Members Area

Fencing SIG


To (1) educate members on the history, culture, and organization of fencing from local to world levels; (2) provide networking opportunities, promote collaboration, facilitate consulting & encourage research; (3) identify the unique challenges faced by fencers & fencing coaches and; (4) develop fencing specific sport science instructional materials and intervention strategies.

Get Involved

If you are interested in joining the Fencing Special Interest Group (SIG) or learning more about the group, contact SIG Coordinator John Heil.



American Fencing Magazine with relevant articles featuring Fencing SIG Committee Members, Dr. Justin Tausig (pp. 18) & Dr. Ina Harizanova (pp. 41)

Athlete Mental Health & Safety - Suicide & Suicide Prevention

Videos, Podcasts, and Webinars

Mettle Minds Podcast With Dr. Ina Harizanova

>> Click here to view the video.

Dr. Ina Harizanova is a former elite modern pentathalete, a long-time fencing and swimming coach, and a doctor of clinical psychology. She suggests that young athletes may be reluctant to communicate pain and injury given fears about the implications of doing so. She highlights the importance of building high quality coach-athlete relationships in fostering trust and maintaining open lines of communication. Dr. Harizanova discusses numerous strategies for coping with injury adversity including: seeking social support, listening to body signals indicating further injury damage, maintaining a daily routine, and trying to optimize sleep hygiene and eating habits to promote healing. She also emphasizes the value of trying to remain focused on the present and challenging potentially irrational forms of thinking. 

Women in Fencing Panel Discussion

>> Click here to view the video.

Geva, A., Dostert, N., Heil, J., Oldham, J., & Nixon, C. (2021, February 28). Women in Fencing:  #7-  Mental Health [Webinar] Kaizen Fencing Academy.

Fencer…Chess Master-Zen Warrior

>> Click here to view the video.

Competing in the "zone" is the key to success in sport. For the fencer this means blending the mind-set of the chess master with that of the Zen warrior. As personal combat sport, fencing is an encounter with threat and risk. Success for the ancient warrior and the modern athlete alike relies on pinpoint focus, lightning-fast actions, emotional composure and finely honed instincts. Olympic Medalist, Jason Rogers, and Sport Psychologist, Dr. John Heil, draw on practical sport psychology, the Zen Martial Arts tradition and modern game theory to provide a look inside fencing in the "zone".

Iris Zimmermann: An Olympic Fencing Quest

>> Click here to view the video.

The story of Iris Zimmermann captures a transitional moment in the emergence of USA Fencing on the international scene. For decades outfenced and outcoached, American fencers struggled for results and respect. Driven by Buckie Leach of Rochester Fencing Club, the Women’s Foil Team fought their way to success on the world stage. At the tip of the spear was 14 year old Iris. 

Iris Zimmermann Champion Fencer—on Sport Injury

>> Click here to view the video.

Iris Zimmerman became USA Fencing’s 1st World Champion at age 14 winning the Cadet (U17) level.In a career limited by injury, she would go on to other world-class performances including a 2nd Cadet World Championship and a Junior (U20) World Championship, as well as, record setting World Championship medals at the elite Senior level, and in Senior World Team Championships. 

American Fencing: Olympic Spirit

>> Click here to view the video.

Olympic and world-class athletes and coaches on the psychology of fencing and the spirit of competition. Personal insights on the mental game of fencing shared in interviews with the USA Fencing Sport Psychologist, Dr. John Heil. Commentary by Michael Marx, Peter Westbrook, Iris Zimmerman, Jason Rogers, Vladimir Nazlymov, Akhi Spencer-El, Maureen Griffin, Mike Pederson, Michael D'Asaro, Mauro Hamza, and Gary Copeland.

US Olympic Fencing

>> Click here to view the video.

Shortened & revised version of American Fencing: Olympic Spirit.

Fencing Mind-Body Relaxation

>> Click here to view the video.

Mind-Body Relaxation for Fencing is a method of controlled breathing and muscle relaxation that draws on concepts of centering and energy flow found in Asian martial arts. This method can be used before bouts and during critical moments in competition to shift the fencer into the Zone. A brief version of this relaxation method is included here.

Fencing Competition Master Plan

>> Click here to view the video.

The Competition Master Plan is a mental training routine which prepares the fencer for competition from start to finish by visualizing common sport scenarios and mentally rehearsing a best course of action. A brief version of this mental training program is presented here.

« Return to SIG index