Quote Originally Posted by FencingMove View Post
From a personal perspective the scrapping of cards has had absolutely no effect on how I associate with the sport. The 'psychological impact' of not having a physical membership card is negligible.

I strongly believe that nobody would consider whether or not to become a member of the BFA based on whether or not they received a piece of card in the mail.

I actually think there is a strong case for getting rid of the physical copy of 'The Sword' magazine unless requested as this, no doubt generates massive cost with little value added. I suspect in most households the magazine goes straight from letterbox to bin without being read.

Seems to me like you are quite a big fan of form over function in your appreciation of the sport.
I do have to say I find your posts and general demeanor in the way you respond to people fascinating. While I think it may not be particularly productive to focus on responding negatively to other peoples questions and thoughts, I do at least appreciate that you are not afraid to be antagonistic which is clearly something that British Fencing is in need of from its members if we are ever going to break out of the current situation.
I'm inclined to agree with you re "The Sword' magazine. It has definitely been in significant decline. That being said I was having a clear out before moving house and found several containing some very interesting articles that go back some way that it was good to reexamine. It reminded me of some different coaching ideas that I haven't had to use for some time.
Now in reference to form over function, I tend towards an analytical approach to problems. ie, define the current situation. Identify what the target to be achieved was. Identify what changes were made previously and if they have had the intended affect. I'm also quite keen on examining changes that have been carried out that were considered at the time to be insignificant. So for this example, one of the factors that naturally impacts fencer engagement is the sense of "Community" among fencers, that community for some may be only at the club level, for others it may involve association with fencers at a county, regional, HC, National or World level. Community may involve fencers being engaged with one another outside of the training environment, it may be limited to training sessions. Similarly, little details mean different things to different fencers. For example older fencers may prefer to keep abreast of fencing news through "the sword". Some may do the same by participating in Veterans fencing competitions. Some young fencers may like to feel they are part of something bigger by completing the grading syllabus, others may prefer to compete in LPJS.
My questions are informed by my observations over the past 12 years as a coach working with fencers of various different ability levels and in a range of different club environments, including clubs that were primarily social and rarely sent any fencers to competitions as well as clubs that sent fencers to international events regularly. In the social club when a fencer decided to step into the world of competition it was a big deal and for an eleven year old their BFA card was a point of pride. Not everyone is the same. As far as I can tell in terms of what fencers at the basic level experience five things have changed over the past ten years, first funding has been cut, second cost of equipment and venues has gone up, third the BFA has devolved to HC's, Fourth membership cards were removed, Fifth the Sword has gone from monthly to quarterly. These are the things that get noticed by club level fencers. I admit the first two are probably the most significant factors, but if community is involved with engagement the other three elements have a part to play as well.