Founded in 2010 by Olympian Dan Kellner, Brooklyn Bridge Fencing Club bridges the gap between elite-level fencing and the bustling community of Brooklyn. No longer would Brooklynites need to cross the bridge (Brooklyn or otherwise) to find Olympic-level fencing. Situated right in their backyard, BBFC is located on the fifth floor of a former tea warehouse at 68 Jay Street along the cobblestone streets of Dumbo. The historically-rich neighborhood proves a fitting backdrop to the dynamic and challenging sport of fencing with a fascinating history that dates back thousands of years.
Dan teaches all levels of students --- young and old, beginner and experienced. His philosophy is simple: fencing should be both fun and competitive. BBFC instills self-confidence, sportsmanship, ambition, and analytical thinking through positive motivation. Whether a student has aspirations to compete in the Olympic Games, make a high school varsity squad, or just learn a new sport, he or she will have a great time developing fencing skills that challenge both body and mind while simultaneously preparing them for success at the level they wish to achieve.
Fencing is a unique and interesting sport best experienced in person. If you've never seen the sport before (or you have and want to see it again), we welcome you to stop in for a visit. Come take a look around and see what its all about.
While video games usually don't lead to physical activity of any kind, in Dan's case, they led him to the Olympics. At the age of thirteen, he played an Olympics-themed game that would change his life. The game featured fencing and the event sparked his interest in the sport. Fortunately, his school had a team and after joining, he was hooked. By fifteen, Dan started to show some talent and his high school coach suggested an increase in training outside of school.
Dan finished his competitive career fifteen years later ranked 1st in the U.S., 1st in the hemisphere, and 10th in the world. He was a member of the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team where he placed 16th individually and, as captain of the foil team, led the U.S. squad to a 4th place finish, the highest in fifty-six years. He was also a seven-time U.S. World Championship Team Member, U.S. National Champion, U.S. National Junior Champion, U.S. Junior World Championship Team Member, a two-time U.S. World University Games Team Member, and a two-time U.S. Pan-American Games Team Member. In 2003, he was the first American foil fencer to win the Pan-American Games in twenty-eight years and also led the team to its first gold medal in thirty-two years. He also has numerous podium and medal finishes at National, World Cup, and Grand Prix World Cup fencing tournaments. Finally, while attending Columbia University, Dan was a four-time NCAA All-American and 1998 NCAA Fencer of the Year.
Dan was also an assistant coach to Simon Gershon, then the U.S. Men's Foil National Coach, for many years and has been coaching in Brooklyn for the past two years. He now brings his coaching and competition experience to BBFC where he intends to pass on the knowledge that made him one of the top ten fencers in the world and looks forward to training future generations of great American foil fencers.
Brendan has over 15 years of fencing and coaching experience. In 2004, he was ranked second in the world in the Junior (under 20) age group, and from 2002 through 2004, he was ranked first in the country in the Youth 14, Cadet (under 17) and Junior age groups. He is a three-time Junior and Cadet World Championship Team member and two-time Junior and Cadet World Championship Bronze Medalist ('02 & '04). Brendan is also a 4-time Junior Olympic and 3-time Junior National Champion.
Brendan has been coaching for over 5 years at both clubs and New York area schools, and his students have won regional medals and national medals.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is fencing?
Modern fencing is a sport with roots dating back as far as ancient Egypt. While the sword was used for self-defense in earlier times, modern fencing has evolved into a fun, dynamic, and fast-paced sport.
Fencing is fast and athletic, not like the choreographed duels you see in movies. There is no swinging from the chandeliers or leaping from balconies, just two fencers lunging and retreating in intense competition on a long narrow strip. The movement is so fast that the touches must be scored electronically and a director or referee stands by to determine who scored the touch.
Fencing, like any other sport, is fun, its great exercise, and its accessible to people of all shapes and sizes. Fencing requires you to train not just your body, but your mind as well, making you focused, fast, and efficient. Every movement is at once powerful and economical, decisive and swift. Fencing is a unique sport with a strength, beauty, and grace all its own.
Is fencing safe?
Fencing is very safe. We take care to follow the rules of the sport strictly and to respect the weapon. We always wear safety gear (masks, gloves, and protective jackets) and never play around when people without protection are nearby. As a result of this emphasis on safety, fencing has one of the lowest rates of injury of any sport. If you do it correctly, fencing should not hurt.
Why are your packages structured the way they are?
The fencing packages at Brooklyn Bridge Fencing are structured so that the student can get as much fencing practice as possible. There are three main aspects of fencing practice: private lessons, fencing exercises/footwork and bouting. The packages at Brooklyn Bridge Fencing are designed to cover all three so that the student can become proficient and successful as quickly as possible.
How many days a week do I need to fence?
Beginners usually attend a class once a week, but after a few months are encouraged to attend more frequently once they decide they like the sport. Fencing ability doesn't develop overnight, but the more you fence, the quicker your skills will improve. Our unlimited packages are designed to train fencers regularly and often so that they can become proficient enough to start competing as soon as possible. (We suggest at least six months of practice before entering your first competition.) Our packages encourage students to take advantage of as much time on the strip and with the coach as possible.
Once a student has decided that he/she wants to pursue fencing further, it's best to start with one private lesson a week, a class, and bouting. Students who want to fence in competitive tournaments should practice two to three days a week and take two private lessons a week. Students who have aspirations of becoming elite fencers need to practice a minimum of three times a week and take at least three private lessons per week.
Do I need to buy all the equipment?
In the beginning, we provide all the necessary equipment. However, after the first month, we ask you to buy your own glove and mask for hygienic reasons. After that, if you decide to pursue the sport further, you'll need to buy more of your own equipment.