Everyone has a miserable year and then I’m hoping that


Are you still working in the chemistry lab at Princeton? Yeah, I’m still there, but work hours were really reduced after COVID-19. So mostly, from day to day, I’m applying to med school right now, taking my last pre-med class online – which is crazy. Zoom University is hard. [Laughs]. So between applications and essays and taking my last course and training, it keeps me busy every day. What do you want to do in the medical field? Sports medicine, maybe orthopedic surgery. I’m going to keep my options open because I don’t really know where I want to go until I get to medical school. Those are two areas where I have a lot of experience though, just my experience as an athlete.

the Olympics can finally be at a time when we can relax and get back to normal life and all celebrate together. Let’s end with a couple fun questions. What is your favorite place you’ve traveled? Ireland. I went to Dublin with my sister and we just drove across country to the west and out to Sligo. The countryside and the scenery there is just absolutely gorgeous. You just drive around, walk around the fields – it’s just another level of beauty. There’s nothing like it.

What made you want to go toward the medical field? You want to be useful and you want to do something you enjoy. So there are innate reasons that I enjoy the caretaking aspect that I see among the trainers and the doctors. The patients are all very grateful, at least among the athletes. You’re literally facilitating someone reaching their goals. You get to work with your hands, which I like, as a surgeon. It just feels like you’re both working hard and being useful. You’re not just working for yourself. I have to ask about your individual World Championship bronze medal in 2018. What did that one mean to you? So, I didn’t make the 2016 Olympic Team and I was very, very bummed out about that. I had to decide whether I was going to keep going. My old coach, Hristo Hristov, retired and I started working with STONE AND COACH OLEG STETSIV. PHOTO CREDIT: #BIZZITEAM.


QUICK FACTS CLUBS: Bergen Fencing Club and Princeton University COACH: Oleg Stetsiv SCHOOL: Princeton, Bachelor’s in politics (2013) CURRENT LOCATION: Princeton, N.J. BEST RESULTS: 2018 Senior World Championship individual bronze medalist ELIZA WITH HER PARENTS, CYNTHIA AND ROBERT STONE. PHOTO CREDIT: ELIZA STONE.

2019 Pan American Champion Three-time Senior World Championship team medalist (Gold in 2014)

I know you love to read. What are some of your favorite books? I just reread Dune. That was great. But honestly, I’m a big nerd, so I just reread the Harry Potter books and the Lord of the Rings books. And Chronicles of Narnia. Those sound like kid books, but they have a lot of thoughtful writing in them. They’re just well-written, beautiful stories. So I just keep revisiting those books. Lastly, your cat Pumpkin is so cute. He’s just my sweetheart. He’s always there meowing for me when I get home. It’s really hard to leave him for competitions, or just for the day to go to practice. I just want to be home with him all the time. He wakes me up by licking my face and curling up my arm and purring. He’s a very, very sweet kitty. I’m lucky to have him.

Two-time individual medalist on the Senior World Cup circuit 2013 NCAA Champion (Individual and Team)

GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Helping Princeton win the NCAA Championships in 2013, helping Team USA win Worlds in 2014 and hopefully making the 2021 Olympic Team! FAVORITE FENCING ITEM: “I kept my shoes that I

had for my bronze at World Championships. I do keep my shoes. They take me through a lot.”

JOCK OR GEEK: Geek TRAINING REGIMEN: Practice at Princeton three days a week Practice in New York two days a week Lessons two days a week Physical therapy two days a week Cross training (ex. running the football stadium stairs) two days a week

FAVORITE DRILL: “It’s simple. In the box, one person’s always attacking and the other person can either attack and prep or go for defense of any sort, so the attacker really has to be good at working on the slow, even footsteps. So they can either finish immediately or continue. That’s just such an important skill in saber, especially nowadays. It’s one we always go back to and work on.” ELIZA’S CAT PUMPKIN. PHOTO CREDIT: ELIZA STONE.



whe r e a r e t he y now?

Fencing for a Lifetime

Tim Glass

Reflects on his Athletic Career BY SERGE TIMACHEFF



im Glass is a living example of how fencing is truly a lifetime sport. From teen champion to accomplished veteran epéeist, wielding a sword combined with a competitive spirit have driven a passion that has taken him around the world and given him a treasurechest of memories and a vast network of friends. As an elite fencer in the 1970s and 80s, Glass was known for his tall, lanky style and precision touches. As a veteran fencer, he remains a veritable force to contend with, albeit one who does so with a smile and a friendly, sporting personality. Glass began fencing in eighth grade in Niles Ill. at Notre Dame High School where Coach Rev. Lawrence Calhoun — the founder of the USA Fencing Junior Olympics — offered an eight-week foil class. It was an immediate fit, and Glass was hooked.


When he went through his teen growth spurt (“I think I grew nine with the organization, and in particular, being on the international cominches in a year,” Glass said), épée became the natural weapon of mittee and being part of the athlete selection process. During these choice and he fenced his first JOs as a sophomore. “We were all over self-described “service years,” he fenced primarily for fun but his time the place to tournaments in a van with 10 kids. It wasn’t glamorous, but was limited to train properly and he lacked access to a coach so he we loved doing it.” stayed involved by contributing his experience and business skills to By the time he reached his senior year, he took gold at JOs in South- help others meet their goals. ern California, and his passion grew exponentially. In the early 2000s, Glass filled in as an assistant coach at NorthUniversity of Notre Dame fencing Coach Mike DeCicco recognized western University for Ed Kaihatsu, who was on leave. He was there his talent, which is what led him to pursuwith Laurie Schiller, and he once again got the ing his passion at the school he had always bug to compete. He went to the U.S. National dreamed of attending. In 1975, he became Championships as a recruiter and fenced Div the first U.S. man to medal at the Junior World 1A, just to “stay in the game.” As so many Championships, winning bronze in 1975 in others before him have found, Glass couldn’t Mexico City – and that put him on the provershake his love for the sport. bial map. Also, it was there he met coaches Glass said he began fencing on and off Michel Sebastiani and Leon Auriol, and he again, but got serious again when he started was selected as an alternate for the 1975 Secompeting as a veteran in 2011. nior World Championships in Budapest. Training with 1980 Olympic team bronze “I was addicted,” Glass quipped. “When medalist Maitre Boris Lukomsky at the Fencyou have some success, you’re always going ing Center of Chicago, Glass qualified for the GLASS (THIRD FROM RIGHT) WITH HIS to be pumped.” Veteran World Championships in 2013. FAMILY AT SON NICK’S WEDDING. After college, Tim relocated to Houston to Although Glass continued to fence veteran train with Coach Sebastiani, who had started events, he suffered from plantar fasciitis in a club – the Sebastiani Fencing Academy – 2015 that prevented him from competing at and began training with the intent of making the level to which he was accustomed. the Olympic fencing team. There he trained Having finally recovered from the injury, with some great fellow athletes, including Glass won gold in the veteran men’s épée Robert Hurley – father of 2012 Olympic team event at the Arnold Classic ROC in March just bronze medalists Kelley and Courtney Hurley days before competition around the world – and honed his game further. came to a screeching halt due to COVID-19. His Olympic dream, however, was dashed “The best thing that has happened to me GLASS FENCING MIKE PERKA IN THE in 1980. Glass won the 1979 U.S. National since the pandemic is Mark Wheeler running FINALS AT THE 2013 MARCH NAC. Championships and was on track for Olympic a Zoom class for vets three days a week,” said team selection. As the process unfolded for Glass. “It’s been great, keeps me focused on choosing the 1980 U.S. Team, he was third fencing and in-shape with foot- and bladein the men’s épée point standings and everywork.” thing looked rosy. He was named to the team He is intent upon continuing his efforts to the day after the U.S. formally decided to boybecome a World Champion, now as a veteran. cott the Moscow 1980 Olympic Games. “I keep competing – I don’t like giving up Glass felt he had a good shot at making the touches to anyone,” he laughed. “The better next Olympic Games and focused on setting I get in fencing, the better I am physically. I his sights for the 1984 Games in Los Angeles. fence to stay in shape, and I stay in shape to CELEBRATING 40 YEARS OF MARRIAGE He fenced in various national events and comfence.” WITH WIFE MARIE. peted at the multi-sport U.S. Olympic Festival Three of his children also went to Notre ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF TIM GLASS. as well as the 1983 Pan American Games. Dame. They still remark how they see his face However, life became busy for Glass who in photos there from when he was a senior married his wife Marie in 1980 and began juggling fencing with a career and the Fighting Irish beat NYU in 1977 to win the NCAA Championin the insurance industry. The 1984 Games passed and his career grew ships. with the first of four children arriving in 1985. He has no intention of stopping. In 1987, the family moved from Houston back to Chicago where he “Yes, I have other priorities and sometimes they take precedence,” founded the Northshore Fencing Academy. That same year, while tak- he said. “But I’d like to be No. 1 in the world and it’s a long way away, ing lessons from Maitre Yves Auriol, he won his second career National but I want to keep trying to do that as long as I can.” Championship title. He’s doing what he loves. From there, his time for serious fencing training became challenging, but he continued being involved by becoming involved with the business of USA Fencing, serving for several years in various capacities






