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AFM Newsletter #95 - August 2021, photo by Hassan Ammar

“Oh, My God!” Lee Kiefer screamed with disbelief just as her last golden touch landed and her title of Women’s Foil Olympic Champion 2020!  Her face showed all of the incredible emotion that is beyond imagination because this is a moment for any fencer that is beyond imagination. Well earned, hard-fought, and yet still so impossible to comprehend. “ Oh My God!”  is the same sentiment that ran through our own hearts as we watched the remarkable athletes from countries all over the world making the impossible possible and redefining human achievement and ability. 

Every Olympic Games is exciting, but the 2020 Olympics has been much more. This year, we are coming back out of something that is so far down, so challenging, that the highs of the Olympics seem even higher than they have before. A year ago, no one could have dreamed that we would be pulled out of the dire straits of the pandemic to see the podium rise in Tokyo. It is truly unbelievable that we got here. 

The two breathtaking weeks of glory, victory, breakdowns, and losses make this an extraordinary moment to be inspired. The two weeks of the Games give us an insight into the human experience of what seem to be superhuman athletes. We know that they are just like each of us, only with a focus and determination that we can grab onto and that will help propel us forward. We are witnesses of the triumph of the human spirit and strengths. 

What is the difference between an ordinary person and an elite athlete? It has everything to do with their mental capacity and their indomitable tenacity.  At AFM, we can see this in our students and in our coaches, and echo of that same spirit of will and desire to grow. Even for an Olympian, the opponent is always the self. 

We have seen so many beautiful triumphs of the USA Olympic Team. Right now, the medal count stands at 45 for the United States, 16 of them Gold. That might well change by the time you read this! The Olympics is a moment of extreme pride for our country, in addition to being a unifying moment for the world. 

As a fencing community, we are all wowed and proud to see Lee Kiefer make history in USA foil fencing when she took the Gold medal in the individual event. Lee won the third fencing Gold in United States history when she beat defending champion Inna Deriglazova of Russia 15-13 in the women's foil final.   

The takeaway for us at AFM has to be a tremendous boost of excitement and inspiration for us to start our new season. We carry forward the belief that we move towards our goals one class, one lesson, one touch at a time. The Olympic champions of tomorrow are training right now today. It is not about the podium, it is about the journey of self-development, but the Olympic dream can inspire us to move forward. 

August also means the start of school, and we know that our fencers will have a lot going on now that in-person school is on again in California. What a wonderful thing! This is going to be a time of adjustment, even as we are all so excited to get back to seeing our school friends in person and being in our classes. Know that AFM is here to help you balance your fencing training and the academic realities. Our community is a warm and wonderful place to develop, and we know that we can come to this together. As schedules shift and kids get busy, please reach out to us if you need anything. We are in this together!

Hurray for a new school year, for the joy of the Olympics, and for savoring the last few weeks of summer!!


USA Fencing National Championships, JOs, and July NAC

AFM could not be more proud of our own champions and competitors at Fencing Summer Nationals, the Junior Olympics, and the July NAC. 

All told, was represented by about 70 fencers in 163 fencing entrees in the Summer Nationals 2021. We saw 10 national medals across all age categories, from the youngest Y10 fencer to the most experienced Vet 70 fencer! It’s not only the medals that count, though. We had a lot of fantastic finishes in the top 16 and in the top 32, with our fencers demonstrating excellent fencing at each tournament. 

Here’s a complete list of our results from the competitions!

  • Leehi Machulsky - medaled in the July Challenge both in Cadet and Junior Women’s Epee! Leehi also won Bronze in Junior Women’s Epee USA Championship!  
    AFM ROCKET, Leehi Machulsky showed outstanding fencing during Summer Nationals, demonstrated such a strong character, hard work, and champion's desire to win - Leehi won a Bronze medal in the Junior Women's Epee USA Championship!!! She lost in her last bout by one touch! Wow! What a fantastic result! Our best congratulations to Leehi and her parents, and to her personal coach Zhanna Bikkina! Congratulations to the whole outstanding AFM Epee Coaching Team - you are the BEST! Congratulations to Leehi's teammates! It is a team effort and we all are very proud and happy for Leehi and the whole epee team! Way to go!  Go AFM!

  • Gabrielle Gebala - medaled in Cadet Women’s Foil, Bronze in Y14, and earned her A rating!
    Gabrielle is always full of positive energy and determination on the strip, showing her outstanding character and growing fencing skills in every event including the highest national-level competitions! In the Summer Nationals Gabrielle got amazing results in many events! She wowed her opponents and coaches by her performance in the Cadet Women’s Foil, competing in Cadets, which is two levels up from her current age category Youth 12.  Cadet Women's Foil event was at the Junior Olympics portion of the Summer Nationals in Philadelphia, and Gabrielle made it to the top 8 finish and earned A rating! Congratulations to her private Coach Natasha, who trains her from age 6,  and to coach Bogdan, who always is there for her to support in classes and competitions! We are very proud of you, Gabrielle! 
    Great job also by Cici Sun on the same event of Cadet Women’s Foil with finishing 19th! Way to go Cici!

