History Of Fencing

The sport of fencing boasts an impressively long history, dating back at least three thousand years to Ancient Egypt. A bas-relief in an Egyptian temple built in 1190 BC depicts two athletes in a judged bout, wielding swords with covered points and wearing protective gear. And Egyptians weren’t the only ancient peoples to have emphasized the importance of fencing form and rules. In ancient Rome, gladiators attended schools to train in the complexities of swordsmanship. In ancient Greece, fencing was one of the original Olympic sports.


In the Middle Ages, knights created a code of chivalry that they lived by, as they wielded their swords for their lord and king, and for religion. But it’s the Spanish who are often credited as the first ancestors of the modern sport, having written books on sword fighting systems in the 15th century. Germans created the first fencing guilds in that same period.


Modern fencing actually came into existence slightly later, between the 16th and 18th centuries, with the Italians placing an emphasis on accuracy with the tip of the lighter-weight rapier, and the French refining that skill even further. Also in the 17th and 18th centuries, the inventions of the safer, flatter-tip foil and the wire-mesh mask, as well as the establishment of rules regarding the target area, made fencing even more popular.


And now the sport of fencing is practiced around the world. Featured in the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, and one of only five sports featured in each Olympic Game since, it continues to grow steadily in popularity.


The FIE (International Fencing Federation) was created in 1913 as the world governing body for fencing. It establishes the competition rules for all three modern fencing weapons (foil, epee and sabre), and promotes the development of the sport world-wide.



Leonid Orinshteyn has 20 years of coaching experience in the USA and Moldova (former USSR). He has been a foil coach with the Youth Champions Program since 2005. Before joining the MTEAM, Leonid worked at the Boston Fencing Club as a foil coach, and as an assistant coach for the Moldavian National Foil Team in Kishinev, Moldova. Leonid was the Moldavian National Fencing Champion, a member of the Moldavian National Foil Team, and a candidate of the National Team for the USSR. He was also the 1981 recipient of the USSR "Master of Sports" award. Leonid holds a Master of Science degree in engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of Kishinev, Moldova.

Assistant Coach

Cole Harkness began fencing when he was 17 years old in San Jose, California. He was the assistant to Maitre John DeCesare before he joined the varsity team at San Jose State University, coached by Michael D’asaro. It was there that he met his teammate and now coworker, Dean Hinton. The men’s foil team was undefeated for two years until the varsity program was cut in 1985.

Cole moved to San Francisco at the invitation of Halberstadt Head Coach Maitre Peter Burchard, with whom Cole trained for national competition and worked as assistant coach for many years. He earned his “A” rating in foil and renewed it twice. Cole worked as Head Coach at Halberstadt Fencers Club from 1990 to 1994. Career highlights were taking a team bronze medal at the 1992 US National Championships and a silver medal at the 1990 Pacific Coast Championship by one touch to Dean Hinton. Cole also won the USFCA Fencing Master and Prevot championship in foil twice, epee once and took bronze in sabre twice.

Cole’s coaching certifications include a 3-weapon Fencing Master certification from the USFCA and the International Academy of Arms (AAI) and an A-Trainer certification from the German Olympic Training Center at Tauberbischoffsheim, Germany. His students have been medalists at the national level in foil and epee and the international level in foil. Cole has coached in the Youth Fencing Champions program for over 8 years.


Darwin Martos has coached in the Youth Champions Program since 2010. Certified by the United States Fencing Association as a Foil Coach in 2005, he has trained with many high level fencing coaches, such as Michael Marx, Cody Mattern, Ed Richards, Andrea Lagan, and Alex Beguinet, at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Coach Darwin is well trained in the physical, technical, and mental aspects of fencing, and he inspires young fencers with his positive and youthful attitude, understanding, work ethic, and passion for the sport of fencing. He is currently working on his USFCA Prévôt of Foil Certification, and plans to complete it by 2015.


Coach Darwin actively competes in the USA National Veteran Men’s Foil category, and has consistently ranked among the top 8 in the Veteran Men's Open and Veteran Men’s 40 Foil category since 2012.


Youth Development Coach

Prevost Dean Hinton was a member of the 1991 World Championship Team and the Pan American Team when he earned a silver medal. He is a former #1 ranked USA foil fencer and National finalist. In 1992 he just missed making the US Olympic Team.


He has trained in France, Italy, Hungary, and has been training with Maestro Massialas since 1980. He is a very talented coach and has been guiding students in the Youth Fencing Champions Program for over 15 years.