Bulletin for the week of October 14, 2019


Middlebury fencers: There is fencing tonight (Oct 14), 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).

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 in detail (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.

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.

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). By the way, later this fall, I will be giving the Level 1 and least experienced Level 2 students a chance to try some fencing with club electric equipment.

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 2007 or later), best veteran (born 1980 or earlier), and rookie of the year (less than 2 years total fencing experience, competed for the first time after Jan. 1, 2019).

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 2006 or earlier (teens may enter senior events). There is no upper age limit! Events labeled "Youth" or "Y12" are open to kids born 2007 or later. We also have one annual event for the teen age groups (Junior and Cadet) in November, and 1 just for the Veteran age group (40+) in 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 26!).

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.

Sat Oct 26, 2019 Burlington Brawl at UVM
Events: Open (senior mixed) foil, epee and saber. E-under mixed foil and epee.

Who can enter: all fencers born 2006 or earlier, with competitive USFA membership (if you are currently a noncompetitive member, you may upgrade at any time)

I want especially to encourage unrated fencers, kids who recently aged out of youth tournaments (ie born 2006), and first-time competitors to participate in the E-under events. E-under is restricted to unrated fencers and those with the lowest (E) rating. It is a chance for beginning to intermediate-level competitors to enjoy fencing each other without having to contend with the big guns. Experienced fencers will volunteer to help ref you and I will bring loaner club equipment for all who are signed up at least a few days in advance (but you might as well sign up by Oct 21 and get the discounted entry fee). Best way to thank all of the organizers and volunteers who make E-Under events possible? Sign up and show up.

For event schedule, to register, to see who else is coming, get directions etc:

Once again, the epee fencers are leading the way in early sign ups (way to go epeeists!). Foil fencers, where are you? Remember, the best way to attract out of state fencers and ensure a lively well-attended tournament is for we locals to sign up as early as possible, so that everyone can see that the party is on.

The art of maintaining and repairing fencing equipment is called "armory". I will have a free workshop at my house Sunday, Nov 3, 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
: https://askfred.net/Clinics/whoIsComing.php?clinic_id=45430

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 wish I had something more exciting to report, but lady luck was not with me at Veteran World Championships (and I didn't even break into a tomb and release a curse or anything cool like that....). I came down with a nasty cold the day before my event. I felt like I knew what to do and made good decisions, but couldn't get my body to move at world class speed or control my point with world class precision. I beat the 2 less skilled fencers in my pool, but didn't have the juice to deal with the 4 good ones. Lost my 1st DE 7-4 to a nice Austrian fencer (who, interestingly, won both the saber and epee events in my age group). I knew I had to attack into her preperation, but couldn't generate the speed to nail enough of the narrow windows of opportunity she was giving me.

It was so frustrating to travel so far and be stymied by a darn virus. On top of that, a 32 hour return journey in planes full of coughing and sneezing people, plus some dodgy airport food, and needless to say, I am still sick (or sick again, or something).

The tournament was held (and nicely staged by our Egyptian hosts) in some halls under the Cairo soccer stadium. We were lodged in a suburban business/event type hotel about 5 miles away. The place had a bit of a Las Vegas vibe, except that if had really been in Las Vegas, it would have had a sphynx in front. The neighborhood was pretty charmless and extremely pedestrian unfriendly, so hard to do any exploring or find authentic food (I ate a surprising amount of pizza). Finally, on the last 2 days, I got to go on some whirlwind tours and see a little of the real Cairo as well as the famous antiquities.

While I am feeling sorry for myself for being sick the whole time, I need to remind myself what a priviledge it was to even participate in this. Team USA took home more medals that any other country, and I am happy for all my team mates who did so well. I am grateful for all the support I got from so many friends and fellow fencers leading up to this trip. I stood nose to nose with King Tut, met the Sphynx, saw the great pyramids of Giza and the 5000 year old tombs of Saqqara, walked the narrow alleys of Old Cairo and peered into Coptic churches, Roman ruins and a synagogue, visited a crusader fortress with an Ottoman mosque inside, walked on the Sahara and crossed the Nile. I was fascinated by the density and variety of street traffic, from modern tour busses to trucks piled improbably high with goods, motorbikes carrying entire families, tuk-tuks, delapidated jitneys, horse and donkey carts, the occasional sleek sports car, the occasional camel, pedestrians dressed in everything from burqas to business suits playing leapfrog with the traffic. You haven't lived if you haven't ridden in a Cairo taxi at rush hour!