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NYFA Guidelines to Reopen!


By Sergey Danilov

While I am lost in time, figuratively and literally, I realize how much I want to be back to a somewhat normal life. The past almost three months went in a blink of the eye and it was the longest three months of my life at the same time. We learned a lot during this time of the pandemic COVID-19 – new virus, what is social distance, online training, online learning, spending more time with the people we did not have time for before… I can continue on and on. But the bottom line… we are all ready to be back to normal.

At New York Fencing Academy, looking through different guidelines, such as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), United States Fencing Association (USFA), New York Department of Health and Nassau County Department of Health, we are putting together our Academy guidelines for reopening when it will happen.

While both of our clubs are in New York, they are in different zones and it looks like the Long Island location is moving towards reopening a bit sooner than the Brooklyn location. The health and safety of our community is our top priority and we will work hard to follow all the guidelines before and during the reopening. So, both locations will follow the guidelines of the local Health authorities.

Meanwhile, we developed some New York Fencing Academy guidelines for all athletes, parents, coaches and staff.

While we will be reopening the facilities with strict guidelines stated below, we will provide full support to our NYFA family by continuing all online classes and online private lessons. So, you can choose either one or even a combination.

NYFA will be providing:

  • Group classes with limited number of participants (when permitted by region’s control room);
  • Private lessons at the NYFA facilities (by appointment only);
  • Zoom training including group classes and private lessons;
  • Any combination;

The following guidelines will apply to facilities, athletes, parents, coaches and staff who might be involved in fencing activities with NYFA.

Facility and cleaning:

  1. The gyms will be ventilated daily, and air purifiers with UV-C light & True HEPA filters, and ozone generator machines will be working overnight to sanitize the air.
  2. The gym, hallways and restrooms will be cleaned and fully sanitized daily, including the door handles of the street entrance, elevator doors and buttons.
  3. Hand sanitizing stations will be installed throughout the facility.
  4. The sign of all the necessary precautions will be posted in the lobby.
  5. Temperature checks for all who are entering the facility (including the coaches and staff) will be made by touchless thermometer. All who have temperatures of 37.2C (99F) or higher will not be admitted to the facility and will be asked to isolate themselves at home for 14 days (in case of good health, Zoom classes are still available for those who cannot attend).
  6. Changing rooms will be closed for all athletes. Gearing up should happen at home or in the car, prior to entering the building.
  7. The water fountain will be closed at this time. Only personal bottles are allowed for use (before and after private sessions only – in the designated bag area or outside the gym).
  8. NO PARENTS are allowed in the facility. The drop off for fencers will be right in front of the door. Anyone who does enter the facility must wear a face mask.

The Fencers and Coaches:

  1. NYFA Coaches and staff will be wearing face masks at all times.
  2. All fencers must wear face masks before entering the facility of NYFA. If not single use mask, it should:
    · Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
    · Be secured with ties or ear loops
    · Include multiple layers of fabric
    · Allow for breathing without restriction
    · Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape
  3. Fencers, coaches and staff should come to the gym directly from home.
  4. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. If you are sick, stay home, self-isolate and call your healthcare provider.
  5. Practice proper hygiene and respiratory etiquette:
    – Wash your hands frequently with soap and use hand sanitizer;
    – Cover your mouth and nose when you cough and sneeze into a tissue;
    – Practice social distance;
    – Do not use or share other people’s devices such as phones, tablets etc;

Fencing and sport equipment:

  1.  Coaches and Fencers are not allowed to leave any equipment in the gym under any circumstances.
  2. All personal equipment should be washed and/or sanitized after each use. If the equipment cannot be washed (mask, epee) – it must be sanitized.
  3. The club equipment will not be available for anyone. If Fencer forgot the equipment, he/she will not be able to participate in the club activity – no exceptions.
  4. Some sports equipment (i.e. jumping rope, tennis ball, resistant band, etc) will not be provided by the club; all fencers must have their own. Please consult with the coaches about what you need for upcoming practices.
  5. Due to closure of the changing rooms, there will be a designated bag area, marked with tape, which will be clearly visible. Please follow the 6 feet social distance rule when in the bag area.

