En Garde At 5T Fencing

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Fencing__BIt’s not every day you can stroll into a fencing school and be trained by an actual Olympic athlete, but that’s what 5T Fencing Club of Mineola offers—a chance to learn the way of the blade from someone who has actually competed at the highest level possible.

5T Fencing Club is located at 63 East Second St., and boasts a large, high-tech facility dedicated to the art of swordplay. According to owner Jonathan Tiomkin of Hewlett, the school employs some of the top coaching talent around and the results of his students speak for themselves.

“I have several students that are top competitors in their respective age divisions…and our results are very, very high level,” he said. “We’re probably one of the top five clubs in the country in foil. In fencing there are three weapons—foil, epee and saber. We only specialize in foil…in fencing, all coaches specialize. Nobody teaches all three weapons, as all three are considered to be very different from one another, tactically speaking, and the foil is considered to be the original weapon of fencing. Because of that, there’s a certain element of prestige to it.”

Tiomkin first started fencing in high school and said that he fell in love with the sport from the very second he picked up his first fencing foil. From there, he worked tirelessly to up his skills to their maximum, eventually performing in front of a worldwide audience.

“When I was 17 years old I started taking it very seriously and got a coach in the city. From that point forward, I started training very, very hard,” he said. “Within two years, I was Men’s National Champion, and from there I went to college and won the NCAA championships at St. John’s University. In 2004, I qualified for the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, where I did well in both team and individual competition.”

Directly after the Olympic Games, Tiomkin came home and immediately set out to open up his own Fencing Club in his hometown of Hewlett.

Coach Dylan Healy, 5T owner/head coach Jonathan Tiomkin and coach Gidon Retzkin

“I just really wanted to start my life,” he said. “I decided for myself a long time ago that I wanted to be a fencing coach…I really enjoyed working with kids, and I like helping and being involved in fencing, so that decision stemmed from there.”

He opened the club to early success, but after several years outgrew his original location. From there, in January of 2015, Tiomkin moved 5T to his current location in Mineola, and has since tripled his membership.

The school is 5,000 square feet in size, and the practice floor is lined with 12 electric strips for detecting and registering hits on competitors during sparring. There’s also a weight lifting and exercise area, as well as a full armory and locker room for students, whom Tiomkin said are put through the paces in all aspects of fencing in each and every one of his classes.

“We have lots of conditioning classes, both for beginner, intermediate, and advanced students. Fencing requires a high degree of concentration and everyone has to be physically fit in terms of their legs and their cardio…and technically, fencing is very difficult,” he said.

“Each one of our classes are really designed to maximize the potential of our students. We’ll warm up, and then do footwork, games, drills and hold bouts against each other. We designed the environment so that each student is having fun, but it is a competitive club so we make sure the students are always pushing themselves and getting better all the time. The club is really designed to get our kids to be the best that they can be.”

Tiomkin said that 5T caters to fencing enthusiasts of almost any age, starting with kids as young as seven and going well into adulthood. He noted that he even has students in their 40s and 50s.

However, he said that age is not a determining factor in fencing when it comes to maximizing your potential; all you need is the right frame of mind and the determination to better yourself. Plus, he noted, fencing is truly a sport with a strong sense of individualism as well, making it the perfect sport for competitive people or those just wanting to have fun and improve themselves while doing so.

“There are advantages to starting younger, but what’s most important is your state of mind and a desire to improve. I actually started later than some, and I managed to get to the Olympics,” Tiomkin said. “In the end, this is a sport where each person’s personality will come out…some are more defensive, some are more aggressive. Some are more tactical, some less. But in the end, each person’s personality and character comes out, and the higher your technical skill level is, the more you’ll be able to show what’s inside of you.”

For more information, visit www.5tfencersclub.com.

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