Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Member benefits for club membership?

IFA Boston member benefits include the following:

  • Eligibility of receiving 1:1 private lessons with coaches of IFA Boston

  • Discounted tuition on group classes

  • Privilege access and/or discounts for fencing camps

  • Representing IFA Boston in fencing tournaments

  • Eligibility for strip coaching in competitions

  • Assistance with fencing gear order and repair through club

  • College alumni fencers can attend group classes and fencing camps at no costs

Club membership fee applies to students at intermediate level or above. Fee is waived for youth beginners and alumni. 

What Fencing programs does IFA offer?

Currently we offer the following fencing programs: youth beginners, youth intermediate, youth competitive, cadet competitive, advanced, and teen/adult programs. The description of each program and training schedule can be found on the club website. The tuition and sign up links for each program are in the member area (password are sent separately to club members). 

What should I know before my first trial class?

You will receive an email confirmation with the class you signed up. Please come at your selected date and be on time.

Location: 141 Middlesex Turnpike, Burlington, MA
(near Burlington Mall. It's the first yellow building on the right, after passing the traffic light on Middlesex Tpk at Third Ave.)

There is limited space in the front of the building and is for drive through. You can take a peek at the space, or drop off your child, but please do not park in the front and block others.

Parking: Our parking lot is in the rear of the building. You can use "Great Meadow Rd, Burlington MA" for rough location on GPS.

Directions to parking lot: after passing the club on the right side, make a sharp right turn at the first intersection (Great Meadow Rd), and you will see a sign "141 Middlesex Turnpike" on your right. After parking your car, please take the long stairs and open a grayish metal door to enter the building, and walk upstairs to the club.

What to wear/bring: sneakers, long sports pants, water

About reschedule: If you choose to come on a different date, please make the change online from the link you signed up. You will need to login with your signupgenius account, and make the change at least 24 hours prior to class start time. No need to contact us for the online reschedule. If it’s within 24 hours, please send an email to ifa.boston@gmail.com to cancel your slot. In the no-show situation, the class will be considered as “taken” and you will lose your opportunity for a free trial.

if i want to continue to learn fencing after the trial, what should i do?

To continue to learn fencing at IFA, please take the following actions:
(1) Register as a USA fencing member (member.usafencing.org) and pay the non-competitive annual membership fee ($10 per year)
(2) Fill in the club membership form online: bit.ly/ifa-membership and pay the membership fee (not required for beginners)
(3) Sign up additional group classes on the same signup link for your trial class: beginners | intermediate | advanced
You can also sign up for private lessons with either coach. Coach Andrej | Coach Sergei
Please read the description carefully and understand the policy for reschedule or cancellation.
(4) Come to the group class on time. For private lessons, please arrive 10 minutes early.
(5) Additional information: please refer to member area (password required) and club policy.

Class signup is mandatory for all students. Please make sure your class signup and attendance are consistent. Coaches need to know who will come to the class so they can make appropriate training plans customized to the participants. In case of any changes in the class (for example, class cancellation due to weather), the students who signed up will be notified by email, text or phone call.

About tuition: Tuition is $25/hour ($37.5/1.5-hour or $50/2-hour class) and 10% discount for sibling discount in group classes (applies to the lesser amount). You don’t need to pay for the unattended classes as long as the class is cancelled before the start. No makeup is allowed for the no-show (and not cancelled) class.

About payment: Payment for beginners class is very flexible. Here are the options:
(1) Prepay - sign up for the classes in the current session and calculate the amount. For example, you sign up for 4 classes, and tuition will be $25*4=$100. The tuition can be adjusted at the end of session if there is any change.
(2) Pay as you go - pay $25 for each class ($22.5 for siblings)
(3) Pay with invoice - we will send you an invoice at the end of month or session.

For intermediate level or higher, the first session will be prorated based on the hourly rate ($25/hour), with the total amount not exceeding the group class tuition of the corresponding program. Starting from the next session, the tuition for group class is paid at the beginning of the session.

Payment method: Cash or check are accepted for all options. Invoice can also be paid online via bank account. Payments can be left in the red wood deposit box on the reception desk. Personal check can be dropped in the box directly (no envelope needed). If you choose to pay cash, please put it in the envelope and write the fencer’s name on the envelope. There are many envelopes on the side of the deposit box.

