Competition Fencing FAQ
Here are some of the frequently asked questions (FAQs) I’ve received when supporting fencers in their competition career since 1993. Questions in bold text. Responses in italic text:
- Where can I find out what competitions are taking place? Adult and Junior competitions are listed on the British Fencing web site on their Events page. Leon Paul Junior Series competitions are listed on the LPJS web site. Veterans fencing competitions are listed on the British Veterans Fencing web site on the their Calendar page. Wheelchair fencing competitions details are available as a download from the British Disabled Fencing Association web site on the Upcoming Events page. Local competitions are listed on the county fencing web sites. Yorkshire Adult and Junior competitions are listed on the Yorkshire Fencing web site on their Events page. East Midlands Adult and Junior competitions are listed on the East Midlands Fencing web site on their Calendar page.
- Will the fencer need to be a member of British Fencing? Yes membership of British Fencing is required for all competitions run by British Fencing or run by organisations affiliated to British Fencing. That way everyone is insured if, despite all the regulations, an accident should happen.
- What are the age groups for the competitions? The structure is quite complicated and the details change from year to year. Here’s are links to Senior, Junior, Cadet, Youth and Veteran competitions. Basically the positions is: Seniors = 13 years old and above can enter, Junior = over 13 years but under 20 years old, Cadets = under 17 years old. Youth = U18, U16, U14, U12 and U10. See the web pages for more detail.
- How do you enter a competition? British Fencing advertised competitions can be entered on-line. Leon Paul Junior Series competition entry details can be obtained from the LPJS web site Calendar/Entry Form page (click on event to get entry form). Veteran’s competition entry details can be obtained via their web site.
- What equipment is needed for the competition? In addition to a fencng jacket, plastron, glove and mask you will need: 2 foil body wires, 2 electric foils, breaches, long socks, a conductive foil lame and a mask which has a conductive lower bib and mask wire. A special fencing bag to keep everything in is a good idea too. Sabreurs have similar kit requirements to Foilists. Epeeists don’t need conductive masks or lame as the whole body is the target.
- What will happen on the day of the competition? You will have submitted your entry form before the closing date (usually a week before the event) so will know the latest time you can report to the organisers to let them know you have arrived. Once signed in it’s time to get kitted up. Now look out and listen out for your name being called for the first round of pools. This and possibly a second round of pools, will be fought to gain a seeding for the Direct Elimination (knock out) bouts. Pool bouts are fought to 5 hits over a maximum of 3 minutes. Turn up promptly on the piste your pool is being fought on with two weapons and spare body wires. Find out your ‘fencer number’ for the pool and listen for the referee calling you onto the pistes for your bouts. Plug into the spool at your end of the piste, present your weapon for checking by the referee, then stand on the on-guard line ready to start the bout. Salute the opponent and referee. Listen for the referees commands, fight the bout. At the end salute the opponent and referee, shake hands with both. Help the next fencer get plugged into the spool. Keep an eye on the pool record sheet to make sure your bouts have been recorded accurately. At the end of the pool check and sign the pools sheet if it’s correct. Don’t be surprised if some of the experienced fencers are asked to do the refereeing, they will try their utmost to be fair and impartial, their honour and reputations depend on the fencers being happy with the officiating. In due course you to might be asked to referee in similar circumstances, make sure you take the opportunity to practice these skills in your club. Pools can take an hour to complete, depending on numbers and equipment failures. You usually have about 20-30 minutes between pools. Relax drink some water have a light snack. Take a toilet break. Listen and watch out for the next pool or Direct Elimination fight being called. Turn up promptly when called with spare weapons and body wires. Direct Elimination (DE) bouts for adults are first to 15 hits with a maximum of 3 x 3 minutes periods (9 minutes in total) with 1 minutes rest breaks allowed between the periods. Coaching is only allowed in the rest breaks. If you do well it will be a long day, take every opportunity to rest. Once eliminated get changed and take the chance to watch a few fights. Those still in the competition will be the better fencers, see if you can learn anything from their successes. If you can, stay until the medal ceremony, it’s nice for the winners to be applauded and one day that might be you receiving the applause! Do help to clear up at the end of the competition if you have time, the organisers will be most appreciative and you might learn a thing or two that will come in handy when your time comes to run a competition. If/when you receive a trophy make sure you take good care of it and return if the next year in a clean condition.
- Do you have any tips for parents/friends? Ensure a check list is drawn up prior to the event and that all equipment is present and working in the week before the event. Make sure the British Fencing membership is up to date. Pack sufficient food and drink. Allow sufficient time for the journey and a contingency for delays. Make sure you check in at the registration desk and that no calls for pools or DE bouts are missed. Make sure two weapons and a spare body wire are take to the piste for each bout. If a weapon become unserviceable take it immediately to the competition armourer or the kit supplier’s armourer to see if a repair can be made.
- Will coach support be available on the day? My policy is to accompany fencers (together with their parents/guardians) on their first three or four competitions to make sure they all ‘know the ropes’ and provide coaching support in the new environment. Fencers are encouraged to learn how to analyse their performance, that of opponents and find ways to better apply the skills mastered in club sessions. It’s good to have a coach alongside you at a competition but it’s not always possible so learning to stand on you own feet is very necessary.
- How can I do better next time? As soon as practical take time to reflect on your experiences and try to learn the lessons your defeats and successes will have highlighted. Make notes. If possible have someone video your bouts (take care to comply with British Fencing and venue requirements about registering to take photos and videos). Discuss the lessons learned with your coach and plan what you need to cover in your private lessons before your next competition!
If you didn’t find an answer to a question you have about fencing in competitions please don’t hesitate to contact me either through the Blog on this site or via telephone or email. My contact details are on the Contact page of this web site. I look forward to being able to help you.