When it came time for a tournament, I always got a little more anxious than normal anticipating the bouts ahead. Here are some tips (gathered from personal experiences) for preparing for a fencing tournament.
Prior to the tournament
- Pack healthy snacks to bring to the tournament. There will be little time between rounds to snack, so come prepared. Bananas are great for preventing muscle cramps, and sports drinks help you replace fluids and electrolytes (just mind the sugar!).
- If your weapons or gear need any repairs, fix them beforehand, NOT the morning of the tournament.
- Learn the rules! You can download a copy from http://assets.teamusa.org/assets/documents/attached_file/filename/31951/USA_Fencing_Rules_-_September_2010.pdf.
Day of the tournament
- Eat a light breakfast at least 90 minutes before fencing starts. You should never start your day nor a tournament on an empty stomach.
- Report on time and get suited up quickly. Even better, come already dressed to fence. At check-in you will learn which strip to report to first for your first round of bouts.
- While checking in have your mask inspected (this is a requirement). Fencing with a mask that has not been inspected will cost you a red card. Masks are tested with a 12K punch and examined for safety–no holes in bib, rust on mask or dents permitted. If you see gaps in the mesh, use an awl or small screwdriver to re-position the mesh. If you have a dent, tap it out from the inside with the back end of a large screwdriver and hammer.
- A proper warm-up is critical to good fencing. Give yourself enough time to go through your normal routine of warm-up, stretching and drilling.
Experienced fencers and captains – help your teammates with advice and encouragement when you aren’t fencing. I will also be going around to as many of you as I can to give as much advice as I can.
Before your bout
- Before your first bout, the Director or Referee will check your weapon to see that the handle and barrel of the tip are not loose, that the tip has two screws, the blade is not rusty, and that the wires of your weapon are glued down properly. Inside the guard the two wires must be covered with spaghetti insulation all the way up to the nut.
- Before each bout, the Director will test your foil or epee to see that it supports the 750-gram weight. This is to insure that your tip is functioning correctly.
- The Director will then have you and your opponents test your weapons on each other’s lames. Holding your mask in front of your face, touch your opponent’s lame with your weapon to ensure that all scoring equipment and weapons are functioning correctly.
- Salute your opponent, salute your Director, and put on your mask. Have fun!
During your bout
- If you disagree with a director’s or referee’s judgement, you may not protest it, even if it is poor judgement. However, if a rule is misapplied, you may politely lodge a protest. Do not continue to fence until the protest has been dealt with completely. If you continue to fence, you will lose your right to the protest. Have a teammate call me to the strip immediately if there is a rules question.
After your bout
- Do not wander too far from your strip until all of your bouts for that round have been completed.
- After the round has been completed, you will await the results to find out who will be advancing and what the strip assignments will be. Between bouts, observe some of the other bouts since everyone is a potential opponent. Take stock of strengths and weaknesses so that you are better prepared when you face that opponent.
Remember to relax and enjoy what you’re doing!