Who's Who - about the coaches and the many other specialists who support us.
Training Times & Places - about the session times and the excellent venue.
Background - about the club, some of our achievements and how it all started.
The resident coaches at Shakespeare's Swords are:
David Kirby currently the British Cadet Women's Sabre coach, the Fencing Master at Eton College and the West Midlands sabre specialist. David founded the present system at KES in 1996 after attending the youth world championships with Mike Johnson from KES. Now acts as the Director of Coaching for the West Midlands Sabre Centre of Excellence (the Squad). David attended the international coaching course in the Budapest Sports University in 2002 and holds an Hungarian fencing master's diploma in all three weapons. David coaches in Eton, and several schools and clubs in Oxfordshire and Wiltshire, including Banbury and Shrivenham and, of course, in Stratford. David was coach to one of the BBC's Born to Win programme finalists in 2003.
Peter Rome - currently the Republic of Ireland's Youth Sabre coach and trained the Irish youth team for several recent world youth championships and is King Edward VI School's coach. Peter has been working with the WM SCoE since 1999. He also attended the international coaching course in the Budapest Sports University in 2003 and holds an Hungarian fencing master's diploma in all three weapons. In addition to KES, Peter coaches around Warwickshire, in Coventry and Malvern.
Tom Olphin - is reading Sports Science at Birmingham University and is assistant to Peter Rome at Shakespeare's Swords' centre in Stratford on Avon at KES. He brings training science to the squad with his fencing expertise and his responsibilities include the conditioning preparation of the athletes for fencing competition and training.
Captain of Fencing for 2003 at King Edward VI School:
- Tom started fencing when he arrived at KES in September 1997. He has competed internationally at u13, u15 u17 & u20 levels. Tom was selected for the England Youth team at the age of 16 and also hopes to be picked to fence in the World Cup series as part of the British junior squad. Tom is one of the great success stories of KES fencing. He arrived at KES as one of the least aspiring sportsmen, uncoordinated and unfit; he leaves with his national colours after fencing for the England Youth sabre team in 2003.
As the first point of contact for the young fencers, any questions about the sport or the KES fencing club can be directed to him in school.
In addition, Shakespeare's Swords is supported by many specialists, who offer their time, very often freely, to the youngsters to help them in their quest for excellence:
Dr Jonathan Katz PhD is the British Fencing Association's sports psychologist and a British fencing master.
Paul Claridge BSc is one the national power lifting coaches and the head of physical education at the national college for the disabled at Hereward College in Coventry. Paul advises the squad members on fitness training and injury prevention.
Dr David James PhD is a sports physiologist who travelled with the British Olympic team to Atlanta. He was one of the Evesham pentathletes and has worked with David since 1986. He is currently lecturing at GlosCat.
We have many other individuals on who we call when we need. We have Doctors,
orthopaedic and medical specialists, surgeons and GPs. Nurses and
Doctors help out at competitions, they give us advice for our training
regimes. Physiotherapists and sports therapists help out with advice
and clinics. Many fencing masters have given master classes and
Shakespeare's Swords has, without doubt, potentially one of the
best coaching teams available to fencing in the UK. And we have
the fencers to match.
Back to top
TRAINING TIMES & PLACES
Fencing in Shakespeare's Swords takes place, in term time, on Mondays from 7-9 pm and Wednesdays from 4-7pm, usually in the Levi Fox Hall at King Edward VI School, Chapel Lane, Stratford upon Avon. Sometimes KES needs its hall and we move to the gym or the lecture theatre; we are usually around somewhere in the school.
Young novice fencing is from 4-6 pm each Wednesday.
There are normally two sessions running in the evening, with the more serious session commencing at about 5 till 7pm. Individual lessons are normally available in the club sessions for those who want them.
A typical evening might be:
4.00pm Start of novice session - warm up, games, footwork
4.30pm Senior group arrive - begin warm up and fitness training games (football, basketball)
5.00pm Group fencing lesson and free structured play for novice session
5.30pm Senior group begin footwork and training session
6.15pm Senior group fencing instruction and practice
Individual private lessons can be arranged with any of the coaches during the day or evening.
fencing Salle is the Levi Fox Hall, a building purpose built for
fencing training and competitions. It has a £0.25M national standard
sprung floor marked with nine permanent pistes, which are used for
training and competitions. It has a 15m run of 2m high mirror to
practice techniques and skills and the hall itself is nearly 30mx20m.
As an acoustic hall it makes coaching easy as the clashing of blades
and sound of voices do not echo through the building. The Levi fox
Hall is prepared for football, basketball, cricket nets, badminton
and of course fencing. We have a further area in the gymnasium with
another three pistes and basketball court.