Private sessions and group classes:

  1. Only fencers who have previously booked lessons or classes will be admitted to the gym (contact Marina at 516-472-7042 for Long Island location and 718-996-0426 for Brooklyn location). Fencers who have no appointments, please contact our office OVER THE PHONE ONLY! Availability of group classes will be announced separately when permitted by state.
  2. The fencers who have booked lesson(s) will be admitted to the facility no earlier than 15 minutes prior in order to warm-up. There will be a special designated area for the warm-up.
  3. All games including sharing of objects or possible physical contact are canceled.
  4. All fencers must wear face masks, covering the nose and mouth.

At the end of the day, we would like to keep everyone safe and healthy. We will continue Zoom classes and the combination of Zoom and in-person training. Stay healthy and We Will Fence Again!

Team NYFA!

BLOG, CLUB NEWS, fencing, Parents

The Online World of Fencing!


By Sergey Danilov

The new world and the new reality came fast and, surely, unexpectedly. While we’re all adapting to the new way of life, looking out of the window, and thinking: “Is it real?” – we have to continue our routines as much as we can – this will be over at some point. We just have to be patient and positive!

Well, the new reality came to the fencing community, and as we’re all adapting to the new ways of studying, shopping, etc., we also have to adapt to how to exercise, stay in physical and fencing shape the best possible ways. The main question I have right now from some of the fencers – “will I get worse during this quarantine?” My answer will be: “It is up to you, in fact you still can get better, and remember the entire WORLD is in the similar situation”

So, moving on, I would suggest a few things to keep in mind and prepare for the new world of online training and be ready to come to the gym (don’t you miss gym and your Coach more than ever?)

1. Stay positive!

It is important, even though sometimes it is hard. And when I say positive, I don’t mean just the smile on the face. Remember, each situation has a solution – you just have to find it. The best example – creating the target – a) put the pillow in the jacket, zip the jacket b) tie the strap (so the pillow does not fall out) c) hang it against the wall on the hanger. Target is ready! Can not come up with the solution? Sometimes it is simply a lack of experience – talk to your Coach, I am sure they are full of ideas!

2. Safety, safety, safety!

Assuming you are getting positive and then moving to training… but remember, SAFETY FIRST. Unfortunately, we Coaches cannot control as much as we could during training in the gym, so please make sure that you listen for the coaches’ guidelines and warnings. Communicate with the Coaches any concerns or worries.

  • Before each online class, prepare the space (ask coaches how much space you would need for the upcoming class)
  • Make all the equipment ready and keep it near you in a safe place.
  • Wear appropriate attire (yes, even at home, even online – it is exercise and you should wear clothes appropriate to exercise).
  • Make sure there are no objects around you to harm during the exercises.

3. Space for online fencing training

What is a good space at these challenging times? Well, make your imagination work, maybe it is time to rearrange the furniture in your home. I heard it is good to move the furniture from time to time, and you will spend quality time with your loved ones Or you already have it? Great! But generally speaking:

  • Hardwood floors will work perfectly!
  • Have a garage? Haven’t you planned to organize it for a while? This is a great place as well. I would suggest preparing some floor mat, as I am sure your Coach will have some exercises on the floor.
  • If you have a basement covered with carpet? Well this is great (short carpet though will be the best and it will take no time to adjust)!
  • Otherwise be creative, and always consult with the coach and remember – SAFETY FIRST!

4. Your coach should definitely see you!

Another important point I notice during classes – the position of your device with the camera as well as the position of yourself, is important. Remember, while these are challenging times for you, these are challenging times for us Coaches as well.

This is the time where we can not come and correct you using some tools we used to do in the gym. So, make sure, when the Coach looks at you – he/she sees your entire posture, not your head and ceiling or your sibling doing homework.

Also, think of what is the most important for your Coach to see. Usually when you stay sideways, the Coach has a better opportunity to control your position and is able to give correction if needed.

