Who is Coach Geoff?


Coach Geoff Butler is a life long Northern Virginia resident who began fencing in childhood. He was sidelined from competitive fencing by an injury and took up coaching in 2009. He specializes in epee, though he has coached foil and sabre as well. Coach Geoff has taught students of all ages and levels in the art of fencing at schools, clubs and recreation centers in Fairfax, Loudoun, Arlington and Prince William Counties. His students have reached the podium in local, regional, national and international competitions including the Pan Am games Vet Mens epee gold medal winner 2014 and the 2014 Va women’s epee champion. He currently teaches privately, in local schools, and for The Loudoun International Fencing Club in Ashburn, VA. If you have a special need, such as corporate fencing events, private school programs, homeschool programs, charity or scout demos, please contact him on the “contact me” feature on the bottom of this page

Coach Geoff works with each student individually, tailoring training to each students abilities and goals. His combination of both traditional and innovative fencing techniques and tactics create a winning formula for his fencers. Equally important, he fosters an atmosphere in which his club members support and help one another, even as they compete against each other.

Coach Geoff is a Professional USFA member, USFCA member, is Safe Sport certified, and is also a Certified Holistic Health and Nutrition Counselor. Coach Geoff’s goal is to design a program for you with the intention oft becoming a life long athlete, no matter if you 8 or 80, in a safe, fun and challenging sport!

fencing and the brain

Columbia University did this study

Could not say it better myself

fencing jokes to tell your friends

I once asked a great coach how he decided which weapon a student should fence. He replied, "On the first day, I tell him 'keep me from hitting you with my straight arm' and I extend my arm at them." He then explained what the three types of students do. The first takes a step back out of range of the coach's hand, he shall be a sabreur. The second slaps the coach's hand out of the way before the coach can hit him, he shall be an epee fencer. The third lets the coach hit him and immediately turns to any bystanders and insists that the coach's arm was bent. He shall be a foilist.

There were once three sabre masters, a French, a Russian, and a Hungarian, and they were all arguing who was the best master. The argument became rather heated, and without further ado, the French master brings out his sabre, declaring, "I will show you all!" He targeted one of the flies buzzing around the salle, and with a swipe of his blade, the fly falls to the ground, cut neatly in half. The Russian sabre master shakes his head, "Nyet, you shall see that -I- am the best!" And with two swipe of his blade, the fly falls to the ground, it's wings neatly removed. They stare expectantly at the Hungarian sabre master, who simply smiles and shakes his head. He targets another fly in the room, and with two swipes of his blade, the fly flys off, undisturbed. The other two masters laugh and ridicule the Hungarian, who once again shakes his head and holds up his hands, quietly saying, "That fly will never procreate again!"



My first competition?

Competitions have a feel of controlled chaos. Often the number of entries is unknown beforehand and it is difficult to predict how long any competition will take. Plan on a long day. Snacks, drinks and some form of entertainment for siblings is a good idea. Folding chairs are useful at some venues. Think indoor picnic.

Arrive early, have all your equipment checked beforehand. You need to find the sign in area, you need your USFA card or at some competitions you can purchase a one day membership (check beforehand as this is not always possible). At larger events you will need to typically check weapons, body cords and masks.

Usually it takes 30 minute or so after the close of registration for the organizers to post what strip you will report to. You will fence everyone on that strip, called a pool. When you are called to fence you will have all your equipment on, two working weapons and one extra body cord besides the one you are wearing. They will check to see your wearing all required safety equipment and that it is in good condition. They will check you weapon to assure it is legal. Pools typically are 5 touch bouts. After the bout you will be asked to sign the Directors log agreeing with the outcome.

After all the pools are done you then wait for the organizers to set up the Direct Elimination bouts or DE’s.
These are best two out of three 5 touch bouts in youth events or 15 touch bouts for seniors. There are other formats however and I will refer you to the rulebook.

You will be tired after such a long day, remember to bring a change in clothes as well as a towel.

The typical reaction I hear is the student is scared and wants to back out of their first competition. After the competition they all start bragging how close they were to winning and how they are going to beat so and so the next time. Take pictures! Have fun. In my opinion competitions are a great motivator. Just going to that first one is a win in my book!

Do I need private lessons?

Starting private lessons is not needed for those wishing just to be a recreational fencer. If your intention is to compete it is usually advised. Some students prefer to go with cheaper group lessons first. My suggestions for those that want the “fast track” is to get a few private lessons to set form before bad habits set in. Then work on the group lessons. At some point you will find yourself in need of additional instruction. Private lessons work best in my opinion when combined with group lessons. You learn the skills in the privates and can practice them in class.

How often you train is a factor of how much time you have, what your goals are, how quickly you can learn and how much money you can budget on your sport. The fact is that the more training and practice you do the better you will get.

The cost of fencing is on par with many other sports. The greatest cost is traveling to National competitions and qualifiers and lodging. Fencing in state is far cheaper for these reasons. Going to competitions is worth every sent in terms of the skills you learn. If money is tight I suggest you skip a lesson now and then and apply it towards entry fees

Cost for private lessons very for many reasons. Were you live will affect the cost. How long are the lessons? Some coaches do 20 minutes and no more (3 lessons per hour) others may charge more but lessons can often go 30, 40 or even 60 minutes. Other offer package deals that include club membership.

That said it is also a question of quality. Not all great fencers are great coaches, some really great coaches were low level fencers. Coaching is not fencing. Finding the right coach for you is much like finding a good honest car mechanic. If your lucky enough to find a good match keep that coach on speed dial. Communication is vital, your coach should make the lesson about you. Cookie cutter drills in my opinion are seldom the preferred option.

In the end taking private lessons is one of the more rewarding aspects of the sport if you’re willing to work hard and get pushed farther then you ever considered possible. That is the place we see personal growth really come in. Enjoy