The pitfalls of worshipping “A” rated fencers
“It is not titles that honor men, but men that honor titles.” — Niccolo Machiavelli
“If you see me in a fight with a bear, pray for the bear.” —Unknown
At a certain point in my fencing career, I stopped caring about titles, rankings and the “who’s who” of the fencing world and instead began to focus on my own technique, rigorous training and attention to detail in my bouting/tactics. I stopped psyching myself out before facing higher ranked opponents and developed the confidence and willpower to believe I could beat anyone in my weapon. Sometime during this epiphany, I got an “A” rating. By that point, I hardly cared.
For whatever reason, many fencers hold some sacred reverence for their fellow athletes who possess an “A” rating, which is the highest national rating a fencer can attain. For those who may or may not know, the United States Fencing Association (USFA) ranks its fencers on a scale of “A” through “U” (U being unrated).
I’ve written about ratings in the past, namely, an article about getting students to focus on the mental journey they must take to avoid focusing on ratings and the conversations a coach must have with students to ensure they approach tournaments with a combative mentality. In this article, I hope to challenge the notion that A’s deserve some heightened level of respect than their peers.