Your kid may not like Shakespeare (quote above from "Merry Wives of Windsor"), but they may take to fencing. flyburst interviewed Dariusz Gilman from DG Sabre Fencing in Silver Spring, MD. Coach Gilman is a former world champion in men's sabre fencing and offers a range of programs for boys and girls in the DC area.
fb: Can you talk about your background in fencing? How did you become interested in the sport?
DG: I grew up in Opole, in southwestern Poland. My older brother was the first to start fencing in my family. As a kid, I played lots of sports—soccer, karate, handball, and judo—but was intrigued by fencing and wanted to try it. I started when I was 10, which was a little late by the standards in my country, as most kids begin at a younger age. I had to work hard to catch up and keep up. I was very lucky to have had two of the most renowned coaches in sabre fencing working with me. All our hard work paid off. By the time I was 17 or so, I was the world champion in men’s sabre fencing.
fb: Can you provide a brief overview of your program and team offerings?
DG: Our sabre fencing program combines group classes with individual instruction to give kids the foundation they need to really understand and enjoy the sport. Each child starts as member of a class of their peers. That class becomes their team. As they progress, their team expands as they join more advanced fencers who encourage and support them in practice and at competitions. The wonderful team spirit of the DC Fencers’ Club sabre students and families is unique and makes our club a very special community.
fb: Fencing isn’t a sport that parents or kids many know much about. What might be attractive to them about the sport?
DG: Fencing is a wonderful sport that any child can learn and enjoy throughout their lives. It’s a sport that challenges both physical fitness and metal agility—that is, focus, concentration and the ability to make good decisions very quickly. So it’s a great complementary sport to soccer, basketball and lacrosse because it really enhances balance and hand-eye coordination. And because it’s not a traditional sport, it distinguishes students at the every level—elementary school, high school and college.
fb: What’s your approach to teaching and coaching?
DG: I strongly believe in helping each student develop their skills as an athlete first and then, build their abilities as a fencer. Each student develops as an athlete at different pace. In coaching students for more than a decade, I have found that strengthening their fundamental skills and building their confidence first has been essential to helping them to enjoy and progress in fencing.
fb: What are the phases of skill and physical development for kids entering and participating in fencing What’s the right age to get started?
DG: The best time to start sabre fencing is ages 7-11. Fencing requires that each student understand it from several different levels, including technical, physical and strategic.
fb: What’s the schedule for a typical fencing season? What are the main costs involved?
DG: For advanced fencers, the training & competitive season runs from September to the beginning of July. For beginning fencers, the schedule is more relaxed. Beginner, advanced beginner and intermediate fencers participate in the club through classes and individual lessons. Most students take classes and lessons throughout the school year. The DC Fencers’ Club provides equipment for all beginners so parents don’t have to make that investment until they’re sure their child wants to continue to fence.
fb: Can you talk about girls and fencing? Are there any dimensions of the sport that parents should think about regarding girl’s involvement?
DG: In American sabre, women have been tremendously successful, winning Olympic gold and bronze in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. This success has been a big inspiration for many girls and sabre fencing is growing more and more popular. A wonderful aspect about fencing for girls is that they learn from and compete against girls and boys that are their age, older, younger, more and less experienced. This range helps girls—and boys—develop their confidence and, equally important their friendships. I am very proud to say that one of my woman sabre students is now captain of the fencing team at Yale.
Fb: What are some safety-related issues that parents and players should be aware about with regard to fencing? How can injury be mitigated?
DG: Fencing has strict rules about safety, equipment and etiquette that protect every fencer. The DC Fencers’ Club has all the equipment a beginner needs to learn the basics of fencing in a safe, supervised atmosphere. But equipment isn’t everything. As a coach and as a trained physical therapist, I focus on injury prevention, proper techniques and movement that help protect my students—at every level--from injury.
fb:What role can parents play in helping to navigate their child through a successful experience with fencing?
DG: Fencing is a great sport that I believe prepares kids for a lot of the challenges they’ll face later in life. The sport certainly gave that preparation to me. The best thing parents can do for their kids is to encourage them to give fencing a try! There’s a lot to learn but at its heart, fencing is an exciting, competitive sport and wonderful community of dedicated students and committed parents. En garde! Let’s start fencing!
To find out more about DG Sabre Fencing, contact Coach Gilman at email@example.com