Frequently asked questions
Our fencing classes
In fact, fencing is one of the oldest Olympic sports. It is one of the only four sports that
have been part in every Summer Olympic Games, since the birth of the modern Olympic movement in 1896.
The term martial art has become heavily associated with the fighting arts of eastern Asia, but was
originally used in regard to the combat systems of Europe as early as the 1550s. An English fencing
manual of 1639 used the term in reference specifically to the "Science and Art" of swordplay.
The term is ultimately derived from Latin, martial arts being the "Arts of Mars," the Roman god of war.
Some martial arts are considered 'traditional' and tied to an ethnic, cultural or religious background,
while others are modern systems developed either by a founder or an association.
Fencing, practiced through the centuries, always carried much tradition, honor, and chivalry.
It inspired many, sometimes in different ways.
Theatrical fencing, for example, is meant to show strength, emotion, flamboyancy, passion, and chivalry.
To be exciting for the audience, it is carefully choreographed, costumed, and often somewhat exaggerated.
Another popular type of fencing is so-called "historical fencing", practiced mostly as re-enactments of
the sword fights of the times long gone, preserving old techniques, costumes, and weapons.
Olympic fencing is a modern sport, based on physical strength, endurance, eye-hand coordination, quick
thinking, and even quicker execution. At Delta Fencing Center we teach fencing based on the current thought
on sport fencing, training, biomechanics, nutrition science, and sport psychology.
Not really. Sport fencing requires tightly regulated safety equipment, and at Delta Fencing Center we
require its use at every class or training. Every fencer wears a fencing mask, under-plastron
(protective clothing worn under jacket), fencing jacket, and fencing glove. Women and kids
under 10 also have to wear chest protectors, and men protective cup. Beginners can take class in warmups,
but competitive fencers have to wear regulation-required fencing knickers and knee-long socks.
Absolutely. In fact, most of our fencers came to us wanting to try fencing for the first time in their
At Delta Fencing Center we provide all the equipment necessary for fencing classes. Our members are
welcome to use the club equipment in class for as long as they want, free of charge. All you need is
your own protective cup and knee-long socks. Come to classes in a t-shirt, a stretchy legwear covering
whole leg, and sneakers (sport shoes - volleyball, tennis, or running shoes work the best).
Fencing is a relatively small sport, and common department stores and specialty sport stores do not carry
anything related to fencing. About a dozen companies in the USA are selling fencing equipment, and about
a half have a storefront. All have excellent web-stores. Talk to your coach about equipment - we'll be
happy to help you choose the right equipment and figure out the right size. Look at our Store
for equipment recommendations and for the discount code for purchasing from Blue Gauntlet, our favorite
Boys and girls as young as 6 can learn fencing with us. Give us a call and come for the complimentary
intro class to check out if fencing is the right sport for your kid.
There is no such thing as "too old for fencing"! Currently our member with the most life experience is 61.
Maja's first fencing coach, John DeCesare, retired at 99. Age group 70+ has recently been included into
the World Cup competitions, and in the USA, 80+ is the newest fencing age group since 2017-18 season.
We believe that since you are asking, you are apparently not too old. Come visit our class!
Our beginners fencing course takes 16 classes, during which you'll learn the basics, and advance to the
Intermediate Level. You can continue learning and improving your skills for as long as you want. We believe
that it takes more than a lifetime, but we promise great experience all the way.
Short answer is: please don't. As with all the amateur sports, the line between recreational and competitive
training is blured, and we'd prefer you don't carry over to other clubs the details about our trainings, or
about strengths and weaknesses of our fencers, even if you attend our trainings "just recreationally". Also,
different coaches sometimes have different approach to training you, and training at another club would, in
all likelihood, interfere with your learning with us.
You may have noticed that the USA Fencing has provision for "Secondary club" representation. That option was
intended for fencers who left their hometown for college, and who would like to keep their home club representation.
Usually, the college club is represented as Primary, and the home club as Secondary.
In some cases, our fencers train at another club when certain very specific benefits are on the line. We are
happy to make those arrangements when we believe they will benefit both you and our club. Please keep in mind
you will not be able to keep training with us in case you attend trainings at another club or coach, without
our approval, and without our agreement with the other club/coach.
At the national level, competitions are always gender-restricted; local and regional competitions are
sometimes not, so look for designation "men's", "women's", or "mixed".
Competitive age groups in US Fencing are (age is on Jan 1 of the current season):
- Youth 10 (7-10 years old)
- Youth 12 (9-12 years old)
- Youth 14 (11-14 years old)
- Cadet, a.k.a Under 16 (13-16 years old)
- Junior, a.k.a. Under 19 (13-19 years old)
- Senior (13 years old and above)
- Veteran Open (40 years old and above)
- Veteran 40 (40-49 years old)
- Veteran 50 (50-59 years old)
- Veteran 60 (60-69 years old)
- Veteran 70+ (70 years old and above)
- Veteran 80+ (80 years old and above) (new, started in 2017/18 season)
Your "USA fencing age" is your age as of Jan 1 of the current season (fencing season, except for Cadets and Juniors, goes from Aug 1 to
July 31 of the following year; Cadet and Junior season currently begins with the July North American Cup). The table, listing the age
requirements is published in the Athlete's Handbook.
