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Take the “A” Train for Men and Women’s Foil and Saber

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So you dream of taking the “A” train and getting an “A” rating, the holy grail of fencing?  We have all heard the story about the “B” rated fencer who dragged herself and her parents halfway across the country in search of an elusive “A” rating, to enter a “could be a A2 event, depending on who shows up and where they place,” only to find that not all the registered “A” rated fencers turned up making it a “B” rated competition. Or worse still, the “B” rated fencer who traveled halfway across the country and entered a “could be a A2 event, depending on who shows up and where they place,” only to knock out one of the two “A” rated fencers who had to be in the Top 8 to make it an “A” rated event!

If you think an “A” rating is more elusive than a “B” rating, you are probably correct according to an excellent analysis done by David Ma who demonstrates that the skill gap between achieving an E>D>C>B>A gets progressively larger. See his analysis here.  So, in other words, what got you a “B” rating, won’t necessarily get you an “A” rating which leads to the discussion of whether or not, all “A” ratings are created equal. David Ma demonstrates empirically what we all know; not all “A” ratings are created equal!  So what does it take to get an “A” rating?

In this post we briefly comment on “A” ratings awarded to men and women foil and saber fencers in 2014-2015. We plan to add details about “A” ratings awarded to epee fencers in the near future.

Average Time to Upgrade a “B” Rating to an “A” Rating in 2014-2015 (Months)

Gender/Weapon Average Time Range 70% Spread
Men’s Foil 18 2-48 6-30
Women’s Foil 18 2-52 6-30
Men’s Saber 14 0.5-29 5-22
Women’s Saber 17 2-43 5-30

Source: National Fencing Club Rankings, LLC based on an analysis of askFRED.net data and USFA national event data.

For fencers seeking to upgrade their “B” rating to an “A” rating,  NFCR has prepared six 20 page reports which analyse in detail the “A” ratings awarded in each gender/weapon category for 2014-2015. We determine if there are statistically significant differences in the type of events where “B” rated fencers upgraded their rating to an “A” rating and the type of events where “A” rated fencers renewed their “A” rating in 2014-2015. Further details on the contents of the reports are found at the end of this post.

The “A” Train for Men’s Foil

Last year there were 127 “A” ratings awarded in Men’s Foil events by the USFA in local, regional and national tournament events. About 71% of the “A” ratings were awarded to “A” rated fencers. Thirty or about 24% of “A” ratings went to fencers who were previously “B” rated fencers and almost 5% went to “C” rated fencers. The “B” rated fencers took on average 18 months to upgrade their “B” rating to an “A” rating with a range of two months to 48 months. About 70% of the “B” rated fencers took between 6 months and 30 months to upgrade their “B” rating, i.e., 18 months plus or minus 12 months which is identical to their counterparts in Women’s Foil.

So what were the clubs generating the largest number of “A” rated men foil fencers in 2014-2015?  “A” ratings were awarded to 127 fencers from 52 USFA member clubs in 2014-2015. Eighty-three or almost two-thirds of the “A” ratings awarded were shared between members of 18 clubs that generated three or more “A” ratings per club as illustrated in the table below.

Ranking of Top 18 Fencing Clubs Generating the Largest Number of  “A” Ratings in Men’s Foil Events, 2014-2015

