Frequently Asked Questions

What are the IFA club membership benefits?

The membership benefits include the following:

  • Eligibility to take private lessons with coach
  • Discounts on fencing programs and camps
  • Assistance with fencing gear order and repair through club
  • Facilities for fencing practice
  • Eligibility for strip coaching in competitions

Club membership fee applies to students at intermediate level or above. No membership fee required for beginners. 

What Fencing programs does IFA offer?

Currently we offer the following fencing programs: beginners, intermediate, youth competitive, cadet, and advanced 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

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 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.

What are the IFA Water Program?

The IFA water program is an optional program open to all members. Under this program, the fencers do not need to bring his/her own drinking water for training. Instead, they take turns to send in the selected type of bottled water, about once or twice a year. 

Currently all advanced, youth competitive and cadet fencers have participated in this program. Students from intermediate program are welcome to join, but not required. The cost is estimated to be around $20-50 per year. For members not in this program, the water can be purchased at 50 cents per bottle. 

The participants are expected to (1) write his initials on the bottle cap before opening (2) bring the bottle with remaining water out of the club. Only empty bottles can be thrown to the recycle bin.