ROBERT DOW WORKS TO CONTINUE FENCING’S LEGACY ROBERT DOW HAS FENCING IN HIS BLOOD. When Robert was born in 1945 to parents Warren Dow and Helena Mroczkowska Dow, he immediately entered into one of the most successful American foil fencing families of the era. Father Warren was a two-time National Champion who made his Olympic debut at the 1936 Games in Munich. Helena won national titles in 1940 and 1943 and followed with two more after Robert was born, adding golds in 1947 and 1948 before she qualified for the London Games in 1948. Warren and Helena closed that chapter of their fencing legacy in London, but Robert showed no interest in continuing the family’s tradition in the sport as a child. That is, until he attended the 1958 Senior World Championships at age 13. Held at the University of Pennsylvania, Robert traveled to watch the World Championships with his parents. While his mom and dad had both been foil fencers, it was saber that caught his eye. He began watching Bobby Blum, who at the 1958 Worlds became the first U.S. fencer to make the individual saber finals at a Senior World Championships. “[Saber] looked a lot more exciting to me,” Dow said. “So afterwards, I went home and said to my father, ‘Gee, you know, I wouldn’t mind trying to fence saber.’” Although he started later and didn’t begin fencing seriously until he was about 18, Dow also found success in the sport, fencing at four Senior World Championships and competing in the team saber event at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. Dow and his parents are believed to be the first father-mother-son trio to compete at an Olympic Games in the same sport in U.S. history. “I was just thrilled to have made the team,” Dow said. “We got eliminated, but I was pleased with my personal performance.” Dow, who also won multiple team National Championships with the Fencers Club, noted that he was a better team fencer than an individual fencer.

“I don’t think I put as much pressure on myself and I just let myself fence, as opposed to worrying about the consequences,” Dow said. One of his teammates at the Fencers Club was Peter Westbrook. Dow and the eventual 1984 Olympic bronze medalist won several team National Championship titles together. The two would become lifelong friends with Dow still serving as the treasurer for the Peter Westbrook Foundation. After the Olympic Games in 1972, Dow went on to compete at his third and fourth Senior World Championships in 1973 and 1974 before retiring to focus on his career in the finance industry. Although Dow earned both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in engineering prior to the 1972 Games, he soon decided the field wasn’t a good fit and followed his Olympic appearance by enrolling in Columbia Business School, going on to earn his MBA. It was, in fact, a connection in the fencing community who helped Dow obtain his first job at the investment management firm Lord Abbett & Co. during the lead-up to the Munich Games. Dow would work there for 40 years, ultimately becoming a managing partner before retiring from the firm in 2012. While Dow retired from competition more than 40 years ago, he remains passionate about giving back to the sport of fencing and remains a long-term trustee for the U.S. Fencing Foundation. Dow also has invested in the future of the sport as a Foundation Steward, making a $50,000 donation to the Foundation, which protects, supports and grows the financial assets awarded to USA Fencing from the profits of the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. “Between my parents’ lives and my life, it’s been a long haul in fencing … There’s a steep background,” Dow said. “I think if people have been reasonably successful in life, and believe they got something out of fencing, they might want to consider helping others who maybe aren’t in as good a position.”



SELFLESS ACT The Vassar Head Coach Saves a Life by Donating His Kidney BY KRISTEN HENNEMAN



n late 2018, Bruce Gillman received a phone call from his good friend Tom Ciccarone, who was trying to help a fencing parent they both knew. Jack Anderson* had been battling kidney disease for nearly 20 years, and Ciccarone explained his kidney problems were getting worse and that the family was looking for a kidney donor. Both Ciccarone and Gillman had known the Anderson family for a long time within the tightknit fencing community on the East Coast. Anderson’s son, Benjamin*, grew up fencing at Candlewood Fencing Center in Connecticut where Ciccarone is the head épée coach. Gillman had coached at Candlewood in the past as well, and Benjamin would go on to fence at Vassar where Gillman has been the head coach since 2005. The Anderson family attended all home matches and supported the team, helping with various tasks such as picking up trash after the meets or moving tables with Anderson even helping redesign Vassar’s fencing equipment cage. Although he discussed his health condition with few outside of his family over the years, Anderson had been diagnosed with idiopathic membranous nephropathy in 1999. A disease which often leads to kidney failure, membranous nephropathy occurs when the glomerular basement membrane becomes damaged and thickened, resulting in proteins leaking from the blood vessels into the urine. Through medication, Anderson was able to maintain a reduced, but still acceptable level of kidney function, for nearly two decades. But, in 2018, he was told his kidneys were getting tired and he was heading toward needing to go on dialysis. While he wasn’t in immediate need, the need could become imminent at any time, and the waitlist for a kidney is years long. It was time to put him on the list for a kidney transplant, and Ciccarone was looking to help his friend When Ciccarone broached the question to Gillman about whether he knew someone who would be willing to donate a kidney, Gillman originally said that he didn’t. But Gillman couldn’t get the question out of his head. “After I hung up the phone, I thought about it for a while and I thought, ‘I don’t know anybody, but why couldn’t I do this thing?’” Gillman said. Gillman began researching kidney donation through Renewal, a company that works to match donors with recipients and offers resources to make organ donation more manageable for both the donor and the recipient. “I thought about it and this is somebody who’s a good guy, he’s the father of one of my fencers – I know him – and I figured, if I can help, why not?” Gillman said. When Gillman saw Anderson at one of Vassar’s next meets, he said he was starting the process and was putting his name in to see if he could donate a kidney.


Anderson was stunned by the coach’s desire to help and potentially go through a major surgery that would involve several weeks of recovery time. “Anybody who’s healthy could do it, but it’s also a big deal. You have two kidneys; you can survive with one, but to give a part of our body up to somebody else, it’s really amazing,” Anderson said. After many tests and talking with the surgeon and team of doctors, Gillman was eligible and decided to go through with the donation. In order to help Anderson, Gillman didn’t have to be a direct match. In fact, he could have been a part of a kidney swap (a chain of donations) and donated to another individual. However, as luck would have it, Gillman just so happened to be a good match for Anderson. In early summer of 2019, Anderson received a call from his medical team letting him know that a kidney was available. “I was like, ‘What? Can you say that again?’ I couldn’t believe it,” he said. The transplant took place successfully on July 31 of 2019, and Gillman was able to walk down the hall for the two to say hello and check in on each other. “Bruce is such an angel. It still just blows my mind. I can’t quite get my head around it,” said Anderson, who called Gillman a hero. “I feel like I’m carrying this really precious cargo. It’s not just a matter of me trying to stay healthy, but you have to take care of this gift because without the gift, I’d be on dialysis or some other kind of thing. You feel you’re carrying this gift around all the time.” Within a month, Gillman had recovered from the operation and was ready to begin the fencing season – both with his team at Vassar as well as on the national circuit where he is an active referee. Anderson also is doing well and has seen steady kidney functioning. “[Bruce] saved my life,” Anderson said. “There’s now a permanent connection. I think Bruce is just a giving person and you can just tell that the way he deals with the kids [at Vassar]. I never expected anything like that. It’s pretty awesome.” Since the transplant, Gillman and Anderson’s families have become very close and, during the COVID-19 pandemic, they have met virtually on Zoom to play games such as Scrabble or Spades. “As a college fencing coach, I get close to a bunch of parents because they’re at the tournaments and some of them kind of become the head mom and dad of the team,” Gillman said. “So having a relationship with the parents of one of my fencers is not unusual, but definitely our relationship is a lot closer.” Now, both Gillman and Anderson look to bring awareness to kidney donation and the many still in need. “It’s something that any healthy person could do,” Gillman said. . “Until they can actually grow organs, people are going to be in need … There are a lot of people in need and you can help save a life.” According to the Living Kidney Donors Network, there are approximately 100,000 people in the United States on the waiting list for a kidney transplant.

