Good fencing times here! *LONG* post

Good fencing times here! *LONG* post

Post by Peter Gustafss » Sat, 16 Sep 1995 04:00:00


Hi all!


The fall semester has started, and with it our annual beginners fencing
course in my University sports clubs fencing section. Yesterday, we had 15
fencers training - best figure in 6 years! The fencing at my University has
been in a slow downward slide for 3 years which was accentuated by several
graduations/injuries/burnouts last year. The start of this season, however,
shows an strong upward trend which I want to conserve. I am now taking care of
the fencing here, and I would appreciate some help/good ideas from you on
r.s.f. I have read the FAQ, but I think my club is in such a different
position compared to what US. clubs seem to have so my questions are
warranted. First some background facts, and then various questions.

Background facts
Competition: We only fence epee, and will continue so until some freshman who
knows foil/sabre begins - not anytime soon. We compete usually two times a
year, one local and one regional championship. A few times we have been to the
Swedish Natls, with very limited sucess.
Trainers: Two of us, neither has a formal fencing masters degree - we teach
what has been taught to us during the years. Maria (the other trainer) har
5yrs experience and has taught kids to fence for 1 yr. I have 8 yrs experience
and have taught 2 20 yr-olds to fence for slightly more than 0.5 yrs.
Facilities: We have access to one part of the indoor sports hall, big enough
for 4 pistes (5 if you cram) Thu. 2100-2300 and Sun. 1900-2000. We wont have
the means to buy our own house for a salle in the foreseeable future. :-(
Organization: The University sports club (HIF) consists of 19 sections of
which fencing is one of the smallest. The balance between sectional and
club-wide decisions is about right.
Money: We get a small amount from HIF, approx 200$ a year. We dont (sofar)
charge members anything above what they have paid to the club centrally.
Until now unlimited loans of equipment and weapons by members have been
allowed. We dont pay anything for our floor use, nor will anytime soon. We
are going to start searching for sponsors. When we compete against military
teams the army foots the bill, they are the prime sponsor of Sw. fencing and
the Army General is a great fencing fan.
Equipment: We have 13-18 useful weapons, about the same number of jackets and
masks, somewhat fewer gloves. 2 sets of spools/box/floor cord, no copper mats.
We have no dedicated repair room, that is usually done in the salle. Our
storage facilities are bursting.
Recruitment: Each fall semester a beginners course is started, we usually get
somewhat fewer than 10 beginners of which 2-3 stay on and keep fencing for at
least one year. We usually get 1 freshman every other year who has fenced
before. Since Swedish universities are legally prohibited to admit students
based on anything else than scholastic aptitude, we cannot have a pro team
even if it were a financially viable option. We are located in the least
fencing-developed part of Sweden. We have currently a 9/6 women/men ratio in
the fencing section.

Got this far? Thanks, that was a lot of bandwidth. :-(

Questions
1. How shall we give good lessons despite the lack of formal training?
2. Are there any net resources dedicated to fencing lessons/training?
3. This is the 1st time I train women. Is there anything special to think    
   about, and if so what?
4. How shall we make optimal use of limited space, both during lessons and    
   during bouting?
5. Those of you who are members of University clubs, what do you think about  
   that - general question!
6. How much gross income/member and year is normal/necessary if salle costs  
   are deducted?
7. What is the common membership fee in USA Universty clubs?
8. How many club weapons/member does one need? The same question for misc.    
   other equipment.
9. What is a good right/left ratio on weapons and jackets?
10. The ratio beginners/continuers has been too high so far in our club. Any  
    ideas on how to keep on more beginners?
11. Is there any other club out there with more women than men? Just out of  
    curiosity.
12. Is ther any glaring omission in our club or my description? Fill in what  
    you think is missing.

Have a nice time, and thanks for bearing with me so long!

Peter Gustafsson

 
 
 

Good fencing times here! *LONG* post

Post by Jeremy B. Willia » Sat, 16 Sep 1995 04:00:00

[Snip]

|> Questions
|> 1. How shall we give good lessons despite the lack of formal training?

You do the best you can.  When instructing, focus on basics and the rest
will follow.  Most of all, give personal attention -- we all have had that
teacher (in whatever field) who knows the material cold, but just can't
communicate it; many of us have had the teacher who barely knows the
material but through sheer dedication can almost teach more than he knows.

|> 3. This is the 1st time I train women. Is there anything special to think    
|>    about, and if so what?

Not that I can think of.

|> 5. Those of you who are members of University clubs, what do you think about  
|>    that - general question!

I've been a member of two University clubs.  The first one was in such
disarray that the first time I showed up, (at a tournament) I was put in
charge of the club's equipment; the second time I showed up, I was made
treasurer; a year later, I was elected president (the other candidate and
I voted for each other -- both of us were willing to do the job but didn't
really want it).  Lack of continuity is a major problem (which you are
experiencing).
The support of the University is wonderful to have, but unless you get
faculty as regular members, there aren't the long-term members you'd have
in a community club.  The club here at UIUC has a solid backbone of grad
students (most of whom have fenced before), so has less turn-over.

|> 7. What is the common membership fee in USA Universty clubs?