“A” Ratings Awarded Rank Fencing Club Number of “A” Ratings Awarded to Club Members Percent of Total “A” Ratings Awarded Cumulative Percent of Total “A” Ratings Awarded
1 Empire United Fencing, NJ 10 7.9% 7.9%
2 Massialas Foundation (M Team), CA 9 7.1% 15.0%
3 Brooklyn Bridge Fencing Club, NY 7 5.5% 20.5%
4T Denver Fencing Center, CO 5 3.9% 24.4%
4T Fencers Club, NY 5 3.9% 28.3%
4T Unattached (or Unknown) 5 3.9% 32.3%
7T Fencing Academy of Westchester, NY 4 3.1% 35.4%
7T Salle Mauro Fencing Academy, TX 4 3.1% 38.6%
7T Silicon Valley Fencing Center, CA 4 3.1% 41.7%
10T Columbus Fencing Club, OH 3 2.4% 44.1%
10T Fencing Institute of Texas, TX 3 2.4% 46.5%
10T Lilov Fencing Academy, NJ 3 2.4% 48.8%
10T Los Angeles International Fencing Center, CA 3 2.4% 51.2%
10T Masters Fencing Club, FL 3 2.4% 53.5%
10T Mission Fencing Center, NY 3 2.4% 55.9%
10T Rain City Fencing Center, WA 3 2.4% 58.3%
10T Renaissance Fencing Club, MI 3 2.4% 60.6%
10T Salle D’Asaro Fencing Club, CA 3 2.4% 63.0%
10T San Francisco Fencers’ Club, CA 3 2.4% 65.4%
Sub-Total 83 65.4%
Total 127 100%

Source: National Fencing Club Rankings, LLC based on an analysis of askFRED.net data and USFA national event data.

To purchase the 22 page report, “Take the ‘A’ Train for Men’s Foil 2014-2015,” Click Here

The “A” train for Women’s Foil

Last year there were 75 “A” ratings awarded in Women’s Foil events by the USFA in local, regional and national tournament events. Forty-seven or about 63% of the “A” ratings were awarded to “A” rated fencers. Twenty-three or almost 31% of “A” ratings went to fencers who were previously “B” rated fencers and about 5% went to “C” rated fencers. The “B” rated fencers took on average just under 18 months to upgrade their “B” rating into an “A” rating with a range of two months to 52 months. About 70% of the “B” rated fencers took between six months and 30 months to upgrade their “B” rating, i.e., 18 months plus or minus 12 months which is identical to their counterparts in Men’s Foil.

So what were the clubs generating the largest number of “A” rated women foil fencers in 2014-2015?  “A” ratings were awarded to 75 fencers from 44 USFA member clubs in 2014-2015. Forty-eight or 64% of the “A” ratings awarded were shared between members of 17 clubs that generated two or more “A” ratings per club as illustrated in the table below.

Ranking of Top 16 Fencing Clubs Generating the Largest Number of  “A” Ratings in Women’s Foil Events 2014-2015

“A” Ratings Awarded Rank Fencing Club Number of “A” Ratings Awarded to Club Members Percent of Total “A” Ratings Awarded Cumulative Percent of Total “A” Ratings Awarded
1 Fencers Club, NY 10 13.3% 13.3%
2T Empire United Fencing, NJ 4 5.3% 18.7%
2T Peter Westbrook Foundation, NY 4 5.3% 24.0%
4T Los Angeles International Fencing Center, CA 3 4.0% 28.0%
4T Rhode Island Fencing Academy & Club, RI 3 4.0% 32.0%
6T 5T Fencers Club, NY 2 2.7% 34.7%
6T California Fencing Academy, CA 2 2.7% 37.3%
6T Fencing Academy of Westchester, NY 2 2.7% 40.0%
6T Gold Blade Fencing Center, TX 2 2.7% 42.7%
6T Grand Rapids Fencing Academy, MI 2 2.7% 45.3%
6T Gutkovskiy Fencing Academy, NJ 2 2.7% 48.0%
6T Hua Hua Fencing Club, ON 2 2.7% 50.7%
6T Massialas Foundation (M Team), CA 2 2.7% 53.3%
6T Tigerz Fencing Academy, NJ 2 2.7% 56.0%
6T Mid-south Fencers’ Club, NC 2 2.7% 58.7%
6T Unattached (or Unknown) 2 2.7% 61.3%
6T Virginia Academy of Fencing, VA 2 2.7% 64.0%
Sub-Total 48 64.0%
Total 75 100%

Source: National Fencing Club Rankings, LLC based on an analysis of askFRED.net data and USFA national event data.

