July 23, 2013
By Christina Corrales-Toy
Washington Fencing Academy carries on the tradition of centuries-old sport
The sport of fencing is often associated with a certain aristocratic air, possibly perpetuated by film depictions and the sheer history of the pastime.
To those unfamiliar with the sport, fencing is simply the means by which storied characters such as Zorro, or The Three Musketeers, vanquish their enemies.
Those who are close to the sport understand that it is much more than that. It is a sport of respect, chivalry and craft.
Issaquah is home to one of the state’s most prominent fencing schools, the Washington Fencing Academy. The school is committed to teaching and developing competitive and recreational athletes.
“There is a certain romance about fencing because of its history and how it’s been portrayed in film,” Washington Fencing Academy co-founder Serge Timacheff said.
As one of the oldest sports in existence, fencing has an allure to those who are seeking a nontraditional form of exercise, Timacheff said.
“There are plenty of people who fence and they’re jocks, but there are also plenty of people who fence who probably wouldn’t do another sport,” he said.
The main skill needed to excel at fencing is superb footwork, something that the academy works diligently to instill in its students, co-founder Kevin Mar said.
“Fifty percent of the fencing game, and that’s including all of the blade work, endurance and things like that, is really about footwork,” he said. “If you think about it, the distance that you can extend your arm, unless you’re growing, is not going to change. So, you have to move your feet to get in and out of that distance.”
On the Web
Learn more about the Washington Fencing Academy at www.washingtonfencing.com.
The academy offers fencing classes for all ages and skill levels, and draws most of its students from Issaquah, Bellevue, Mercer Island and Sammamish.
The co-founders often use their international fencing connections to attract top-tier visitors. An Egyptian Olympian, young fencers from Japan and some of the best fencers in the country have visited the academy.
“What we do should be more than just fencing. We actually want to add a holistic approach to it and offer those cultural exchanges,” Mar said.
Mar is an internationally rated fencing referee, while Timacheff is the official photographer for the International Fencing Federation.
Washington Fencing Academy stands out from other local fencing clubs because of its intimate connections with students, said Issaquah resident Kyle Margolies, an instructor at the school.
“I know that other fencers have come from other clubs, and it’s very impersonal there,” he said. “Here, you come to have fun, to learn about fencing and to improve your game.”
While the sport may have an elite reputation, it is really quite accessible and affordable, Timacheff said.
“It’s a very safe sport with combat, which appeals to people,” Mar said. “It’s also a lifetime sport. At nationals, you have people that are in their 90s still competing.”
Timacheff and Mar founded the academy 12 years ago, but they did not have their own brick-and-mortar building until two years ago.
“One of the first places we taught 12 years ago was in the Issaquah Community Center, so we’ve been associated with Issaquah for a long time,” Timacheff said. “This has always been our hub.”
The Washington Fencing Academy recently changed facilities and now occupies a space on Issaquah’s Northwest Mall Street, which might as well be called sports row, Mar said.
“We are very excited about being on this street, just because there is so much sports activity,” he said. “We have Gymnastics East over here, we have Issaquah Dance, we have martial arts right behind us, Sports Authority is just across the street. It’s a little corridor of sports.”