By Waylon Galvez
The local fencing community is taking full advantage of technology with online interactions to learn and improve their skills.
“It’s a very good way to keep the sport going, keep on promoting it,” said actor-politician Richard Gomez, president of the Philippine Fencing Association (PFA), in a phone interview Sunday with Manila Bulletin.
Gomez, the Ormoc City mayor, said online classes from various fencing clubs have become the ‘new normal’ after the government barred the use of training facilities.
By using different online meeting platforms, fencing clubs found a way to continuously train and teach, including beginners, the past several weeks. The elite fencers of the national team are using the same procedure with workout and technique programs.
“Sayang naman kasi kung iiwan natin dahil sa pandemic,” said the 54-year-old Gomez, a member of the epee national team that bagged the gold medal during the 2005 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games here.
“Maganda na yung mga coaches natin nakakapagturo sa mga estudyante nila sa clubs, sa schools, and even with the national team. Tuloy lang sila sa kanilang mga online lessons,” added Gomez, who still practices the sport as he recently had pre-fencing duel with daughter Juliana.
There are several fencing clubs in the Philippines, including two of the biggest in Metro Manila, the Canlas Fencing Center in Quezon City and the Republic Fencing in San Juan City that offer online lessons.
Amat Canlas, the national team coach, said it was challenging at first to give online instructions to fencing students and even with the national team.
“At the start what we did sa mga students namin, and also with members of the national team, binibigyan namin sila ng programs. Pero napansin namin either may mali sa mga ginagawa nila or nakikita namin sa videos they submit… tamad-tamad,” said Canlas.
“That is why naisip namin na mag-online lessons (via Zoom) sa mga students and national team. Then that is where nag-start na din kaming mag-accept ng beginners for online fencing,” added Canlas.
Canlas said that like any other sport, practicing at the gym remains as the ideal setup for coaches to teach or train, but with COVID-19 still a threat in the country, online lessons are helping improve the skills of fencers.
He is hoping, however, for the government to give its approval for the fencing group to be allowed at the gym.
“We’re just waiting for the IATF, hopefully mapayagan na. First it’s not a contact sports, and kung sa training naman, we’ve submitted guidelines na walang physical contact ang coaches with the fencers,” said Canlas.
Peter So, who organizes competitions via his Vicious Brainiac Fencing, shares the same sentiments with regards to fencing as a ‘safe sport’ even in this time that the world is dealing with a health crisis.
“Of course we need health protocols, but because fencing is non-contact, and nakikita naman ang fencers naka mask, wearing jacket and breeches (pants), I think it’s one sports that is ok to continue,” So said.
“While it is good that we have online classes now, the physical contact – like touching of the blade against an opponent – is still very crucial to really improve the skills of a fencer – particularly for the beginners. So yes, we’re hoping for us to be allowed by the government,” So added.