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Los Angeles & Southern California – Mediocre Growth Among California Fencing Divisions 2016-2017

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Southern California

The Southern California Division of the United States Fencing Association (USFA) is the 6th largest Division in the nation in terms of the of local and regional fencer-events generated by members of the Division¹. It is home to the Los Angeles International Fencing Center, a 2016-2017 “Fencing Club of the Year” recipient for its #1 Top 8 Medals Points for Cadet Women’s Epee and #1 International Designated Points Junior Women’s Epee.  In addition, eight of the Division’s clubs were awarded the “Best Fencing Clubs” designation for 2016-2017; Avant Garde Fencers Club (Saber), Beverly Hills Fencers’ Club (Epee), Conejo Fencing Club (Foil), Fortune Fencing (Epee), Salle Couturier (Foil/Epee), Swords Fencing Studio (Epee), United Fencing Academy (Foil) and Z Fencing Los Angeles (Saber).

The Division has jurisdiction over the following counties: Kern County, San Luis Obispo County, Santa Barbara County, Ventura County and Los Angeles County except for the cities of La Verne, San Dimas, Pomona, and Diamond Bar, which belong to the San Bernadino Division, and that part of Los Angeles County which lies south of the 91 freeway and east of the 710 freeway, which belongs to the Orange Coast Division.

In 2016-2017 the Division was ranked 6th out of 68 in terms of the number of local and regional fencer-events generated by members of the Division. It ranked below New Jersey, New England, Central California, Illinois and  Metro NYC but above Virginia,  Northern California, Gulf Coast and Georgia to make the Top 10 list of the most active fencing Divisions in the nation.

The number of local and regional fencer-events generated by members of the Division has grown at the compound annual rate of 4.8% per year since 2008-2009, compared to the national average of 4.4% per year over the same period.

The growth in fencer-events has been underwritten by the healthy growth in saber, which has grown at the compound annual rate of 6.2% since 2010-2011. This compares with the mediocre growth experienced by foil which has grown at the compound annual rate of 1.0%. Epee has not grown over the past past seven years. The historical growth in fencer-events is illustrated in the accompanying graph. Epee now accounts for about 38% of fencer-events generated in the Division followed by foil at 36% and Saber 26%.

Club Activity

The number of local and regional fencer-events generated by a club is related to the number and profile of competitive members in the club, the approach of the club’s coaches regarding competitive tournaments and the quality and distance of nearby fencing competitions. Local tournament events include events that are organized by clubs, consortia of clubs and USFA Divisions. They do not include ROCs, RJCCs, SYCs, RYCs and Divisional Qualifiers which are all classified as regional tournaments. National tournaments include NACs, Championships, and the July Challenge.

The composition of fencer-events generated by the largest clubs in 2015-2016 is illustrated in the accompanying graph. The Los Angeles International Fencing Center, Fortune Fencing, Swords Fencing Studio and United Fencing Academy accounted for about 57% of the fencer-events generated in 2015-2016. Fencers from the Los Angeles International Fencing Center generated the most fencer-events in 2015-2016 at 903, about 42% from epee, 37% from foil and 21% from saber. Fortune Fencing followed with 727 fencer-events, 92% epee, 6% foil, and 1% saber. Swords Fencing Studio is a single weapon club specializing in epee as illustrated in the graph.

The following graph shows the growth in foil fencer-events generated by the largest clubs with foil programs in the Division over the past five years. Located in Woodland Hills, the United Fencing Academy generated the largest number of local and regional foil fencer-events in 2015-2016 at 393, up from 25 in 2013-2014, the year the club was established.  In second place is the Los Angeles International Fencing Center. It has recorded a decline in the number of foil fencer-events over the past few years, falling from a peak of 867 in 2012-2013 to 334 in 2015-2016 as illustrated in the graph.

The following graph clearly demonstrates that Avant Garde Fencers Club, located in Los Angeles and Z Fencing Los Angeles located in Pasadena, are the largest generators of saber fencer-events. They accounted for about 68% of all the local and regional saber fencer-events generated in the Division in 2015-2016.

Fortune Fencing, Swords Fencing Studio, and Los Angeles International Fencing Center were the dominant clubs generating local and regional epee fencer-events as illustrated below. Between them, they accounted for 87% of the epee fencer-events generated in the Division in 2015-2016.


¹ Source: askFred.net
We recognize that askFRED.net data includes non-sanctioned USFA tournaments such as high school tournaments, private club tournaments, and a few tournaments associated with fencing camps. While the data is not perfect, it nevertheless allows for a comparison of medium to long term growth rates in fencer-activity across States, Divisions, and Clubs. Provided the inconsistencies are consistent over time we are able to get a trend, and therefore an average growth rate. Despite the data limitations, we are able to make valid comparisons on the performance of States, Divisions, and clubs. For strategic decision making, timely, consistent, and directionally correct information is more important than data that is one hundred percent accurate.

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