The air buzzed in the main atrium of Cardinal Place with the swish of blade and the clash of steel as fencing came to EDF Energy’s head office. For the Tier 1 sponsors of the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics one of EDF Energy’s key goals is to raise awareness of sport and have 100% engagement with all staff. With this in mind an action-packed and informative session was put together to introduce staff to the world of fencing. The session was introduced by Team GB Men’s Foil Coach Ziemek Wojciechowski (9 times Olympian), Veterans’ International GB fencer and EDF Energy Voyager Project Director Richard Sage, EDF Energy Olympic Ambassador Claire Reid and EDF Energy London 2012 Games Maker Richard Townsend.
The session started with an introduction from Claire and Richard on the importance of a good work/life balance and an explanation of how fencing can enhance physical fitness and mental wellbeing. This was then followed by a brief presentation by Ziemek showing how the skills of Olympic fencers transfer into the workplace with the focus on one of the company’s ambitions of high performance.
Once the introductions were finished participants were able to get a hands-on experience with an induction to the sport from former National youth champion Laura Delany. They were shown footwork, how to attack and defend and then given plastic GO/FENCE equipment with which they put their new skills into action, fencing against each other with vigour and enjoyment.
While the participants were learning their new skills Richard and his fencing partners Tony Bartlett (3 times GB Olympian) and Stephen Steinberg (GB Veterans’ epeeist) were demonstrating the sport at a higher level to spectators at the event with Ziemek commentating, refereeing and explaining what was going on and the techniques that were being used. Richard gave feedback on how fencers prepare and plan before and during a match in order to keep the competitive edge, work on their strengths and find their opponents’ weaknesses.
After the event spectators and participants where asked to leave feedback and comments of the day. Some of the comments received were:
– “Brilliant – something I would probably never have tried otherwise. The coaching was great, really made me feel like I knew what I was doing.”
– “I found the session great fun and really enjoyed learning the basic fencing techniques. It’s something I never would have done if the event hadn’t been arranged”
– “I can really see how the skills and practices of fencing can translate into the workplace. Great session!”
– “Excellent, lots of fun with the hands-on fencing.”
The main points to link fencing with high performance:
• Vision, inspiration and passion
You need to be able to set goals have the drive achieve them, as a fencer needs the passion to train and improve and desire to want to win. Businessmen need to know and envision where they are going and have the inspiration to get there, both under management and independently.
• Planning, preparation and measurement
As with all events in the workplace or within fencing, planning, preparation and measurement are key to success. To be able to succeed people need to know where they are going, how they are going to get there and then be able to evaluate how successful they were was afterwards. “Training on your weaknesses, competing to your strengths”.
To compete highly in anything you have to know that you have the ability to succeed. You need to have the right internal dialogue, accept the challenge and believe in the outcome. “See it, feel it, trust it, say it”.
Fencing on the piste is a one-on-one sport but fencing can be a team sport where teams of three accumulate points. Only by working as a team, spotting and discussing opponents’ strengths and weaknesses, are teams able to win tournaments. Within the workplace, only by working with mutual support, challenge and encouragement are teams able to thrive and succeed.
After all the preparation, training and planning, you need to be able to deliver by striving for peak performance in competition, as in business if it all goes to plan and people work to their full potential then outcome can be positive, even if it is not the outcome that was expected.
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