For tournaments there is a built-in PA system in the Hall, a refreshment
area with kitchen and comfortable chairs and spectator balcony viewing,
which allows uninterrupted view of any piste from anywhere on the
spectators' stand. It has the facility for raised pistes in varying
combinations for gala finals. The Levi Fox Hall is probably the
finest fencing training venue in Britain.
Back to top
In 2001, King Edward VI School fencing club registered their name "Shakespeare's Swords" with the British Fencing Association, finally absorbing all the fencers they had trained over the years into the family of KES. But it had begun a little before that.
Fencing has been part of the sporting life of King Edward VI School for over 25 years. The present coach, David Kirby, began training the school fencers once a week for games for the upper school in 1987. In those days fencing was in the TA Drill Hall in Old Town. There were foilists and two particular sabreurs, Dhugal and Adrian Bedford. They encouraged a group of youngsters which included Adam Reece, who was the first to be selected for the England youth sabre team in 1989.
The club grew, and an after-school club was added. This opened the sport to
the junior school. Following Adam, were three musketeers, one foilist
(Sam Stockley), one épéeist (Simon Reading) and one sabreur (Ambrose
Cole). Ambrose had a very mixed fencing career. He started, as they
all did, fencing foil. He was sucessful there making a National
Age Group final (the precursor of the British Youth Championships).
He was a member of the Stratford swimming club and a good rider,
hated running, and was a mean shot with a pistol. So he took up
modern pentathlon (MP) and trained with the Evesham based MP youngsters
on a Tuesday. He was a member of the team that took every single
prize on the table in the British Junior Championships in the early
90s . Later Ambrose saw the light and took up Sabre. He was pretty
good there, too. He was the youngest winner of the Welsh Open (at
16) and won his national cap as a member of the British cadet sabre
team in the Denver, USA, World Championships in 1995.
Many KES fencers were now training a second night at the Evesham club. Being sabre fencers, they took up quite a lot of room and the foil and épée crowd felt a little at risk - at least their fighting did not take out fencers in the adjacent pistes! So after a lot of planning, the sabreurs took themselves off to KES, leaving the foil and épée at Evesham under Nick Chapman. Nick is still fêted as the coach who first put a sabre in the hand of Louise Bond-Williams.
At the time, the top fencers were training at the West Midlands Centre of Excellence in Birmingham, where all three weapons were taught. However, there was a distinct lack of high grade sabre coaching and it seemed silly to drive all the way to Birmingham to be coached by your own instructor. So that group moved to KES as well, and the double club evening system was created, opening the doors for a couple of hours on both Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. Wednesday was special, however. This was "Squad" night. And was manned by a select bunch of enthusiastic sabre fencers (though we did allow the odd - very odd - other one in as well, if they asked nicely). The training was unashamedly aimed at international success. Getting properly fit was a priority. Being properly trained in our sport's disciplines was another. Adhering to a coherent plan a third.
In Sep 2003 David was appointed Fencing Master at Eton College and Shakespeare's Swords was expanded to include all his new fencers. The KES centre remained at Stratford lead by Peter Rome, newly back from his diploma course in Hungary. Tom Olphin, a new assistant to help Peter, was appointed to look after the conditioning and fitness training of the fencers. Expanding to include Eton gave Shakespeare's access at last to a permanent fencing salle and many other facilities, while retaining the superb training hall in the Levi Fox complex at KES.
We are still following that basic plan now. Because of our successes, many of the boys and girls (and grown-ups, too) who train at KES, are following an elite national squad training package without even realising it. With the modern academic pressure there is less formality to our squad nights now, but no dropping in the standard. At first KES had to import good fencers from the region to make the system viable. Now KES can run it from their own resources and outsiders attend by invitation only and are very welcome.
The KES fencing club had 84 names on its register in the Autumn term 2001. 70 were from KES with 10 squad members. This dwindles over the year, naturally, and the summer sees only the dedicated fencers training through for the next season with the games players on a Tuesday afternoon.
At the top level, the club has trained at least one British member
of the youth world championships team every year from 1996 (Johnson,
Bond-Williams, Jones, Setchell, Kirby, with Rayner and Garrity passing
on to LTFC). In 2001 we had four KES produced fencers in Gdansk,
Poland. At school level, KES have an envious match record being
the West Midlands team foil champions on several occasions. When
our "new" Headmaster arrived, a demonstration match was arranged
against Eton College, where Prince William had just started. KES
beat them soundly and seven of our twelve school team fencers put
on national track suits to the amazement of the Eton scholars.
In 2002 we held the silver medal for the region's u18 foil, the
gold (of course) for sabre. In 1998, the entire England youth sabre
team, all six fencers, were found from KES (Johnson, O'Dwyer, Croft,
Beaven, Jessop and Joynes). That was the year that Shakespeare's
Swords won every single national youth (and two senior) title available
- 12 in all. We are the only club to hold the three BYC championship
titles simultaneously, and the first to win the u16 and u18 together
for nearly 20 years.
Back to top