After 10 years of fencing, this will be my last year with the youth…

Let me introduce myself. I am Daniël Giacon, a 19-year-old Dutch foilist. When I was a little kid every branch or stick I found I’d use it as a sword. At the age of 5 someone suggested my parents to see if fencing would be a suitable sport for me. That person was right: I fell in love with the foil immediately.

My first big foreign youth competition was the CEP Marathon in Paris in 2012. I clearly remember me sitting on the stairs in that enormous hall. I was so impressed by all those boys from all these different countries. Every participant receives a mask sticker with their name and country. For months I left this sticker on my mask. I was so proud that I had participated in one of the most important European youth tournaments.

Two days before my 13th birthday I competed in the first ECC tournament in Halle (Germany) and now we are a couple of weeks before my last Junior World Cup in Barcelona. Time has flown by!

Since January 2017 I am a member of the Dutch Senior team, so in my last Cadet year I participated in 3 World Championships: Cadets, Juniors and Seniors.

In season 2018/2019, after I graduated from high school, I took a gap year. The Netherlands has a small fencing community, so I spread my wings and trained in Denmark, Germany and Italy and participated in a lot of tournaments, both Junior and Senior. I used my gap year to play against many strong fencers abroad.

This year I started a new study and it is more difficult to combine University with Junior and Senior tournaments. Furthermore, there is always a financial issue as in the Netherlands we have to organize and pay all costs for tournaments ourselves (including hotel, travel costs and an allowance for our coach). In September I made a schedule with my trainer Daniël Nivard. The outcome was that I had to skip some Junior World Cups and concentrate more on the Senior World Cups and Grand Prix in Europe. The most important goal this season is closing the gap between the Juniors and Seniors and I think I am on the right track.

For me it’s a great experience to compete with the Seniors. I feel less pressure too. I know I am one of the youngsters, so there’s really nothing to lose. I learn a lot from every bout, because these Senior guys have a lot more experience than I do. On the other hand, in the Junior competitions I know almost all the players and they know me too. This makes some of the bouts pretty tough, but on the other hand sometimes a bit predictable, because we both know each other so well.

The Junior and Senior tournaments are all in the same period and switching from Junior to Senior tournaments goes automatically. For me it’s no big deal to swap between these two levels, because the best Juniors are competing at Senior level too. In the end I think you just need to be in it and not think about it too much. It always needs to come naturally, I think. Prior to the tournaments I try to empty my head, concentrate on my music and have a good warming up. That works for me.

Since childhood I always try to be the best at something I do. That hasn’t changed over the years. I am still aiming for the top. The way of getting there can be bothersome and tough, but I am enjoying every single step of the journey. After all these years fencing is still my passion and I am ready for the Seniors!

Running into Retirement

What does an international fencer do when they retire?

I stopped fencing in June 2012 with the European Championships in Italy being my final event. Barring a few little fun outings at small UK domestic events, I have not picked up an epee in anger for over 7 years. I’ve not completely stopped playing with swords, as I do a small amount of coaching in the club but no great volume.

As many people know, I started work for Leon Paul, my former equipment sponsors, as their Fencing Centre Manager in the summer of 2013. This kept me out of trouble during the day but I still had free time in the evenings. I tried several activities to fill my newfound freedom including playing 5-a-side football with LP Director, Ben Paul and his team. Ben is a surprisingly good goal scorer, a fox-in-the-box if you will. The lack of structure and no training sessions made it hard for me to buy into the activity though I did enjoy going to the pub after a game for a couple of beers.

I even got into online chess as a pass time. As a novice, it was fun playing low-rated online tournaments. Problems with online cheating and having a cat that makes a habit of walking over my keyboard when I’m trying to play, caused both annoyance and erratic play. This added to the complete lack of physicality left me feeling as though I was missing something in my new non-fencing life.

My then girlfriend, now wife, had started running and signed up for a marathon. As crazy as this sounded to me, she was really enjoying it and went on to join Trent Park Running Club. After about a year of watching and listening to her talking about it, I decided to give this running lark a go as well. Being a former athlete, I wasn’t a complete newbie to running but after struggling on my own for a bit I took the plunge and joined the club as well in November 2018.

Alongside starting fencing, taking the Leon Paul job and marrying Emily, giving running a go was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. It suits me down to the ground with the physical elements and training structure. However, even more is being part of a club again. The jokes and banter between the runners in my training group is so similar to being in a fencing squad it’s unreal. They never miss a chance to point out how much better at running my wife is than me.

