Tampa's Fencing Academy's coaching staff consists of Maestro Gerry Duran, founder and head coach, Fresnel Casthely, John Rosenfeld, Richard Byers and Mark Jones.


The art of swordsmanship has been practiced for centuries. First, it was to train for deadly combat--the duel. Now, it is for Olympic gold.

Through fencing you can acquire the reflexes of a boxer, the legs of a high-jumper, and the concentration of a tournament chess player. Fencing develops agility, strength, speed, and cunning. And because of the speed of its action, it is considered the fastest martial sport. But most importantly, it's fun!


Coaching sport fencing has been part of my life since 1987. In that year, I attended a fencing coaches' seminar in Orlando, Florida. The instruction was given by Olympic coach Michael D'Asaro. From that day on, I knew I was a "Maestro of Fencing." All that I needed was the skills of "the Maestro."

I started by completing the United States Fencing Association's (USFA) Maestro D'Asaro coaches' seminars in 1987 & 1988. Further training followed at the USFA Coaches College at the University of North Carolina in 1990 and USFA Coaches College at the Olympic Training Center, Colorado Springs in 1992. I then became a lifetime member of the U.S. Fencing Coaches Association. I am the founder of the Bay Winds Fencing Academy at the Bay Winds Learning Center, Tampa, Florida (1992-1995) and TAMPA'S FENCING ACADEMY, Tampa, Florida (1995-present).

My experience in coaching over 700 recreational and competitive fencers ranging in ages 10 to 70 has shown me that everyone can succeed in the sport of fencing. All that is needed is love for the game.

For more of Maestro Duran's philosophy of fencing go to these sites:
Selections From the Maestro's Book


The following interviews were conducted by Ann Morris, member of Tampa's Fencing Academy and editor of TFA Magazine (formerly editor of the TFA Newsletter).

This first interview with Maestro Gerry Duran appeared in the February 1997 issue of the TFA Newsletter.


Ann: Gerry, how did you become involved in fencing?
Gerry: My daughter was interested and I took her to USF to learn to fence. She lost interest but I said to myself, This is cool, and Icontinued.

Ann: When did you start fencing and how old were you at the time?
Gerry: I started sometime in 1986. I was 46.

Ann: Are there any specific advantages or disadvantages to starting a as late as you did?
Gerry: I don't think there is any advantage or disadvantage at my age.

Ann: Why do you say that?
Gerry: Fencing has many levels of skill and athleticism. No matter atwhat level you perform, there's always something to learn. fencing.

Ann: How did you make the transition from being a student to coaching?
Gerry: I've never made the transition. Fencing is a continuouslearning process. I chose to emphasize the how to teach part of fencing rather than the actual competitive fencing part. TheCompetitor and the teacher are always in training but each of them is concentrating on his particular interest.

Ann: What kind of training did you have for coaching?
Gerry: I went twice to the USFA Coach's College: once held at theUniversity of North Carolina and once at the Olympic Training Centerin Colorado Springs. I've also attended a number of coach's training seminars throughout the country. I've watched coaching videos, read books on coaching, and experimented with students. The best way to learn to coach is to coach and ask a lot of questions.

Ann: As THE MAESTRO of Tampa's Fencing Academy, what is your philosophy concerning the salle? In other words, what do you want the salle to be?
Gerry: I want it to be a learning center where ideas and methods of training can be developed at all levels of fencing: especially for the recreational fencer, so that the salle can attract people of all ages. The salle culture is everyone trying to improve everyone else so that you're always playing and training with fellow members who are constantly becoming more skilled.

Ann: Is there one central point (pun not intended) that you feel is most important for students of fencing to keep in mind?
Gerry: I think fencing is a game and should be thought of as that. For most people it isn't the most important thing in their lives but yet it should be nurtured as an activity which may help you deal with the rest of your life.

Ann: What gives you the greatest pleasure as a coach?
Gerry: Seeing my students learn and improve. Seeing my students teach and have other people improve.

Ann: One last question: what is your favorite color? No, no, I'm just kidding. The real question is this; would you suggest that prospective fencers observe some activities at a salle before beginning lessons?
Gerry: Of course. It makes you feel much more at ease when you go for your first lesson and it introduces you to the members which will give you a much more comfortable feeling.

