Summer is wrapping up and two of our youthful Nomads are heading off to college.
What better way to conclude our first year of nomad life than to stage an unlicensed, unsanctioned, uninvited flash mob tournament on the long-jump track of Towson High.
On August 14, 2021, 7 competitors battled it out for possession of three top-of-the-line medals: 90-degree heat and high humidity were no impediment. Youth and treachery won out over age and experience!
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.
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!