I have been introduced to a whole new world from local Saturday morning Parkrun to Marathons all over the world.  I have lost 5kg in weight since I started running whilst actually eating more!  The feeling of being outside and doing physical activity again with a group of friends has been great for my physical and mental wellbeing.  With mental health being a more acceptable topic of conversation in today’s world, I would recommend to anyone who can, go out and walk, jog or run at their local 5km Parkrun on a Saturday morning.  It’s total free and the volunteering side is very rewarding also.

This brings me to my final point.  I will be running the London Marathon on Sunday 26th April 2020 and in doing so, raising money for the Welbodi Partnership.  It is a very worthwhile charity that works to build the capacity of the health systems in Sierra Leone, West Africa.  It is a cause very close to Leon Paul Director Alex Paul’s heart, as he and his wife spent a year out in Sierra Leone volunteering with the Charity.

Leon Paul is generously donating a Three Weapon Wireless set and a £100 Leon Paul Voucher as prizes for a draw to help raise money. Anyone who sponsors me via my ‘gofundme’ page and types the word FENCING! in the comment after donating will be entered into the draw which will be done on Monday 27th April, the day after the marathon. You get 1 ticket for every multiple of £5 donated, so if you sponsor me £20 that’s 4 tickets!

I know what you might be thinking, I’m not ‘sponsoring him to do something he wants to do’ but don’t worry, I promise not to ‘dial-this-one-in’ and plan to complete the Marathon is sub 3:15. You can rest assured in the knowledge that I will be suffering lots during the 750 planned training miles and then the 26.2 miles of the race itself.




Trent Park Running Club


“Epee fencing” by Steve Paul – a review from fencers for fencers

“Fencing and books – two of my favourite things together in one picture”. The comments to our Instagram celebration of world book day back in April suggest that we’re not the only ones to enjoy a good read from time to time. All the better, if it’s fencing-themed. So what could we do better than to share our finds and have the books available on our website reviewed by fencers, from international top athletes to fencers more like you and me? We start with a review by our Instagram girl and epee fencer Johanna (who definitely belongs into the latter category 😉 ) .

Continue reading ““Epee fencing” by Steve Paul – a review from fencers for fencers”

(Fencing) Lessons Learnt – And Fun Had. My Experience at the Leon Paul Sabre Camp.

Six weeks of summer holidays without fencing? That does nothing for true fencing lovers, who will start to miss their fencing life after a couple of weeks. So Leon Paul’s training camp in London in early August was the perfect match (and best mix of city trip, fencing fun, and language holiday) for Leon Paul sponsored Valentin Meka, a U14 sabre fencer from Dormagen, Germany. Want to know what happened when he decided to give up on his sunbed at the beach for a fencing piste? Read on…

Continue reading “(Fencing) Lessons Learnt – And Fun Had. My Experience at the Leon Paul Sabre Camp.”

One of the world’s top coaches goes wireless!

Ziemowit Wojciechowski is a GB Olympic Coach, Head coach of ZFW fencing club and the coach of world number 3 Richard Kruse. Recently he has taken his club into the future by switching to wireless fencing, here is what he has to say:

Four months ago I purchased 4 wireless machines from Leon Paul for my fencing club, ZFW, and I haven’t looked back.

Continue reading “One of the world’s top coaches goes wireless!”


The first half of every season is always interesting.

As it is, everyone has different approaches, different goals, different vacations and different values. I notice that when I evaluate my first half of the season and discuss it with others. My results this season have not been so great. I was 1 touch from a 64 in Bern, and during the team competition, I got an injury which held me back the rest of year.

Continue reading “Injuries!”

Wheelchair fencing, my story so far

I was born with a disability which affects my left leg. Put simply; I have far too many veins in my leg, causing it to swell and hurt constantly. Growing up with a disability is hard; I was always very insecure and shy about my leg, being different can be tough at the best of times.

Continue reading “Wheelchair fencing, my story so far”

Do Not Read This Article on Strip Coaching Fencing, Team Relay Edition!

Do Not Read This Article on Strip Coaching Fencing

No ReadingTeam Relay Edition


Pardon the interruption for a verbose warning that you, most likely, will ignore.

Today’s warning will focus on why Not Reading about coaching concepts for the Team Relay Fencing Bout.  If you are a fan of fencing, and watch team bouts you have probably seen a team bout and scratched your head when you looked at the scoreboard and the team with the lead was not the team you predicted based on the individual player talent level or initial seeding.  

