Fence On, My Friend

Posted by on Feb 7, 2018 | 0 comments

A few years ago, I worried that my fencing career might be over. I had sustained an injury to my knuckle during a national tournament, and had re-injured it while training. I wondered if I could hold a foil again.

During a Magic Circle Theater rehearsal, Gary Krabbe noticed the K/T tape on my hand, and asked me about it. I told him about the unsuccessful physical therapy I’d been undergoing, and about the worry I had about a fencing career that had been showing some promise. I’d made it to the finals strip at a national tournament… never actually won that level of tournament, but I thought I could see a road towards eventually representing the United States at the veteran world championships. That dream was fading because of this injury.

He knew more in seconds than my physical therapist had been able to figure out in months. He successfully diagnosed my injury, right there at rehearsal, and then invited me to his office at my convenience, which was, as it turned out, outside of office hours. He hand-fashioned a splint and helped me find a way to hold the foil without pain. He showed me how to use a combination of K/T tape and the splint to protect the joint and allow it to heal, while still being able to train.

He and his wife took some fencing classes with me (www.ourayswordplay.org), which was such a pleasure, and he brought his eager, curious spirit to every interaction. He followed up with my injury, too, and with the splint: when I broke it through intense use, he repaired it and made me another. And therefore I could keep training.


Then I went and won a tournament. And another. Within a year I was ranked #1 in my age group. And this past year, once I aged into the division that gets to compete at the international level, I made the team, went to the world championships in Maribor Slovenia, and placed 14th in a strong field of fencers. 55 countries were represented! I fenced guys from Australia, Austria, Brazil, France, Holland, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Russia, Slovakia, and Switzerland.

What a thrill. I got to represent the United States at the world championships.

​And I do not believe it would have been possible were it not for Gary’s extraordinary curiosity, friendliness, competence, and eagerness to help. So grateful to know this man. Many thanks, Gary, to you and to your practice.

~ John Kissingford

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