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Thread: Fencing

  1. #196
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    Stro: Colonel Brownlee



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  2. #197
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    social distancing with swords

    Fencing, with built-in social distancing, proves ideal sport for coronavirus pandemic
    By Allison Ward
    The Columbus Dispatch
    Posted Jul 20, 2020 at 11:48 AM
    Fencers say that the sport might be the ideal activity to do right now as it promotes social distancing.

    Like many kids, summer looks a lot different this year for siblings Eleanor and Gavin McClung, who are not allowed to visit public pools, attend large gatherings of friends or go on vacation far from home.

    Fortunately, the Upper Arlington sister and brother, 8 and 14 respectively, still have at least one extracurricular activity their parents find safe: fencing.

    Masks and gloves are already standard equipment for the sport and some competitors now double up on masks, wearing a cotton one underneath the mesh fencing one, which does not have the same protective effect against COVID-19.

    And social distancing? That’s less of a problem for athletes carrying nearly 4-foot-long sabers, epees and foils with the goal of stabbing anyone who comes near them.

    “Innately, it’s a little safer,” said the kids’ mother, Becky McClung. “You’re not in each others’ faces all the time and there are those natural barriers.”

    In fact, fencing might be one of the safest sports right now, a perk that many clubs across central Ohio and nationwide have touted on social media in recent weeks as they’ve welcomed students back since reopening.

    “Fencers try to keep away from each other,” said Stan Prilutsky, head coach at Columbus Fencing & Fitness in Dublin, where the McClungs take lessons. “If you get too close, you’re in trouble.”

    Even though the sport boasts built-in barriers to deter the spread of COVID-19 — including that it only involves two athletes — Isabel Alvarez has reopened Profencing in Lewis Center cautiously, following protocols recommended by USA Fencing, the sport’s governing body.

    “I have an immune deficiency problem,” she said. “Staying in business, staying well and not getting sick, has been a big effort.”

    Finances became extremely tight after nonessential businesses were shut down in the spring, and a slow rebound since it reopened for private lessons has put the academy in jeopardy of shutting its doors for good, Alvarez said. A small Paycheck Protection Program loan and some generous parents who continued paying their children’s fees even when the business was closed have helped her weather the storm so far, she said.

    Anyone entering Alvarez’s building is asked to wear a cotton mask, even while fencing, and students aren’t allowed to store their equipment at the facility. She’s taught students how to sanitize their suits — something they should do anyway — and they’ve done away with ceremonial handshakes, following USA Fencing rule changes.

    So far, Alvarez said she is only seeing about half her regular students, and many of her summer camps with community centers have been canceled. However, she is still doing a few small camps, starting this month. She hopes to begin offering introductory classes for new students and small-group sessions soon.

    “It’s safe to do fencing, and it’s good because the kids need an activity,” Alvarez said. “It challenges the mind and body.”

    One of her students, Elise Lemasters of Delaware, who generally prefers bouts with friends and at tournaments, couldn’t wait for her first private class with Alvarez upon returning to the club.

    “In the car, I told my dad how excited I was, and I typically don’t like having lessons, but I was looking forward to it,” said the 12-year-old, who is the No. 1 female fencer in Ohio under 13.

    Parents at Profencing shared that excitement. Heather Besselman, a mom of four, said she and her two sons who fence, especially 10-year-old Noah, were thrilled when Profencing opened again.

    “Noah needed activity,” said Besselman, of Delaware. “It was time, and they’re taking precautions all across the board.”

    Her children still haven’t been many places, but she feels they’re safe fencing.

    “They’re fully geared up and the chance of saliva going through their mask then through another mask and onto their opponent is slim,” she said.

    While wearing two masks is “weird,” Noah said, it’s now “normal.”

    Normal is what many of Prilutsky’s students have craved these past few months. About 75% of his 150 or so students are back taking regular private lessons.

    While he acknowledged he and other instructors saw some benefits to teaching virtual lessons on Zoom — which focused on technique and footwork — he’s glad to have students back in his 8,000 square-foot facility that boasts 19 fencing strips.

    “One student was crying after her first bout because she was so excited to be back,” Prilutsky said. “There’s been an emotional response to getting back to the sport we love.”

    Gavin McClung admits he was a bit nervous to come back as he felt out of shape after two months away from the club. But it didn’t take long to fall into a rhythm with familiar faces around him.