  • Sean Sung - Silver in Div2 Men’s Foil!
    Sean is a great example of down to earth guy who always works hard, being the first to come and often the last to leave the club. He is never late to training and always gives 100% in each class and lesson, being an outstanding athlete and teammate! Coach Bogdan Gurinenko trains Sean for few years and always believes in him! Sean juggles lots of training with perfect academic achievements, and he is always the first one to sign up to competitions and camps! Sean, your hard work is remarkable and it paid off! One-touch from the title of Champion Division 2! 14:15 was a breathtaking moment for everyone who watched the final, and we are super proud of you! 

  • Victor Ma - Silver in Div2 Men’s Epee and earned his B rating! 
    Congratulations to Victor Ma for winning a Silver medal at Division 2 Men’s Epee and earning B rating! Great job Victor! 
    Congratulations to Victor's parents, and his personal coach Alexander Maximovich, who always believed in Victor and trained him to the maximum potential! 

  • Alber Wu - Bronze in Y10 Men’s Foil!
    Congratulations to Alber, his parents, and his personal coach from the first steps in fencing Natasha Maxomovich! Alber always trains hard, and dreams big! Alber is the youngest member of our foul competitive class, but he never gives up in all drills and training! Working hard, he always keeps smiling and never shows that he may be tired! We are so proud of you, Alber - way to go! 

  • Natalie Gebala - medaled in Div1A Women's Epee! 
    Congratulations to Natalie, her parents, and all her coaches! Natalie trained for few years with Slava Zingerman, and recently in the last three months trains under Alexander Maximovich's guidance. She works fantastic with all AFM coaches, and is a hard-working role model for so many teammates and younger fencers! Way to go! 

    Recently, Natalie and her sister Gabrielle both won National medals in Philadelphia!! Wow, amazing results and the hard work pays off! Congratulations to the outstanding Gebala family!  Marah, and Robert, you work very hard supporting two daughters, one in foil and one in epee, you deserve this special celebration of the great finish for both f the girls in 2020-2021 season! Way to go! 

  • Suzanne Bloomer - medaled in Vet50 Women’s Epee! 
    Susanne really deserves her title of national medalist because of her dedication and shared joy of fencing with so many fencers that are lucky to know her! Congratulations, Suzanne! We are so proud of you! 

  • Junior Men’s Epee Team - top 8!!
    AFM Junior men’s Epee team made it to the top 8 finish!!!  What a great fencing and team spirit!  We are really proud of you, guys! Congratulations and a big round of applause to Ben Kim, Alec Zhang, and Allan Chu - way to go!! Way to go!
    All epee coaches are very proud of the Epee boys. The team, initially seeded 29 out of 32 teams, comprised of One member rated U, one member who had his first NAC and all of them were fencing for the first time in the teams, showed a real character and finished in top 8, upsetting much stronger, experienced and older junior teams. Pride and honor! Great job to the coaches and especially to Dima today with the team!

  • Jere Bothelio - Silver in Vet 70 Men’s Epee!
    Congratulations to Jere Bothelio for taking Silver in Vet70 Men’s Epee event! Yay to our veterans! Jere is always here for us and is super supportive of all our fencers and our pillar in veterans' fencing. It a pure joy to fence against Jere in open bouting and we know we can always come to him for support and advice.
    Way to go, Jere!

  • Alan Buchwald - 8th place medal in Veteran Men’s Foil 70!
    Congratulations to Alan Buchwald, our foil veteran for winning 8th place medal in Veteran Men's Foil 70 in the Summer Nationals, Philadelphia! Alan, you continue to inspire us all! Congratulations to you, your family, and coach Alexander Maximovich who always believes in you! Way to go!

    Also, congratulations to all AFM teams with performance in the Summer Nationals and showing a great team spirit! Team events are a great way to bond with friends, showing the attitude of the "All for one and one for all "  motto of NCAA and all national teams! It was fun and fantastic training! 

After the last year and a half of adapted training and incredible stress, these fantastic performances show just how resilient our fencing community is. Thank you to everyone who supported our athletes - families, friends, coaches, and staff. These strong finishes at national competitions show what is possible with a strong work ethic and a focus in the face of adversity. Thank you and many congratulations to our athletes!

Go, AFM! Thank you, AFM  coaches and families! 





We’re in a new fencing season starting August 1st! All fencers need to check-in and update their membership for the new season.