For information about kidney donation, visit

*Names changed to protect privacy of kidney recipient and his family.



Members of the Fencing Community Who Have Made a Difference during COVID-19 BY KRISTEN HENNEMAN



n January 21, 2020, the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the United States, and life as everyone knew it began to change. Within months, sports came to a halt, schools closed and many people began to lose loved ones as the pandemic surged across the globe. Helping to fight and risking their lives were the frontline healthcare workers, who on a daily basis fought to help others survive this deadly, new disease. These are the stories of six members of the fencing community who have helped in the fight against COVID-19.


Alex Acevedo, who runs Peekskill Fencing Center in New York, is a paramedic for the New York City Fire Department. A member of FDNY for 21 years, Acevedo worked during the 9/11 attacks, but had never seen anything like the effects of COVID-19. “I’ve never felt unsafe working in the Bronx because I was born and raised in the Bronx, but I just remember walking outside and looking around and feeling unsafe. It was just like, the


air is unsafe. It was this strange feeling like there is something there,” Acevedo said. “You can’t see it, you can’t quantify it, you’ve never interacted before … It was eerie. That’s the best way of saying it. It was this eerie feeling that something’s out there. And it could get to anybody.” Constantly on their toes, the citywide call volume began to go up significantly, increasing its more than 7,500 calls from its typical 4,000-5,000. Reinforcements were sent from around the country as frontline workers began to be overworked, in addition to coworkers who were out due to contracting COVID-19. “During COVID, we were responding to multiple cardiac arrests in a day, sometimes like five to six in a day. That’s all we were doing,” said Acevedo, who noted that prior to the pandemic they would typically get a cardiac arrest call a couple times per week. “And then as the protocols changed, it wasn’t as exhaustive. We were spending less time on a cardiac arrest because we were so overwhelmed with them, so we would do the best we can, but 20 minutes to half an hour and then if that wasn’t working, then they would call it and we would go to the very next cardiac arrest. We were just kind of running back and forth to cardiac arrests the entire day. I guess the best way to say it is that it became like our new normal.”


A 21-year-old fencer for Johns Hopkins University, Brooke Stanicki is an active EMT in New Jersey, working in her home state during the pandemic and breaks from school, while volunteering in the emergency department at The Johns Hopkins Hospital during the school year. Like Acevedo, Stanicki quickly saw the effects of COVID-19 as she started seeing the number of COVID-19 transports increase. “I feel like when the news wasn’t really sure about the virus, I was really sure,” Stanicki said. “Immediately, I was telling my friends that everyone needs to stay inside. Everyone needs to really focus because I’m seeing patients who are otherwise relatively healthy get extremely sick extremely quickly.” As New York and New Jersey were entrenched in the fight, Gillian Adynski – an NCAA All-American at the University of North Carolina who received her PhD in nursing and is currently a clinical nurse in UNC Hospital’s emergency department as well as a research fellow at Duke – had slightly more time to prepare with her staff. “So luckily we live in more of a suburban, or even almost rural area, so when the first waves hit, we weren’t hit with these big surges that you saw on TV in areas like New York and New Jersey. But we kind of had to prepare for that,” Adynski said. “So they immediately started rationing our PPE at work and we had to be careful around that, for our own safety as well. I think one thing that’s really great about the emergency medicine and nursing work forces is that they’re really resilient to a lot of challenges like this. We’re used to emergencies coming in and a lot of people really stepped up, came in extra hours and did their part.”

A NEED TO HELP Stanicki, a senior pre-med student who has been an EMT for four years now, was one of many who began working extra hours, wanting to take advantage of her opportunity to help others. “I felt like I really wanted to help immediately and I started picking up a lot of shifts because I knew that some of my coworkers have kids and some people live with immunocompromised people, and I knew that I was in such a perfect position,” Stanicki said. “I was able to isolate myself in my house, I’m young and healthy, and I knew this was something I really wanted to do.” Adynski similarly stepped up, putting herself in harm’s way even when she didn’t need to. “When an emergency like this happens, though, you do realize how much it’s just something you feel that you absolutely have to do. I’m very lucky that my primary income comes majorly from my research position, so when the pandemic happened, I could have stepped away from my clinical job if I felt it was unsafe or something, but that didn’t even cross my mind and wasn’t an option because it’s a time when your community in two senses needs you,” Adynski said. “One, your community of the actual patients and populations you serve, but also your coworker community. And I think maybe we can loop in fencing there. Being an athlete, you have a team approach to these things, but you definitely don’t want to let your coworkers down and you want to make sure you step up and are there for them.”





Like most Americans, frontline workers were forced to change their behaviors and ways of doing things, both in and In addition to the increased shifts and longer hours, frontline out of the job. workers, including Acevedo, had to worry about their families At work, Stanicki and other healthcare workers saw many and bringing home the disease. changes to their protocols, from less direct contact with their “Basically, at one point, I said goodbye to my family like, patients and virtual appointments to not allowing family mem‘Hey, this is not going to be normal to be working 16 hours a bers into appointments to changes in equipment. day, just coming home to sleep,’” Acevedo said. For example, Stanicki began wearing gowns or hazmat In order to keep them safe, there was a time when he slept suits, N95 masks and face shields. in another room and was interacting with his family less. He “I think that this was such a challenge that medicine was also said that he knew coworkers stayed at work or at another forced to move really quickly, and that’s everybody. That’s location where they didn’t have to risk spreading COVID-19 to the hospitals, that’s in the ambulances, that’s in the nursing their families. homes, that’s in the hospice centers,” Stanicki said. “It’s dif“That’s the sacrifice you have to make because, again, we ficult to implement a sudden, widespread change and I think didn’t know how it went around, how it was contracted,” Acea lot of people that don’t get a lot of credit for making these vedo said. “We have to try to keep our families safe, so there changes did and that’s why I was able to never feel like I was was some separation there within the family, but our families going to run out of masks at work or feel worried that this pair knew what we were going through, what we were doing. You of gloves would be my last pair.” have a lot of support there.” Manuel Corrales, a general surgeon and veteran fencer Knowing that she and her husband, Harry Adynski – who in suburban Chicago, also saw changes beyond the healthwas a varsity foilist at UNC and now is a PhD student and care workers patients who had contracted COVID-19. Nonclinical nurse working in the psychiatric unit at UNC Hospital – essential surgeries were delayed in order to not expose them were both around patients with COVID-19, the Adynskis were to COVID-19. forced to have a conversation they never imagined they’d have “The surgeries that require for you to stay in the hospital, the at this point in their lives. hospitals don’t want you to do those anymore because you’re “I think early in the pandemic when there was even more going to take away a bed that could potentially be needed for uncertainty than there was now, and we weren’t sure if a COVID patient, so it falls down many things,” said Corrales, these surges that were happena 1996 National Champion for his ing in New York were just going to native Costa Rica. “And then you spread across the whole country, have to put in a balance and say, we did sit down and we had a very ‘Boy, is it better to wait or expose serious conversation that 27 year you to COVID? But then if we wait, olds should not have about end of that could be bad for you.’ So life care and what would happen if there’s always a balance. What is we did get a viral load high enough riskier? Doing something or doing that one of us got really sick,” Gilnothing … Those are the decilian Adynski said. “[It] is scary, and sions that you have to every day I don’t think anyone our age should try to make, hoping for the best have to have [those conversations], outcome.” but we have a lot of privileges that Through all the changes, one we don’t have kids at home, we of the most positive Stanicki saw don’t care for any older adults at was the community support. home, it’s very easy for us to stay “People were really supportive. GILLIAN ADYNSKI ON THE WORLD CUP CIRCUIT. isolated, and I think that is a priviWe had someone, a high school lege that a lot of people don’t even realize they have somekid, who was 3D printing face shields in my town and givtimes. ing them to first responders,” Stanicki said. “So it was really Unfortunately, for some, those tough conversations beincredible to see things change on the policy side so that we came reality, and in September, the fencing community lost kept really great healthcare and we’d have to advocate for our one of its own. Veteran fencer Greg Peistrup, an advanced patients in making sure they’re being treated in the right way nurse practitioner working in an emergency room in Las Vethat’s up to date with science on this disease, and then it was gas, passed away from COVID-19. He was 53 years old. also great to see the immediate recognition from the comSomeone with no underlying health conditions, Peistrup munity.” died at home on Friday, September 18, 12 days after contracting COVID-19, not wanting to go to the hospital and put


