November 14, 2022

Barring any unexpected disruptions, all classes as normally scheduled this week.
Next week: No fencing Nov 22, 23 and 24. Happy Thanksgiving!
Normal schedule the week of Nov 29-Dec 1, and Dec 6 to Dec 8

Winter break: Dec 9 to Jan 4. I will be away on vacation Dec 11 through Dec 25 with limited email access. If you have questions for me, please ask before then or you may have to wait until I return for an answer.

Thurs Jan 5: Competitive Squad resumes in Charlotte. I will have the whole evening to spend with you for a change (no beginners). Are you an adult or teen fencer with a strong interest in fencing regularly in tournaments? New CS members are welcome, and the new year is a great time to join! Owning a set of electric equipment is strongly recommended for this. Enthusiasm, focus and maturity are more important than your current skill level.

Week of Jan 10-12: full schedule resumes, same as fall schedule
Charlotte: Level 1 class/Competitive Squad practice on Tuesdays, Level 2/3 class (plus open fencing) on Thursdays
Middlebury: Everything on Wednesdays. Level 1 class 6-7:15 pm, bouting time for all 7:15-7:45, Level 2/3 class 7:45-9 p.m

Charlotte fencers note: I have not yet heard anything about town rec basketball for this winter. Usually they start up a week or two after Thanksgiving and run through Feb break. Some years, they push our practice times back to 7:30-9:30 and other years they don't. It all depends on the parent volunteers who coach the groups. Nobody seems to be able to tell me in advance what the schedule will be - most years we just wait and see what they do. As a town program, they get dibs on gym time (since Charlotte taxpayers pay fund the school).

If you are currently in Level 1, I invite you to join the Level 2/3 class starting in January! Don't feel ready for that? It's also okay to repeat Level 1, or even to participate in both classes: Level 1 to brush up on things or catch stuff you missed, and Level 2 to learn new things. There is no extra charge for coming to 2 classes per week! Any week you come to more than one class, you just punch your card once.

Winter club dues will be due at the first practice in January, whether or not you need a new punch card: $15 for Level 1, $25 for Level 2/3 or $50 for Competitive Squad. These dues are for the January through March session.
Punch cards never expire, you can continue to use the one you have as you move up from Level 1 to Level 2/3, just buy a new one ($65) whenever you need one. Your US Fencing membership is good through July 31, so no need to pay that again for the winter or spring term (although if you are a teen or adult with a noncompetitive membership, you will have to upgrade to Access status in order to participate in local tournaments).

Rented equipment can be turned in at the end of your last practice in December, or any time before that. When you turn it in, I will return your deposit. You do not have to clean it, I'll take care of that (after all, you'll be using it at your last class). If you miss class the week of Dec 6-8 (or if it's cancelled, like if I get covid or there is winter weather), you are responsible for bringing the equipment to my house (in Addison) by Dec 10, so that I can get it ready for a new group of beginners in January.

Rental equipment is primarily provided so that newbies can try fencing for the first time without having to buy anything. If you are continuing on to Level 2 (and I hope you are!) I strongly encourage you to purchase your own basic set (mask, glove, jacket, underarm protector and either a foil or epee) before the winter session starts (perfect holiday gift for the fencer in your life!). I will give first dibs on rental equipment to new Level 1 students through Jan 1. After that, if I have anything left, Level 2 students can request it - but no guarantee I'll still have your size and if I don't, you will be scrambling to purchase a set just a few days before classes start.

Here again is the link to my blog post on how to choose and buy fencing equipment. Prices are out of date (check vendor website for those) but general advice is still good:

For sale: a complete set of donated used equipment for a small right-handed child (best guess: under 80 lbs). Front zip jacket, small mask, glove, plastron, pistol grip foil with #2 (youth) blade, carrying bag, and there is even a pair of fencing pants included. All for a $50 donation to the VFA, to the first parent who asks for it! Perfect for one of our younger beginners who is continuing on to Level 2.

The next one comes up quickly due to the holidays!
Saturday Dec 3, Vt Commons School in S. Burlington, Holiday Open

This tournament will include the first of 4 planned youth events for fencers born 2010 or later. GMD youth events are supportive, fun, age-appropriate tournaments for our youngest fencers, including current Level 1 students who would like to give it a try. They are unsanctioned, so no membership upgrade is required. Loaner equipment is available for those who need it, at no charge as long as you sign up by Nov 28. All that you need is a sense of adventure, and the ability to maintain good sportsmanship whether you win or lose (something that younger kids sometimes need a little parental help learning to do).

We will also hold open (aka senior mixed) foil and epee events for all fencers born 2009 or before. Open events welcome adventurous newbies, as well as seasoned competitors (if you are currently in Level 1, you will know enough to participate in this and enjoy it by the time it rolls around). Open events are sanctioned (ratings can be earned), meaning that Access or Competitive membership is required. An upgrade from noncompetitive to Access status only costs $10, but you must do it yourself in advance of the tournament, either on line at or over the phone at 719-866-4511. Note that the national office can be hard to reach by phone, so please don't leave this to the day before. Not sure what kind of membership you have, or need to look up your member number? Go to, click on "memberships" and "current member list" and search for yourself.

10 a.m: Youth Foil, Open Epee
1:30 pm: Youth Epee, Open Foil

To register, get directions and see who else is coming:

Using AskFRED for the first time? Directions for setting up an account are here:

Entry fees: $20 for one event or $30 for two, if signed up by Nov 28, with a $15 late fee after that. Payment is at the door.

But really, sign up early. Like today. Because not only will you save $15, but you really help the tournament organizers (including me) get ready. There will be no bulletin next week (since there is no fencing) so you will not get another reminder until the last day for on-time registration. Why risk forgetting to do it? Sign up now! There is no penalty if you sign up and find you need to withdraw (after all we don't want you to come if you are sick).