    “I’ve been excited, too,” the teen said. “There are a lot of people here I haven’t seen in a while.”

    award@dispatch.com

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  3. #198
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    Burbank International Film Festival

    STRO: THE MICHAEL D'ASARO STORY
    FILMS, SUNDAY | FORIEGN FILMS & DOCUMENTARIES
    1H 27MIN



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    Available on 9/13/2020

    Michael D'Asaro taught about life through the medium of fencing

    Micheal D'Asaro lived a life completely intertwined with the sport of fencing. It provided an avenue for him to escape the poverty of Brooklyn's Redhook district through a fencing scholarship to NYU. He became one of the dominant fencers of his era after coming under the tutelage of a fierce Hungarian Instructor by the name of Csaba Elthes. He made a name for himself internationally as well, fencing against the greats like Nazlimov and Pawlowsky. But D'Asaro always marched to his own beat which brought him into conflict with the governing body of American Fencers. He left the sport as a competitor when he wouldn't compromise to suit what he consider old fashioned codes of behavior. He returned to the sport as a coach in San Francisco purely by happenstance when he was hired to be the new head coach at the Halberstadt Fencer's Club. The only problem was, he had never been formally taught how to coach fencing. But, he taught himself to coach, quickly excelling to the top ranks of United States coaches. He was hired to coach National and International Teams. He achieved his greatest success at San Jose State where he directed the women's foil team to five straight national championships. His San Jose State students formed the basis for several Olympic Squads in the seventies and eighties He cut his college career as a coach short in the mid 1980s. He was burnt out and tired of the college politics. He moved first to Oregon where he opened his own salle, but that only lasted a short while. Ultimately, he moved to Los Angeles where he continued to teach fencing. He passed away in 2001 from an inoperable brain tumor. D'Asaro left an indelible impression on all the people he met. The lessons he passed on are still used today by his students, in fencing as well as in life.
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  4. #199
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    Our newest interview - Free from KungFuMagazine.com

    Gene Ching
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  5. #200
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    Boston Film Festival Q&A




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  6. #201
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    Local coverage

    'Stro': The story of the world-class SF athlete who tripped with Jerry Garcia
    Photo of Dan Gentile
    Dan Gentile
    SFGATE
    Nov. 9, 2020
    Updated: Nov. 9, 2020 4 a.m.


    Jerry Goldstein Cadillac with Michael D'Asaro on the hood in front of Halberstadt Fencer’s Club, at the original location on Fillmore Street.
    Courtesy of Greg Lynch

    For most athletes, getting a haircut would be a small price to pay for a trip to the Olympics. But very few athletes cared about their hair, and personal freedom, as much as Michael D’Asaro.

    At one point in the 1960s, D’Asaro was perhaps the greatest living American fencer, able to defeat international opponents in all three of the sport's major disciplines (sabre, epee, and foil), an unheard-of achievement that is essentially the football equivalent of playing on offense, defense and special teams. In the fencing world, just like in basketball, everybody wanted to “be like Mike.”

    When D’Asaro didn’t have a sword in his hand, he was typically holding a joint instead, indulging in everything San Francisco’s hippie revolution had to offer. He grew a mane like a hippie lion, and when the Olympic committee demanded he trim it in order to join the 1968 fencing team, Greg Lynch, director of the new documentary “Stro: The Michael D’Asaro Story” (screening online this week), says that D'Asaro wasn’t willing to conform.

    “He said, ‘No, I don’t think so.’ Or he said, ‘Why don’t you go f—k yourself,’” recounts Lynch.


    Michael D’Asaro in Los Angeles in the 1990s, back to his hippie days.
    Courtesy of Greg Lynch

    The film, screening this week online through the Ojai Film Festival and Mescalito Biopic Fest, features D’Asaro’s former teammates, students and rivals speaking about his monumental influence on the sport, from his professional career to his latter days as a coach.

    Before D’Asaro found himself in San Francisco, his biggest influence came from Hungary. Already an exceptional collegiate talent, D’Asaro came into his own after he began training in 1958 with Hungarian maestro Csaba Elthes (“the dean of American sabre fencing”) from whom he learned a smoother, more fluid style that disrupted the typical rhythm of a match. It led him to big wins, including a fourth place finish on Team USA in the 1960 Rome Olympics, plus a gold medal at the national championships in 1962. Although he was still unknown in the U.S., he became a minor celebrity in Europe, where fencing was a popular enough sport that there were TV networks dedicated to it.

    “They thought of him as the Jesus of fencing,” says Lynch. “They’d go after him for autographs. I think he had security since he was so popular.”

    At that point in his career, D’Asaro had yet to grow out his signature long hair but had already started indulging in substances, most notably during a match in Warsaw. Due to a horrible hangover, he was seeing double, but when his coach told him to aim for the opponent in the middle, he won the match.

    In the documentary, Andy Shaw from the Museum of American Fencing expressed the level of his exceptional talent. “Michael can be asleep and drunk, and still beat anyone in the world,” says Shaw.


    Classic lunge by Michael D’Asaro on the left. A textbook lunge.
    Courtesy of Greg Lynch

    After a few years competing on the international circuit and a brief period working in the advertising industry, D’Asaro made his way to San Francisco. He qualified for the 1968 Olympics, but after refusing to cut his hair, he temporarily dropped out of the fencing circuit, opting instead to spend his days listening to concerts at Hippie Hill in Golden Gate Park and working at the corner of Haight Street and Ashbury selling copies of the Berkeley Barb newspaper for a quarter.

