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The Revival of the Australian Academy of Fencing

2001 Summer Fencing Camp
10th January to 14th January 2001
Sunshine Coast Queensland


The Australian Academy of Fencing's
Coaching Conference and

The 2001 Summer Fencing Camp was quite an historic event as we were fortunate to have on staff two of the founding fathers of the original Academy, namely, Prof. Michael O’Brien and Maitre John Fethers. Maitre Cornell Vena, one of the original examined and accredited masters of the Academy was unfortunately unable to attend the camp at the last moment due to an imminent medical problem.

The Academy’s education staff at the camp were:

  • Prof. Michael O’Brien B.A.F.
  • Maitre John Fethers  A.A.P
  • Maitre Gary Worsfield F.A.C.

The camps additional coaching staff and AAF examination candidates were:

Mark Scully, Simon Leitch, Tynan Worsfield, David Airey, Scott Holmes, Jesse Braid, Matteo Barchiesi and Michael Sitchel.

Boyd Rayment was on staff as our specialist in all aspects of the electrical fencing equipment – from fixing boxes and reels to assembling weapons and rewiring blades.

From a coaching perspective:

Prof. Mike O’Brien worked with the coaching candidates on the pedagogy of fencing – the teaching of the sport-specifics of the individual lesson and helped prepare each candidate for the Academy’s examination at the end of the camp. These coaching sessions were in addition to the two daily practical fencing/coaching sessions. During the two practical sessions, Maitres Fethers and Worsfield were also available to the coaching candidates. Throughout the course of the camp Boyd Rayment video taped each of the candidates giving individual lessons as well as both of their examination lessons. Each Coach will receive a 3hour tape of their experience. Examinations took place Saturday evening and Sunday morning. The results of which are:

The Brevet de Prevot:

  • David Airey Foil Coach
  • Simon Leitch Foil, Sabre Coach
  • Mark Scully Foil, Epee Coach
  • Jesse Braid Foil Coach
  • Tynan Worsfield Foil Coach
  • Scott Holmes Foil Coach
  • Michael Sitchel Foil Coach
  • Matteo Barchiesi Foil Instructor

And sitting for level 1 NCAS of the ACC:

  • Luc Cartillier Foil Level 1 Sport-Specific

Congratulations to the Academy’s new Prevot Maitres. Both the diplomas (Prevot and Maitre d’Armes) have been designed by Prof. Mike O’Brien and prepared by Cathy Leitch. They include the names of the founding fathers, fencing masters and amateur coaches who contributed to the development of the fencing coaching profession in Australia. The Brevet de Prevot d’Escrime diplomas were signed by the Examining Board and presented to our new Prevot Maitres at the conclusion of the camp.

From a fencers’ perspective:

It is realized that to get a fencer good, fast, you have to pump in the individual lessons. The emphasis of the camp was on quality instruction with lots of individual lessons – to achieve this objective there were two hard fencing sessions scheduled each day, one in the morning (8-10:30am) and one in the afternoon (2:30-5pm). Each fencer received an individual lesson during each training sessions. There were 6 lesson groups – each with a Home Coach. Each participant received an individual lesson from their Home Coach in the morning and in the afternoon received an individual lesson from one of the other Coaches. There were three distinct groups of fencers: Kids (aged from 9 – 13), Cadets (under 17) and Adult competitors.

The kids and cadets fenced non-electric – however during the course of the camp they were introduced to electric foil fencing, while the competitors fenced on three permanent electric pistes.

From an administrative point of view:

There were a number of hitches that started before the first day and continued throughout the entire camp:

Firstly, the management of the recreation centre could have and should have been much more co-operative, instead, the live-in centre’s care-taker/manager was quoted as saying that he was not there for our convenience – funny, I thought a public servant in that position was in fact there to ensure that our stay at this state government’s recreation centre was an enjoyable experience? We were the only group there during that time – the other section of the camp was vacant. With an attitude like that no wonder this facility is under-utilized – it is far superior than its Tallabudgeera equivalent on the Gold Coast but way less sought after? I must admit that this was our second choice as the Tallabudgeera camp was fully booked during this period.

Our planned kitchen staff of three eventuated to be only two – Karen Thompson and Marie McCowan turned out to be our saviors and despite catering for 40 hungry mouths made the eating experience most enjoyable – in fact the feedback indicates that this camp was the best catered live-in fencing camp that has been held in Australia. It’s amazing that no matter how good a camp may be it is the quality of the food that leaves the lasting memories. Congratulations Marie and Karen!

Accommodation – camp participants were housed in 9 cabins each with 12 bunk beds. The camp can accommodate over 100 participants and we were accommodating 40 and as a result each cabin housed a maximum of only 6 per cabin (most of the cabins had even less). The only complaint came from one of the coaching staff prior to the camp and before he had even sighted the accommodation. This was satisfied by the start of the camp.

The Timetable – the original timetable interspersed lectures on the general principles of coaching (level 1 and level 2) with the sport-specific practicalities of the individual fencing lesson and then allowed the trainee coaches 2 practical coaching sessions each day to reinforce these new skills. Unfortunately at the last moment this timetable had to be changed due to the absence of our general principles lecturer - Maitre Cornell Vena. The eventual timetable did not include the level 1 and level 2 general principles lectures however we were very fortunate to receive an excellent talk on sport nutrition by Naturopath, Michael Sitchel and we included a Fencing Theory booklet by Maitre Gary Worsfield in each participants camp folder.

In conclusion, although we were unable to achieve all of our objectives, from the feedback that we received from the camp participants, what we did do, we did well.

Thanks to all the participants and staff.


Post script:  In 2001 we held the A.A.F. Summer Coaches Camp and Examinations. In 2004 we celebrated 50 years service as a Professional Fencing Master by the Academy's Founding Father: Prof. Michael A. O'Brien B.A.F. In 2005 the En Garde! Fencing Education & Accreditation Program was launched and by years end we boast 30 professionally trained  Orientation Kids  Instructors (class instruction for primary schools. In 2006 we register a record 8 Maitre d'Armes with the A.A.I. and introduce En Garde! Artistic fencing Instructor course/accreditation.

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Date Last Modified: 11 Apr 2016