Friday, August 29, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

En Garde for the next great fencer

Bella Peceli,  right, fences with Natalie Brown. 
Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise photo

By
From page A1 | August 08, 2012 |

The 2012 London Olympics are coming to a close — weeks of televised energy, spoiler alerts and, of course, Michael Phelps. But underneath the surface of U.S. Olympic fever are those sports that get a bit lost in the gold-medal hype.

There are 35 Olympic sports, but not all of them are shown in primetime. However, competitors in these “late night/early morning” sports work just as hard as the headline athletes not only to have a shot at winning a medal but simply to compete for one.

One of the oldest Olympic sports is also possibly one of the least seen and understood: fencing. However, it has lots of action and is quite possibly the only Olympic sport that stems from a long history of dueling to the death.

Team USA’s fencing history is relatively new: professional fencer Mariel Zagunis made history at the 2004 Olympics in Athens by winning the U.S.’s first fencing gold medal in 100 years. She was also the U.S. flag bearer at the opening ceremony for this year’s London Games.

Simon Pitfield is a fencing master and owner of the Davis Fencing Academy, a local club that teaches all ages the techniques, history and combat wit of the sport.

One of Pitfield’s students, Bella Peceli, 15, recently returned from the United State’s Fencing Association’s National Championship where she placed 13th out of 116. Peceli’s longtime goal and dream is to compete for the gold in 2020.

She highlights something that every Olympic athlete has in common: the extensive amount of daily training and conditioning during those crucial years leading up to the Olympics, whether it’s for local, national or international tournaments.

After excelling through the DFA, Peceli is taking her sport the extra mile with five to six hours a day of footwork, fencing as many opponents as possible and conditioning her body with a consistent diet of reduced sugars and carbohydrates. She also routinely watches clips from Zagunis’ Beijing competition.

“Training to fence for a tournament is interesting because it also means that you need to fence a lot of different opponents to work on different strategies,” Peceli said. “It is all about individual strategy, but at the same time, that strategy depends on the person you’re facing.”

Pitfield adds that “for the first 500 years of fencing, you come up with your own strategy, I come up with mine — one of us lives, one of us dies. The sword is potentially one of the most studied and most evolved close-combat weapons in the world.”

There are not one, not two, but three different swords that are used in fencing: foil, épée, and saber.

Pitfield says the épée is the simplest one to watch because the fencer’s whole body is the target, rather than foil and saber competitions where the torso is strictly the target.

“Because the Olympics was originally a military event, fencing is one of the few sports today that came directly through that ‘life and death’ route, as well as helping develop forms of close-handed combat,” Pitfield said.

Olympic sports like swimming and gymnastics are judged by standard mechanics in terms of form and technique; fencing relies upon the individual’s strategy. This ultimately determines whether or not the fencer gets a touch, or a point.

“Each fencer has their own way of doing it,” Pitfield said.

While there is no “I” in team — there is definitely an “I” in fencing, but it’s not such a bad thing.

“This is what my younger students really enjoy,” Pitfield said. “The team aspect is great, but if you go out for a soccer team, you’re 1 of 15. That one-on-one interaction with the coach is oftentimes lacking.”

Peceli says an important part of the whole process is having a good coach.

Dick Berry is a five-time fencing National Champion and one of the founders of Davis Fencing Academy.

“The coach and the student become very close,” he said. “I started fencing 64 years ago and my instructor in high school ended up being the best man at my wedding, and I ended up being the best man at his.”

Whether it’s swimming, gymnastics or even skeet shooting, the hard work and dedication from both player and coach are definitely required for winning the top prize.

To see fencers in action, visit the Davis Fencing Academy, 2121 Second St., on Saturday mornings for open bouts or rounds.

Comments

comments

Dominick Costabile

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Saving Putah Creek: a quiet concert at sunset

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1

     
    Mr. Dolcini goes to Washington

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Winton to be feted for her many years of community work

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Forum explores local mental health services

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Celebrate the Senior Center at Sept. 9 luncheon

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Dinner, auction benefit Yolo County CASA

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Solar-cooking workshop set at Food Co-op

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Need a new best friend?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Equestrian eventing competition slated

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Tee off for Davis’ continued prosperity

    By Lily Holmes | From Page: A4

    Kids can sign up for a library card and get a free book

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Explorit Science Center: Volunteers supercharge summer camp

    By Lisa Justice | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Bodega Marine Laboratory hosts open house

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

     
    Local group charts a year’s worth of beauty in flowers

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Free blood pressure screenings offered

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Name Droppers: UCD honors two of its own

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

     
    .

    Forum

    Let’s sell the MRAP on eBay

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

     
    Seeing both sides of ‘tank’

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

    What if we need MRAP?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

     
    How could tank be helpful?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: C2

    Don’t sentence our police to death

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: C2

     
    Will Davis see river water?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

    .

    Sports

    Forget the score; focus on the energy brought by Aggies

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    Returning seniors, new faces lead promising DHS links squad

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Devil golfers return from Scotland with smiles on their faces

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Devils scrimmage with Sac

    By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    UCD-Stanford: the clock is down to counting the minutes

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    Sports briefs: DHS girls fall by the slimmest of net margins

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B6 | Gallery

    Wire briefs: Aces cruise past Cats at Raley

    By Wire and staff reports | From Page: B6

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    ‘The November Man’: Who can be trusted?

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    B Street’s ‘The Ladies Foursome’ is aces

    By Bev Sykes | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    .

    Business

    Technology makes a great car better

    By Ali Arsham | From Page: C1 | Gallery

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Elaine Dracia Greenberg

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics