VFA-in-Exile Update #7
June 24, 2020

The main purpose of this Update is to give you the information about the Outdoor Workshop I am planning, to replace our usual Summer Clinic. Read on for all the details! But a few things first:

I have started giving backyard lessons (outdoors, wearing masks), and it seems like a fun and relatively safe way to get back into training this summer. I am open to working with any one, all ages and levels, including beginners. I am happy to sign out a set of equipment to novice fencers who purchase a 5-lesson punch card (experienced fencers must have their own). Tomorrow, I have 5 fencers trying out paired lessons (half hour private lesson, half hour bouting). Lessons are $25 each, or $100 for a set of 5. Scheduling is at our mutual convenience (any time from 10 a.m to dusk, although the shade is best at my place after 2 p.m), and is weather dependent (if raining or too hot, we'll just reschedule). For added fun, Coach Geoff lent me his electronic training target (kind of like playing a video game, but with your weapon!) and it will be hanging outside my door for your warm-up or mask-break pleasure.

Speaking of Coach Geoff, I dropped in for a visit with him yesterday. Unfortunately, due to his age and other health risk factors, he has decided it would be wise to avoid gatherings for now, so he is not going to participate in the Outdoor Workshop, but he misses everyone and would enjoy hearing from you.

I see that Absolute Fencing has come out with a face covering - theirs is more of a neck gaiter type design, but in wicking fabric. I have not tried it. I have the Radical Fencing Active Dome mask on order. I have read good reviews of this one, so I'm looking forward to trying it. You might want to do a little research as more options come on the market for masks designed specifically with sports in mind. If you plan to fence this coming season, it is going to be required equipment. You can also try a regular face mask (i.e. cotton, or surgical) to see how it works for you.

I still have a bunch of 2020 Champlain Cup t-shirts that are not yet spoken for. I will feel much better about the cancelled Middlebury Open when I know all of these shirts are going to good homes. If you are buying one, you can pick it up from me next time you see me, including at the Outdoor Workshop. The Size Large are sold out. Here's what I have left: 5 XS (youth L), 11 S, 9 M, and 4 XL. To reserve yours, please sign up here:

Okay, here are the details on the Outdoor Workshop.

Coach: Viveka Fox

Saturday July 25, 1-3 p.m, Middlebury Rec park (soccer fields adjoining Mary Hogan School, with option to use paved schoolyard if preferred) Rain (or excessive heat) date: Sunday July 26. If weather is not good both days, we will look for another weekend.

Who: workshop is open to Vermont resident fencers, ages 12 through adult. All fencers must own their own equipment (at a minimum, basic uniform and practice weapon, bring electric equipment if you have it). No shared club equipment will be provided, except for scoring machines. Fencers will be split in to 3 groups, maximum of 8 per group, and will only drill and bout with members of their own group (you will be a fencing bubble). Your group will be assigned a quadrant of the field. Please stay in it and do not visit other groups while the workshop is in progress. Fencers must sign up in advance on AskFRED-no walk ins allowed (town rec department requirement, for contact tracing purposes). There are 3 seperate sign ups on AskFRED, based on anticipated demand (may be adjusted if I guessed wrong about who is interested). Group 1 is for foil fencers of all ages, 12 and up. Group 2 is for epee fencers born 2003 or later (Cadet and Youth age groups). Group 3 is for epee fencers born 2002 or before (Junior, Senior and Veteran age groups). If the group you are interested in is full, please contact Viveka (vfox@gmavt.net@gmavt.net) to get on a waiting list.

Cost: Sliding scale. Suggested donation is $12. If you can afford more and want to support your sidelined fencing coach, it's much appreciated. If you can't afford $12, contribute whatever you are comfortable with, no need to explain or apologize. This pandemic has hit a lot of us in the wallet. Payment can be made by check payable to Viveka Fox, cash (exact change only), or Paypal to my email address (note: this is a person-to-person transfer, not a payment to a business. You must use a bank transfer or Paypal balance - you will be charged a fee if you use a credit card). Please pay at the workshop (or for Paypal, the day of), rather than in advance, in case there is a weather delay or you must drop out for health reasons.

Workshop Schedule:

1-1:30 p.m whole group warm up and footwork (spread over the field at least 10 feet apart so masks do not have to be worn)

1:30-2:30 p.m Drills (with frequent rest/water/step apart and breathe without masks breaks. Also frequent partner changes -see below)

2:30-3 p.m Bouting

Special safety precautions for bouting:
-No keeping score. I love a good competitive bout as much as anyone, but not after a long time off, on uneven ground, while trying not to spread germs.
-I will blow a whistle every 5 minutes. That is your signal to change partners. Studies seem to be showing that time of exposure is one important variable to whether you will get ill if someone around you has coronavirus. So, just in case there is one infected person in your group, you will not spend uninterrupted prolonged time with any particular opponent.
-No infighting allowed. If you accidentally get closer than extension distance from your opponent, treat it as if you just broke your blade. Stop immediately and separate from each other. Think of it as a good opportunity to work on your ability to control distance.
-No referees for any bouts. If not involved in a bout yourself, use the opportunity to distance yourself from the group and take a water break and maskless breather.
-No handshakes or even elbow bumps. Thank your partner verbally and by saluting.

For all drills and bouting, fencers must wear face coverings over the nose and mouth. I recommend bringing several, in case they become sweat-soaked and uncomfortable. If you need a break from your mask, or for water, please move 10+ feet away from other humans. Please practice taking your fencing mask on and off with your face mask on, and get used to wearing the mask-under-mask, before this workshop.
You may wear shorts for footwork and drills, but please bring fencing pants or sweat pants to pull over your shorts for bouting.
Choose shoes suitable for fencing on grass.
Bring water. Lots of water. There is no place to refill during the workshop.
There are a couple of portalets near the tennis courts in case of "emergency" but it's a long walk. There are also some woods - if using those, please do not litter.

To prevent the spread of covid-19, please:
-Withdraw from the workshop if you or anyone in your household has possible covid-19 symptoms any time from July 11 through July 26. There is no penalty for withdrawing. Better safe than sorry!
-Do not sign up if you, or anyone in your household, plan to travel out of state any time from July 11 through July 26, with the exception of to those low-infection rate counties in northern NY and northern New England approved by the governor. The approved counties are shown in blue on this map: https://accd.vermont.gov/covid-19/restart/cross-state-travel
-Out of respect for your fellow fencers, from July 11 through July 26, please behave as if you are planning to visit a vulnerable family member. That means not lingering in indoor spaces where you can not avoid proximity to unmasked people, not participating in gatherings where you can not maintain 6+ feet distancing (more if people are exercising, shouting or singing) from unmasked people at all times, and - you know the drill - keep your paws clean.

To register for this workshop, there are 3 separate AskFRED pages. Because the group sizes are limited, you should be able to preregister provisionally, but I have to approve your registration to make it official.

To register for Group 1 (foil), click here:

To register for Group 2 (epee, ages 12 through 16), click here:

To register for Group 3 (epee, ages 17 through adult), click here:

I hope to see you soon!