Fencing for competition

US Fencing is the national entity by which all “sanctioned” fencing tournaments in the United States is managed. The fencing season runs from August 1, 2018 – July 31, 2019.  This season we would like to encourage as many fencers as possible to compete in some form. If you want to get better, you must compete. As much fun as it may be fencing with your friends at MFA, it will only get you so far. So, everyone, let’s make this year an MFA team year, traveling with your family, friends, and MFA colleagues to events. It’s a wonderful experience!

So, what do I do?


What events should I go to?

“AS MANY AS YOU CAN”! Don’t worry about losing. You will. You’ll lose again. Then, one day, you’ll win a bout. Then another. Then another. Soon you’ll have a national ranking. You’ll feel great about being involved in this amazing sport.

First, let’s describe the types of events that happen nationally. Events can be categorized as National, Regional, and Local. For National and Regional events, please read the USA Fencing Athletes Handbook for descriptions of all the types of events, age, gender, and weapon specific. MFA will have a copy of the handbook, or download yours at http://www.usfencing.org/athlete-handbook. There’s a lot there to digest, but understanding the laws governing the sport is key to navigating a complex network of events and rules. If you decide to compete, you really should go to AS MANY national and regional events as possible. By doing so you accumulate national points, and qualify for the summer national championships!

Local events are events that are (usually) “sanctioned” by the USFA and run by local event organizers. Examples of these types of events are all The Bay Cup events (see http://thebaycup.net for more information about events in our area). There are PLENTY. MFA also holds regular USFA “sanctioned” events on the last Friday of every month – Senior Epee. When an event is “sanctioned”, it means the event can generate national ratings for those fencers that do well (E, D, C, B, A – See Athlete Handbook2017_2018_Athlete_Handbook_FINAL_8_1_2017). If you are fencing Epee, you should come to every MFA Friday Night Epee Event. It’s held on the last Friday of every month. It’s your home club, and you’ll have a wonderful time! We are also trying to run a women’s only sanctioned event. We’re working with the USFA to see if that’s possible. Stay tuned.

MFA is also committed to run some less stressful non-sanctioned events, mostly for our younger, beginner fencers. This will help you to understand how events work, getting you ready for your first real “sanctioned” event. MFA will start these events in October. You’ll see these posted on the wall soon.

MFA provides a FENCERS EVENT PLAN template for you to use to make your plan. It’s an EXCEL workbook. Sheet 1 contains all the known national, regional, and local events to date. Sheet 2 should contain all the events on sheet 1 that you are committing yourself to attend. This plan can be created by yourself, but make sure you walk through it with a coach. We would like a copy of every fencer’s plan, and we’d like to follow up with as much support as we can give to help you achieve success. Ask a coach for a basic plan to setup.

National, Regional, and Local events will be posted at MFA.

What do I need to compete?

You need to be a competitive member of the USFA. Ok. Done…

You will need all the equipment required for the weapon you are fencing with. You’ll find more information in the Athletes Handbook but generally (for foil), this means the following.

  • At least two working weapons on the strip with you. We recommend three.
  • Jacket (national and regional events requires your name on the back), fencing pants, mask (and mask chord), glove, 2 body chords, underarm protector, lame, fencing shoes (sneakers or similar fencing shoes), and long socks. No skin can be shown.
  • Registered for the event, preferably a long time prior to the event. You can register for International, National, and some Regional events at http://www.usfencing.org/how-to-register. Regional and Local events are generally registered at https://www.askfred.net. Sorry, neither web site is pretty, so understanding the event codes is important. See the Athletes Handbook.


Nutrition is important for competitions. Talk to a coach about the dos and don’ts.

Warming up prior to your bouts is VERY important. If you walk into a bout cold, you will lose. You should be stretched, have had as many practice bouts with your teammates (or others at the event) as possible. When you get on the strip, you should be sweating and fired up.

A strategy. Understand your good habits and your bad ones. Go into a bout with a strategy of what you want to accomplish. Watch your opponent.  Find out what their good points are, and where they may be vulnerable. Psychology is a huge part of the bout. Don’t play to your opponent’s strength. Do be repetitive. Talk to a coach about what your strategies could be. On the strip, it’s only you.


Learn to fix your own equipment. MFA will be running a couple of armory events this September and October. You can also find a lot of information on things like YOUTUBE.

Lessons. You will be hard pressed to succeed at competitions without private lessons. Talk to a coach.

Car pool with other fencers and families. Support each other at the events. If you get knocked out, stay and help your teammates. Stay until the end of each event, Watch the winning fencers. See what they do, and learn.

Get a team jacket (MFA will supply a link to order MFA branded clothing).

MFA will do our best to provide coaching support at the events. There is a coaching fee associated, the cost dependent on the number of fencers needing support, distance to the event venue, and misc. expenses (airfare, hotel, etc.) Talk to a coach and we’ll do our best to accommodate your needs.