Frequently Asked Questions
Basic Membership and fencing questions
Most children can start fencing around age 8 or 9 years of age. If you have a child younger than 8 that is showing an interest in fencing, please contact us directly so that we may set up a time to meet with you and your child to assess their readiness. Children younger than 6 are generally too young to start, and too small to fit into the appropriate protective gear.
My child wants to start fencing. What is the best age for them to start taking lessons?
No! Never! While we have classes specifically for younger kids, we also have classes that are perfect for adults who are just starting. We have students who began fencing in their 40’s, 50’s, and even their 60’s!
I’ve never done Fencing before. Is it too late to start?
We teach classes in both saber and epée.
What weapons does WFA teach?
WFA does not currently offer group lessons in foil.
What about foil?
At WFA, you are not locked into a single weapon. Class fees are structured by the number of lessons that you sign up to take each week. You may take classes in both weapons if you so desire, or check out the alternate weapon when you need to make up some extra classes.
If I sign up for one weapon, can I take classes in other weapons?
When you sign up for classes, you sign up for the number of classes you want available to you each week. If you miss your regular class, you are welcome to make your class time up that week at any of the level-appropriate classes. If you miss your regular class at the end of the week, talk to the instructor about making the class up the next week. We’re sorry, but makeup classes can not extend past the following week.
What if I miss a class? Can I make it up?
If you know you will be out for an extended period of time, due either to vacation, injury, or work schedule, you may request in advance to have your account put on hold. Accounts may be put on hold for a minimum of 30 days. During the time that your account is on hold, you may not attend classes or open fencing sessions. Your regular tuition is waived, but a $10/month hold fee is applied instead. To place your account on hold, e-mail the WFA or fill out the appropriate paperwork at the gym.
What if I will be out for an extended period of time?
WFA offers equipment rental on a monthly basis. If you are registering for lessons online, please make sure to pick a lesson plan that includes equipment rental! Basic protective and fencing equipment (jacket, pastron, glove, mask, and weapon) are required in order to be on the fencing floor. WFA rental equipment is kept at the gym, and is shared among students. When you are ready to purchase your own equipment, we can help you with that!
I don’t have any equipment. Do I need to buy some before I sign up?
You are welcome to purchase your own equipment. Please see the information on fencing equipment, or talk to our administrator if you need help deciding what you should purchase.
What if I don’t want to share equipment with other students?
WFA is a USA Fencing Member Club. All members are therefore required to be registered members of USA Fencing. When you register for classes with WFA, you will receive instructions in how to register with USA Fencing. The most basic membership, Non-Competitive, currently costs $10/year. When you first register with USA Fencing, WFA will reimburse you for the cost of a Non-Competitive membership.
What else is required?
USA Fencing is the umbrella organization for fencing in the United States. Membership with them is independent of the club that you train at. When you register with USA Fencing, you will receive a membership number and an account and password that will stay with you whether you train at WFA or move elsewhere. As such, WFA can not register you for USA Fencing Membership. It is something that you need to do on your own.
If a USA Fencing Membership is required, why isn’t it part of my WFA membership? Can’t you register for me?
Private lessons are definitely available! In order to have access to our instructors, you must maintain a membership at the WFA. Our lowest level of membership is the “Open Fencing” membership. Students at other schools may access our instructors through a special discounted “Friendship” Membership. If you are interested in private lessons, please talk to the instructor about their availability and fees. Please note that private lessons are billed separately from, and in addition to, Membership fees.
If I don’t want to take group lessons, can I take private lessons?
You may register online accessing our online schedule. Once you’ve accessed our online portal, you may register for classes or sign up for a free trial by selecting the appropriate link to the left of the calendar. You may also register at the gym.
How do I sign up for lessons?
If you find yourself with extra time and want to take an additional lesson, you may join a class as a “drop-in.” The current Drop-In fee is $20/class. If you think that you will want to add additional classes on a regular basis, you should consider increasing your membership to the next level. Fill out a change of membership form at the gym, or contact WFA directly to adjust your membership.
Can I attend extra lessons when I have the time?
Both Group Lessons and Private Lessons are led by an instructor who provides instruction at the appropriate level for the class. Classes usually involve drills to improve footwork and blade-work in a controlled setting, with corrections and advice from the instructors. Open Fencing is for practicing what you have learned. While there is an instructor present to give occasional advice, it is not designed as an instruction class per se. To see if you are ready for open fencing, please talk to an instructor—your safety and the safety of your fellow students is our primary concern!
What is the difference between a lesson and open fencing?
I’m a member of another club, but would like to drop in for open fencing. Can I do that?
We’d be happy to see you for an open fencing session! Drop in fees are currently $20. You can register at the door (please have your USA Fencing Membership number) or send us an e-mail letting us know that you’d like to stop by. If you’d like to drop in on a regular basis, we suggest joining with a discounted “Friendship” membership, which would give access to both open fencing sessions and private lessons with our instructors if you so desire. Please contact our administrator if you have any questions or just to let us know you are planning to stop by.
Fencing Competition Questions
You only need to compete if you want to. There are options to compete at various levels, but it is not required for classes.
I know that fencing is a sport, but I don’t want to compete. Do I have to compete?
Start at the beginning, with beginner classes. Talk to an instructor to determine if you have learned sufficient basic skills to join in open fencing classes. From there, talk to the coach about whether you are ready to compete, which tournaments would be best to compete in, and what you need to do in order to compete.
I want to compete! How do I start?
Most people that compete already have their own practice gear. Depending on the weapon you choose, you may need additional equipment, such as a lame (if competing in saber events), additional weapons, and body cords. Most tournaments sanctioned by USA Fencing also require you to have, at minimum, a Competitive Membership with USA Fencing. Non-Competitive memberships may be upgraded to Competitive Memberships through USA Fencing at any point during the year.
Do I need anything additional to compete?
Fencing competitions occur at the local, regional, national, and international level. WFA holds in-house, non-sanctioned tournaments which are great ways to see what competition is all about. We, and other fencing schools in the Seattle area offer local-level, USA Fencing-sanctioned tournaments, as do schools in and around Vancouver, WA; Spokane, WA; Portland, Oregon; and in British Columbia. Regional level tournaments can be held at those schools, as well as throughout our region (WA, OR, CA, ID, UT). National- and International level tournaments often require you to have qualified for the event through competing at regional and/or national tournaments before registering.
What opportunities do I have for competition?
USA Fencing has multiple divisions based on age, including Youth, Cadet, Junior, Senior, and Veteran. Within the Senior division, there are further divisions (DIV1A, DIV1, DIV2, DIV3) which are based off of the fencer’s rank. You may check the current division eligibility information HERE.