If you are like many Americans or you follow politics you love a good drama and watching this talented team lose to an upstart group can be entertaining. Watching them melt down and implode turning on each other, yelling back and forth from the bench might even cause your facial muscles to curl to a sly grin as you enjoy the guilty pleasure of watching them squirm.

You  might even then forget about the coffee run you were on and stay to watch on as the rushed attempts of each fencer to personally Superman the score back in the talented team’s direction fail, followed by the “I am too sexy to fence these noobs” body language emerges.  Meanwhile the benched teammates have their heads in their hands or are looking around the room as if they just saw a bird flying around, desperately avoiding making eye contact with their teammate out of embarrassment and disbelief.  At this point you giggle out loud like a poor college student at last call carefully stacking a food pyramid on his undersized plate on five dollar all you can each sushi night!

“Cody” you ask, “why again should i stop reading this article?” Right! Assuming you are friends, teammate, family members or a coach of this talented team the tips i am about to gift wrap for you with overly descriptive analogies to force your brain into visualizing the situations and examples from my personal career as an athlete and coach, will likely deprive you, and others of the entertainment of a good old-fashion, dramatic flop. The excitement of an amazing upset would be lost to those cheering on the underdog team as the talented team boldly pushes forward with their simplistic strategy that fencing team relay bouts is exactly the same as individual matches.  The world would not see collective, thought out effort, planning, and communication defeat gifted, successful, unfocused talent.

Than again I suppose that if you are coming from the other side of this story and you revel at the idea of said drama and shocking and awe amazing upset wins than you might want to read on.  Since that is not the name of this article and would defeat the purpose of this warning,  I will refuse to think that is your motivation and consider my warning complete. At this point we can agree that i, at most, wasted about five minutes of your time and you can stop reading now and count yourself lucky that i did not waste any more of your day!  Agreed!  Good!


If you’re still reading this article you probably also would have touched the edges of this sign too!  You probably also did not read the final line of the sign stating that the bridge was out and after applying a bandage to your finger from touching the sign drove off the end of the bridge.  Seriously some people just do not follow instructions. At this point I can presume that since I am shifting gears and telling you what you SHOULD do that you will do the opposite or your so darn stubborn you will read on just to spite me.  So be it!   

Remember now we are discussing what you SHOULD do!


  • One Voice

The three sub topics below were covered in my previous article on strip coaching individuals during the one minute break.  These principles apply exactly the same and so i will spare you if you have already read that article.  If you have not follow this link to get the full details as I will only summarize those three rules below.

Now that you are up to speed ONE VOICE is very important in team.  To some extent the ONE VOICE rule will also apply to individual bouts as well but always applies in team due to the nature of always having teammates, coaches and hopefully supportive friend and family present.  The key to the ONE VOICE rule is that only one person at any given match in the team is allowed to speak and provide tactical advice.  This is often the team coach and rightfully so but often teams are without a coach and the various team members take on the role of coaching each other or a knowledgeable friend or parent will step in to help in this role. What must be avoided at all cost is having multiple people providing tactical advice as often they will differ or even contradict one another and will than greatly confuse the athlete.

This often happens in team bouts were a motivated parent, a very supportive boyfriend/girlfriend/significant-other, teammate on the bench, and, or the team coach all want the best outcome for the team but all have their own idea of what needs to be done and all yell it out for the fencing athlete to hear at the same time.  What do you do now if you are the athlete on the strip.  The idea from each individual was to help you make a decision and move you in a positive direction.  Instead you have four different concepts and likely some are totally opposite concepts.  You can’t follow everyone’s advice, you might have several good ideas but not sure which to choose.  So what do you do?  Follow the advice of the person you are most scared of disobeying?  That might not turn out well in your bout if that is your parent and they have never fenced a day in their life but yell with passion a plan for you to follow.  I could go on and on but i think you get the idea.  Someone is not going to have their advice acted on and that puts the athlete in a tough spot and that is not what anyone of the people providing advice wanted when speaking up.  