It varies.  At OSU, our policy was that membership fees discouraged newbies.
In the years that dues were in effect, club members got free entry into our
club's tournaments.
We had income from tournaments (once per quarter) and from the University,
so a reasonable dues (~$10/person/qtr) would not have drastically improved
our funds.

|> 8. How many club weapons/member does one need? The same question for misc.    
|>    other equipment.

Fencers should be encouraged to acquire their own equipment (this helps
with retention -- people who have invested money in the sport are more likely
to stick with it).
If your club's goal is to furnish everything for everyone, OTOH, I'd say
two electric weapons, one dry weapon, and one set of everything else for
each fencer, with a couple spares.  For most clubs, this is ridiculously
unrealistic -- in your case, storage would be a problem.

|> 9. What is a good right/left ratio on weapons and jackets?

For jackets, get the back-zip variety.  Sure, they're not as convenient,
but they don't have handedness, either, and run slightly cheaper.
For dry weapons, have a couple spare grips around (these may be the grips
from the weapons whose blades you recently broke and haven't replaced
yet).  Changing right to left is easy on a dry weapon, if you've got an
appropriate grip around.
In general, I'd recommend going 2:1 or 3:1 right:left on weapons,
espescially for electrics, unless you have a large number of
lefties around (more than one in five).  Keep the ratio of left:right
weapons higher than left:right fencers, because that way, when weapons
inevitably malfunction, you aren't nearly as likely to run out of one
or the other -- and keep those left-handed weapons repaired!

|> 10. The ratio beginners/continuers has been too high so far in our club. Any  
|>     ideas on how to keep on more beginners?

A)Esprit de corps: Make the new fencers feel part of the group.  Go out for
pizza/iced cream/beer/whatever after practice.  Hold "armory parties" to
fix all those broken weapons.  Do things as a group.  Go to tournaments as
a group.
B)Individual accomplishment/responsibility: con a couple of them into
serving as co-treasurers, hold armory parties (or just recruit one or two
as apprentice armorers), compliment them when they do well in practice,
organize and host a tournament.  Most importantly, you need to practice
more -- three hours a week?  It's hard to improve with that little time
investment, and discouragement due to lack of improvement is a major
cause of burnout.
C)Competition: Two tournaments a year is not enough to hold interest.
Certainly, practice is fun, but not having something to work toward
as a short-term goal is another big discourager.  Host your own tournaments
(3-5/yr sounds good) and go to any that are within driving distance.
Hold specific competitions for beginners.

|> 11. Is there any other club out there with more women than men? Just out of  
|>     curiosity.

I'm told the University of Chicago has such a club -- the men have a
varsity team, so the club ends up being all women.

|> 12. Is ther any glaring omission in our club or my description? Fill in what  
|>     you think is missing.

You need more practice time.  It's tough to get involved in something you do
that little -- and with your space limitations, one gets even less practice in.
--J
"And rain will make the flowers. . ."

 
 
 

Good fencing times here! *LONG* post

Post by Ken Stiee » Tue, 19 Sep 1995 04:00:00

Quote:
>3. This is the 1st time I train women. Is there anything special to

think about, and if so what?

In my experience training women is not that differnent from men except
for a couple of points.  Some women beginners aren't aggressive enough.  
They eventually learn, but until then you have to work around it a
little.  And (in my experience) they tend to be more cerebral/thinking  
fencers, especially at the beginning.  

Quote:
>11. Is there any other club out there with more women than men? Just out
of  
>    curiosity.

The salle I belonged to (Torgrimson Fencing Academy, Fresno, CA) had more
active women than men.

Just my $.02 worth

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Good fencing times here! *LONG* post

Post by Randell Jesu » Wed, 20 Sep 1995 04:00:00

Quote:

>Competition: We only fence epee, and will continue so until some freshman who
>knows foil/sabre begins - not anytime soon.

        Epee only?  Really.  That would be very wierd at any of the salle's/
clubs I've had experience with in the US - every one I've dealt with started
everyone in foil, and only after a minimal amount of expertise in foil (2
semesters of twice-a-week practices) did we let them move on to epee/sabre.
US college teams (NCAA) are more competition-oriented and sometimes may
well start people directly in epee or sabre.  It's been a topic of some
disagreement here before.  (I was president of a college club.)

Quote:
>Trainers: Two of us, neither has a formal fencing masters degree - we teach
>what has been taught to us during the years. Maria (the other trainer) har
>5yrs experience and has taught kids to fence for 1 yr. I have 8 yrs experience
>and have taught 2 20 yr-olds to fence for slightly more than 0.5 yrs.

