Olympic fencing coach promotes popular Bay Area sport 

Mike Pederson, the owner of the Golden Gate Fencing Foundation, coached the women’s foil team in the Beijing Olympics. This weekend, the foundation is sponsoring the Paul Pesthy Memorial Western Super Youth Circuit tournament at the San Jose Convention Center.

How long has this tournament been going on? We’re going on our fifth year for Super Youth Circuit, which is one of the tournaments that help kids under age 14 qualify for summer national tournaments.

Why get involved in fencing? It’s a physical chess. It’s high-speed and very tactical. Kids fall in love because you are trying to outsmart one another. I fell in love because I was walking by an auditorium and heard the “tick-tack, tick-tack” of the blades hitting each other. I tried it and just never stopped.

How difficult is it to learn fencing? I can teach you to fence in 5 minutes. There are two people and the simple concept is to score against the other person before they score against you.

You said the Bay Area is a hotbed for fencing. Why? Oddly enough, there are probably 20 to 30 fencing clubs in the Bay Area. We’ve had multiple national finalists, international finalists and members of the Olympic team come from the Bay Area.

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