Example Fencing Moved

Bulletin for the Week of October 8, 2018







Middlebury fencers: There is fencing tonight (Oct 8), as it is not a holiday for Mary Hogan School

Another reminder: If you have not yet paid your fall class fees please bring them this week.  Always bring a water bottle and wear long pants (no shorts).

Club socks are here!  They are fitted over-the-calf athletic socks (i.e. soccer type socks) in forest green with black accents and the club logo in gold.  They are perfect for wearing with fencing knickers.  They come in 4 sizes:

Small (shoe size mens 3-6 or womens 4-7), medium (mens 6-9 or womens 7-10), large (mens 9-12 or womens 10-13), and extra large (mens 12-15).  I will have them with me to sell this week and next.  After that, you will have to ask me to bring them especially for you if you want them. The cost is $12 per pair (check payable to VFA or exact change please). I will also bring along club patches this week and next (great for fencing jackets, as well as bags, backpacks etc).  The patches are $3 each.

This is a big week for all of our Level 1 newbies.  At the end of class we will go over the rules of foil fencing (parents of younger fencers are encouraged to listen in) and the new students will fence their first real bouts.  From now on, Level 1 students should be considered full members of the club, available for bouting after class.  Here are some reminders, which I give every term, and which still hold true:

No-one in the club is too good to fence with beginners.  It is a time-honored tradition in every successful fencing club that the better fencers take the beginners under their wings and help them to improve. I expect experienced fencers (including - no make that especially- the Competitive Squad) to find a little time each Monday or Tuesday to work with beginners, either by fencing with them or refereeing them as they fence eachother.   Also, I deputize every experienced fencer as my assistant coach, so go ahead and give beginners helpful tips and pointers (in a nice, constructive way of course, and try to focus on correcting just one or two things at a time).  Beginners, don't be shy about asking anyone to fence with you.  Also, if you are curious about epee, you might enjoy asking an experienced epee fencer to show you some basics and experiment with it a little.  When you get to the Level 2 class, you may do either foil or epee.


I will have a free workshop at my house this Sunday, Oct 14, 2-5 p.m. We will rewire a foil and an epee, and deal with other things that frequently go wrong with electrical fencing equipment.  There are no repair shops for this stuff, so you have to learn to do it yourself.  If you have malfunctioning equipment, bring it (we may or may not get to repair your equipment, but we can at least try to figure out what is wrong).   Location is 1379 Mountain Rd, Addison, VT 05491 (call 759-2268 if you get lost)-red house on east side of road, with wooden mailbox.  I only do this armory workshop once per season, so don't miss this opportunity to learn how to maintain electric equipment, even if you don't own any yet.

Who should come?

-Anyone who newly acquired electric equipment or is considering buying some this season

-Anyone who can not confidently diagnose and repair their own equipment yet

-Anyone with a puzzling armory problem that has them stumped (no guarantees, but I'll try!)

-Parents of junior fencers who own (or plan to soon own) electric equipment

-Fencing newbies who are curious about how electric equipment works and who enjoy tinkering

Please sign up here so that I know how many to expect:


New to using AskFRED?  You will need to create an account (which you will use a lot in years to come!).  Instructions are here (oriented to tournament sign up, but we use AskFRED for clinic sign ups too):



I will email all the Level 1 students a handout with notes on the rules this week.  You can print this out to hang on your fridge, or just look it over a lot in the coming weeks to remind yourself of all the rules.  Be especially sure to read it if you are missing class this week.

Bouting is an important part of learning to fence.  If you just come to class and do drills, you never apply what you are learning or learn to improvise.  Besides, most people consider bouting the most fun part of practice.  Please make an effort to stay after class for as long as you can and participate in bouting.  Whether you can stay 5 minutes or until closing time, the more you fence, the better you'll get.

This is week 3 of our 10 week course.  During weeks 4, 5 and 6, I will be inviting pre-competitive Level 2 students (those who have little to no experience using electric equipment) to join me after class in trying out some club electric equipment.   After bringing a sign up sheet for this last Monday, I decided to just go with the flow and pick 4 or 5 fencers per week, so no need to sign up.   I will start by bringing larger equipment next week for teen and adult foil fencers, smaller equipment for youth foil fencers the following week, and epee equipment on week 6.   This will be a learning experience, not a competitive one (although you will get to fence a few bouts with your classmates, we will not keep score).    If you are already in Level 3, already practicing regularly with electric equipment, or have already competed in 3 or more tournaments, I will not include you in this "try electric" experience.    Depending on numbers, it may be possible to participate once with foil and once with epee, but priority on week 6 is for those who have been practicing mostly with epee.  If you miss the opportunity to participate this term (i.e. you are out sick or need to leave early), you will hopefully get another chance next term.