Everyone who participates in any fencing activities at AFM, whether it’s camp, class, private lessons, or competitions, MUST update their membership in order to take part. A current USA Fencing membership is essential. Remember,  fencers, are not permitted to participate in club activities without having it current. 

It’s a simple process of logging into your USFA account and updating your information. If you have any questions about how to do this, then please contact someone at AFM for support. 

Renew at


There are two big regionals coming up that offer qualifications for the Junior Olympics and Fencing Summer Nationals 2022. Yes! We are already thinking towards next summer - just a little. 

What’s great about getting points or qualification standing now is that you’ll get a jump on the competition for next year. These competitions also offer a great warm-up for the season, particularly following the pandemic. For fencers who want to get back into the swing of things and find their flow, we encourage you to join these regional fencing tournaments.

In about a week or two there will be published the whole list of 2021-2022 season competitions, and we will send out and share our recommendations and AFM designated competition. 


1. TFC FallFest Div2 

Where: San Jose, CA

When: August 21-22

Who: Div2 & VET

Registration: August 8, with late entry until August 15

Right in our backyard, this is the first big competition that kicks off the season. It’s an excellent opportunity for fencers to get started right away and move forward with chipping away at qualification for next summer. Check out the link below for registration information!

  2. Fortune Fencing RJCC/ROC 

Where: Ontario, CA

When: September 4-6

Who: Div1A, Div2, VET, Junior, & Cadet

Registration: August 16, with late entry until August 30

This one gives points and rank towards both Fencing Summer Nationals and the Junior Olympics for the 2021-2022 season. It’s close by, conducred during the Labor Day weekend, so no school is missed, and so it’s a great one to check out! Click on the link below for registration.

Epee Athlete of the Year - Leehi Machulsky


It has truly been an epic year for Leehi Machulsky as she pushed through the hardest moments to find her way to growth and success. Even in such an unprecedented year Leehi won several national medals, and got a Bronze medal in Junior Women's Epee in the Summer Nationals! We congratulate her on winning AFM’s Epee Athlete of the Year!

Leehi is a powerful athlete and a sharply intelligent young person who shows compassion and excitement in everything she does. As a long-time epee fencer at AFM, we have had the privilege of watching her grow through this sport and become an inspiration to her teammates. She started her fencing journey with coach Alexander, continued to grow and learn from the wisdom of all epee coaches at AFM. For the last two years, Leehi's personal coach is coach Zhanna Bikkina. 

Leehi demonstrates consistent excellence and diligent devotion to crafting her fencing. She puts in the work to improve, and all along the way she keeps the bright and buoyed attitude that we can all learn from. With her bright smile, it looks like Leehi works for hours with the effortless look like she is never tired or is superhuman. Such dedication and outstanding sportsmanship raise everyone's spirit up even on difficult days! Her bright smile supports her friends at AFM and beyond! Congratulations Leehi! Way to go!


Foil Athlete of the Year - Gabrielle Gebala 


For such a young athlete, Gabrielle goes above and beyond in every capacity. She is outstanding in her ability to be organized and thoughtful while thinking ahead, both in the moment on the strip and in her wider goals in fencing. 

Gabrielle trains with her beloved coach Natasha as her only personal coach from age 6! They understand one another without words, and this duo of the dedicated coach and athlete is truly remarkable! Gabrielle also has a great ability to wonderfully work with all foil coaches in classes and outside in the competitions.  Through her work with Coach Natasha and Coach Bogdan, Gabrielle has come into her own this year, despite the tremendous challenges in competing and in training. Her foil skills continue to grow and she is well on the path to reach her fencing dreams. These accomplishments are certainly on the beginning for her, but what an incredible way to begin. 

We are constantly inspired by her hard work and her positive attitude, as well as her focus and tenacity in competition and training. A huge congratulations to Gabrielle Gebala on winning AFM’s Foil Athlete of the Year!

2021-2022 New Season Schedule & New Classes


Our class schedule is going to stay mostly the same for the 2021-2022 season, but there are a couple of changes to share. 

  • Competitive Foil in Campbell - we’ll expand to 2 classes starting this fall

  • Beginner Epee

    • Campbell - Saturday, 4-5:30 pm (for 7 and 8 y.o. new fencers)

    • Sunnyvale -  Tuesday, 4-5:30 pm (mixed ages) 

If you are a beginner epee student and need a new time slot, please contact us so that we can get you enrolled in one of these two new classes!

Other than these additions, the schedule for the new season will remain the same as it is currently. We are still working through reopening, and we are hopeful that we’ll be able to continue moving forward with our current schedule. It’s exciting to be opening new classes!

