Types of Tournaments
Tournaments in the USA fall in the categories of local, regional, and national. Local competitions are sponsored by the clubs themselves or the governing Division. Regional competitions include Super Youth Circuit (SYC), Regional Youth Circuit (RYC), Regional Open Circuit (ROC), and Sectionals. The last category of domestic tournaments is those run by the USFA. These include the North American Cups (NAC) which typically combine several different events in a tournament and are held around the country throughout the season. The championship tournaments for US fencing are the Junior Olympics in February and the Summer Nationals in July.
- Youth means fencers who are 14 years old or under. Youth fencing is further divided into Youth 8 (Y8), Youth 10 (Y10), Youth 12 (Y12), and Youth 14 (Y14). A fencer’s age on January 1 of the current season determines eligibility. There is a helpful chart in the Athlete Handbook , a downloadable PDF can be found on the USFA web site.
- SYC/RYC-On the regional level Youth fencers are also eligible to compete in RYC and SYC events. RYC events are held all over the country and are listed on both the USFA web site and on AskFRED, For Y10 and Y12 fencers, participation in an RYC automatically qualifies the fencer to fence at the Youth NAC event– typically held in April– as well as at Summer Nationals. RYCs do not award points for the National Points List. SYC events (also found on AskFRED) are fewer and larger; and fencers who finish in the top 40% will be on the National Points List. Y10 and Y12 participants are again automatically qualified for the Youth NAC and Summer Nationals.
- Youth fencers can also compete in two national level events: the Youth NAC (typically held in April) and Summer Nationals. For Y10 and Y12 fencers participation in an SYC or RYC qualifies them. Y14 fencers do not need to qualify for the Youth NAC. However, for National Championships, the qualification criteria are stricter. Please refer to the Athlete Handbook for the qualification pathways.
Cadet and Junior
- The next two categories, Under 17 (U17) and Under 20 (U20) are more commonly referred to as Cadet and Junior respectively.
- The U.S. Championship tournament for Cadet and Junior fencers is known as the Junior Olympics, or JOs. Qualification for JOs is by having national points (from a NAC) or by placing in the top 3 or the top 25% (whichever is greater) of participants in the qualifying tournament. Running the qualifying tournament is the responsibility of the Divisions within the USFA.
- The senior category includes everyone age 13 and up. Club tournaments referred to as “opens” are open to any USFA member 13 or older regardless of rating.
- Preregistration (through AskFRED) is required for these but typically deadlines are fairly close to the time of competition. These larger events may include both mixed and women’s events. In addition, some clubs host “ratings restricted” events in which participants are restricted to those at or below a certain rating (C and Under, D and Under. and so forth). These can be found by using the search function on AskFRED.
- Regional Open Circuits (ROCs) are listed on both the USFA web site and on AskFRED. ROC tournaments also serve as a qualifying pathway for Division IA, one of the events at Summer National Championship.
- Veteran fencers are those aged 40 and up. There are two Veterans’ NACs during the season. Events held during these competitions include: Veteran Combined (40+); Veteran 50-59, Veteran 60-69, and Veteran 70+. Veterans’ events are also held at Summer Nationals. Participation in any NAC; any ROC; Sectional Championships; or the Division 2/3 qualifying competition makes the fencer eligible for National Championships in this category.
Division I, IA, II, III
- At the national level, participation in Senior NACs is based on rating. Division 1 NACs (typically two or three per season) are restricted to fencers with a rating of a C or higher. Division 2 is restricted to C and under. Division 3 is restricted to D and under. National Championships are held in all three categories as well as an additional category, Division 1-A. For details about the qualification pathways for these events, please consult the Athlete Handbook.
This is so confusing! How do I decide which tournaments to compete in?
- You can compete in as many tournaments as you like. When deciding on your competitive schedule you should talk to your coach about which tournaments will help you meet your goals for the upcoming season. You should also be honest with yourself about your budget. While going to national tournaments is a lot of fun, it can also be expensive. National tournament fees are considerably higher than those for locals and one must typically include airfare, hotel, and dining expenses.