To purchase the 21 page report, “Take the ‘A’ Train for Women’s Foil 2014-2015,” Click Here

The “A” Train for Men’s Saber

Last year there were 89 “A” ratings awarded in Men’s Saber events by the USFA in local, regional and national tournament events. About 58% of the “A” ratings were awarded to “A” rated fencers. Thirty or about 34% of “A” ratings went to fencers who were previously “B” rated fencers and almost 5% went to “C” rated fencers. The “B” rated fencers took on average just under 14 months to upgrade their “B” rating to an “A” rating with a range of 16 days to 29 months. About 70% of the “B” rated fencers took between 5 months and 22 months to upgrade their “B” rating, i.e., 13.6 months plus or minus 8.5 months.

So what were the clubs generating the largest number of “A” rated men saber fencers in 2014-2015?  “A” ratings were awarded to 89 fencers from 24 USFA member clubs in 2014-2015. Seventy-three or 82% of the “A” ratings awarded were shared between members of 16 clubs that generated two or more “A” ratings per club as illustrated in the table below.

Ranking of Top 16 Fencing Clubs Generating the Largest Number of  “A” Ratings in Men’s Saber Events, 2014-2015

“A” Ratings Awarded Rank Fencing Club Number of “A” Ratings Awarded to Club Members Percent of Total “A” Ratings Awarded Cumulative Percent of Total “A” Ratings Awarded 
1 Manhattan Fencing Center, NY 16 18.0% 18.0%
2 Nellya Fencers, GA 9 10.1% 28.1%
3T Fencers Club of Arizona, AZ 6 6.7% 34.8%
3T New York Athletic Club, NY 6 6.7% 41.6%
5T Bergen Fencing Club, NJ 5 5.6% 47.2%
6T Capital Fencing Academy, MD 4 4.5% 51.7%
6T Hristov-Csikany Fencers, CA 4 4.5% 56.2%
6T Peter Westbrook Foundation, NY 4 4.5% 60.7%
9T Oregon Fencing Alliance, OR 3 3.4% 64.0%
9T Unattached (or Unknown) 3 3.4% 67.4%
9T Zeta Fencing, MA 3 3.4% 70.8%
12T Cardinal Fencing Center, CA 2 2.2% 73.0%
12T DC Fencers Club, MD 2 2.2% 75.3%
12T Fencing Academy of South Jersey, NJ 2 2.2% 77.5%
12T Sabre Outreach Network, FL 2 2.2% 79.8%
12T Spartak, CA 2 2.2% 82.0%
Sub-Total 73 82.0%
Total 89 100%

Source: National Fencing Club Rankings, LLC based on an analysis of askFRED.net data and USFA national event data.

To purchase the 22 page report, “Take the ‘A’ Train for Men’s Saber  2014-2015,” Click Here

The “A” Train for Women’s Saber

Last year there were 70 “A” ratings awarded in Women’s Saber events by the USFA in local, regional and national tournament events. Fifty-four or about 77% of the “A” ratings were awarded to “A” rated fencers. Fourteen or almost 20% of “A” ratings went to fencers who were previously “B” rated fencers and about 3% went to “C” rated fencers. The “B” rated fencers took on average just over 17 months to upgrade their “B” rating into an “A” rating with a range of two months to 43 months. About 70% of the “B” rated fencers took between about five months and 30 months to upgrade their “B” rating, i.e., 17.2 months plus or minus 12.7 months.

So what were the clubs generating the largest number of “A” rated women saber fencers in 2014-2015?  “A” ratings were awarded to 70 fencers from 24 USFA member clubs in 2014-2015. Sixty-two or almost 89% of the “A” ratings awarded were shared between members of 16 clubs that generated two or more “A” ratings per club as illustrated in the table below.