others, including his colleagues, at risk. Peistrup’s wife of nearly 14 years, Kristin Bell-Peistrup, was in California when her husband tested positive and said that initially, Peistrup’s symptoms, weren’t bad. “He had random body aches that came and went, and no fever and no oxygen issues or breathing issues, and no loss of smell or taste or anything for I don’t know, eight days or

He met a few people and developed a camaraderie and a passion for it and had almost a natural ability,” Bell-Peistrup said. “He was involved in so much and worked so much that he didn’t get to go as often as I think he would like, but still did very well and really liked to compete and really liked to socialize with the people both at the club and other clubs when they went to tournaments and competitions.”


so,” she said. “And then he started to lose his appetite. He could still smell it and he could still taste it, but it would almost make him nauseous to eat. And then he started to get dizzy and in three, four days, it went downhill very, very fast. So at about the eight-day mark, it was starting a new week and I was working remotely and he said, ‘You know what, come home next weekend. By that point, it’ll be between that 10-14 day mark and even if I’m not 100 percent, I won’t be contagious anymore, so let’s just plan on you coming home next weekend and then we’ll figure out what we do from here.’ I said, ‘Okay,’ and I didn’t make it the weekend.” A Life member of USA Fencing and member of Battle Born Fencing Club, Peistrup has fenced on the North American Cup circuit since 2013 and competed in the veteran 50-59 épée event the 2019 December NAC. A larger-than-life personality who could make friends with anyone, Peistrup loved learning and loved teaching others and was both a father and soon-to-be grandfather. Someone who always thought fencing looked cool, Peistrup picked up the sport in his 40s when he was given lessons by his wife for Christmas. “He took his pack of lessons, whatever they were, and fell in love with it. It fit him, his long, lean body style and long reach.


A sport that requires intense focus and precision, particularly on the basics, Stanicki found many similarities between working on the frontlines with COVID-19 and fencing. “If you don’t parry well, or you don’t make your lunge as strong and as quick and as explosive as possible when you’re attacking, it’s not going to work out for you. I feel like that same lateral focus really helps in a lot of different fields,” Stanicki said. “It helps when you’re working calls at night and you’re exhausted, but you know this needs to be precise. This needs to be right because someone’s life is on the line or you just want to make sure this patient is getting the best patient care they could possibly get.” The ACC Saber Champion in 2015, Gillian Adynski uses some of the same mental techniques in nursing and dealing with the stress that she learned on the strip. “Things happen really fast just as they would happen on fencing and on the strip. The thing about emergency nursing is you need to be someone who has a cool head and can remain calm under pressure,” Gillian Adynski said. “And I think having those same skills as you learn in a bout, where you might be down, you might not know what’s going to hap-


pen next, but you can just relax your shoulders, take a deep breath and take it one step at a time. You can bring those skills right to nursing, especially in circumstances like COVID. When you’re slammed with all these new patients – it’s a new disease and not everyone knows what they’re doing and what the care plan is – you just have to take a deep breath, go with what you know and take care of that patient one step at a time.” Both Gillian and Harry Adynski also took from the skills in college fencing, where a team approach is more present and the need to be flexible and change course when needed is a prevalent skill. “All sorts of policies are changing every day for us as nurses, so it’s being adaptable and being able to take things as they come,” Harry Adynski said. “I think definitely the teamwork aspect of that, it’s required that you’re going to have to work in a team, but also just being able to adapt and change the situation as needed.”

COACHING AND COMPETING THROUGH COVID-19 Since last March, COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on sports at all levels. As a volunteer assistant coach for UNC, Gillian Adynski saw the effect COVID-19 had on collegiate athletics with NCAA Championships being canceled, and athletes who had worked to reach the pinnacle of college athletics would never get the chance to compete for a national championship. Now, the team is fencing again, but deals with an uncertainty in what effect COVID-19 will have moving forward, something Adynski can relate to. As a fencer herself who still competes, Adynski knows how much competition motivates many athletes, but also sees the importance of being out on the strip. “Hopefully most fencers can relate to the fact that fencing is really great for everyone’s mental health, and not just because when you’re on the strip you’re focused and it’s a physical activity and it has all those health benefits in itself, but I’d also like to speak to the fencing community as a whole, and that’s one of the reasons why fencing is such a relief,” Gillian Adynski said. “How many of my fencing community friends checked on me during this time, made sure I was okay because I was working at a hospital during this time, asked me if I needed food dropped off. The fencing community is a very special community that does look out for each other.” Acevedo also could relate to the importance of fencing in his life during these challenging times. While his club did close temporarily due to COVID-19, he is now offering private lessons again with coaching serving as a welcome distraction to his work as a paramedic. It also brings him a level of joy to know the relief and sense of normalcy fencing gives his students.


MAKING A DIFFERENCE ON THE SIDELINES Thirteen-year-old Matthew Mejia is proving that you’re never too young to start making a difference. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the foil fencer from Bellaire, Texas began researching mask patterns and sewing masks with leftover fabric. “I started sewing masks because my mom – she’s a doctor – and her hospital had a really short supply of PPE, personal protective equipment,” Mejia said. “So I would sew a mask for her to cover her surgical mask and make it last longer.” When his masks and their fun patterns were noticed by coworkers and wanted ones too, Mejia – who learned to sew at a camp last summer – began making more masks, also supplying them to elderly neighbors, family and friends, including those as his club. During the pandemic, Mejia has made more than 100 masks. “It’s important because even though there is a lot of turmoil, there is a lot of distress, anxiety, there is a lot of negativity, there is something that can be positive,” Mejia said. “Whenever when I give a mask, it’s so nice that there’s joy in doing that, so it’s not only just to make masks, but it’s also to protect people and to give joy to them.”


“They’re also kind of locked up in their houses. They’re not interacting at school. They’re lives have not been normal since and I kind of felt it allowed me to give them a little bit of normality, which I appreciate being able to do that for them more than anything,” Acevedo said. “I feel like it kind of deepens my commitment to being a coach because I can provide that for those kids that I teach.”

