We All Played With Swords

Fayetteville, North Carolina is home to the largest military instillation in the world, and a place that many in the Army and Air Force communities call home.  I would like to share with you a special part of Fayetteville, the All American Fencing Academy.  Today, I shine the spotlight on a community that I believe exemplifies the Corvias Alumni values: Imagine, Empower, Reach Higher.  If any of you Corvias kids are in North Carolina, then you ought to drop by and see for yourself.

The All American Fencing Academy is located just off Hay St. on the second floor of what used to be a ballet studio.  You can take month long beginners classes with equipment provided for only $80, or you can stop in any fourth Friday of the month for a $10 walk-in class.  They have opportunities for anybody interested in recreational fencing or competitive, for children as young as seven and adults of all ages.

This entire business and community is the life work of one man, Gerhard Guevarra.  Gerhard graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a B.A. in Physical Education, Exercise, and Sports Science.   He joined the Carolina Varsity Fencing team and learned from scratch under Fencing Master Dr. Ron Miller.  Gerhard founded his own fencing school shortly after college as an after school program at a rec center.  His classes ballooned with students from all over central North Carolina, and he moved his fledgling school onto Fort Bragg, founding a stronger relationship with the military community.

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I began attending fencing classes with Gerhard when in 2002, when I was twelve, and found myself consumed by both mental and physical elements of the sport.  At sixteen, Gerhard offered me a job as assistant coach and manager, and he began to teach me leadership skills and financial responsibility.  I was one of Gerhard’s first competitive students, traveling as far as Atlanta to participate in North Atlantic Cups and Junior Olympic Qualifiers.  The early All American squad was made up predominately of Army brats like me.  Gerhard would eventually recommend me to his Dr. Miller, and I competed for three years with UNC-Chapel Hill’s Varsity men’s epee team.

You should check out fencing.  It’s a really fun way to exercise and challenge yourself. Gerhard likes to remind his students that the second fastest moving object in the Olympic Games is the tip of a fencer’s weapon (second only to a marksmen’s bullet) – but you shouldn’t feel intimidated.  Fencing is a safe sport even with swords: you’re wearing protective gear and in the presence of trained professionals.  Fencing is as much a mental sport as it is physical, everyone has the ability to succeed.  If you’ve ever been interested in fencing and you’re near Fayetteville, you must visit.  Tell them Paul sent you.

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