Joe Streb Wins Pan American ChampionshipJoseph Streb of Upper Arlington won the Pan American Veteran’s Fencing Championships in both foil and saber this past weekend in Oranjestad, Aruba. Streb is the 2014 U.S. National Champion in veteran’s foil, and also won the silver medal in June at the U. S. National Championships in Columbus. Streb was part of the veteran national saber team that won gold in team saber at the 2013 Veteran’s World Fencing Championships in Varna, Bulgaria.
“I had heard of Aruba years ago, and I wanted to see it, and the Pan Am Championships being there motivated me to go,” Streb said. “The beaches of Aruba are as beautiful as can be found anywhere, and there is an interesting mix of Latin, Dutch, and English visitors, but the heat and humidity make fencing a challenge, as the fencing area was not air-conditioned,” he added.
Streb previously participated internationally in the World Championships in 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2013. He has qualified in both foil and saber for the 2014 Veteran World Championships to be held in Debrecen, Hungary in October. He had never before attended the Pan American Championships which next year are in Ecuador. His other best prior individual international results were a silver medal in saber in 2012 in Austria and a bronze medal in saber in the 2005 in Tampa, Florida.
Streb was an all-Ohio quarterback and the first All-Ohio wrestler from his high school. He now resides in Upper Arlington with his wife and three children, and he works as an attorney in Columbus. He has been fencing competitively for twenty-three years in all three fencing weapons: foil, saber, and epee. He was also the overall U. S. season points champion in individual foil and saber.
Streb is a member of the Royal Arts Fencing Club and the Columbus Fencers’ Club. He is coached by his son, Joseph T. Streb, a former Ohio State varsity fencer, and he sometimes trains with his daughter, a current member of the Ohio State varsity fencing team under Vladimir Nazlemov, three-time Olympic medalist from the former Soviet Union. When asked how he fares against the Ohio State varsity fencers, Streb said, "I can still beat all but the top varsity fencers because experience trumps youthful exuberance."
There are three weapons in the sport of fencing, all with different rules and target areas on the opponent’s body. When asked to explain the difference between foil, saber, and epee, Streb said, “When people think of lunging to hit the opponent's heart, they are thinking of foil. In foil, it is necessary to stab the opponent in the chest to score. "When people think of slicing the opponent, they are thinking of saber," he said. Many people also know about the saber weapon from movies, such as, Zorro, and they know about the epee weapon from movies, such as, the James Bond film, Die Another Day." In epee, the entire body is a valid target and there are very few rules. Both the epee and saber weapons were used in actual sword dueling before it was outlawed in the U. S. in 1834. On the other hand, foil fencing developed as practice for deadly combat, and only the torso of the opponent is valid target. There is also a "right-of-way rule" whereby if both fencers hit on the valid target area, the one who started to attack first is awarded the touch. "Double attacks in sword fighting are discouraged for obvious reasons," Streb noted. "Running one's opponent through is the object, but there is no benefit in impaling yourself in the process."
Unlike in Europe where even small town municipal sport facilities have fencing halls, the sport of fencing in the United States is found mainly in large cities and major universities. However, the sport continues to grow in the U. S, in part because it is possible for both men and women to compete locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally at any age. Fencing is the only sport to be continuously part of the modern Olympic Games. The U. S. is gearing-up for the 2016 Olympic Games scheduled for Brazil, and veteran fencers are looking forward to the World Championships in Debrecen, Hungary in October.
See also, USFencing.org.