DOING MORE Despite her many hours working as an EMT, Stanicki found another way to help her community. After seeing many at a soup kitchen without masks, Stanicki stepped in to help, starting a charity with her friends called Masks for Many, which creates masks from t-shirts or sewing masks for the underprivileged, such as at nursing homes or soup kitchens. “I just realized there are areas that need help and need personal protective equipment that aren’t getting them,” Stanicki said. “I felt so lucky because I had a hospital supply of personal protective equipment, and also all my administrators really took care of us and really prepared us for this. But there were other organizations that didn’t have the luxury.” Stanicki watched her community come together to help as they started delivering masks across the state and into New York. She also worked on redistributing surgical masks from those who had a surplus, to those that need them. Both Harry and Gillian Adynski have also been involved in doing research that allows them to give back to their communities in additional ways. “Gill and I and a group of other PhD students put together a project that looks at stress in COVID and responses and workplace resources for nurses working on the frontlines,” Harry Adynski said. “We still both do work clinically, but we have this sort of joint role as researchers where we can make an impact on a different scale as well … That’s one thing that has been helpful is just making sure that we’re giving back to our community and not only our patient populations, but also our fellow nurses and to the work force.”

ple. I love working,” said Stanicki, who is studying to become a physician. “It’s not that common that people love their job and love to go to work … I work a night shift, so I work like 12 hour night shifts, so it’s really rare to really be looking forward to a night shift after a long day of school, but I love it.” Despite the stress that came with his job, Greg Peistrup had found his calling too, making his mark with his desire to help others. “He had a huge passion for medicine and loved every minute of it – to be able to apply his knowledge and to help somebody, to save them if they were in dire straits, or provide them care and information on how to care for themselves if they were still but not necessarily in dire straits and to be a part of the team, to help out, and manage the caseloads as they came in through the ER doors,” his wife said. Through it all, these healthcare workers have been heroes of the pandemic, although to them, they’re just doing their jobs. “I think that I’m just someone who was given this opportunity to help others,” Stanicki said. “I think that upon being given that opportunity, I’m honored to get to take it and I think that there has been incredible and heroic work in the field that I’ve been in since the beginning of this, but I just see myself as someone who’s been given the opportunity to help and got to take it.”

LOVE FOR WHAT THEY DO Stanicki always knew she wanted to help people, so when she saw a sign with the opportunity to become an EMT, she decided to give it a shot, falling in love with the job and helping others. “It’s really my absolute favorite thing to do. I love helping peo-



the point



Meka Leach E

leven-year-old Meka Leach has accomplished a lot for her age, both in and out of fencing.

At four years old, Leach was introduced to the sport of fencing as the coach of her basketball class was a fencer. She’s been fencing ever since, winning the Y10 women’s épée National Championship in 2019. Leach is currently ranked No. 1 in Y12 women’s épée. “I love most about fencing how you could just go onto the strip and you could focus on one thing,” Leach said. “You can just get into your zone and you can really connect with the bout. You can be who you are and fence how you want to. I love it because you go onto the strip and then you forget about all your worries and you can just feel the energy and fence.” Leach is also extremely passionate about yoga. Through fencing, Leach was introduced to yoga as a way to improve her flexibility and she immediately fell in love. At age 10, Leach became the youngest certified Bhakti yoga instructor in the United States.

u STATS & FACTS EVENT: Women’s Épée HOMETOWN: Palos Park, Ill. BIRTHDATE: 11/05/2208 SCHOOL: Homeschool CLUB: Windy City Fencing-Chicago COACH: Tsanko Hantov HOBBIES: Yoga, meditating and working out

u HIGHLIGHTS CURRENTLY RANKED NO. 1 in Y12 in the USA Fencing National Rolling Point Standings GOLD, Y10 USA Fencing National Championships (2019) GOLD, Y12 North Texas Roundup SYC (2019) BRONZE, Y12 Windy City SYC (2019) FIFTH, Y12 March NAC (2019)


“When I first did my first yoga class ever, I knew I really wanted to do this and I wanted to do it more often,” Leach said. “It just became something that I loved doing and it just became fun for me.” FAVORITE BOUT: I don’t really have a favorite bout, but if I have to say one of my best bouts that I fenced, it was probably at the Summer NAC, the National Championship bout for first place. I just felt myself keep on going and it just felt like it was an awesome bout. LEAST FAVORITE BOUT: There was this one time when I knew I could beat this one girl and I had beat her a lot of times by a really big score, but then I fenced her and I couldn’t mentally prepare my mind to go and beat her. I would have to say that was one of my least favorite bouts. HER FENCING HEROES: I really like Natalie [Vie]. She’s a fencer and also she’s a yogi … I’ve talked to her on Zoom, but I’ve never met her in person.

the point PRODUCT PREVIEW By Serge Timacheff


ith everyone training and working from home and hoping to get back onto the fencing strip sooner than later, these are some products to help stay in shape and start thinking about actual bouting again. Innovative – and gimmicky – home physical fitness products abound. For mainstream fitness gear, we scoured what’s out there and these are some highly rated products receiving good reviews on Amazon and elsewhere, ones that will fit into any sized home, in some cases are portable and many of them are reasonably priced.

LEIKEFITNESS LEIKE X BIKE Stationary bikes are all the rage, driven lately by the popular Peloton products that include online classes but come at a steep price and membership cost. The Leikefitness Leike X Bike is affordable, comfortable, quiet, folds up conveniently and has a very good reputation for quality and performance. Its magnetic and upright design includes an LCD heart monitor and tablet holder so you can join classes on Zoom or YouTube. $179 from Amazon. Purchase Here

ARAMIS PLASTIC ACOUSTIC FOIL FROM ABSOLUTE FENCING Looking for a good way for kids to practice fencing at home safely? Absolute’s Aramis Plastic Acoustic Foil is flexible but with adequate stiffness to approximate a fencing-style feel of playful bouts. The foil, which has a lightweight, French-style ambidextrous handle, has no metal parts inside (for safety) and features a rubber tip at the point of the blade. When you hit your opponent, the guard lights red or green (select at time of purchase) and emits a noise. Use in combination with the AF plastic mask and colored target vest. $55 from Absolute Fencing Gear. Purchase Here

BLACK MOUNTAIN PRODUCTS RESISTANCE BAND SET Resistance training is a proven area for cross training and fitness when you don’t have access to a gym, and it helps with balance, endurance and strength. The Black Mountain set lets bands be mixed-and-matched with a range of four to 75 pounds of resistance using a metal clip and soft-grip handle system. Includes a handy door anchor and carrying bag, as well as a starter guide. $44.54 from Google Shopping. Purchase Here


SPRI SLIDE BOARD Another low-impact option that will be sure to improve your balance and footwork on the strip is a slide board. A long-time favorite of skaters and hockey players, slide boards are a highintensity workout that improves both upper and lower body fitness as well as your core. Super portable and includes those all-important booties. $42.22 on Amazon. Purchase Here

LEON PAUL APEX SABRE BLADE This next-generation Apex Sabre Blade from Leon Paul combines performance aspects of current-generation blades with the longevity and safety of maraging steel. After the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, the FIE will require saber blades to be made from maraging steel (with a lifespan up to four times non-maraging blades), and Leon Paul says they have “…used this coming change to redesign our sabers and invest in technology and machinery to develop a new ‘cutting-edge’ blade.” Lightweight for speed and balanced stiffness for precision cuts and controlled feints, the blade uses the familiar Leon Paul Y-shaped profile. Purchase Here

APPLE ACTIVBODY ACTIV5 FITNESS SYSTEM It doesn’t look like much, but is super techie. For the geek in all of us, the Apple Activbody Activ5 Fitness System is a portable device that combines a training app for your Apple device to give you seated, standing and advanced isometric, low-impact workouts. Working in tandem with your iPhone or iPad and integrated with Apple Health and the Apple Watch, it can measure more than 200 pounds of force and provides more than 100 exercises tracked by your performance and personalized to your strength and other biometrics. We suggest you watch the video on the link to learn more about this unique product. $129.95 from Apple. Purchase Here


the point WOMEN IN FENCING By Karolyn Szot

Touch by Touch W

e’ve all told ourselves the phrase “just take it touch by touch.”