    When an instructor at the Halberstadt Fencing Club on Fillmore Street learned that D’Asaro lived in San Francisco, he was recruited as a coach. It began a second phase of his career, in which he was one of the most in-demand and unconventional fencing instructors in the world and returned to professional competitions. He became known as "Stro," short for maestro, the traditional term of fencing coach. During his years in San Francisco, he was a cross between a tyrant and spiritual advisor, assigning rigorous training exercises but also handing out bags of mushrooms for students to experiment with outside the gym.

    “Michael was a very spiritual guy. As people in the film point out, he was their guru, and he was charting paths to new realms. And the drugs unlocked a lot of things to help him get to those places …” says Lynch. “To make a bad joke, it was a two-edged sword for Michael. It helped him, he enjoyed it, but it was kind of his downfall as well.”


    Michael D’Asaro standing in the center in the back at the Halberstadt fencing club. Three-time national foil champion Harriet King is demonstrating the lunge. She won two championships under D’Asaro’s coaching.
    Courtesy of Greg Lynch

    Although D'Asaro's methods were strange, they worked, with several of his students earning places on the U.S. Olympic Team. After leaving Halberstadt, he went on to teach at San Jose State, where he led the women’s fencing program with the same rigor. He then married one of his students and retreated to a remote home in the woods in Oregon, but his spirit never really left San Francisco, and he had trouble settling into a calmer life, eventually leading to the end of his marriage. He struggled with colon cancer and a brain tumor that affected his coordination to the point where he could barely walk, but he remained teaching until his final days.

    In December of 2000, he died of a brain aneurysm, but his legacy has been cemented in the fencing world as one of the greatest to ever hold a sabre.
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  7. #202
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    Stro: Weapons Control



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  8. #203
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    Peter Brand

    When the SJSU Fencing program was cancelled in my Junior year, I tried to transfer to Stanford.

    Didn't work.

    Ex-fencing coach, telecom CEO face charges in $1.5 million bribery scheme to get kids into Harvard
    The former Harvard coach allegedly took the bribes to secure the admission of the executive's children to the Ivy League school as fencing recruits.

    Head coach Peter Brand talks to Veronica Czyzewski of Harvard as she competes against Karolina Cieslar of St. John's in the Saber semi finals during the Division I Women's Fencing Championship in Cleveland on March 24, 2019.Jason Miller / NCAA Photos via Getty Images file
    Nov. 16, 2020, 3:17 PM PST
    By Tim Stelloh

    A former top fencing coach at Harvard University and a telecommunications executive were arrested Monday in an alleged bribery scheme involving the school's fencing team, federal authorities said.

    Peter Brand, 67, and Jie “Jack” Zhao, 61, face charges of conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts said.

    Brand allegedly secured admissions for Zhao’s two children to Harvard as fencing recruits in exchange for more than $1.5 million in bribes, the office said in a statement.

    The charges were filed more than a year after the Boston Globe first reported that Zhao bought Brand’s home in Needham, southwest of Boston, for nearly $1 million, or $440,000 above its assessed value.

    On Sept. 29, 2016, nearly five months after the sale, Zhao’s younger son received a letter from Harvard saying he was likely to be accepted as a fencing recruit, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts.

    The sale prompted an inspection from the local assessor, who wrote in his notes that it “makes no sense,” according to the documents.

    Zhao, CEO of a telecom company who lives in Maryland, allegedly made another series of payments to Brand in 2015 that covered school loans for his children and their tuition at Penn State University. He also paid Brand’s water, sewer and mortgage bills, and gave him a $34,563 car loan, the documents say.

    Those payments came after Zhao’s older son was also admitted to Harvard as a fencing recruit in 2013. According to the documents, Zhao contributed $1 million to a fencing charity, which then paid $100,000 to a foundation that Brand and his wife had recently established.

    The documents say the scheme began after Brand and his wife were struggling to pay bills.

    Harvard fired Brand in 2019 after the Globe reported on the home sale. The school’s athletic director said he had violated the university's conflict of interest policy.

    In a statement Monday, Brand’s lawyer described Zhao’s children as “academic and fencing stars” and said the former coach had done nothing wrong in the admissions process.

    Zhao’s lawyer, Bill Weinreb, said that Zhao “adamantly denies the charges and will vigorously contest them in court.”

    Neither have entered a plea.

    The charges come more than a year after federal prosecutors in Massachusetts announced charges in a sprawling scheme — uncovered in an investigation dubbed Operation Varsity Blues — that targeted dozens of wealthy parents who secured admissions for their children to elite universities through a for-profit college prep counselor, Rick Singer. Among those caught in the scam were actors Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman.

    The charges against Zhao and Brand are separate from Operation Varsity Blues.

    U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling called the charges announced Monday as “part of our long-standing effort to expose and deter corruption in college admissions.”

    Tim Stelloh
    Tim Stelloh is a reporter for NBC News based in California.
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  9. #204
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    Stro: The Michael D’asaro Story is now available on Amazon Prime

    Gene Ching
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