Port Washington welcomes its first Fencing Academy!
En garde! The long awaited fencing post. First things first though — so excited to let everyone know that New York Fencing Academy is hosting an Open House on Sunday, April 29th from 1pm-4pm at 8 Haven Avenue (right next door to Starbucks, take the elevator downstairs and it will be in front of you). If you’ve ever had any interest, or your child does (or if they’ve already dismissed most other sports), this is a great opportunity to experience a safe, fun sport!
WHAT: New York Fencing Academy Open House
WHEN: Sunday, April 29, 1pm – 4pm
WHERE: 8 Haven Avenue, Lower Level, Port Washington (off Main Street, by the PW Train Station & Starbucks!)
For more information about the Open House, click here.
What is fencing?
So what exactly is fencing? We met with New York Fencing Academy owner, Michael Mokretsov to get answers to all of our questions. Mokretsov was a member of the Ukraine National Team and a finalist in the European Championship team. Afterwards, he attended St. John’s University on a fencing scholarship where he achieved All-American honors in 2008 as Captain of the team.
Turns out there are 3 versions but the one that’s made it’s way to Port Washington and is played in some of the surrounding school is Epee-style. Epee means that the attacker may use their sword to tap someone with it, instead of slashing.
The main differences between the three styles are:
Epee: point may be scored if the tip of the sword touches any part of the body. An Epee blade is heavier than a foil blade.
Sabre: fast moving and allow attackers to slash their opponent. Some say that Sabre is the Formula One of fencing.
Foil: point may be scored only if the tip of the blade touches the torso area; Hits to the arms, legs, neck and head are illegal.
Each athlete uses their weapon to touch (or slash) their opponent within the confines of a space. Both opponents must utilize the same weapon and each are tethered to a system that allows the weapon to indicate if it made contact. The first person to achieve 5 points in a 3-minute bout wins.
I’ll admit it, I thought fencers used an actual sword with a sharp tip. It’s actually one of the main reasons why I never wanted to enroll my kid! But turns out they stopped using those years ago and each sword is fitted with a round tip that sends a signal when it makes contact. Go figure. 🙂 Ok, I included a picture of the tip above so you don’t have to worry.
At New York Fencing Academy all of the instructors have played competitively, so your child is learning from an experienced coach who has played at higher levels such as Division 1 athletics or National teams.
This is one sport where you definitely want to learn from a Coach that has played competitively before. Bouts are just 3 minutes long so it’s important that your stance, footwork and positioning are all proper.
At the recreational level, gear is usually available for kids to use. This makes sense since the jackets are made of a material designed to stop bullets, so it can be rather pricey. Nevertheless, once kids are ready to commit to fencing, many do invest in their own gear.
We’re gonna give it to you straight. Fencing is on the pricier side. As pricey as figure skating? Not quite. Fortunately they don’t have to maintain a cold sheet of ice. And the owner is open to working with kids from all backgrounds so they too can have access to the sport.
A typical kids’ membership runs around $400, plus another $50 or so per month (note that NY Fencing Academy is offering free 15-month memberships to those that sign up now). For that, you get…a membership and access to Open Bouting. Once you have a membership, you can select individual classes like footwork for $20, pilates for $25, bouting for $30. Beginners are required to have four private lessons to learn the fundamentals properly.
Or, every 9 works you can select a discounted package that best fits your child’s needs. Packages start at around $700 and include a class and lesson each week.
We were especially drawn to the footwork classes since they enhance speed and agility, skills that are necessary in most other sports (ahem, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, football).
DIFFICULTY: PHYSICAL SKILLS vs MENTAL SKILLS
Since the bouts are within such a short period of time, it can be super intense with stress on muscles (thinking lunges here) and a fair amount of cardio. Focus is maintained throughout.
Generally, however, strategy beats the physical.
There can be many different reasons for winning since fencing is like a game of chess…..If your child is really observant, he or she may be able to succeed quickly based on their observations of their opponents. Other kids may do well because they’re really light on their feet.
As we mentioned above, classes are offered throughout the week and so it’s up to students to sign up for as many or as few as they can fit in their schedule. On average, a student looking to get better at fencing should practice 1-2 times per week, while a student looking to get on the National Team or be more competitive may practice 5-6 times per week.
To get started, students may be asked to take 4 private classes to learn the fundamentals from a professional fencer.
I was like, whhhaaaa? That sounds really pricey!
But it turns out that each private lesson is $45. So, yeah, it’s pricey but it’s not as pricey as say, a private soccer or basketball lesson. Under the guidance of a professional fencing instructor, students learn the proper form, blade work and how to move. This way they learn properly, one on one. We understand this philosophy – it is much easier to learn something the right way the first time, than unlearn something.
Once your child is up to speed then they can join group lessons and open bouting sessions. Group lessons are a great forum for kids to practice applying their skills, play with different kids and try to perform guided tasks (a guided task is when a coach is directing what each player should do in a specific situation). Open bouting does not provide instruction though they provide a good opportunity for kids to gain real in-bout experience.
Bouts are a competition between two fencers. Depending on age group, kids will compete for anything from 5-15 points. A 5 point bout is usually three minutes while a 15 point bout is 3 periods of three minutes each.
Contrary to what most people might think, fencing is a really safe sport. Kids are covered in safety gear that can withstand bullets! Seriously. I’m not even joking.
During practice, kids wear a safety jacket, face mask, and regular clothing and sneakers.
During competition, kids will also wear a safety chest plate and a fencing uniform that also covers the legs.
At New York Fencing Academy, the floor is a soft, multi sport surface. Made of plastic, there is air beneath so the floor is not too hard on the knees or the back.
Fencing is played year round. The nice thing about many of the programs is that students can sign up for individual classes, which means that they aren’t locked into a specific day of the week and time of day. The flexibility makes it so much easier to fit everything in.
SKILLS DEVELOPED BY FENCING / COMPLEMENTARY SPORTS
Fencing helps develop agility and focus, two skills necessary for most other sports. Swimmers and gymnasts are best suited to quickly adapt to the fencing environment because of their past learning environments.
CAN YOU PICK IT UP AT A LATER AGE?
Ideally, kids should start fencing by around 10 years old but there are many kids that pick it up after playing other sports. As with many other sports, it really comes down to dedication if your child wants to be competitive. Of course on a recreational level, athletes of all levels can start at any time.
Michael mentioned that they often have athletes transitioning from gymnastics and swim and those students take to the sport because of their flexibility, strength and discipline.
If you’re still reading this post, we know you’re interested in fencing…..we can’t pass up bargains and saw this one on the New York Fencing Academy website. Sign up anytime between now and April 30 and receive 15 months of free membership! This is a Super Deal!!! Enjoy!