Before team bouts the ONE VOICE rule needs to be discussed.  Only one individual at any given match will provide tactical concepts, changes, advise.  At this point you clarify that EVERYONE is encouraged to be loud, positive, and encouraging of the team, but that all such cheerleading must avoid containing tactical advice. Everyone should agree that tactical advice is only for the one designated as “THE VOICE” to shout out.  For myself I often have multiple team, and individual events going on during a large event and have to walk in and out of team bouts during very busy or full fencing days.  My teams know that when I am present I am “THE VOICE” during bouts and the previous one giving tactical advice will yield to me on this matter.  Often if I enter in the middle of a match I will advise the current “VOICE” of what i see and what I would say and have them continue for the sake of not having to change who the athlete is listening for.  The fencer has likely calibrated their ears listen only for the sound of “THE VOICE” and is filtering out to a great extent most other voices and noise as well they should.  If as the coach I step away I will have designated the next in line as “THE VOICE” or will let them work it out among themselves.  Normally my team captain is “THE VOICE” though when they are fencing they cannot provide their own advice so it is advised to have preset or remind your teammates to pick which of their teammates should be “THE VOICE” if there is a preference.

Now that you have established your ONE VOICE rule of coaching your team, that person is advised to follow the three guiding principles of strip coaching we discussed in the previous article I pleaded with you NOT TO READ!

Three Strip Coaching Principles


  • Actionable


Focus your adviceDo Not Sign on things that are actionable!

DON’T SAY DON’T! Avoid speaking on the problem action directly during the bout (there will be plenty of time after the bout is over for that.)  Focus on what you want to see and make sure it is an ACTIONABLE thing you know the athlete is capable and comfortable doing!


  • Concise


Keep your instructions concise and simple.  Two to three concepts is a good rule to guide you by.  In a Team bout if you are giving live feedback during the action or between individual touches keep the concise advice to a single thought, sentence or word that describes what ACTIONABLE change you want from your fencer.


  • PositiveWomens Epee Team Medal


Be positive, provide the emotional state your athlete nee
ds, and encourage them, building their confidence up, avoiding taking it down any further.  Your job is to motivate and provide solutions for your athlete.  Be sure they can do what you ask of them and express your confidence in their ability to do it and succeed.

wireless logo


  • Swing Bouts

Swing Bouts are team bouts that favor one team/fencer over the other.  Often a team either has one very strong fencer or one very new, perhaps weaker fencer.  Some teams have both!  You need to look for bouts of advantage and disadvantage as these are the critical Swing Bouts.  I know what you’re thinking “Cody this is hardly rocket science we know some people are better than others and we should have our best fencer really hunt down their weak fencers.”  What you probably don’t regularly do is set your advantage fencer up to do the maximum scoring impact by keeping the score lower in the previous bout in preparation for this miss match. This is where teams that look ahead and plan can maximize their advantage bouts and minimize opponent’s advantage bouts.







Advantage Swing Bouts



  • Let us now assume you find a “swing bout advantage”, now you need to prepare for it.  Scouting one, or two bouts prior and keeping the score lower can allow your athlete with the swing bout advantage to have more room for error and additionally, high maximum return.  Let’s assume you think your fencer will outscore the opponent 2 to 1 in the advantage swing bout!  Pretty good right!  If the score is 10-10 going to 15 in the next round we estimate that he will win and the score will now be 15-12, a +3 difference.   Not bad, but now let’s look at the same bout but the round prior you managed to get Non Combativity and no touches were scored. Now the score is 5-5 and the ceiling of the Advantage Swing Bout is still 15.  As you might have guessed the score would be now 9-15 and a +6 improvement for our team!  The Set Up bout was a match of two fencers of close to equal skill.  If they decided to fence it they were likely to score about the same.  Even if you outscored them in that Set Up bout by one and the score was 9-10 going into your Advantage Swing Bout your teammate with the advantage could only score 5 and as such is still likely to only go +3.  Even though the Setup was a +1 it got you close to the max for both teams and gave less room to move for your Advantage Swing bout so instead of being +6 you were only +4 and that is assuming on the close bout going in your favor and not against.  



Disadvantage Swing Bouts


Now as we saw at the end of the Advantage Swing Bout example, even losing a bout can be a team victory if it prevents the opposing team from doing even more damage in their impending Advantage Swing bout to come.  Realizing your team is one match away from a Disadvantage Swing Bout makes it important that in the case of a close bout that you do try to fence and move the score up so the stronger fencer does not have room to improve.  This is what i call a damage control bout.  You might even lose this bout, but when faced with massive Disadvantage Swing Bout the last thing you want is a low score when your new/weaker fence
r goes up against the opposing team’s closer/strongest fencer.  