Price Adjustment 

In the last three seasons AFM has kept our prices the same. Unfortunately, Inflation doesn’t slow down for anyone, the cost of operation of two of our beautiful campuses was constantly going up, and travel expenses for coaches are way up after the pandemic when all hotels and airlines raised their prices. For these reasons, we must raise our prices to adjust to the current costs. 

Effective September 1st, AFM’s prices will change by about 5% to adjust for inflation, to the following:


  1. Beginner - $225/m (no change)

  2. Intermediate - $360/m

  3. Advanced - $440/m

  4. Competitive - $540/m

Strip Coaching

Also, our competition strip coaching fees will be adjusted as follows:

Local - $50/event 

Travel - $200 first event, $100 each additional event

We appreciate your training with AFM, and we value every member of our club. Thank you for trusting us with your fencing education and being a part of an outstanding AFM fencing community! Your tremendous support and dedication to the sport of fencing are highly appreciated!


Private Lessons

One of the backbones of great fencing training are private fencing lessons. These allow fencers to refine their skills with the individual attention of an expert coach, and this leads to growth that can’t happen any other way. These are a necessary extension of fencing classes, and our program is designed to incorporate them. 

Private lessons in fencing last up to twenty minutes. If you’re curious about why our lessons are so short, please check out this blog piece on why private fencing lessons are so short - there are great reasons behind it!

Only members of AFM can take private lessons. Please keep in mind that you can always schedule additional lessons, especially ahead of competitions. 

Fencers at AFM can sign up for private fencing lessons through our online portal. Be sure to cancel your lesson online if needed at least 24 hours in advance, or else you’ll be charged for your lesson. You can always reach out to us if you have any questions!


The most important thing for us is the safety of our students. This extends both to fencing itself and to pandemic safety. 

As we begin the new season, we’ll start every class with full reminders of our safety policies. Fencing is an extremely safe sport with very low rates of injury, but this low rate is because we are so consistent in our vigilance about safe practices. 

Parents, we appreciate your help keeping your kids in touch with what the rules are. After the time of training at home so much through the pandemic, fencers became accustomed to having their weapons at home. The safety precautions in the club are an extension, and we can never reinforce these practices too much. 

Here are two of our articles that will help you to check if your child completely understands all AFM safety rules (especially for the younger kids): 

1.Important Fencing Safety Rules

2. Fencing Safety Rules [Infographic]

As for pandemic safety, we will continue to follow the guidelines set out by the local and state governments. Masking is required for everyone indoors while they train at AFM, and we continue to use hand sanitizing protocols and adhere to social distancing practices. These are all old hat at this point, but it is always worth emphasizing. 

Again, thank you so much for your help and consistency! Your children’s safety is the gateway that allows them to learn and grow through fencing. 

Introduction to fencing classes


Our Intro to Fencing classes are now open for enrollment!

These classes are a wonderful opportunity for siblings and friends to join in fencing. We have said it before, but we’ll continue to say it - fencing is a fantastic sport to practice, in and out of a pandemic. With social distancing requirements, fencing is so easy to maintain distance and safety. Kids can learn something that is unique and fun, all while families can feel comfortable that they will be ok. 

One of the best things about fencing is the camaraderie that we build. There is nothing like having a go at your friends or siblings with a sword to build your friendship and affection for each other! Not only that, but fencing also builds mental and physical health and stamina. It’s just a great thing to have all around, and it’s always better with more people.

There are open spots in both of our locations for introduction to fencing classes, and the start of the school year and the season is a great moment to engage with a new sport. Please, spread the word to your friends and family so that we can help others to learn the love of fencing!

AFM Red Hoodies and AFM Patches are available!

Our red AFM jackets or hoodies make us a distinctive presence in competitions. We all feel huge pride when we wear them, not only because we are supporting our AFM team, but also because we feel connected to our strong fencing community. The hoodie should be worn with pride during warmup and downtime to show how proud you are to be a part of our AFM family of fencers.

AFM patches with logo should be put on the non-fencing arm of the fencing white jacket. Please purchase them in the offices in both locations. 

Fencers should have both the patch and red jacket or hoodie during competitions and wear AFM uniforms on the podium.  It’s all about belonging and team spirit!

Follow AFM on Social Media

If you aren’t already, we ask that you follow AFM on social media. You can find us on Instagram at @academyoffencingmasters or on Facebook at 

This is a great way to keep in touch with what’s going on at AFM and in the wider fencing world. You’ll find pictures, articles, and all kinds of great information about fencing. 

If you’re already following us on social media, please like and share our posts! It’s an important way that you can support the AFM community. Thank you!

Labor Day

AFM will be closed on Labor Day!

Please go out and enjoy the time with your family.

Come back ready for fencing!

Copyright © *|August 2021|* *|Academy of Fencing Masters|*, All rights reserved.

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