Fencing is just as much a psychological sport as it is a physical one. We often need to be in the right state of mind to advance our game. Women in particular are incredibly good at compartmentalizing their thoughts and maintaining focus, although all athletes must take that extra step to develop the right mental tools to improve their physical abilities. When I think back on my days as a competitive fencer, one specific bout always comes to mind. I was at Summer Nationals and ranked No. 1 after pools, which immediately messed with my head. I went into my first DE bout on top of the world and before I knew it, I was losing, 3-12. During my last timeout on the strip, I was looking around the room and noticed spectators walking away from my bout. I thought to myself, “Well that’s it…game over.” It was one of the worst feelings I have ever experienced during my fencing career. The odds were stacked against me and my mind was going every which way but the strip in front of me. I thought about how I shouldn’t be losing to someone ranked lower than me. I thought of my parents who paid to fly me out to Miami, just to lose after my first DE. I thought about how my college coach, who had just recruited me, was standing there watching, probably regretting his decision to give me an early letter of intent…I had completely lost all of my focus. Then something clicked for me. I didn’t want this bout to end with a miserable outcome. I walked to the end of the strip and tried to clear my mind. I realized that all the pressure and thoughts in my head were self-inflicted and none of it mattered in this moment, so what did I have to lose? I took a deep breath and built up all the determination I had within me. I was not going to let my opponent score again. At that moment, nothing else in the world mattered except for the next touch. It didn’t matter that I was ranked No. 1 that day and I was losing miserably, and it didn’t matter that I had lost the crowd. I buckled-down

and started to fence with more attention, control, and precision. Touch by touch I brought the score up to 14-14 and the clock ran out. We went into overtime and I lost the priority coin toss. I had one minute to score a touch or my opponent would win. As the clock ran out, I lunged the hardest I’ve ever lunged (to this day I still believe my arm grew another foot in length) and scored the last touch, 15-14. I won. Even though this wasn’t the most important competition I would ever fence in, it was one of the defining moments of my fencing career, where the only person I truly had to beat was myself! When remembering this moment, I started to go down the proverbial rabbit hole researching other moments of great comebacks in sports. What was it that I channeled at the end of that strip when I thought the bout was all over and I had lost? How can I train that? This led me to the work of legendary Olympic fencing coach Dr. Aladar Kogler. He has written many books about mental preparation for fencers, yogis and athletes. One of his books I recently discovered is titled “One Touch at a Time.” It’s a wealth of information on the psychological processes that occur in fencing. He argues that “The ability to control emotions, level of arousal and attention to focus is crucial.” He gives great lessons on mental skills and coping strategies, particularly on how to control negative thinking. Because who hasn’t felt the inner struggle of negative thinking during a tough bout? Kogler likens fencing to a chess game where the player sees with the mind's eye. Both fencers and chess players have a clear vision and can recognize their opponent's intentions.


“Our life is also a chess game with the ‘dark’ and ‘light’ forces. One can fence as a dilettante, but also as a champion fencer,” he wrote. His writings break down how fencers can listen to their mind and body and in turn cultivate their intuition. Side note, I am pretty sure now that Kogler is a real life Jedi! Still, one should not remain too calm on the strip. Kogler observed: “The fencer with the greater fighting spirit usually wins the bout.” To achieve this, he lays out one must have a positive attitude, self-confidence, diligence, self-discipline and determination. “Determination – willpower – is the springboard, the ‘soul’ of all activities. It ‘feeds’ diligence, persistence, courage and self-discipline and gives us the strength to bear sacrifice and fatigue. The biggest test of our willpower is the opponent’s willpower.”

Vie mentioned how in a seated meditation practice, she is just observing herself and her body. You should also ignore the other thoughts coming into your body and pay attention to your breathing while you do a full body scan. For Vie, yoga is a daily practice. “I’ll warm up at competitions with certain movements that emphasize the hips because in fencing the hips have to be open. When I’ve opened up my core, hips and shoulders that’s when I see that I fence super well.”

There is quite a lot to unpack in Kogler’s books. If you are interested in training “the other half of the game of fencing,” I’d suggest you take a look at one of his publications. Someone who also studies a lot about mental preparation is 2018 World Team member fencer Natalie Vie. She tells me the first person to show her how to meditate was Kogler. He taught her to do a seated meditation, but also has his fencers lie down in a “savasana” for a two- to fourminute meditation where you command your arms to relax. “When you relax your arms, they may feel heavy. After they relax, your blood vessels are able to dilate and more blood is pushing through and you begin to feel heat,” Vie said. I asked her what meditation skill she could share for people to incorporate with their fencing practice. “I think that after you are done fencing and you take off all your stuff, instead of just running home, spend five minutes when your blood is still pumping to meditate. It is the easiest time to meditate because you are the most aware of your body and you still have adrenaline,” she said.


her own practice where she is developing and applying these methods into her fencing. She is currently running a fencing program on Zoom that includes yoga three times a week. Vie welcomes all, and message her to be included (find her on Instagram @supersonicnava). Vie said her mantra, given to her by her mother, is “Soy el Campeón,” which translates to “I’m the Champion.” She made it clear not to say “Soy la Campeóna” (Spanish for a female champion) and continued: “People would say ‘No, you are a woman,’ but I am the champion of everybody. I’m not going to gender myself being a champion. A lot of times when we start giving ourselves affirmations at first we won’t believe it but the more times we say it, we are able to achieve it. I’ve even had this happen on the fencing strip because I am not able to believe in myself. I’ll be winning a bout and I’ll end up losing because somewhere deep down inside I didn’t believe I could do it and I started to doubt myself.” She stresses the importance for everyone to give herself/himself an affirmation. “Think about what you want to do and put it in your mind. You have to believe it with every fiber of your body. Eventually after enough times of repetition, you’re going to believe it.”

2018 Senior World Team member Natalie Vie practices mental preparation and meditation both before and after bouts. Photo Courtesy of Natalie Vie. She usually does a seated meditation in the mornings. Ideally she does 20 minutes and sometimes if she is rushed will make herself do at least six minutes. “I do a body-scan meditation and I check in with my pulse. By noon, my body is warm so that’s when I prefer to do my asana practice. Before I go to bed I do a savasana practice where I do the same body scan laying down,” Vie said. A certified yoga instructor who trained in New York with Sri Dharma Mittra, Vie said that yoga, meditation and fencing have many correlations and the former World Cup Team Champion has

Her last piece of advice was: “Live a completely honest and open life. Not being harmful and living in a way where you are really living your own authenticity and living your own truth. If you do this, you will be able to be calm and tranquil and your mind is not going to be able to hook you with things because you are going to say ‘who cares, it doesn’t matter, I have nothing to hide.’” We all know fencing is a physical sport of agility, strength and endurance. Before every bout we train, exercise and drill our bodies – but why don’t we do the same for our minds? It is a concept that means harmonizing life on and off the strip. So perhaps consider implementing some training of the mind into your daily practice and watch your fighting spirit become tournament ready.

the point PARENT'S CORNER by Jenny Petite

Parents, Kids & Preventing Injury in Fencing


How do you keep your kid injury free? How do you keep your child energetic and alert?


s a child, being an athlete can be very draining. It is one of the many daily aspects that take can take its toll on their growing bodies, however athletic recovery is the most underrated and beneficial aspects of athletic training. Athletic recovery has always been particularly important to me as a parent. I hope, through this article, I can convey to you the value of wellrounded recovery for your own child, and help prevent the heartbreak of watching your child endure and sustain injuries that keep them off the strip temporarily or even permanently. Let me provide some back history on why I find recovery so important. I ran the heptathlon event at university on a full ride, having won my state and regional championships in high school. At 18 or 19, my personal bests in each event of the heptathlon gave me enough eligibility to qualify for the Olympic Trials. As a college track athlete, I trained three to eight hours a day, seven days a week, and everything about my life was consumed by track and field. Not only did my coach have me lifting too heavily, but the stretching and recovery program was almost nonexistent. By mid-season of my first year, I began to become slower. I was soaking my legs in ice baths and taping them every day, just so I could train for my jumping and running events. When I questioned this, I was told nothing was wrong with me, that I was just straining my muscles because I was not used to a college-level training program. As it turned out, I had been running on a herniated disc for nearly a year. The herniated disc was not as big of a problem as the adult scoliosis I developed from compensating for the injury. I was not the only athlete from this school with these types of injuries. Two other athletes, a National Champion and an Olympic hopeful, endured similar injuries. I am convinced if the coach had provided just a decent stretching and recovery program for his athletes, I would have had the potential of a longer and more successful career.