  • Know Your Role/Honest Communication


Preparing for Swing Bouts is important to team success whether it is damage control or maximizing touches earned.  Now a few basic roles to assign from bout to bout depending on score, pending swing bouts, and general skill match up.  Again honest communication on each bout well in advance before the matches will best prepare your team for success.  As the team bout develops you will need to continue to share, update, and adapt to the situation but having a good outline will go along way towards preparing for victory. Know Your Role and Honest Communication is a must!

Role playing in the team bout can be critical.  Before i describe the 4 main role types it is important to recognize that my coaching and athlete background is in epee. Team bouts in epee trend more in the slower more tactical direction and one of the key elements that make some roles even possible is the Non Combativity time rule.  These roles are still possible but less so in Foil and nearly impossible in Saber do to the fact the most every round ends with one team reaching the score maximum so ending a bout shy of the round maximum rarely happens.  Team bouts in epee very regularly do not reach the score maximum and defensive stand offs are common place and as such coming into each match with a game plan is very important to set your team up for future rounds.

As a team the first thing each fencer should do is look at each of their personal match-ups and share their honest feeling on how that bout will go.  Clearly if you have never fenced it would just be a sense of style match ups but at some point you have fenced everyone on every team or at least have watched them all so have a sense for their skill set and level compared to your own.  This is not a time to be over confident telling your teammates you can crush them all.  The goal of the first review before the start of the team match is to identify where your team has an advantage of skill or style and where your team is at a disadvantage.  If no information is known about a team than the first rotation of bouts should be for active information gathering on top of fencing smart and doing your best.  In these bouts I always encourage my athletes to probe with many preparations so myself as the coach and the teammates on the bench watching can get a sense for defensive preferences and panic responses.  Those first three bouts are fencing study hall and so they are encouraged to take their time and try many safe preparations to gather Intel for the team so they can more of an idea what they will be up against when each of them have to fence those athletes.

Your goal in team is not simple to win each match (thought that is lovely if it works out that way).  At some point you will fence a team that is better than you or perhaps a team with one fencer clearly stronger than all your individuals.  These bouts we will be at a disadvantage and your team will want to minimize damage that can be done.  Remembering that the super star closer of the other team can only fence 3 of the 9 bouts we have to look at the remaining 6 bouts for when and where to make up our points.  You must find the bouts in the team order that clearly favor one team over the other.  Identifying where the “swing bouts” in the team match are and looking at the bouts previous to the “swing bout” will help you in deciding on proper roles to maximize or minimize the “swing bout” match ups in the line up.



  • Shooter – Athlete looking to put on pressure and score points for team generally with offensive actions.  Most commonly the approach of the strongest fencer (any given bout) or in Advantage Swing Bouts.
  • Stopper – Athlete looking to shut down bout.  Goal is to slow down opponent from scoring, highly defensive, early parries and ready to defend.  Can end up scoring many touches when going against a shooter if properly prepared.  Side objective is to keep score very low.  Commonly used against shooters or prior to bout in which your team has an advantage swing bout next or soon in the line up.
  • Sniper – Athlete looking to apply very cautious pressure to set up and score possibly only one attack.  Great for making comebacks when down early in team bouts. commonly will have a goal of +1,+2 for a bout and then will shift roles to the stopper.  Checking in with the team coach/captain/bench is advised on when/if the sniper should keep going or change to the stopper role.  
  • Fencer – Athlete goal is to more or less “fence” the opponent.  There is no set attack or defend attitude preset.  Often used in the first three bouts when fencing a team or athletes you are not familiar with to learn as you go.  Fencer role, like sniper, should check in with team depending on how they are doing and might shift to any of the other roles as needed depending on the results.  Fencer role should feel free to act when an opportunity presents itself and is great in relieving pressure on an athlete prior to Disadvantage Swing Bouts as they know that even double is better than no touches at all when faced with the Disadvantage Swing Bout next in the line up.  They are encourage to probe opponents for weaknesses and take advantage if they can and move the score up with less concern for winning as getting both teams closer to the max for that round as damage control for the upcoming Disadvantage Swing Bout.


FP logo


  • Attitude is Infectious

One thing i can tell you about team bouts is that the Attitude of the athletes spreads to quickly and easily in both positive and negative directions.  You can win a team match segment and come back to the bench angry and unsatisfied and that can take the team down a notch on confidence and excitement.  You can lose a team bout but come back bouncing and excited by how hard you fought and that can inspire and fire up your team.  Fencing is primarily an individual sport so we focus on ourselves.  Team is solo and yet collective as we all add to the journey towards that collective final score.