Ann: Thank you for answering my questions. I'm sure you want me to let our readers know that they are welcome to visit Tampa's Fencing Academy. The salle is located at 7042 W. Hillsborough Ave., Tampa, FL 33634. The phone number is 813/885-FOIL (3645).

The interviews with Fresnel Casthely and John Rosenfeld appeared in the April 1997 TFA Newsletter.


Ann: Fresnel, how long have you been fencing and how did you get started in the sport?
Fresnel: I started in 1991. I just picked it up as a hobby. I found a club. Then, I found a club with decent hours.

Ann: Of course, your involvement in fencing is the main reason for this interview but tell us a little about what you do besides fencing. For instance, what is your day job?
Fresnel: I'm an electrical engineer.

Ann: and what are some of your other interests?
Fresnel: I play a lot of sports. I play Tennis and I do some martial arts.

Ann: Now that everyone knows you are the always desired "well rounded individual", let's get back to fencing. I know you used to compete a lot in tournaments and you achieved a high rating. Now, you spend much of your fencing time coaching. What led you to devote yourself to coaching instead of tournament competitions?
Fresnel: Actually, I never liked to compete. I competed for one year just to go to the Nationals. They were in Ft. Myers and it was going to be my only chance to compete without going broke. So, for that one year (or year and a half) I competed hard to get ready for that.

Why did I start Coaching? Because I needed to get good people to fence against. This was a young club and most of the fencers were beginners. Now, there are more experienced ones. Gerry asked me to [coach].

Ann: Do you think fencing is a sport in which you will participate all your life?
Fresnel: Probably. Yes.

Ann: Do you have some advice for our readers who may sometimes be intimidated by how much there is to learn about fencing?
Fresnel: Take baby steps. Fencing is a progression. You lean the counter. Then, you learn to counter the counter. You just keep building and add to it.


Ann: Okay, John, let's get the obligatory "how you started" question out of the way. What was it about fencing that attracted you and how long have you been fencing?
John: I got interested in fencing because my dad fenced and I started in 1974. I was just a kid -14.

Ann: You have been competing in the local tournaments lately, as well as coaching at T.F.A. What do you feel you learn from competing that you take back to your fencers and teach them?
John: Fighting spirit!

Ann: We are going to play a little game. Let's pretend you can have any changes you want made in fencing's place in the world of sports that you wish. What would you wish for, other than letting your dog, Devil, be a referee?
John: My wish would be to have fencing tournaments on weekends on TV. Saturday afternoon at 1, Wide World of Fencing! And big prize money tournaments.

Ann: I know that at T.F.A., you concentrate on foil fencing but what experience do you have with epee and sabre?
John: I competed quite a bit with epee and actually fenced in a couple of sabre tournaments. I prefer foil but I enjoy epee a lot and have always done well when I fenced in epee tournaments. At times, I have concentrated quite a bit on epee.

Ann: What do you think is the single most important thing for aspiring fencers to keep in mind as they train?
John: Study technique. Fight with creativity and spirit!

RICHARD BYERS' BIOGRAPHY--the short version:

Richard Byers joined the coaching staff of Tampa's Fencing Academy June 14, 1999. He has been fencing for three and a half years. Although he had fenced a little in his junior high school days, his real training was not started till he was age 45, proving that fencing is a sport that can be learned and enjoyed by those who are not in the earliest part of their youth as well as by those who are. Richard now fences foil, epee and sabre and has ratings in foil and epee. Fencing is a hobby for Richard but he manages to get it into his paying work too at times. He is a fantasy and horror writer who has had more than one sword fight in his short stories and novels. If you'd like to know more about his writing career, just click HERE to get to his homepage.

The photo of Richard was taken after a particularly successful fencing weekend. He competes in local tournaments as well as fencing with his fellow salle mates at TFA.


Mark has been fencing at TFA since February of 1996 and began coaching members training in July of 1999. Mark competes in local tournaments. He's dedicated strictly to the art of the foil. He's dedicated to having fun with fencing, as you can see from the photo taken from our "Just for Laughs" page. The sock puppet's name is Mr. Flicky. Mark teaches (fencing, not puppetry) on Tuesday nights.

We now have a fencing forum online that we encourage you to visit and participate in. Click HERE to enter the forum. You will have to sign on as a Delphi member but it's free and painless. Please help us broaden the communication among fencers.

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