VFA-in-Exile Bulletin
November 8, 2021

Week 3 of All-Level classes this Monday and Tues, Competitive Squad on Thursday, as usual. Missed the first couple but want to return? No problem, just come.

I notice that a few fencers (nice job especially Simon and Axel in Shelburne) get dressed as fast as possible and squeeze in some bouting before class while waiting for everyone else to be ready. I think it would be awesome if everyone did that! It was also fun last week with more fencers staying after class and bouting (even if just for 10 or 15 minutes - you don't have to stay until 9 if that is too late for you).

Final all-level classes and Competitive Squad practice of the fall will be next week (Nov 15, 16 and 18). All rented equipment must be turned in at the end of the final class, or you will need to bring it to my house before Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving to New Year: No formal classes. If any adult fencer or parent would like to organize some drop-in open fencing (and have a place to do it), I am happy to loan you scoring machines. I might even come out and play (depending when and where).

It looks like Charlotte Central School may allow gym use again (at least, their construction project is winding down and they have asked user groups to request dates, but they have not confirmed our reservation). Plan A is to meet at CCS, Plan B is to meet at Vermont Commons School (or some mix - VCS may be the back up on weeks when CCS is not available). In Middlebury, Mary Hogan School will not be re-opening to visitors this school year, as they host a preschool program. If you did the Level 1 and All-Level classes this fall, you will be in the Level 2/3 group in the winter.

Here is the schedule I propose for this winter.

Charlotte Central School (or Vt Commons, or some mix)
Thursdays, Jan 6 to March 10 (w/March 17 as a snow day make up):
7-8:15 pm Level 2/3 Class
8:15-9 p.m Open fencing/bouting time

Tuesdays, Jan 11 to March 15 (w/March 22 as a snow day make up)
7-8:15 pm Level 1 Class, with concurrent open fencing/self-directed practice for Squaddies
8:15-9 p.m Competitive Squad practice with me

Note: Some years at CCS, town rec basketball runs to 7:30 in January and February, pushing our practice times back to 7:30-9:30. I know that is late for many people, but town rec programs have scheduling precedence (since they are Charlotte taxpayers, and therefore own the building). I do not know yet if that will happen this year (and usually don't know until we start meeting and I meet the basketball coaches and see what their plans are).

Bridge School, Middlebury
Wednesdays, Jan 12 to March16 (w/March 23 as a snow day make up)
6-7:15 p.m Level 1 class, with concurrent open fencing from 6:30 on for experienced teen and adult fencers
7:15-7:45 p.m Bouting time for everyone (this will often be a game or organized bouting activity)
7:45-9 p.m Level 2/3 class

IF enough experienced fencers return in Middlebury this winter, I will leave open the option of adding Competitive Squad practices on Mondays in Cornwall. To do this would require a minimum of 8 fencers who commit themselves to attending regularly, including at least 3 who fence the same weapon. Bridge School is not available Mondays, and Cornwall is too small for Level 1 classes. If we do not have enough fencers to sustain seperate CS practices in Middlebury, experienced Middlebury teen and adult fencers are always welcome to attend Tuesdays in Charlotte.

For newbies/renters:
All rented equipment is due back by Thanksgiving. If you are turning it in this week, let me know so I can bring your deposits. If you are doing it after class next week, I will bring all the deposits (you don't have to notify me). If neither of those times works for you, please contact me to make arrangements to bring it to my house in Addison.

Judging from the size of my current mailing list, there is a lot of pent up demand for fencing classes. I anticipate being stretched thin this winter to provide equipment for Level 1 students to try fencing for the first time. I would strongly prefer that all returning students have their own basic equipment. I won't say it's impossible for Level 2 students to rent, but first dibs goes to Level 1, and there is a strong chance I will not have stuff left in your size. You would be doing me and the club a huge favor by getting your own, plus you can get nice things like a front-zip jacket or a pistol grip weapon. Sometimes you can find a good deal on used equipment (e-Bay can be a good source, but make sure it's modern equipment in good condition). If buying new, you will save money by buying a starter package (jacket, mask, glove, underarm protector and weapon) rather than piece by piece.

