Why your “Fencing Birthday” is Different than your Real Birthday?webmaster
Starting competitive fencing can be confusing, especially when we start learning about national points, ratings, qualifications.
We covered this subject in the past, and saved it for our readers on this page, however, there is more…
You got your fencing gear in your brand new rolling bag, your shiny weapons, body cords, tips and screws, and saved a few events for your age group to your calendar. The next question is: which events exactly can you fence?
A youth fencer can fence in both their age category and in the age category directly above them. Choosing one category over another depends on your fencing experience and mostly, on your goals. Goals are something to discuss with your private lessons fencing coach, that should be able to help you create a plan, and support you throughout your fencing journey.
Age divisions in fencing
Youth fencing has three age divisions:
- Youth 10
- Youth 12
- Youth 14
Note that Youth 8 isn’t officially recognized by USA Fencing (not sanctioned), but if it’s available it’s a great way to get started.
Your fencing birthday
In fencing, everyone celebrates their birthday at the start of every year. This means that everyone is the same age from January 1st to December 31st, no matter when their real birthday is. Rather than categorizing fencers by how old they actually are based on their date of birth, USA Fencing categorizes fencers based on the year they were born in, and it starts over at the start of the next fencing season.
For instance: if someone was born on September 17, 2011, they would be categorized as being ten years old starting on August 1st, 2021 (when the fencing season started) even though they haven’t had a birthday yet, but they will age out and become fencers in Y12 category on August 1, 2022 (for the next season), even they are still 10 years old, and not even 11 year old!
Once a fencer ages out of Y12, for the next two seasons they are able to fence in every category of Y14, Cadet, Junior, and Senior all the way to Veteran thanks to the rules that allow fencers to jump to the category ahead.
That means that in addition to Y14, Cadet, and Junior events, they can fence in at least two of the Senior Divisions.
For example, a 13 years old (A or B-rated) fencer can fence Division I and Division IA.
A 13-years old C-rated fencer can fence in Division I, Division II, and Division IA.
13-years old (D, E, or unrated) can fence in Division II, Division III, and Division IA.
And of course, on top of these Senior Divisions, this fencer is eligible to fence any Cadet and Junior event.
(see the Explanation of the USFA Letter Ratings here).
This explains why we often see many Y14 fencers fencing multiple events at the Summer Nationals.
The USA Fencing Athlete Handbook is the best place to check what events you can qualify for. Keep in mind that your fencing age-eligibility doesn’t change all season long – whatever a fencer is at the beginning of the season based on their birth year, that’s what they’ll be all season long. Just remember that for all but Cadet and Junior age groups the season is August through July, and for Cadet and Juniors it starts and ends in mid-February, with Junior Olympics Championships.
There is no reason to fear aging out of an age group, as long as you’re getting ready by fencing up as soon as you’re eligible for it.
One can celebrate his fencing birthday by adding new goals to his plan, and by looking back at the way they made progress from the beginning of their fencing journey.