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Fencing Program: What We Do

Fencing Program: What We Do               

The purpose of the High Desert Fencing Club is to provide opportunities for people of all ages in Central Oregon to fence. We encourage recreational and competitive fencing activities while promoting sportsmanship, self-discipline, and athletic conditioning. We are a non-profit organization. We charge dues and raise funds for equipment, an adequate facility, and  Fencing Instruction to provide programs of supervised fencing instruction.

Your Fencing Goals

Fencing is a contest, and if you don’t like competition this sport may not be for you. Unlike other competitions, at the end you salute your opponent and shake hands, even though you were lunging at them seconds before! Every single fencer has the same goal – to get better and better. How high your fencing level goes is an individual goal. High Desert Fencing Club is supportive of both recreational and competition fencing and recognizes that all motivations for fencing are good. Regardless of your motivation, we encourage fencers to enter competitions, it’s the only way to measure improvement and reach your goals. So, set your goals.

Your Next Level

Fencing has been a sport since 1286 so it’s very organized and has its own system to define your level of competence. The top rating is A and goes down B,C,D,and E is the first level. You achieve a rating by finishing well at a tournament. The bigger the tournament and better the competition, the more ratings are awarded. Before achieving a rating you are a U for unrated. Ratings are kept and maintained at US Fencing Assn. and you must be a Competition Member of US Fencing to enter any competition. Ratings are hard to get and highly esteemed.

Our rated members are referred to as Elite Fencers, they are:

Any and all of our fencers with a USFA rating.

Our unrated members that are members of US Fencing and enter competitions are referred to as Competition Fencers, they are:

Any and all fencers that register with US Fencing as a “Competition Member” and pay Competition Member dues.

The next level of member is what we call Club Fencers. This is a committed group that fences recreationally. Club Fencers must also be members of US Fencing and pay recreational member dues (only $5.00 annually) They have goals to improve to competition level or have retired from competition and want to maintain their skills. Club fencers own their own equipment.

Beginning Fencers are the starting point and beginners are allowed to use club equipment for up to three months. They are tutored by the Competition and Elite fencers as well as the Coaches.  There are two indicators that promote beginners to Club Fencers; (1) The Head Coach decides it’s time, (2) They own their own equipment. There is a brief ceremony and a club patch (for the uniform shoulder) is awarded upon promotion to Club Fencer status. Beginning fencers must also be members of US Fencing ($5.00 annually).

Your Personal Education Plan (PEP)

Each fencer needs their own plan and manages their own progression based on their goals. Being an individual sport with so many levels and three different weapons, personal management is a necessity. This is a good exercise in self-discipline for our youth in particular.

Beginning Fencers are the exception to this and structured programs are offered for beginners at our club through the Bend Parks and Rec.Dept.  To manage their PEP every fencer should have a three ring binder to keep their plan, records and pertinent information. Your plan is based on a Fencing Skills Sheet with the list of skills in a column to be checked off as you achieve new levels in each skill. Most fencers also keep in their binders records of competition pools and bouts, notes on individual opponents for future reference, tournament schedules and educational materials. Research materials for self education are endless. Books, videos and particularly the internet. Start with the links at USFencing.org.

Building Skills

You build skills through drills, lessons, practice bouting, competition bouting and practice, practice, practice. Also physical conditioning is very important.


Rich Wayland founded HDFC and was our head coach for nearly 20 years.  Rich is now retired from active involvement with teaching but may still stop by now and then to offer some pointers or just enjoy the action.  We are fortunate to now have Michael Gueguen as our head coach and instructor.  Michael is a French Fencing Master and was a modern pentathlete for the French National team, competing in the 1972 and 1976 Summer Olympics as well as many national and international events.  Jeff Ellington and Mark Russell are also coaches who teach the Bend Parks and Recreation classes and help beginning fencers learn the fundamentals of our sport.

A certain amount of group lessons, drills and personal critiques are included with your monthly dues. This is a minimum amount and to learn more, take private lessons. When you are warmed-up and prepared  notify (ask) the Instructor for the lesson. This is part of fencing lesson etiquette. Lessons are formal and follow international tradition, they don’t have a set ending time and you always salute. They are all individually based on the fencers PEP and some lessons take longer than others. Therefore, other than the first lesson of the day, lessons in waiting rarely have an exact beginning time. This is just the way it is with fencing instruction and ours is no exception.

In addition to lessons from Michael Gueguen our Elite and Competition fencers also give lessons and are highly capable. Ask about these lessons and an instructor will be selected to teach you. Also, you may ask any fencer, you are bouting with, for pointers.