By the way, those Level 2 students who own their own electric equipment: please bring it with you to practice!  I encourage you to make a habit of fencing a few electric bouts every Monday or Tuesday after class. The Squaddies/Level 3 fencers will be very happy to include you, just put on your electric equipment, wander over and say "who wants to fence?".   Practicing regularly with electric equipment is fun and valuable (you will find out if you are really hitting).

During weeks 7, 8 and 9,  I plan to offer a free 15 minute individual lesson to each Level 1 student.  I will take younger students first (at 8 and 8:15 pm) and older ones later in the evening.

As I become involved in supervising electric fencing (for Level 2) or giving individual lessons (for Level 1),  I will not be available to organize bouting games or play "matchmaker" during open fencing times after Level 1/2 class.   New fencers (especially children) are often shy about asking others to fence, or are not sure how best to enjoy and benefit from open bouting times.   I will need help from everyone (parents and older fencers) to teach newbies, especially the youngest newbies, how to participate in open fencing.   Here is some advice for both parents and adult/teen fencers:

-If a child is standing idle, and you see another kid also standing around, help them ask eachother to fence.  As they get to know eachother, they will eventually overcome their shyness and learn to do this themselves.  Encourage them to agree to fence for 5 minutes, or until tired, rather than to a particular score.  Encourage fencing lots of different partners, not just the same few buddies.

-I strongly encourage not keeping score, at least most of the time. Treat open fencing as a time to experiment and learn.   If you see younger fencers getting overly competitive with eachother (i.e. arguing about who scored, hitting hard or making wild actions, becoming emotional, etc) please step in and help them learn good sportsmanship, good practice habits, and control of their emotions.

-Our gyms can get pretty crowded.   The more adult eyes looking out for danger the better.  During open fencing, all bouts should be oriented the same way (i.e. parallel to eachother, so that no-one backs into someone else) and everyone who is out on the gym floor should be wearing a mask.  There is no room for running around or playing in the gym during open fencing.  Safety at all times!

-Mixer games (Drawbridge, Jail, Ladder, etc) are great icebreakers and generally enjoyed by newbies of all ages.   When I am not available to organize them, I encourage adult/teen fencers who know these games to step in and run them.


What is the Champlain Cup?  The Champlain Cup is the Green Mt Division's fun, friendly fencing league.  Everyone who fences in any GMD event, in any age group, any skill level, earns 1 CC point just for playing.  You earn additional bonus points for high placement (the stronger the field of your event, the more points can be earned).  At the end of the season, we give awards to the top fencers in each weapon, the best youth (born 2006 or later), best veteran (born 1979 or earlier), and rookie of the year (less than 2 years total fencing experience, competed for the first time after Jan. 1, 2018).

How old do I have to be to enter?  The USFA uses birth years rather than ages (so you stay in the same age group all season).  Events labeled "senior" are open to fencers born 2005 or earlier (teens may enter senior events).  There is no upper age limit!  Events labeled "Youth" or "Y12" are open to kids born 2006 or later.  We also have one annual event for the teen age groups (Junior and Cadet) in November, and 2 just for the Veteran age group (40+) in October and March, as well as an informal adult (age 21+) round robin in November.

I have been fencing for less than a year.  Am I really ready to enter a tournament?  You are ready to try your first tournament when you know the basic movements of fencing (even if you can't execute them perfectly) and have a general understanding of the rules - all of which is taught in my Level 1 class, so if you have taken that, you are all set.  The other thing that determines whether you are ready to compete is your emotional maturity - generally more of an issue for younger children than for teens and adults.  You should be able to handle winning and losing, be able to forgive your own mistakes, control your emotions, and not feel discouraged by losing to someone with greater skills or experience than you have.    If you have the temperment to keep your sense of humor, look upon your first tournament as a learning experience, and enjoy the journey for what it is, you are ready.

Do I need competitive USFA membership to participate in the Champlain Cup?  Yes.  All Champlain Cup tournaments require competitive membership except for the Youth events and Adult Round Robin. If you are currently a noncompetitive member, you can upgrade any time during the season by paying the $65 difference in membership dues.  You must make the upgrade yourself on-line at www.usfencing.org in advance of your first tournament.  All USFA memberships expire on July 31, so the earlier in the season you get involved, the more value you get from your membership.

I'm a rookie competitor.  What sorts of events are best for me?  If you don't mind fencing with more skilled and experienced opponents, you are very welcome to enter open events.  The GMD's experienced fencers do not look down on beginners (we were all beginners once) and may even offer you some valuable pointers.  If you would enjoy fencing other relatively inexperienced fencers, look for events designated "U" or "E-Under" (the next one will be October 20-21!).

How long does a tournament take?  Plan to arrive at least a half hour before the start of your first event (more if you like a nice long warm up), and to finish anywhere from 2 to 6 hours after your last event starts (hard to predict...depends on size of event, how well you do, and whether there are any hold-ups).

