Presiding and Judging for Beginners
At a competition involving school fencing, we recognise a level playing field seldom exists. Often, few of the aspiring fencers have personal attire and equipment. Borrowed weapons, masks etc. abound, apprehension reigns, while an enterprising and confident few are raring to go.
In this situation, skilful and experienced presidents are worth their weight in gold. The competitors must be guided through situations which will stimulate them to wish to repeat the experience. Most importantly, the president must exude authority without the overbearing attitude we sometimes witness and be fair and absolutely in control. It is mandatory that the youngsters are protected from hurt or injury and those rough or spiteful actions are nonexistent. In the cases of loss of control, emotional or otherwise, cautionary advice rather than punitive actions is preferable. It is a wise move to gather the contestants of a poule and explain to them priority, right of way and timing. Insure then that only one of four responses is acceptable from the judges and thus provide for an uncomplicated contest. The four responses are “yes”, “no”, “off target”, and “I abstain”. The answers are therefore brief and concise, and allow the president to be efficient in his analysis of actions and exchanges.
Should the president find one or two of his jurors are inaccurate or failing in any way, he can situated them on the same side of himself so he see what they see and can better gauge their efforts. A quick explanation, sorting out the differences between ripostes, remises and redoubles plus what a valid hit is as disposed to a flat hit or a pass is helpful. Doubtful hits too, can be a bone of contention, which new fencers will need to grasp.
All’s well that ends well and though some may be disappointed with their outcome, so long as they are not discouraged it has been a successful experience.
(c) Maitre d’Armes Michael A. O’Brien 2/07/2008