Watch any team sport and you will always find examples of the teams keeping each other encouraged, supported and pumped up.  Watch a basketball game and notice how every time a player gets fouled and shoots a free throw shot that the 4 other players on the court give him a high-five after the first shot no matter if he made or missed the shot.  Watch a volleyball game and after EVERY single point score for or against they come together in a quick huddle to support each other and keep the team together and positive.  It is hard to watch the behavior of great teams to get any indication of who scored as the attitude is almost always positive, supportive, and focused on the next point, next play, next touche.

I have had great individual fencers on teams as both an athlete and coach. My least favorite athletes to have on team, no matter their skill level, are the ones that seem to have rain cloud over their head. You could see from bout to bout, match to match, this rain cloud spread to the other athletes.  I have also had athletes who could bring out the sun for anyone by yelling in their bouts, chest bumping and energizing high fives was able to wake up their teammates and get more out of them for their bouts just by this team energy and attitude.  Great individuals do not always make great team fencers.  They certainly can but often great fencers do not know their role or over state their role and they bring with them a personal attitude that can pull down others and often it is accidental in nature. Be aware of the energy of the bench, sometimes one of the most important athletes is the 4th fencer who never fences a single match but keeps everyone talking, cheers the loudest, and gets everyone ramped up so they perform at their best.  The 4th is often an important part of the attitude of a great team!


  • Check your Ego at the Bench


Ego is probably the number one reason strong teams fall in early rounds.  Having a preconceived notion of being better than someone or some team can cause you to fence them with less focus and attention to detail.

Athletes in team often hate to have any match they fence have a negative score on their personal bouts.  While that is understandable this often leads to rushing to recover a lost touche in a bout.  That rushed touch leads to another point against and now you are down even further.  This can spiral quickly out of control and what was a nice touche scored by the opponent early in the bout turned into an angry rushed hunt to get touches back and instead of perhaps losing a single point your team loses 3-5 before they reach the max or your team yells at you loud enough snap you back to reality and get past your ego.  

Ego can also hurt you when you start a bout with the stopper mind set if you do not stick to your plan.  Let’s assume your goal was to shut down your opponent and be defensive, keep the score low.  You start with the stopper mind set and it works perfectly. You score three touches in the first minute as their shooter rushes into your great defensive resistance.  The opponent realizes attacking you in this mode is a bad plan and backs off but your ego tells you that you are clearly on fire! Since you just scored three points you might as well go and push to score two more to finish the bout.  You failed to realize that you had a specific goal and style that was how you scored those three points.  Next thing you know you have been hit five times while attempting to attack and get those last two points.  Instead of staying in your stopper role and possibly sitting on your +3 win for your team your ego pushes you into attacking and you end the bout -2 instead.  Ego is probably one of the top killers of talented teams and lack of ego is a cornerstone to success in underdog upsets and general team bout management!




Conclusion/Final Thoughts


Team Relay has many moving pieces and is not simply a series of 5 touche bouts.  While many teams approach it this way for those that don’t and take a more thoughtful and tactical view of the strategy will often overcome teams of stronger individuals because they do not know how to best utilize their individual strengths or how to maximize/minimize matches on the road to the collective Victory!

The US Men’s Epee Team was just such a group when we took the Silver Medal at the 2010 Senior World in Paris only narrowly losing to France in the gold medal round and in 2012 when we came from behind to defeat France for the first ever Men’s Senior Worlds Championship Gold in US Fencing history.  These are the basics of what as a team we Men's Team Epee - Kiev 2012developed and practiced over twelve years.  As individuals we might have been ranked between 6th and 10th overall.  But as a team we ended the 2012 season ranked #1, winning the world cup overall team title in addition to the world championships gold medal.  

So remember,


  • One Voice
  • Find the Swing Bouts
  • Know Your Role/Honest Communication
  • Attitude is Contagious, Infect with that in mind
  • There is no place for ego in team

Now go out there and create some drama in Fencing Team Relay!

-Cody MatternSignature Cody Mattern



An Adult Starting Fencing

Fencing is a sport that is surrounded by an air of inaccessibility and mystery for most of us outside the fencing world and it’s no secret that the majority of people who fence start when they are very young. As an adult beginner, in the world of this ancient discipline, I wanted to share with you my experience of starting out.