Typically, age-restricted competitions, like Y14, or Vet50, are not further restricted to a skill level.
Senior competitions, however, are sometimes further restricted at local or regional competitions, to, say,
"novice" (beginners), unrated, A, and similar. At National-level events, senior fencers are sub-divided
into the following skill-level groups:
- Div III (Unrated, E, and D-rated)
- Div II (Unrated, E, D, and C-rated)
- Div I (C, B, and A-rated)
"Rating" or "classification" is an indicator of a fencer's skill level (in the USA Fencing Athlete Handbook
the two terms are used interchangeably). Ratings are A (the highest), B, C, D, E, and U (unrated).
Ratings are awarded only at competitions sanctioned by the US Fencing Association. To get a rating
you need to fence well at that particular competition, and competition itself needs to satisfy certain criteria.
For example, the winner of any 6-participant competition earns E rating. To earn A rating, there has to be
at least 15 fencers, and of them at least 2 A, 2 B, 2 C; at least 2 As and two Bs need to finish in top-8...
For complete information on tournament ratings, look at the USFA Classification Reference Chart in the current
Youth competitions differ slightly - they do not award ratings until the competition reaches at least C1 rating level.
The competition is "sanctioned" if it has been approved by the US Fencing Association. Please ask
the competition organizers if the competition is USFA-sanctioned or not. To compete in the USFA-sanctioned
competition, you have to be a USFA competitive member, you have to fence in complete regulation equipment, and strips
have to be equipped with electronic scoring equipment. Some competitions are open to all USFA members, and
some (qualifiers for the Junior Olympics and for the National Championships in particular) are restricted to
USFA members from a particular geographical region.
Some tournaments require that you register for competing by the established deadline. Deadlines typically
range from a few days ahead (for local tournaments), to a month or more (typical for the national events).
Some organizers will let you register after the deadline for additional fee. Check in advance!
To be eligible to compete at some tournaments, most notably the Junior Olympics and the National
Championships, you need to qualify (typically place in top 25% at the Divisional Qualifiers, although there
are other options, too; for the details, look at the Qualifying Paths in the current
Local and regional tournaments most often do not require qualifying - just register by the deadline and go.
When I compete, do I represent Delta Fencing Center?
All our members represent Delta Fencing Center as their primary club at workshops, clinics, and competitions,
except if they have made special representing arrangement between us and their primary club. Those representing
Delta Fencing Center at clinics, worshops, and competitions must wear our Patch on the back-arm sleeve of their
fencing jacket, and must have their membership at the Delta Fencing Center current and in good standing.
If I go to a competition, will my coach go with me?
We do our best to be available to our athletes when they compete. If you are competing for the first time,
participating in the competition requires your coach's approval; that will be a local or a lower-level
regional competition, and we will be there to help you find your way around and to coach you, free of
charge. Later, if you would like your coach's support, we will do our best to support you, but due to
scheduling reasons, that is not always possible - you'll have to make arrangements with the Delta
Fencing Center Head Coach in time. Standard coaching fees apply.
Each fencer pays coaching fee of $40 per event for local competitions (100 miles). For non-local events
(those that require air travel and/or overnight stay), fencers are also covering coach's travel, lodging,
and per diem expense; this can be shared between all the fencers going to the competition. For non-local
competitions coaching fee is $100 per fencing day, or $200 per travel day for fencers under 18 who are
under our care (not accompanied by a parent or guardian). To make sure we can really be with you while
you fence, depending on the number of our fencers competing, we may send more than one coach. This decision
is at the discretion of the Delta Fencing Center's coaching staff.
What does coaching at competitions include?
Your coach is with you through all the steps - pre-registration, weeks before the event, advice at the
trainings prior to the tournament, check-in at the venue, equipment check, verifying the seeding, strip
check-in, active technical and tactical advice during and between the bouts, help in case of rule
infrigments and apeals, and post-tournament analysis and training advice.
To help your coach train you effectively, we ask you to:
- check (yourself, or ask your coach to help check) that your fencing equipment is in good working order,
PRIOR TO THE TOURNAMENT;
- show up at the tournament on time, no later than 30 minutes before the posted close-of-registration time;
- follow your coaches advice on eating before and during the tournament, hydrating, warming up, stretching, warm-up bouting, and resting;
- between the pool bouts, stay close to the strip, with your coach;
- make sure your coach knows your wearabouts during longer breaks, or if you need to step out;
- keep your coach informed on anything that may affect your ability to focus and fence;
During the competition, you are expected to be dressed for fencing, or in warmups, according to your
coaches advice. You are expected to have in your possesion at least two epees and two body cords in good
working order. In case any of your equipment fails during the tournament, your coach will help you with
minor repairs on the spot, or help you get a replacement equipment, within reason, without any additional charge.
When you are fencing, your coach will always have an advice, but YOU are fencing; all the technical and
tactical decisions are ultimately yours, and your coach will always expect, respect, and support that.
With or without your coach present at the cpompetition, please remember that you represent your club.
Fence your best, stay a sportsmen at all times, be a gracious winner, and, if you loose, please congratulate
your opponent, and keep your dignity.