Bring your Fencing Skills Sheet to each lesson. Your instructor will see at-a-glance what you’re working on any may even check off that you’ve achieved a new level in a given skill. Always finish a lesson with a handshake and salute.

There is no end to taking fencing lessons. Even the worlds best still take lessons, because you can always get better and better. Our Instructors encourage you to take lessons if you travel elsewhere. Also, we try host a guest instructor for a training camps several times a year, usually in May and October.  Michael Marx - five time Olympian and eight time national champion- along with various colleagues from Northwest Fencing Center have come for weekend camps. Olympian and National Epee Champion Cody Mattern has given a workshop along with HDFC alumni Eliza Enyart who fenced at the Air force Academy.  Nick Testerman, another HDFC alumni and former captain of Duke University’s fencing team also stops by now and then to give lessons and fence with everyone.  A variety of teachings is very beneficial.

Your Routine Day At The Club – Club Culture

You’ve joined the High Desert Fencing Club, so what do you do when you show up? If you’ve set some goals and have a PEP this should be pretty well self-planned. You’ll want to get into fencing attire, get warmed up and start with some drills. When you feel ready its time for some practice bouting or a lesson.

Some lockers are available and they are prioritized by fencing level and seniority. Otherwise, bring your gear in a gear bag and park it anywhere out of the way, not on the strips. Change in the dressing rooms, please keep the bathroom available.

Use empty strips for some warm-up calisthenics, jump rope, etc and stretching. Our Head Coach is adamant about warming up to prevent stiff and sore muscles.

For drills, practice footwork on the strips, or target practice on the wall, hanging or wall mount targets.  Practice, practice, practice.


Once you’re warmed up and done a few drills you are ready for some practice bouts. You can identify a fencer ready to bout when they have all their gear on, weapon in hand and helmet under their arm, they’re ready. The common invitation to bout is “do you want to fence?”  Then you choose a strip, salute, put on your masks and fence.  You follow formal bout protocol as if you were in an actual tournament. On a touch, all action stops and you return to the on-guard line.  If you are working on a skill, which you should be, it doesn’t matter if you score or receive more touches. You are doing this to develop the skills and practice. In a bout you fence until one of you needs a break. Then you tell your opponent and decide to fence for a few more final touches, usually from one to five more, depending on how bad you need a break.  Usually this final few touches are more competitive because you are actually keeping score to see which opponent gets the agreed-upon number of final touches.


There are many opportunities to enter tournaments. The Oregon Division of US fencing has the local schedule and important events nationally, go to www.usfa-or.org. To attend any tournaments you need to belong to US Fencing and register before the posted time. Usually there is a discount if you register early and every tournament allows you to do this on the websitewww.askfred.com.  You must have all your own equipment including uniform and take at least two weapons and two body cords to the strip, in case one fails. Every bout your weapon will be tested by the director so keep your gear in good shape.

Talk with our experienced Competition fencers before your first tournament for advice.

Our club hosts at least one sanctioned tournament a year, usually in Spring. This is your best opportunity to start competing. If your goals are to compete in US Nationals and Junior Olympics you must qualify. Qualifying tournaments are usually held at NWFC in Portland. The US Fencing website has all the rules for qualification in the Fencers Handbook.

Youth Supervision

All parents are responsible for their children while they are at the club.  Our club policy states that every child under the age of 14 must be accompanied at all times by a responsible adult other than the coach.  If a parent chooses to drop off a child who is under 14, this parent must first walk in with the child, sign the child’s name on the sheet at the desk near the front door, ask another adult to take responsibility for his/her child while the parent is not present, and record on the sign-up sheet the time the parent will return.  It may also be necessary to check with the coach or a senior member so that the responsible adult knows what time the club will close that evening.

For the protection of our younger members, once your child or teen is inside the club, he/she must stay inside the club.  This requires the parent or guardian to step inside when they arrive for pick up.  For their own safety, children and teens will not be allowed to wait outside the club for pick up.

Members who are 14 years of age or older are allowed to sign themselves in and be left at the club without a parent or an accompanying adult.  Because of potential liability issues, we would like to try to have at least one adult other than the instructor in the building any time when youths younger than 18 are attending the club.

Thank you for your cooperation and support in helping us provide a safe environment for your children and teens.


Fencers all share a common bond. There is nothing like fencing and it seems that the friendships come easy and last with other fencers. When you start traveling to tournaments you begin to see familiar faces and have friends from all around the country and even internationally!

Our club members also get together for meetings and several social gatherings a year.


President: Randall Barna   (541) 389-4547

VP: Jeff Ellington    (541) 419-7087

Coach: Michael Gueguen (541) 977-1166

High Desert Fencing Club, PO Box 1883  Bend, OR 97709  (911 Wilson)


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