Remembering fencing in 90 degrees heat outdoors last year, with thunder clouds moving in, the setting sun in our face, and biting flies going to town on our ankles, we are still appreciating the relative cool of Salle Nomad at the Rotunda.
Due to the return to normalcy (including having to physically be at the office again for our professionals), we have compacted the schedule and moved up our open bouting to an hour later:
Monday: Novice class at 7:00PM
Tuesday: Improvement Society at 6:00PM
Tuesday: Open Bouting at 7:00PM
Friday: Open Bouting at 7:00PM
Walk-ons welcome! BYOE. (Epee, although we have plenty of those…)
The Pandemic of 2020/21 has taken a toll on local fencing. Two clubs in the region have closed their doors permanently. Those clubs who depend on schools and colleges for their venue found themselves in front of locked doors. Doors that will remain closed until September of 2021…
On the other hand, our adult epee group has been growing by leaps and bounds.
After a 3-month hiatus following the lockdown in March 2020, Vince and Chris started fencing again outdoors, on the athletic fields of Towson High School, soon to be joined by Aidan and Ethan. Using wireless and our prudently sequestered mobile scoring units, we instantly were independent of the regular club set-up. All we needed was a flat surface to fence on!
When the biting flies got too much, we moved from the defunct pole vault track to the pavement under the high school auditorium’s overhang roof. We found another regular in Daniel in the fall, and an A-rated challenge in Sarah. Our friends from the old BFC days, Latif and Hannah, also joined back up.
As the days grew shorter and colder, it became apparent that we’d need an indoor space to continue our bi-weekly Duels at Dusk. Thanks to Vince, we found an unused commercial space at the Rotunda shopping mall in Baltimore City. It was sufficient for a single strip. And because we capped occupancy at 6 persons at any given time, that was more than enough for us. We also invited Homewood Fencing Club — who was in the same predicament as we were — to use the space for foil classes during those days we weren’t fencing.
We have fenced close to 1,000 epee bouts in this place. Our group now has around 15 members, including both novices and experienced fencers, so each bouting night, you can expect to find between 6 and 8 fencers ready for action.
As we start looking for a larger, more permanent space, we are still welcoming anyone who is looking for a place to fence epee. Experienced fencers, just grab your gear and simply show up at or around 6:00PM every Tuesday and Friday. If you have never fenced before but always wanted to, give Coach Chris a call at 410-790-8033: He conducts a small beginner’s class at 7:00 PM every Monday night. (We salvaged some basic gear, such as masks and jackets that we can provide, but ask that you consider buying your own gear once you decide you want to continue, simply for hygienic reasons. We do have plenty of epees.)
Although this may change in the future, right now fencing with us is still free — no floor fees, membership fees at all.
We’re meeting at 733 W. 40th Street, Baltimore MD 21211, Tue/Fr 6:00PM.
We are keeping a close eye on our 2020 Pandemic dueling grounds at Towson High School.
Currently, it looks like there’s a baseball game on almost every afternoon on the upper field, a small Wimbledon on the tennis courts, and either a lacrosse game or some track-and-field event on the football field every afternoon.
But as soon as the parking lot clears out and the weather forecast looks promising, we will move some of our fencing activities outside again, enjoying epee as it was initially meant be, as an outdoor sport!
Meanwhile, attendance at our Tuesday and Thursday epee “Duels at Dawn” has grown by leaps and bounds. Together with Coach Austin Young of Homewood Fencing Club, we’re about to put down a second strip at 733 W. 40th Street.
It’s gonna be tight, but we’re going to give it a try! (We’ve also started to scout for alternate locations for the fall, but don’t tell anyone.)
Like our Epee Nomads, Coach Austin’s youth and competitive foil groups have also grown. We have a steady stream of newbies signing up, some tearful reunions of old BFC/BMFA fencing buddies — and there are plans to move the introductory classes outside very soon.
Any questions about that, please call or text me at 410-790-8033.
We heard that Baltimore Fencing Center‘s Cockeysville location’s doors have closed for good this month.
We take no joy in that — Larbi and I (and a large contingent of our own fencers) started out at BFC and have great memories of the place.
So we extend a cordial invitation to BFC fencers in search for a new competitive home in the northern Baltimore City/Baltimore County area. (BFC Columbia is slated to re-open in June, so there’s always that!)
