Competitive Fencer Levels
At RCFC we have a system to categorize tournaments and help our competitive fencers understand which events they should focus on. These levels are approximate; as always, if you have any questions, talk to your coach.
For more details on the different types of tournaments, see our Levels of Competition page.
Level 1 – In-house
Our in-house tournaments are the place to get started in competition. The atmosphere is informal, and you’re fencing with your clubmates.
Level 2 – Local
The next level is local tournaments, either at RCFC or another club in the area. These are still fairly informal, but you get to fence a wider variety of opponents. Tournaments at this level include local Youth events, plus Unrated, E & Under, and D & Under events for the juniors and adults. Note: Youth-10 and Youth 12 fencers are not eligible for Unrated, E & Under, or D & Under events.
Level 3 – Regional and Open
Once you’re comfortable with local tournaments, the next step is regional competition. There are several categories of regional tournaments:
- Regional Youth Circuit (RYC)
- Regional Junior/Cadet Circuit (RJCC)
- Regional Open Circuit (ROC)
These tournaments offer a higher level of competition and the chance to earn regional points, which are a pathway to qualifying for the national championships. Equipment requirements are stricter at this level. Region 1 tournaments are mostly in the Seattle and Portland areas.
Also at Level 3 are local Open tournaments. These are Senior events (age 13+) with no restriction on classifications, so the competition is much stronger. There are several Open tournaments at RCFC, Salle Auriol Seattle (SAS), and other area clubs.
Level 4 – SYC, traveling to other regions
The next level of regional competition is the Super Youth Circuit (SYC). SYCs are locally run, but offer a chance to earn points for the national rankings, so they attract strong youth fencers from all over the country. Because the level of competition is much stronger, we recommend you get comfortable with RYC level events before trying an SYC.
At this point you can also start considering traveling to tournaments outside of Region 1. There are plenty of opportunities for strong competitions in Colorado and Utah (Region 2) and California (Region 4). Flying to a fencing tournament presents its own challenges. See our Traveling to Large Tournaments page for more detail.
At the beginning of the season, we designate which regional tournaments will have one or more coaches going to help our fencers. Generally we designate all national events, and most SYCs in the western US. For tournaments that require coaches’ travel and/or a hotel stay, there is a coaching fee to help cover those expenses. The standard fee is $100 per fencer per event for most events. See our Travel & Coaching Policy page for details.
Note that the only events outside Region 1 where you can earn points are ROCs and SYCs. For an RYC or RJCC, you can fence outside of Region 1, but you won’t earn any points. Usually you would fence such a tournament if it’s a particular destination you want to visit, or if the tournament offers both SYC/ROC and RJCC events that you can fence on the same trip.
Level 5 – National
The top level of US competition is the national level – North American Cups (NACs), the Junior Olympic Championships (JO’s), and Summer Nationals/July Challenge. These events attract the best fencers from all over the US as well as fencers from outside the US. The level of competition is very high, so you should be very comfortable with traveling to regional tournaments before you start this level.
We will also assign each of our competitive fencers a level which they’re best suited for. We’ll base this on your most recent competition experience, including the levels of tournaments and how frequently you competed. In general, whichever level of tournament you fenced the most over the past year, that will be your level. Of course, feel free to talk to your coach if you have questions.
You should plan to fence as many tournaments as possible at your level, and the level below. You can also start looking at the tournaments one level higher than yours, to start getting familiar with the next challenge.
If you’re considering fencing in an event 2 or more levels above yours, you should talk to your coach about whether it’s an appropriate choice, and what your expectations should be.
Once you’re at Level 4 or 5, you can pay less attention to the lowest level events. If you’ve been practicing your refereeing, ask about helping to referee a Level 1 or 2 tournament. Referee practice helps you develop as a fencer, and you even get paid!