Additional training options: Sometimes you may have a schedule conflict and cannot make the weekly group class. In this situation, you can choose to sign up private lessons, or talk to coach to arrange semi-private lessons or small group classes.

About gears: Fencing gears are provided for the beginners class. However, if your child is very interested in fencing and would like to have his/her own gears, we could help you place an order. The full set include many items (fencing bag, mask, foil, glove, underarm protector, chest protector, jackets, pants, lame, fencing socks, body cord, mask cord), but for beginner students, you only need to get some of them (fencing bag, mask, foil, glove, maybe jacket & chest protector) to start with.

Students in intermediate program and higher must purchase their own gears. We will help order the gears for students. The full set costs $400-500. Back up foil and body cord are strongly recommended when the student comes to the class two or more times a week. Students who attend competitions can have separate mask, glove and lame for weapon check. In national competitions, it is required to have last name printed.

Group messages: Most fencing parents use wechat (a mobile app similar to whatsapp) group to stay connected (e.g. swap private lessons, look for missing gears, etc). Alternatively you can join the IFA facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/ifaboston/) to receive notifications or reminders of class schedule change.

When can I go to A fencing competition?

It usually takes 1-3 years after training in the intermediate program to get ready for competitions. Before making any decisions in attending the fencing tournaments, please ask coach for recommendations. You need to be a competitive member of United States Fencing Association (USFA) to be eligible in any fencing competitions. 

There are different levels of tournaments, including local, regional, national, and international. The events are posted in the bulletin board in club. You can also find them on www.usfencing.org or www.askfred.net.

What is the format of a fencing competition?

Fencing competitions for individual events usually consist of two rounds of bouting: pools and direct elimination (DE).

In the first round of “pools,” 5-8 fencers compete in a round of 5-touch/3 minute bouts. Pool results inform the seeding of the next round, Direct Elimination or “DE.”

The table for DE are based on the seeding after pools. For example, in the event of 32 fencers, the bouts for DE will be seed 1 vs. 32, seed 2 vs. 31, seed 3 vs. 30... seed 16 vs. 17. The 16 winners from this round of DE will enter the next round and fence for top 8, top 4, semi-final, and final bout. 

In most tournaments, the DE bouts are 15 touches (with the exception of Y10 at 10 touches), with one-minute breaks at three-minute intervals.  The bouts end when one fencer scores 15 touches or when three, three-minute periods elapse. If the bout is tied at this point, one fencer is awarded “advantage” by a coin toss.  The bout then continues until a touch is scored or one minute elapses.  If no touch is scored after a minute, the bout goes to the “advantage” fencer.  

What is USA Fencing?

USA Fencing is the recognized national governing body for the sport of fencing in the United States. USA Fencing was founded in 1891 as the Amateur Fencers League of America and changed its name to the United States Fencing Association in 1981. USA Fencing is affiliated with the Féderation Internationale d'Escrime(FIE), the international federation for fencing founded in Paris in 1913.

The mission of USA Fencing is to grow and promote the sport of fencing in the United States, honor its rich traditions, and to achieve sustained competitive international excellence. The vision is to inspire a lifetime enriched by fencing. Core values: Excellence, Respect, Teamwork, Inclusion, and Passion.

There are different types of memberships. All students are required to have the USA Fencing membership. The non-competitive membership costs $10 per year. 

Non-Competitive Membership:   

  • Includes secondary medical/accident insurance, but does not allow the member to vote or compete.

  • Magazine subscription and membership card are not included.

  • Membership can be upgraded.

Competitive Membership: 

  • Competitive members have the right to enter and compete in local, divisional, regional, and national-level competitions

  • Includes secondary medical/accident insurance

  • May vote in elections of the USA Fencing membership subject to the member voting age restriction and deadlines as to the date of membership or be a candidate for office in USA Fencing elections.

  • Magazine subscription and membership card are included.

What are the USFA ratings?