Youth foil fencers are welcome to join Coach Austin’s foil program, and our Epee Nomads are always open to anyone interested to learn, continue, and compete!
Our venue at this point is still small, so please contact me at 410-790-8033 to co-ordinate!
(If you need weapons and body cords repaired, also give me a call. Coach Larbi regularly picks up non-functioning gear and returns it repaired to our site in a timely fashion!)
Our fencers are looking forward to the end of the official school year: School sports are currently claiming most available outdoor spaces that we were able to use during the pandemic summer of 2020. Soon, we can expand our daily operations from the small space we were generously provided with by the property management of the Rotunda!
Youth Foil Fencing News:
Coach Austin Young is continuing youth and youth competitive classes at 733 W. 40th Street in Baltimore (our Rotunda tempoeary encampment) on
Saturdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, with an over-flow day earmarked for Monday afternoons.
He has also just started a youth beginners’ class on Saturdays. As outdoor spaces become available, we may add additional learn-to-fence opportunities at Towson High School’s athletic fields.
For questions and scheduling, please contact Coach Austin directly at 410-340-6269.
Adult and youth Epee
Our epee program continues to gather steam:
Open Bouting continues every Tuesday and Friday at 6PM (typically until 7:30 or 8PM, depending on the number of fencers. We are now getting lose to maximum capacity so please text Coach Chris if you plan to attend to maximize your fencing time: 410-790-8033. Walk-ons are always welcome, just bring your own gear.
(We are currently exploring adding Saturday afternoons for inveterate competitors.)
Beginner’s and Remedial Classes: We have Introduction to Epee for Beginners every Monday starting at 7PM, and Remedial Epee for those who like to polish up some skills on Tuesday and Friday 1t 5PM. We’re trying to keep these events small, so please check with Coach Chris for availability.
Like our foil program, we are looking to alternate our open-bouting venue with the great outdoors to accommodate more fencers.
Individual Lessons:Coach Larbi “has sword, will travel”, providing individual lessons at students’ homes, driveways, patios and, on Mondays, at our Rotunda location. Lessons are available for foil and epee, on all levels, beginner to competitive. To make your own arrangements with him, call 443-739-0077. Lessons are also available via Coach Austin.
ANY FENCERS AFFECTED BY RECENT CLUB AND LOCATION CLOSURES WILL AWAYS BE WELCOMED BY ALL OUR COACHES.
Coach Chris Amberger (adult epee program): Call or txt 410-790-8033
Coach Austin Young (youth and competitive foil): Call or txt 410-340-6269
Coach Larbi Soufiane (individual lessons foil and epee): Call or txt 443-739-0077
No news, in some cases, may be good news. In our case, it’s merely no news: We have not received any information from our hosts at Loyola-Blakefield if or when the school’s facilities may be available for restarting classes and private lessons…
Epee Nomads, our renegade active fencer group, will ring out 2020 with a last open bouting on December 18!
Holiday travel and subsequent self-imposed quarantines will delay our first open bouting to the first full week of January 2021. We’re not sure yet if we’re restarting First Tuesday (1/5) or First Friday (1/8), but restart we will! You’ll find out right here where and when.
Despite the shutdown of our training venue at Loyola-Blakefield, our rogue Epee Nomads are looking back on a memorable fencing season: Many hundred individual bouts fenced, first in 90-degree heat outside on the pole vault track of Towson High, then underneath the protective awning of Towson High’s Auditorium, and now in our temporary indoor venue at the Rotunda (see picture above).
The Nomads have attracted fencers from a variety of local clubs that shut down during the pandemic. We fence according to “old-school” epee rules: Bouts for 15 touches, no lime limits, none of the “lack of combativity” nonsense, no coin flipping. Those are intense fights that truly grind you down and allow the fencer to adapt, counter-adapt and re-adapt to his or her opponent — the way epee is supposed to be.
In our indoor venue, fencers wear face masks and Leon Paul clip-ins under their FIE masks. The rule is that when the fencing mask goes down, the face mask must be up. The group provides face shields to be worn by anyone not actively bouting. All points of communal contact are disinfected, and our maximum attendance for each evening is 6.
Actually: This has been so much fun, I’m not sure if we actually want to stop!
So, rest your bones, cure your pulls and strains, let your bruises fade for the next couple of weeks.
To all fencers and their families, we extend a hearty “Happy Holidays!” Stay safe and prosper!