Another fine day of fencing at the Stick Season Stab in Middlebury on Saturday! Complete results can be found here:

Congratulations to our medalists!

Open Foil (16 competitors, C1 event)
1 Brookes, Scott MOE
2 Borgal, Cameron SFC
3 Coffin, Carleton RPI
3 Horak, Peter MOE

E-Under Foil (14 competitors, E1 event)
1 Knowles, Colin (Angela) RPI - earned E rating
2 Puffer, Keith MID VT
3 Nassau, Samuel RPI
3 Drury, Paxton VFA

Open Epee (21 competitors, C1 event)
1 Berard, Jean-Francois SRN
2 Levandowski, Jim CDFS
3 D'Souza, Charlie VFA -earned D rating
3 Whitehurst, JJ RPI

E-Under Epee (18 competitors, D1 event)
1 Levandowski, Lakota CDFS -earned D rating
2 McIlwain, Wesley MFA -earned E rating
3 Liu, Jeremiah W. CFC
3 Hansard, Jess RFA -earned E rating

Performance of the Week: While others were eating lunch or socializing, Simon and Paxton did a nice long warm up together before the start of E-under foil, and hit the ground running. Paxton went 5-1 and Simon went 4-2 in a pool where nobody was undefeated. Paxton's fencing was smooth, fast and in balance, with plenty of variety, as he scored with an nice mix of attacks, ripostes and counter-attacks. Not only was this a first medal for Paxton, but the first senior medal for a pandemic era beginner (Paxton first picked up a foil last fall, as part of the weekly-when-it-wasn't-raining outdoor class). 13 year old Simon had an interesting day, seeming to toggle back and forth from the youth fencer he was (a little wild and undisciplined) and the focussed and skilled senior fencer he is becoming. After winning his first DE against another recent graduate from the youth ranks, Simon came up agains the #1 seed and eventual silver medalist, an adult fencer with many years of experience. Something just clicked and I could tell Simon was in the zone from the first touch. No more running at his opponent from out of distance - instead he attacked by sneaking slowly into distance and then attacking explosively when it was too late for his opponent to escape, or by using second intention and making some fabulous counterripostes. When his opponent attacked, Simon defended himself with good parries, and only occasionally the surprise counter-attack. On a deeper level, I could tell that Simon was using his emotions in an effective way, to help himself focus and fence with real passion. He charged out to an early lead against his opponent, who seemed surprised by the pace that Simon was dictating and the relentless initiative he was taking. Eventually, his opponent had the experience to adjust, open the distance and work his way back into the game with a lot of excellent ripostes. Simon did not yet have the tools to know what to do when the momentum changes in a bout, and got a little frustrated (the flip side of being emotionally involved in a bout, especially at a young age), but never gave up and fought hard to the end of a 15-13 loss. As the ref of that bout, I feel like I got a glimpse of the awesome competitor I will be coaching in the not too distant future! And on top of everything, Paxton and Simon stayed until the very end and helped clean up - A+ for that.

Honorable Mentions: Ciaran was the only VFA fencer to go undefeated in a pool, in E-under Epee (finishing 5th after being upset in DEs). Jesse fenced a strong pool (5-1) in open epee, although he was edged out of the medals by a narrow loss. Trip, who has been fencing less than a year, made a nice step forward in his fencing, looking more relaxed and in balance on the strip than I have seen him, responding well to both threats and opportunities, going 4-2 in his E-under foil pool, and winning one DE to finish 6th. Hats off to our first-time competitors Matei, Olivia and Ava; to Christopher and Evan for their first tournament in the "big leagues" (they were youth fencers last season) and to JC for jumping in to his first tournament in some large number of decades.

Thank yous: To the large team of volunteers who made this tournament possible. Michele, Karen, John, Genevieve, Deirdre, Bill, Ray, Viveka, everyone who reffed within their events, helped set up or clean up, trained to learn meet management or contributed in any other way. Tournaments do not just magically happen - volunteers make the magic.

Just a few quick notes:

1. Fencing is on in Middlebury tonight
MHS is not closed today and the snow is supposed to stop by evening, so I am planning to be there. Please drive carefully!

2. Have you registered for the Holiday Open?
See Monday's bulletin for details. I am not going to send another reminder until the last day of on-time registration.

3. Junior Olympic Qualifiers
Now that we are back in full operation, the GMD has posted a JO Qualifier for this season.

Do not sign up for these events unless you have a serious interest in going to Denver in February for the Junior Olympics. To qualify for JOs, you must be a US citizen or permanent resident (JOs doubles as the US junior national championship), a Competitive member of the USFA (Access membership is for local events only), and affiliated with the Green Mt Division. In addition, I strongly recommend that you have at least an E rating, and some experience competing outside of the Green Mt Division. Honestly, if you do not have a D rating or better, you are likely to be eliminated in the first round of JOs (only 80% move up to DEs, unlike our local tournaments where everyone fences at least one DE), making an expensive trip to fence 5 or 6 bouts. You will be responsible for all of your own travel (I will not be going or planning travel).

Registration closes Nov 28, at which point any event with fewer than 4 will be cancelled (and any one who signed up qualifies automatically). If there are events with 4+ fencers signed up, they will be scheduled to take place during the Holiday Open, times tba.

There are events for two age groups:
Cadet: teens born 2006-09. These events are only for younger teens
Junior: teens born 2003-2009. These events are open to both younger and older teens

Sign up here ONLY if serious about going to JOs:

Not planning to go to JOs, just looking for a fun day of fencing locally? Sign up for the Holiday Open here: