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Event Preparation for All Fencers: Equipment

In the world of fencing, the drama often starts at the Armory (Equipment Check).  We have all been there, either as a self-inflicted victim or watching as the fencer in front of you is denied equipment approval.  Now, I know what you’re thinking: “I hope that Armorer doesn’t inspect my gear!”

The Armory is actually set up for your safety – that’s right – the Armorers care about you! Equipment failure will happen to everyone and a REJECTION is NOT the fault of the Armorer.

Every fencer has the ability to perform a simple inspection of their equipment which will greatly reduce failures in the Armory line or on the strip.

Let’s start off with the Mask: A quick review of your mask can reveal many things. Look for missing rivets, ripped seams and loose rubber around the entire mask. Squeeze the mask lightly on the sides – a small clicking noise may indicate a broken weld. Lastly, look at the basket of the mask – the pattern should be consistent. If you see larger holes next to smaller holes, your mask is at risk of failure.

The Glove: Look for holes and ripped seams. The Velcro must hold the cuff together and remember, you will have a body cord running though the glove, and so it must hold well.

Body Cords: OK, this is tough to do without the aid of an Ohm meter, but you can still look for missing pins and possible cable breaks in clear cords.

Lames: Lames are also difficult to inspect without a meter, but I think it’s safe to say that you may suspect you have dead spots while open fencing. If that is the case, purchase a second lame of your choice just in case it fails. Also, the tab behind the neck for must be intact.

Weapons: Missing tip screws and “popped wires” are easy to see, but don’t forget to check if the barrel is loose. It’s also a good idea to inspect the socket for detached wires, sometimes they are hanging on by a thread (literally). Not to forget about Sabre, please check for a broken tip at the end of your blade. Last but not least, all weapons should feel firm in the hand, nothing lose or shaking when moving the weapon.

Uniforms: Although uniforms are not inspected, for your own safety, inspect the seams, zippers and reel clip on the back of your jacket. Check the Velcro on your uniform and make sure it is holding well. In short, your uniform represents not only you, but your coach, club and country, so clean it and wear it with pride!

Inspect your equipment often, it is very simple and can prevent the morning panic attack at the Armory. So do yourself a favor and take the time to review your gear a few days before an event. Give yourself plenty of time to repair or replace any questionable items, then you can relax and focus on winning!

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Ever leave the strip wondering why a loss occurred? - The thought lingers in your head, “I was better than my opponent, why did I lose?”
To realize that the outcome of a bout is due to more than a rating, points on list or strip coaching - that is when the real magic starts to happen.
This is the “Rite of Passage” for all fencers who wish to grow and seek out success in fencing. Unfortunately, this moment of revelation does not come easy.

So, what is the 3 second rule? The 3 seconds I am referring to are the 3 seconds between a touch and the “On Guard” command by the referee.

What are your thoughts during this time period in a bout?
“I can’t believe I just gave that touch away.”
“I can’t I lose to this fencer.”
“I don’t understand my coach.”
“I wish everyone would stop trying to help me.”
The list can go on, but the point is made.(No pun intended)

You should be thinking about the last touch! What actions took place to create the last touch and how to apply that experience to the next touch.
You must make adjustments based on real time information. Can you think during the action? Yes, but don’t get caught thinking.

These 3 seconds are often overlooked and wasted. Maybe your trying to catch your breath from repeating the same actions, only faster, but it’s still not working. In any case, when you are fencing, adjustments must be made and to make them, you must evaluate your opponent after each and every touch.

Don’t take my word for it, just watch the bouts in the semifinals the next time you’re at an event.