How much does it cost? The standard entry fees for Champlain Cup tournaments are $20 for your first event of the weekend, plus $10 per additional event. However, if you register on the AskFRED website at least 5 days in advance, the price drops to $15 for your first event plus $5 per additional event! We are very big on advance registration, as it really helps the meet manager plan the day. Three of our tournaments (the Jr Olympic Qualifiers, Summer National Qualifiers and Ticonderoga Challenge) absolutely require advance registration. At the remaining tournaments, late registrations and even walk-ins are allowed, but you pay the higher entry fee.

What the heck is AskFRED? AskFred is a powerful tool that not only lets you sign up, but also see who else has signed up, as well as contact the tournament organizers and get directions to the venue. After the tournament, results are posted on AskFred. In addition, FRED tallies our Champlain Cup point standings so you can check there to see who is leading the league. FRED stands for Fencing Results and Events Database.  Look here for instructions on using AskFRED for the first time:


What is a rating and how do I earn one? A rating is a benchmark of your competitive success.  All beginners start out as Unrated, or "U".  To earn an E rating, you must win an event with 6+ competitors, or come in 2nd or 3rd in a D event (15+ competitors, including at least 4 Es).  A "C" event has either 15+ competitors including 2 Cs, 2 Ds and 2 Es, or 25+ competitors including 4 Ds and 4 Es.  In a C event, the winner earns a C, 2nd and the two tied 3rd place people earn Ds, and places 5-8 earn Es.  Sometimes the strongest of the Champlain Cup open tournaments are B events (15+ with 2 Bs, 2 Cs and 2 Ds in the field), in which case E ratings can be earned down to 8th or 12th place (depends on tournament size).  "A" (elite) ratings are typically earned in national or large regional events.  To see the entire chart of the various tournament strengths and which ratings can be earned, look here: https://askfred.net/Info/eventClass.php.  Once you earn a rating, it is entered in the USFA database and recognized nationally (so if you are E rated in Vermont, you are E rated everywhere in the US).  Along with your rating, you will see the year it was earned recorded.  If you do not re-earn a rating after 4 seasons, it drops by one.  Ratings can not be earned in Youth or Cadet events (with rare exceptions), only in Junior, Senior and Veteran events.  Ratings are used for the purpose of seeding tournaments, and for sorting some events by skill level (for example, an E-Under event is open only to those rated E or U, while a Div1 event is open only to those rated A, B or C).   Fencers often consider earning the next rating an inspiring goal to work toward. However, ratings are not the be-all and end-all of fencing.  Lower rated fencers can and often do beat opponents with higher ratings!

Why are you trying to talk me into competing?  First and foremost because it's exciting and fun.  You'll make new friends, become part of our local fencing scene, and have something really interesting to talk about with your work or schoolmates on Monday morning.  You will feel inspired to keep learning and improving your fencing so you can try new stuff at tournaments.  Secondly, because fencing against unfamiliar opponents is an important part of learning to fence.  The physical skills are only part of the sport...the really interesting part is learning to analyze opponents and develop strategies that exploit your strengths and take advantage of your opponent's weaknesses.  You can go to a tournament, lose every single bout and still have a great experience if you are open to having fun, learning and enjoying the journey.


At our annual planning meeting last June, we voted to add a second veteran tournament to the season line up.   We also voted to continue offering regular U or E-Under events.    If you like having these kinds of events as part of the Champlain Cup,  please vote with your feet and sign up to participate!

Why sign up 5+ days in advance for tournaments?

-You get a discounted entry fee

-It is super helpful to the tournament organizers to plan for refs and equipment, especially in events with a lot of inexperienced competitors (i.e. U, E-under and Youth)

-When fencers from other clubs (including out of state) see a lot of VFA fencers signed up in advance, they know it is going to be a large and exciting event, and are therefore attracted to sign up themselves.  As the biggest club in Vermont, it is our duty to lead the sign up charge!

So, sign up by October 15 for the Burlington Brawl at UVM.  Event schedule:

Sat. Oct 20

9:30 am Open (senior mixed) Foil

12 pm Open Saber

2 pm E-Under Epee, Veterans Foil (if you want to enter both of these, please get permission from the organizer)

Sun Oct 21

9:30 am Veterans Epee

11 a.m E-Under Saber

2 pm Open Epee, E-Under Foil  (if you want to enter both of these, please get permission from the organizer)

Open (senior mixed): foil, epee and saber, for all fencers born 2005 or earlier

E-under: foil and epee, for beginning to intermediate level competitors, restricted to E and unrated fencers (all first time competitors are unrated), born 2005 or earlier

Veterans: foil and epee, for "mature" athletes of all skill level (newbies are welcome!) born 1979 or earlier (roughly age 40+, but fencing age groups are by birth year so that you remain in the same age group for the entire season)

All events require competitive USFA membership (if you are currently a noncompetitive member, you may upgrade at any time before the tournament, by paying the $65 difference).   Loaner equipment is available for those who need it, if signed up in advance.

To sign up, get directions, and see who else is coming:


New to using AskFRED?  Directions are here: