On Guard!

With these two words, action in the world of fencing begins. Yet how does one learn to fence? The rare individual can pick up a book and learn from the printed page. But in most cases, if you want to learn, you seek out a teacher.
I have fenced for close to thirty-five years, taught groups and individuals for over a decade, and coached a high school team for the last four years. In college, my roommate needed a practice dummy. I volunteered, not knowing that, like so many others, I was to become involved with a life long interest. Along the way, I have also studied martial arts, dance, and pantomime. Yet I kept returning to fencing. At a certain point, I found myself working with younger fencers and being asked to demonstrate a technique or to explain a specific convention or rule. This is not unusual. The world of fencing is filled with many knowledgeable and generous individuals. One of the great benefits of fencing is a life long participation. There are people competing into their late 70's, and occasionally, their 80's. These men and women have taught us and have kept the flame of fencing burning. This lead to me being asked to substitute teach for sick instructors at my fencing club, then to teaching group classes, attending USFA Coaches College, teaching individual lessons and coaching.
What has interested me over the years is the organization of lessons. What is to come first? What should follow? What is next? I have taught returning fencers who have no idea of certain aspects of fencing. They know tricks to score points, but have huge holes in their repertoire. What I have come to realize is that there is no substitute for a firm base, a rock solid foundation. If the basics are learned properly, then the expanding skill set can multiply easily.
Thus, this web site. It contains my thoughts on the first four lessons to be taught beginners. It is offered to interested individuals, especially coaches looking for structured ideas. There is little explanation of techniques. It is assumed that a coach is knowledgeable about how to perform specific techniques. It is an attempt to present my ideas on the organization of primarily group lessons for beginners, with a small spillover for individuals. I have tried to also provide a limited glossary for the casual browser who finds themselves wondering about the exciting sport of fencing.
coach working with student
Coach Bertram
Coach Vince
Coach Gaugler