And yes, we know that most of you are using the same devices for homework, so please don’t forget to charge the devices for the lesson – you really don’t want to miss those words of wisdom from your favorite master!

5. Behavior

I guess this will be our new world and we need a new code of conduct… Wait, nothing changes online. All we have to do is show respect to each other:

  • Show up for the class on time, so your Coach does not have to get distracted from explaining or showing the exercises by admitting you to the online room. At the end of the day, the excuse “there was an accident on the road and a lot of traffic…” does not work anymore.
  • Yes, it is online, but still, greet your Coach and maybe a simple“how are you” will be a great way to start the class.
  • NO CHAT! Have a question? Signal your Coach and I am sure the Coach will be happy to answer. But leave the chatting with friends for after or before the class. Remember it is challenging for Coaches as well to be able to provide quality instruction over the internet – respect this and listen instead of chatting.
  • Ask your family to stay away from the space and let you concentrate on your Coach and exercises, meaning no party or movie night around.
  • Make sure you “mute” yourself on the online platform during the class unless you need to ask a question. The main reason for that – every time you produce some noise – everyone sees you not the Coach. So if for some reason the Coach forgot to mute you – you always can do it yourself.

6. Equipment

As for equipment, I would really speak to the Coach before each class if you need something specific. Otherwise:

  • Small towel would be nice. I found the online classes more intense as there are almost no breaks, social breaks, hiding in the changing room, playing on the phone etc. So be ready to sweat a lot.
  • Bottle of water. I said almost none, so I am sure the Coach will give you some breaks. But during these classes, breaks are short, so making a trip to the kitchen might cause you to miss some important information.
  • Floor mat for exercises. Again, you can be creative on this one if you don’t have it or you may find one in an online store.

And did I mention to stay positive? As I said earlier, this will be over – meanwhile, stay connected to your Coaches, keep yourself in shape, focus on something you can improve right now and you will improve as a fencer… competitive shape? We will get it back quickly as long as we keep training!

BLOG, CLUB NEWS, fencing, Parents

What Age Should You Start Fencing?


By Sergey Danilov

Another question I get asked very often:  Is 5 years old too early…or I am 50 – is it too late to start fencing?

YOUTH
NY Long Island Fencing
Sergey Danilov
(age 18)

Let’s start with the younger age first. I was raised in the Soviet Union and back in my time – we were not allowed to start fencing until 9-10 years old. Earlier, before me, the age to start was even 12 years old (if I remember this correctly). Why is it so? Well, equipment during that period was much less safe than now, much heavier. Fencing, requiring much focus and a lot of repetition, would be hard for someone at the age of 6-7 with all that equipment, focus and hard work. Did I mention that the question “did you have fun?” was not even a question back then? So, if you come to the sport, coaches expect you to work hard and improve on a daily basis like professionals… that, of course requires a level of focus that little guys do not have yet. On top of that, your first tournament would be sometime when you turn 14-15, not earlier.

Nowadays, people start fencing much younger. The first Cadet World Championship (under 17 yo) started in 1987. If you decided to represent your country at the World Championships, you would have to start training much earlier. Of course, shortly after, many National World Federations started to create local, National and International events for this age category and younger (for example, under 13 yo in Europe and under 14 yo in the US). And in order to be able to compete successfully in these categories, you have to start training earlier.

What about equipment? Well, problem solved – it’s the 21st century with new technologies – lighter and much safer equipment was created. Now you have much, much lighter equipment and swords which are easier to bend. The first official event is under 10 yo (Youth 10). Some local events feature even Youth 8 events but have not been official on the National level.

While at a younger age, you don’t compete as often as later on – learning fundamentals, learning how competition works, learning ethics of improving during the class, listening, cooperating with other kids and just having a great time learning – it is beneficial to start earlier. And with all the new equipment (yes, fencing now even has plastic equipment for the youngest kids, like 5-7 years old, which weigh almost nothing) kids will enjoy the classes.