This is the basic foil package from Absolute Fencing for $192:

And the basic epee package for $204

There is a sizing advice link on both of these pages. Get the regular jacket not the padded one. Foilists: I recommend the Visconti (Vis) pistol grip as the most popular option. XS or S for a child, M for most teens and women, L or XL for people with really big hands. Getting the electric bib is optional-if you plan to compete you may want it, but it's also possible to retro-fit an add-on bib later. Epeeists: Visconti is also a popular pistol grip for epee, but there are a couple of other choices (try some of the club ones and see what you like), and a whole style of epee (more counterattacking and avoiding your opponent's blade, less parrying) using the French grip.

Blade size #5 for age 11 and up, size 2 for age 9-10 (and maybe some very small 11 year olds). Plastron size XS or S for a child, M for most teens and women, L or XL for people with larger chest sizes. No upgrade to electric weapon (buy that separately in the future when you are ready), ditto for the pants. Chest protector: optional for men and pre-teens (often appreciated by smaller kids if they are getting bruised by larger opponents), women and teen girls will need either the full plastic chest protector (especially if you wear a larger bra size), or buy a set that goes in the jacket pockets: https://www.absolutefencinggear.com/shopping/product_info.php/products_id/75/cPath/13.

Confused about what to buy? Ask!

For more experienced fencers:
For more experienced fencers: I encourage you to get your own electric equipment (again, Absolute offers package deals) and practice with it regularly. Electric fencing is fun, and gives you immediate feedback on your point control.
The thing about electric equipment is that you must learn to troubleshoot and repair it - there are no repair shops for this stuff, armory work is just part of learning to fence. Due to covid, I have not been able to pack a bunch of you in to my office for an armory lesson in a long time. However, I will have some time coming up between Nov 19-23 and Nov 29 -Dec 11. I would be happy to make an appointment for a vaccinated individual or family to come to my house with their broken equipment to repair it under my guidance, or to come and help me repair club equipment as a learning experience. Just consider it a "fencing class" and punch your card.

I would love to see the Green Mt Division re-start sanctioned indoor tournaments this winter, but nothing is on the calendar yet. With our usual venues (UVM, Middlebury schools) still out of bounds, we need alternatives. We need a full-size gym, for less than $50 per hour, in Chittenden or Addison County, that is not booked solid all weekend with basketball or other programs. If you know of such a space and can help with getting the info about it, please let me know!

In the meantime, how about taking a road trip to a neighboring division? Here is a D-Under meet in Rochester NH (foil on Saturday, epee on Sunday)

The VFA got it's nickname "The Northern Horde" back before the Green Mt Division even existed, when we would regularly sweep out of our mountain stronghold to do battle in the flatlands. Maybe it's time to show we still live up to that nickname!

Speaking of the Northern Horde...3 intrepid road warriors represented the VFA at the New England Division's Veterans tournament in Worcester MA (for newbies: in fencing, a "veteran" is an athlete age 40+, what is often called "masters" in other sports, it does not mean we served in the military). We had a great time and came home with two medals.

Veteran Womens Foil (12 competitors)
2nd Viveka Fox

Veteran Mens Foil (6 competitors)
3rd Rick Davis

Rick was a fireball on the strip (in a pool with 5 lefties and only 1 righty, for added interest). He went 3-2 in his pool, including defeating a D-rated fencer. I was fencing at the same time so didn't get to see much of his fencing, but at one point, I saw him make several strong attacks, and then fake an attack, stop short as if he had missed, invite his opponent to make a panicked attack in response, and score a beautiful riposte. Every good pitcher mixes fast balls and curve balls!

Karen held her own in a competitive womens epee field, finishing higher than the other unrated fencers, defeating the eventual silver medalist in a pool bout, losing her first DE to a very experienced competitor 10-8, and generally looking relaxed, moving well, and making lots of feints and invitations to keep her opponents guessing.

I beat the other B-rated foilist in my semifinal, before losing to a patient lefty with a strong defensive game.