USFA ratings are a system of classification for USFA fencers; they are primarily used to seed tournaments, but are also considered to be broad indicators of skill. When a fencer first joins the USFA, he or she will have a classification of "U", or "Unrated." There are six different ratings in the USFA those being U (the lowest rating), E, D, C, B, A (the highest rating). Fencers may increase their classification—from U to E, and then up to A—by placing in USFA-sanctioned tournaments. A tournament must have a certain amount of competitors, and those competitors must maintain a certain ratio of classifications, for the top fencers to be eligible for ratings.

USFA Classification Chart

Note: Cadet and youth events do not use the E1 or D1 classifications. This means that those events are "NR" until they achieve a C1 level or higher.

Event

Minimum
Fencers

Rated
Fencers
Required

Rated
Fencers
Must
Finish

Classifications
Awarded

Group E1

6

NONE

N/A

1

E

Group D1

15


4 E's
(or higher)

2 E's
(or higher)
in top 8

1
2-4

D
E

Group C1

15

2 C's &
2 D's &
2 E's
(or higher)

2 C's &
2 D's
(or higher)
in top 8

1
2-4
5-8

C
D
E

Group C2

25

4 D's &
4 E's
(or higher)

4 D's
(or higher)
in top 8

1
2-4
5-8

C
D
E

Group C3

64

24 D's &
12 E's
(or higher)

4 D's
in top 8 &
4 E's
(or higher)
in top 12

1-4
5-8
9-16

C
D
E

Group B1

15

2 B's &
2 C's &
2 D's
(or higher)

2 B's &
2 C's
(or higher)
in top 8

1
2-4
5-6
7-8

B
C
D
E

Group B2

25

2 B's &
2 C's &
2 D's
(or higher)

2 B's &
2 C's
(or higher)
in top 8

1
2-4
5-8
9-12

B
C
D
E

Group B3

64

24 C's &
12 D's
(or higher)

4 C's
in top 8 &
4 D's
(or higher)
in top 12

1-4
5-8
9-16
17-32

B
C
D
E

Group A1

15

2 A's &
2 B's &
2 C's
(or higher)

2 A's &
2 B's
(or higher)
in top 8

1
2
3-4
5-6
7-8

A
B
C
D
E

Group A2

25

2 A's &
2 B's &
2 C's
(or higher)

2 A's &
2 B's
(or higher)
in top 8

1
2-4
5-8
9-10
11-12

A
B
C
D
E

Group A3

64

24 B's &
12 C's
(or higher)

4 B's
in top 8 &
4 C's
(or higher)
in top 12

1-4
5-8
9-16
17-24
25-32

A
B
C
D
E

Group A4

64

12 A's &
12 B's &
12 C's
(or higher)

4 A's
in top 8 &
4 B's
(or higher)
in top 12

1-8
9-16
17-24
25-32
33-48

A
B
C
D
E

What are the competitive age groups?

Competitive age groups in US Fencing are:

  • Youth 10 (7-10 years old)

  • Youth 12 (9-12 years old)

  • Youth 14 (11-14 years old)

  • Cadet, a.k.a Under 16 (13-16 years old)

  • Junior, a.k.a. Under 19 (13-19 years old)

  • Senior (13 years old and above)

  • Veteran Open (40 years old and above)

  • Veteran 40 (40-49 years old)

  • Veteran 50 (50-59 years old)

  • Veteran 60 (60-69 years old)

  • Veteran 70 (70 years old and above)

What are the competitive skill groups?

Typically, age-restricted competitions, like Y14, or Vet50, are not further restricted to a skill level. Senior competitions, however, are sometimes further restricted at local or regional competitions, to, say, "novice" (beginners), unrated, A, and similar. At National-level events, senior fencers are sub-divided into the following skill-level groups:

  • Division III (Unrated, E, and D-rated)

  • Division II (Unrated, E, D, and C-rated)

  • Division I (C, B, and A-rated)

What does "USFA-sanctioned competition" mean?

The competition is "USFA-sanctioned" if it has been approved by the US Fencing Association. Please ask the competition organizers if the competition is USFA-sanctioned or not. To compete in the USFA-sanctioned competition, you have to be a USFA member, you have to fence in complete regulation equipment, and strips have to be equipped with electronic scoring equipment. Some competitions are open to all USFA members, and some (qualifiers for Junior Olympics and for the National Championships in particular) are restricted to USFA members from a particular geographical region.