STRENGTH TRAINING Strength training not only helps you develop stronger muscles for fencing, it also helps prevent injury. When your child fences, there are several repetitive motions that use similar muscles. Over time the muscles that get predominantly used get stronger than others. This creates a muscular imbalance. This is where injury can creep in if your child does not exercise to strengthen some of the smaller, weaker muscles not used in fencing. Dr. Bradshaw explained this even more: “An NFL player doesn’t simply just go out onto the field each week and perform without any sort of strength training. Your body must be primed and ready for the explosive control that fencing requires. Without any sort of strength training, the musculature is not built and supportive to the joints as well as it could be, which can lead to injury. Furthermore, balance training, with usage of BOSU balls or wobbles boards should be inserted into a fencer’s training routine. Lunges require balance and giving your muscles that memory and training that can help prevent injury. If injury does occur, such as a sprained ankle, balance boards are a wonderful way to help your child recover from such injuries and strengthen the musculature of the ankle to help prevent future injury.”

Wanting to be able to administer the best advice on recovery, I collaborated with my fencing colleague/chiropractor, Dr. Kevin Bradshaw. As Kevin so eloquently stated: “Recovery holds its definition in so many spheres of our daily lives, and in an athlete, recovery is beyond important, especially in daily training. Think of your body as a car, and regular oil changes and maintenance and recovery. Without the maintenance overtime your engine could potentially gunk-up, have problems and even break down. You want to keep your child’s own body running like a clean-burning, efficient, energized, injury free machine, and the best way to do this is daily maintenance (recovery).” So, what does athletic recovery for your child look like, and what are the key components? Strength training, sleep, nutrition, supplementation, stretching and hydration are all essential to athlete recovery.


NUTRITION AND SUPPLEMENTS I may seem like a broken record using the analogy of a car, but what our children put into our bodies is critical for their health and recovery and being at their best. Your body is more resilient than a car, but if you were to fill your car with mud and sludge, how long would it take for your car to slow down and stop working? We need to teach our kids to treat their bodies like clean-burning machines. It is vitally important for them to make sure they are not skipping meals but also that they are eating nutritionally dense meals that will sustain their energy level through their workouts and replenish their bodies post-workout. Imperative minerals are lost through sweating, and we all know how sweaty our kids get in their fencing uniforms. The most common minerals they lose are sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. Among other health benefits, their principle functions are to sustain your child’s fluid balance as well as contribute to healthy muscle contraction, nutrient absorption, bone health and other structural benefits. Listed below are the minerals and some of the foods in which you can find them.

• Sodium and chloride: A small amount of table salt daily is enough to replenish the loss • Calcium: Dairy product, tofu, sesame seeds, oranges, chia seeds, broccoli, dates, figs, collard greens, arugula, sweet potato, edamame, butternut squash, tomatoes, garlic, spinach, green beans, kiwis and rhubarb • Potassium: Bananas, sweet potato, tomato paste, sockeye salmon, dark chocolate, pork chops, baked potato, white mushrooms, avocado, white beans, beets, clams, nectarine, honey dew, mango, papaya and many more • Magnesium: Avocado, nuts, kidney beans, wheat, oat, cashews, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, salmon, halibut, bananas, spinach, basil, dill, chives, peppermint and kale • Phosphorus: Chicken, turkey, pork, organ meats, seafood, dairy, pumpkin seeds, brazil nuts, quinoa and white beans

There is a wider variety from which to choose. If your children find many of these foreign to their palette, make it fun. Good nutrition has its rewards by having a healthy body and feeling good. Eating healthy food was not always an option for my children when they were growing, but I rewarded them for doing so. In Dr. Bradshaw’s office he sees a direct correlation between nutrition and the health and recovery of his patients. “I often discuss with my patients about nutrition, especially when they state so many ailments that surround inflammation. If the patient has injury, and wonders why the injury takes, ‘longer than I think it should,’ I often discuss the importance of their diet. If they are eating fast food and drinking inflammatory foods, of course it is going to lead to more inflammation of the already inflamed area. It is poison to a recovering body and needs to be addressed," he said. "When I hear back, ‘I don’t think me eating (insert bad food here) is going to add to my issues,’ I always am appalled that one doesn’t understand that what you eat is what your body uses, and if what you are eating is [again insert bad food here], how can you not understand that your body will use that ‘bad food’ and lead you to prolonged recovery from injury? I just compare it to rat poison. If you eat rat poison…I think we know the result. Your body will deconstruct it, absorb it, use it and react to it. So, when an injury occurs, it is so important that one intake the most nutritionally dense foods, to feed the body's cells ‘good’ material to use, to help reduce inflammation and lead to a quicker recovery.” In the Winter Issue of American Fencing, author Jenny Petite will look into how parents can help their young fencers prevent injury through stretching, hydration and sleep in Part 2 of this series.


the point CLUB TIPS by Dr. Ina Harizanova



was recently talking with parents, who were concerned about their 14-year-old daughter’s lack of “right” motivation. They were disappointed because she told them she was going to fencing practice so she could have fun with her friends. The parents shared it was all about winning in their athletic career when they were young, and insisted their daughter needed to focus on getting results. Motivation is what drives us to initiate and persist at a task despite disappointments, fatigue, pain and failure. It is influenced by the interplay of a variety of internal psychological and external situational factors. No one exists in a vacuum. Our values, needs, beliefs and attitudes inform our thoughts, feelings and actions in-and-out of fencing. Our past experiences with others at home and at school, in activities and with the media teach us how to view ourselves, even before we get involved in fencing. Think about a friend who only engages with you after you win fencing bouts or tournaments. If this feels like something a good friend does, then ask yourself how you learned a friendship includes such conditions. Or would you prefer a friend who accepts and supports you regardless of your fencing results? What about sports commentators explaining athletic success with one word – talent? The message that sport is all about talent can be discouraging. Research consistently shows children first get involved in organized sports because playing sports is fun. There have been as many as 81 fun-determinants identified. The meaning of fun changes and evolves throughout one’s fencing career. Moreover, there often are discrepancies among what young fencers mean and express as fun, and how adults understand it. Open and

non-judgmental discussions between fencers and coaches, parents and children help clarify what it means to the fencer to have fun. The light and pleasureful feeling children get when they first play fencing-related games is impossible to sustain throughout a competitive career. Instead, it is better to focus on enjoyment. Making fencing practice enjoyable through a combination of fun games and fencing drills focused on new learning can foster a love of the sport. Learning new technical skills and successfully completing tasks give young fencers the sense of competence, which in turn enhances intrinsic motivation (desire to achieve arising from within the person). Then the youngster is eager to come to fencing practice. The sense of enjoyment serves as a foundation for continuous learning and growth regardless of errors, setbacks and disappointments. As fencers mature, the love of the sport fuels their efforts in training and competition. Gradually, difficult drills once viewed as “boring” or “impossible” are now perceived as challenges. So, fun takes on a different meaning. There is an inner sense of enjoyment and fulfilment when one successfully completes challenging drills, boosting intrinsic motivation. When motivation comes from within, tournaments are perceived as fun and they become mentally, physically and emotionally stimulating. The fencer is able to recognize and solve critical moments in pool and elimination bouts, and his/her sense of autonomy grows, which leads to enhanced performance. As training intensifies and fencers enter higher levels of competition, stronger commitment is needed to succeed. Fencers may need to train in ways that are less enjoyable but benefit their fencing progress

(such as conditioning, for example). In contrast to intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation is typically based on rewards like medals, scholarships, college acceptance and approval by peers, parents and coaches. Both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation can drive fencers to initiate additional training in an effort to better their game and/or improve self-discipline. But, when extrinsic rewards are perceived as pressure and/or as fulfilling others’ goals and desires, fencers’ motivation can decrease and dropout may follow. In these situations, some fencers may feel conflicted because they also love fencing. The main reason is the sport is not fun anymore. They may need time (and sometimes professional help) to sort out others’ desires and expectations and their own. When this

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: 1. What makes fencing fun for you (in practice and tournaments)? 2. How has your motivation for fencing changed throughout the years? 3. What is the motivational atmosphere in your club? 4. What kind of input or choices do you have in your daily fencing practice?

