Way of the Sword: Students of all ages fence like Olympians

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Fencing requires concentration, discipline, social skills, and perseverance. And developing a business is no different.

Michael Martin, owner of Way of the Sword — a USFA-sanctioned fencing academy — has put in that work when it comes to his new fencing studio at 21 Governor Street. On April 1, he’ll be hosting a grand opening from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., and he’s encouraging the community to attend, take a tour and learn how fencing brings out the confident “warrior” in students of all ages.

“This new location is ideal for bringing the Olympic sports of fencing and archery to Ridgefield and surrounding areas,” said Martin, a Cross River resident who has been training students in the area since 2013. “Everyone regardless of size, age, or gender can participate and differentiate themselves through participation in these sports.”

Formerly housed on Route 7 in Ridgefield, his new downtown Ridgefield location boasts nine Olympic fencing strips as well a six archery lanes in the lower level.

Fencing instruction at Way of the Sword includes classes for both youth and adults. Children as young as 5-years-old can take up a sword in private lessons before eventually moving into group classes. Instruction at Way “goes beyond the blade,” according to Martin.

“At age 7 or 8 when we talk about fencing, the blade is an extension of your hand and arm. Before we put a sword in hand we teach young students to shake hands with confidence and forethought,” he said. “Although it is an adversarial sport, it is a conversation and a friendly one.”

Martin himself didn’t discover fencing until high school. He advanced quickly in skill, becoming the captain of his team and competing in national competitions. But the awards and recognition were not the pinnacle of Martin’s fencing career.

“I went in a pupil and walked away a leader and fencing gave me that confidence,” he said.

In his programs he strives to develop the physical techniques, mental strategies, and social etiquette skills that young kids need to become confident, reflective, and compassionate citizens.

Bedford resident Maggie Wieting’s 8-year-old son recently began fencing with Way of the Sword and speaks highly of Coach Mike’s approach with students.

He is exceptionally passionate with master-level fencing experience,” Wieting said. “He’s enthusiastic, resolutely versed in both the history and evolution of the sport, and a great model and teacher/coach overall for the children.”

Martin is currently growing his coaching staff which includes a former Ukraine champion as well as the head coach of the Greenwich High School fencing team. Way of the Sword offers classes Monday through Saturday and regularly hosts USFA sanctioned tournaments. The academy also offers camps and clinics during school holidays and summer.

All are welcome to the April 1 grand opening, from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., for music, refreshments, tours and demonstrations. For more information, visit WayoftheSword.org.