        Certainly you should be able to teach the basics and probably
intermediate-level students with that amount of experience.

Quote:
>Facilities: We have access to one part of the indoor sports hall, big enough
>for 4 pistes (5 if you cram) Thu. 2100-2300 and Sun. 1900-2000. We wont have
>the means to buy our own house for a salle in the foreseeable future. :-(

        Who does?  Especially at a university.  That should be sufficient
unless the club gets very big.

Quote:
>Money: We get a small amount from HIF, approx 200$ a year. We dont (sofar)
>charge members anything above what they have paid to the club centrally.

        We had a budget of ~$1000-2000/yr, around half for a real master to
come in to teach, around 20-40 students each semester.  This was in '83 or so.
We had the students pay circa $5-10, local non-students about $10 more, I
think (my memory on that is rough - I was president, not treasurer).

Quote:
>Recruitment: Each fall semester a beginners course is started, we usually get
>somewhat fewer than 10 beginners of which 2-3 stay on and keep fencing for at
>least one year. We usually get 1 freshman every other year who has fenced
>before.

        Sounds around normal.  With some work (and more types of weapons to
fence) keeping 50% for a year should be doable.  Epee isn't everyone's cup
of tea.

Quote:
>Questions
>1. How shall we give good lessons despite the lack of formal training?

        You had formal training, I assume.  Do your best to duplicate it.
For beginners, emphasize stretching and footwork, but get weapons in hand
before long to keep from losing students.  Keep the emphasis on footwork
for a long time though, even as they start to learn some bladework.

Quote:
>3. This is the 1st time I train women. Is there anything special to think    
>   about, and if so what?

        The average woman in epee has a disadvantage to the average man,
because of height/reach.  Teach them ways to fence larger, longer-reach
opponents from the start (everyone less that 2.x meters needs to learn, but
teach them earlier).  This would be much less of a problem in foil, and some
of them may be more comfortable in foil with the lighter weapons, at least
until they add some arm-strength (and some men as well).  I'd _really_ consider
foil if you can find a way to do it.

        _Some_ women may not want to fence men, at least at first - try to
figure this out and accomodate it to some degree.  Mostly this will be
handled by letting people choose their own partners to practice with, and
it should become obvious.

Quote:
>4. How shall we make optimal use of limited space, both during lessons and    
>   during bouting?

        Most beginner lessons don't require anything near a full strip.  Lots
of it is "Here is X.  Here's how it's done.  See that?  Don't do it like this.
Ok, break into pairs and try it, and I'll walk around."

        If you want to break into beginning and advanced groups after the
"main" lesson, reserve (say) one strip for bouting among the advanced, and
keep the rest for the beginners.  It all depends on too many variables, though.

Quote:
>6. How much gross income/member and year is normal/necessary if salle costs  
>   are deducted?

        No idea.  I've never been to a dedicated salle.  All gyms (at colleges)
or YMCA's (a type of community athletic club/gym).

Quote:
>7. What is the common membership fee in USA Universty clubs?

        Don't know now.  Depends on a lot on the amount of money that the
students tax themselves (or get taxed) for activities, and whether it's a club
or a team.  It's better to look at other sports/clubs at the college.

Quote:
>8. How many club weapons/member does one need? The same question for misc.    
>   other equipment.

        We had jackets for all the beginners and some intermediates.  Foils
for all the beginners, and a few club epee's and sabres.  Gloves were their
own.  Intermediates normally at least got their own jacket, and usually
weapons.  Lames/body-cords were usually the club's.  Make sure you have
enough frisbees (*** protectors).

Quote:
>9. What is a good right/left ratio on weapons and jackets?

        Weapons: around 8-10:1 (matching population).  Jackets: we used back-
zip for all the loaners.

Quote:
>10. The ratio beginners/continuers has been too high so far in our club. Any  
>    ideas on how to keep on more beginners?

        Make it fun.  Let them touch weapons early, but don't let them
compete (bout) early, until they're comfortable.  Make it a bit social as
well - we used to hang out after practice at the student union and chat.
Make them feel like they're making progress, even if it slows that progress
a bit.  (Heavy long emphasis on footwork will get you an intermediate fencer
faster/better - but less will stick it out.)  Let them watch intermediates/
experts fence early - the first session if possible.

        I'm sure others have ideas.  This has come up before here.

Quote:
>11. Is there any other club out there with more women than men? Just out of  
>    curiosity.

        I'm in a club with 3 women, the instructor, and me.  In the club I
started in back in 9th grade I was one of 3 or 4 boys among 20 or 30 girls
(at a private school in New York City).  However, I only fenced there for a
semester and didn't fence again until college, where the ratio was about 5:1
men/women (RPI).

--
Randell Jesup, Scala US R&D, Ex-Commodore-Amiga Engineer class of '94

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