TEENAGERS

Another question, parents always ask, is 14-15 years old too late? Well, here is the first question… What is your goal? If you are 15 and planning to go to the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020, then yes – it is too late. Fencing is a unique sport, and I heard a story of a girl who started the sport at the age of 18, out of a bet with her boyfriend, and then fell in love with the sport and became an Olympic Champion. In my career, I had quite a few students starting at the age of 14 and ending up getting Athletic Scholarships at top Universities. What you have to understand – there will be a lot of losing in the beginning, while you’re catching up with the sport – you will be fencing much more experienced fencers. And it really will take hard work to catch up. But that hard work will definitely pay off.

Now, are you looking for the sport to develop your mind and body, maybe competing, maybe not? Want to try something new? Then fencing it is and it is not too late. Besides what we discussed earlier – it will help to develop strategic thinking, time management, new friends and… who knows maybe you will fall in love with the sport and will be the next Olympic Champion some years later.

ADULTS

Long Island fencing, Brooklyn fencing, epee club, Coney Island sports, NY Fencing ClubI also often hear from people who already have jobs, kids, etc. that they want to try… GREAT! I think this is the best sport for adults. While many sports require you to be fit in a certain way, fencing can be done at your own pace, at your own level of fitness. While, of course, it involves physical activity, it is also “physical chess”, where strategy and thinking is just as important as the movements. If you are looking for a low injury sport that’s interesting, fun, and will boost your level of fitness… well then this sport is for you as well.

So, you are looking for a new sport, and you are somewhere between 5 or 6 and 99+? Then FENCING will be a great sport to try…

BLOG, CLUB NEWS, fencing, Parents

How Safe Is Fencing?


By Sergey Danilov

Is fencing dangerous? Does fencing hurt? These questions are frequently asked by people when they are considering fencing for their little kids. Well, as strange as it sounds – since the sport includes “hitting” each other with metal blades and so on – fencing is one of the safest sports in the world. Hard to believe?

Credit: Trifiletti / BizziAccording to research by Junge A, Engebretsen L, Mountjoy ML, Alonso JM, Renstrom PAFH, Aubry MJ, and Dvorak J (2009) from the University of Oslo, during the 2008 Olympic Summer Games, there were only five sports that had fewer injuries than fencing which were diving, synchronized swimming, rowing, kayaking, and sailing. The same study found that the most injuries occurred in soccer, followed by taekwondo, field hockey, handball, and weightlifting.  Additionally, the research illustrates that one third of all Olympic sports injuries were caused by contact with another athlete. In fencing, body contact is prohibited by the rules, and in certain situations, the athlete can be disqualified if the body contact was initiated.

Well, it is hard to believe, right? Let me explain a few things about fencing, as a lot of people imagine it to be Zorro slicing the other person’s outfit into pieces, making a “Z” on the shirt, or Musketeers who kill each other during breakfast, lunch, dinner or even during a glass of wine with their friends. Modern fencing is about scoring points with the tip of a very flexible, relatively light blade. The tip is not sharp at all which makes fencing very safe. The fencer’s body is fully covered with several layers of equipment made from Kevlar, which is the material used to make bulletproof jackets. (Of course, we did not try to shoot to test it, as we actually use fencing blades only.) The fencer’s head is fully protected with a mask that is made from metal mesh, which can withhold force much greater than the fencing blade.

There are myriad of studies you can find on the internet, and all of them depict that fencing is not considered a dangerous, risky or potentially high injury-causing sport.

Yes, injuries in fencing happen; however, they are mainly pulled or strained muscles, bruising, or sprains. With the proper training, warm-ups, stretching, etc., these injuries can all be prevented and minimized. After all, these same injuries happen while children play on the playground. As we can see, fencing has a very low risk of injury. Children, teens, and adults will find a lot of benefits as they discover the unlimited potential of the sport, such as focus, self-discipline, comradery, respect and more. These skills will help you throughout your life and will last lifelong.

NY Fencing Academy Long Island Brooklyn
Credit: Graphic by Jen Christiansen, Illustrations by MCKIBILLO; Source: Lars Engebretsen, University of Oslo