5. What do you wish your _____________ (parent/s, coach/ es, teammates, friends outside of fencing…) knew about your fencing?


dilemma is successfully resolved, the fencer may come back with a new-found drive. A fencer’s enjoyment includes working together with teammates, challenging each other and succeeding for one another. Relatedness, or the sense of belonging, is a powerful motivator. This is especially true for girls, who often identify themselves through their relationships with others. Having a trusting relationship with your coach, feeling unconditionally loved and supported by your parent/s and having strong role models can be motivating. This sense of belonging can play a crucial role outside of fencing during life transitions (starting high school, for example) or in times of doubt. Coaches, parents, peers and administrators can create a positive motivational atmosphere that impacts fencers’ development, learning and performance through organization values, modeling of behavior, communication styles, feedback, expectations and evaluation. The motivational atmosphere can have a positive impact when it is age- and development-appropriate, athlete-centered and based on collaboration among coaches, parents and administrators.

For more information: visit Dr.Visek at Research Gate

REFERENCES Burston. D. (201s0). Optimum cultures for youth in sport. Annals of the American Psychotherapy Association, 13 (4), 22-27. Cote, J., & Lidor, R. Editors. (2013). Conditions of children’s talent development in sport. Morgantown, WV: Fitness Information Technology. Dweck, C. (2007). Mindset: the new psychology of success. New York, NY: Ballantine Books. Keegan, R., Spray, C., Harwood, C., & Lavalee, D. (2010). The motivational atmosphere in youth sport: Coach, parent and peer influences on motivation in specializing sport participants. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 22 (1), 87-105. Vealey, R., & Chase, M. Editors. (2016). Best practice for youth sport. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. Visek, A., Achrati, S., Manning, H., McDonnell, K., Harris, D., & DiPietro, L. (2015). The fun integration theory: towards sustaining children and adolescents sport participation. Journal of Sport Science and Coaching, 12 (13), 42-433. Visek, A., Mannix, H., Chandran, A., Cleary, S., McDonnell, K., & DiPietro, L. (2018). Perceived importance of the fun integration theory factors and determinants: A comparison among players, parents, and coaches. International Journal of Sport Science and Coaching, 13 (6), 849-862.


the point TECH TALK by Ted Li



T’S NOT A MATTER OF “IF” A BODY CORD WILL FAIL, IT’S A MATTER OF “WHEN.” With the constant flexing of the wires during fencing, the metallic conductors will ultimately break. The following will hopefully allow you to repair your body cords when they cease to function.

Once it has been determined that a body cord needs repair, it can easily be repaired using a few simple hand tools. For most body cord repairs, you will need the appropriate screwdriver (e.g., slotted or Phillips) to open the body of the plug(s), a tip screwdriver (preferably a 1.8 or 2.0 mm slotted) to deal with the connection between the wires and the body cord pins, a wire cutter, and a 25-watt soldering iron, flux and rosin-core electronic solder. The following instructions are for most body cords. The exceptions are the Leon Paul body cords that use a different mode of construction, but the basic principles are the same for all brands.

TWO-PRONG FOIL/SABER BODY CORD As most breaks in foil and saber body cords occur immediately behind the twoprong plug, that is where you should begin. Be aware that foil/saber body cords are polarized and must be assembled correctly. 1. Remove the spring-loaded security device, if one is present, being careful not to lose the small parts. 2. Remove the larger screws holding the case to open the plug – some people cover the nuts with a piece of tape to prevent their loss and ease reassembly. To confirm there is a break in one of the two wires, grasp one of the pins and pull on it. If there is a break, the pin and accompanying wire will pull out of its insulation, giving an indication of how much wire needs to be cut back. In repairing foil and saber body cords, you need to be aware that the wire connecting the center pin of the three-prong plug MUST be connected to the 3 mm (thin) pin on the two-prong plug. To reduce the possibility of miswiring the two-prong plug, work with only one wire at a time. 3. Remove the wire remnant from the pin by unscrewing the set screw. 4. Cut back the wire from which the pin was pulled, strip one-half-inch of insulation from it, tin the end (a soldering technique—see below), and reinsert it into the appropriate pin. 5. Repeat Step 4 with the other wire, making sure that the wires are the same length. 6. Reassemble the plug. Usually, the thin pin goes to the left of the plug half housing the nuts holding the plug together. 7. Screw the two parts of the plug body together and then reassemble the security device. Note: a tiny drop of low-strength Loctite on the threads of the screw assembly of the security device will prevent it from becoming lost, but will not impede future disassembly. Test the cord to ensure it has proper polarity, using either an ohmmeter or a twoLED test box.


BODY CORD REPAIRS FOIL/SABRE BODY CORD AND MASK CORD CLIPS 1. Determine where the break occurs – usually close to a clip – by tugging on the wire. 2. Carefully open the clamp, on the clip, holding the wire remnant. 3. Strip a quarter inch of insulation from the end of the wire, tin the end, and then solder it onto the clip. Note that the wire MUST be soldered to the clip. Just fastening the wire to the clip with a screw or solderless connector is not legal. 4. Re-clamp the wire and test the cord.

BAYONET FOIL/SABRE BODY CORD 1. Pull the boot covering the plug from the plug itself. 2. To discover where the break is, unscrew one of the set-screws holding one of the wires, and disconnect it from the plug. Then, using a pair of pliers, pull on the conductor itself. If it is broken, the wire will pull out from its insulation. If the body cord cable is transparent, you can discover the break by holding the cord up to a light and tugging it. The break will appear as a transparent spot. 3. Cut back the wire an appropriate length, strip a quarter inch of insulation from the end, tin the end, reinsert the wire into the plug, and retighten its set screw. 4. Repeat Step 3 with the other wire, keeping the wires’ lengths equal. 5. Test the body cord.

ÉPÉE BODY CORDS Épée body cords present a unique problem because both ends are usually interchangeably inserted into the épée. Therefore, there is a possibility of multiple breaks in both ends of a cord. 1. Remove the plug cover from one plug, and, in turn, pull each of the outside pins to see if its wire pulls out of its insulation. It is rare that the center wire breaks without one of the outside wires also breaking. 2. Mark one of the outside wires using a permanent marker so you know whether it goes to the “A” or “C” pin. 3. Cut all three wires, strip a quarter inch of insulation from each, tin the stripped ends, and reassemble the plug, making sure the marked pin goes in the correct position. 4. Repeat the process on the other plug. 5. Test the body cord. Note: Marking one plug and always inserting it into the épée will minimize the amount of disassembly you will have to do, as that is the end where the breaks are most likely to occur.

TINNING THE ENDS OF WIRES 1. Pre-heat the soldering iron, making sure that the tip is free of burnt flux. 2. Apply the solder flux to the wire to be soldered. 3. “Wet” the pre-heated soldering iron tip with solder. 4. Heat the wire with the soldering iron, while at the same time applying the rosin core solder. A properly tinned wire should allow you to see the individual strands of wire. 5. Remove any excess or burned flux using rubbing alcohol.

SOLDERING CLIPS 1. Pre-heat the soldering iron, making sure that the tip is free of burnt flux. 2. Apply the solder flux to the wire and to the clip where the solder connection is to be made. 3. “Wet” the pre-heated soldering iron tip with solder. 4. Heat the place on the clip where the solder connection is to be made, while feeding rosin core solder onto the soldering iron tip. 5. When there is a small pool of solder on the clip, place the pre-tinned wire into the pool and, withdrawing the soldering iron, let the connection cool. The solder joint should be a smooth, not lumpy, gray color.


Profile for USA Fencing

American Fencing Magazine January 2021  

American Fencing Magazine January 2021  

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