For a lot of people the first question I get asked is “Why Fencing?” it’s a very niche sport for someone to take up. For me the answer to this I quite simple, a year ago, I began working for Leon Paul, a company which any fencer will know is one of the leading manufacturers in fencing equipment. My experience with sport in the past has been patchy to say the least, never one to enjoy PE at school and I was often that kid that simply didn’t turn up for lessons or would always forget his kit. My colleagues and bosses said I should try fencing, it seemed foolish to pass up the opportunity when I have two-time world cup winner Jon Willis and the UKs best fencing centre, literally at work.

So, I thought about the 3 disciplines as anyone beginning fencing does, and decided that based purely on the totalitarian aspect of the rules (and lack of ROW), that Epee would be the one for me. Under Jon’s’ advisement I started attending the club in the evenings, a club full of very skilled, but very nice people.

Despite my usual aversion to sport, I was pleasantly surprised when I realised that, I love fencing. It’s challenging, mentally and physically, it’s hard, it’s rewarding, it relies upon you as a fencer but involves a team spirit with your club mates and most of all, its damned good exercise.



At the point of writing this, I have been fencing for approximately 3 months. More or less, twice a week at the club. Many people have asked me since, questions like, am I too old to start? How hard is it? How much does it hurt? How expensive is it? How should I go about starting?

At the Leon Paul Epee Club, there are fencers from young teens, kids all the way up to middle aged and even older. So, my answers to those questions are as follows.

Am I too old to start? – Absolutely not, if you require fitness, fencing will give you this, if you lack co-ordination, you will be forced to improve.

How hard is it? – As hard as you want it to be, the reward you receive and your success will always equal or exceed the amount of effort that you put in.

How much does it hurt? – Not as much as you think, you probably won’t notice it most of the time. When you do get hit and it hurts a bit, it gives you incentive to do better.

How expensive is it? – To begin with, not at all, as most clubs will allow you to use their kit. A full set of kit once you’re a few months in can cost as little as £300-£400. Which when you compare it to another equipment heavy sport like Golf, which needs minimum about £400-£500. Which is also far less cool.

How should I go about starting? – Join a local club, start attending, it’s that simple. They’ll most likely direct you to a beginner’s course, which is a great place to start.

Owen Jordan and Myself at Christmas ^

I will finish by explaining, after 3 months of fencing, what I have gotten out of it, so you can get an idea as to what the benefits of a sport like this can bring. I’ll start with the obvious, I’m not exactly the oldest adult beginner, but I was in a degrading state of fitness, having not done anything about 3 years prior, and I really mean, not done anything. I still have far to go to be at a level I would like, but I’m certainly on the climb and it’s a great feeling, it’s like a gym that you actually want to go to. Mentally it’s like a game of chess, at high speeds, with your whole body, with a weapon in your hand. It’s fantastic. Team based? Whilst fencing is primarily a 1 on 1 sport, the sense of team exists as the club you’re part of, learning together, improving together, providing each other with support and analysis in your fights.

Recently I took part in a Novice Open, a competition where everyone has to have less than 2 years’ experience. Jon and Owen (Both excellent Epeeists that I would always take the advice of) suggested that I should try this competition as a good introduction to competing. At the time, I didn’t realise how different a competition would be to fencing at the club. Turns out it could be very different, the pressure of each fight and the format of a competition was great to experience, 2 of my club mates had also entered, both of whom had similar experience to me. It was great to support each other through poules, all the while hoping that we would not be forced to fight one another. One thing I have never found wanting in fencing is sportsmanship, the respect that fencers afford one another is just a natural part of the sport. In the end, I was very happy to walk away with Silver and it left me very hungry for more.


Leon Paul Novice Open Podium^

It’s fair to say that even after such a short period of time, I’m well and truly hooked. I’ve never known anything like it and I would strongly advise anyone that has any interest should give it a try, get hooked, and never look back. It doesn’t matter your age or physical fitness, if you want to improve, you will, and you will not regret making that jump into the world of fencing.





Measuring Fencing?

It’s hard to improve something if you have no idea how to measure it. “Being a better fencer” is a worthy goal, but it is difficult to know if you’re achieving it.

We all want to be better fencers. If you don’t then you can stop reading here – but leave a comment at the bottom because I’m curious why you’re on this site. We train,  drill, spar, compete, pore over old books and read modern fencing handbooks on the sly. All to be better fencers.

How do we know if our training is working?

Continue reading “Measuring Fencing?”