“Adversity introduces a man to himself.” Albert Einstein
To succeed in fencing, as in any other aspect of life, we must learn to deal with adversity, challenges and setbacks. All top fencers have had to deal with adversity, and we can draw inspiration from their hard work and perseverance.
One source of immense inspiration is the story of Professor Zbigniew Czajkowski – known as the “Father of Polish Fencing”.
Coach Czajkowski took up fencing at age 14 but his fencing was disrupted by WWII. He joined the Polish Navy to fight Nazis and saw action against Soviet invaders. He was captured twice and ultimately served time in the notorious Vorkuta labor camp in the Russian arctic.
While imprisoned Czajkowski maintained his fencing skills, as best possible, by fencing against fellow prisoners using spoons.
Professor Czajkowski went on to become a world class fencer, coach of champions over four decades – including the first Pole Olympic Fencing Gold Medalist, Egon Franke, a medical doctor, and a prolific author writing more than 200 academic papers and 30 books; including Understanding Fencing – The Unity of Theory and Practice.
Wonder what it would be like to train under and break bread with such a legend? You might ask our own Head Coach Witold Rutkowski!
Coach Czajkowski giving an epee coaches clinic
Extra Credit Assignment: Start a Fencing Diary. Write down a few sentences regarding where you are now as a fencer. Write down a few areas that you feel you most want to improve. Write down some goals that you want to achieve over the next 3 to 6 months. You can also write down any long-term goals.
Your short term goals should be specific and could include things like: develop better blade control, acquire tactics to improve competitive skills, explore a new weapon system like foil or epee, and/or compete in a tournament.