Ranking of Top 16 Fencing Clubs Generating the Largest Number of  “A” Ratings in Women’s Saber Events, 2014-2015

A” Ratings Awarded Rank Fencing Club Number of “A” Ratings Awarded to Club Members Percent of Total “A” Ratings Awarded Cumulative Percent of Total “A” Ratings Awarded 
1T Bergen Fencing Club, NJ 6 8.6% 8.6%
1T Manhattan Fencing Center, NY 6 8.6% 17.1%
1T Peter Westbrook Foundation, NY 6 8.6% 25.7%
1T Oregon Fencing Alliance, OR 6 8.6% 34.3%
5T Fencers Club of Arizona, AZ 5 7.1% 41.4%
5T Hristov-Csikany Fencers, CA 5 7.1% 48.6%
5T Nellya Fencers, GA 5 7.1% 55.7%
8T Advance Fencing and Fitness Academy, NJ 4 5.7% 61.4%
9T Cardinal Fencing Center, CA 3 4.3% 65.7%
9T PDX Fencing, OR 3 4.3% 70.0%
9T Zeta Fencing, MA 3 4.3% 74.3%
12T Boston Fencing Club, MA 2 2.9% 77.1%
12T Capital Fencing Academy, MD 2 2.9% 80.0%
12T Salle D’Asaro Fencing Club, CA 2 2.9% 82.9%
12T Sabre Outreach Network, FL 2 2.9% 85.7%
12T Sheridan Fencing Academy, NY 2 2.9% 88.6%
Sub-Total 62 88.6%
Total 70 100%

Source: National Fencing Club Rankings, LLC based on an analysis of askFRED.net data and USFA national event data.

To purchase the 22 page report, “Take the ‘A’ Train for Women’s Saber’s 2014-2015,” Click Here

NFCR plans to publish our 20 page epee reports in the near future. The complete list of reports in this series are:

    • Take the “A” Train for Women’s Foil – An Analysis of “A” Ratings Awarded in Women’s Foil Events in 2014-2015
    • Take the “A” Train for Men’s Foil – An Analysis of “A” Ratings Awarded in Men’s Foil Events in 2014-2015
    • Take the “A” Train for Women’s Saber – An Analysis of “A” Ratings Awarded in Women’s Saber Events in 2014-2015
    • Take the “A” Train for Men’s Saber – An Analysis of “A” Ratings Awarded in Men’s Saber Events in 2014-2015
    • Take the “A” Train for Women’s Epee – An Analysis of “A” Ratings Awarded in Women’s Epee Events in 2014-2015
    • Take the “A” Train for Men’s Epee – An Analysis of “A” Ratings Awarded in Men’s Epee Events in 2014-2015

Among the questions that are answered in each of the reports are:

    • How many “A” ratings were awarded in (Women’s Foil or other gender/weapon) events during the 2014-2015 fencing season?
    • How many and what percentage of “A” ratings were awarded at local, regional and national tournaments last year?
    • What are the most important events for “B” rated fencers to enter to increase the probability of being awarded an “A” rating?
    • What months of the year were “A” ratings awarded in (Women’s Foil or other gender/weapon) events last year?
    • How many “A” ratings awarded in 2014-2015 were renewals and how many were upgrades from a “B” or “C” rating?
    • How many “A” ratings were awarded in mixed events vs single gender events last year?
    • How many and what percentage of “A” ratings were awarded in Veteran, Senior, Junior, Cadet and Youth events last year?
    • How many and what percentage of “A” ratings were awarded at A1, A2, A3 and A4 tournaments and what was the average size of these events last year?
    • How many and what percentage of “A” ratings were awarded at local and regional tournaments by state?
    • What were the local and regional tournament events that awarded the largest number of “A” ratings last year?
    • What were the clubs generating the largest number of “A” rated (Women Foil or other gender/weapon) fencers in 2014-2015?
    • How different were the types of events where “B” rated fencers upgraded their rating to an “A” rating and the types of events where “A” rated fencers renewed their “A” ratings in 2014-2015?

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