Contributed by Patrick Liu
Taking a deep breath, sword in hand, senior Patrick Liu stares fiercely at his opponent. As the world-class fencer enters the piste, he is reminded of his hard work, sacrifice and everlasting passion for his sport.
Liu has fenced since he was seven-years-old
Liu competes for Canada and has made the Canadian national team the past three years. He has traveled to many prestigious events, such as the Junior World Cup in which he placed fifth in the under 20 age group out of more than 50 of the world’s top fencers. Liu currently trains at the Marx Fencing Academy and has been able to learn valuable life lessons from fencing.
According to Liu, fencing is not easy but he finds the nuances of the sport very enjoyable.
“It takes a little bit at first to get the technique down and for the movements to feel fluid because the actions in fencing definitely aren’t as natural as running or swimming. After you get into the groove, it’s really fun,” Liu said.
Liu faces many of the same struggles as the average high schooler: managing school work, social life and extracurriculars. Throughout the years, he has slowly boiled down his other after-school activities in order to focus on fencing.
He said that fencing has taught him an array of life lessons and skills.
“The biggest way it’s shaped me is by forcing me to be independent and confident in my own abilities and skills and also how to maintain and take care of myself,” Liu said.
His club teammate and sophomore at Boston College, Bin Huang, believes that both he and Liu have learned how to accept and rebound from failure.
“We learned that just one competition isn’t going to mean that much. I think what we care about more is the growth and trajectory we have over the season,” Huang said.
To welcome failure as a learning experience extends far beyond fencing, and Huang believes that this lesson has helped them to avoid getting discouraged.
Liu also said he has been able to learn a great deal from his teammates and those around him.
“Everybody is very supportive and just helps everybody grow,” Liu said.
Liu and his coach, Olympic silver-medalist Ralf Bissdorf, often travel to competitions across the world together. Bissdorf believes that Liu has gained a well-rounded outlook on life.
“The guy has values. He’s hard working, he reflects upon himself and what’s going on around him. He cares for other people. He’s very respectful towards coaches,” Bissdorf said.
Bissdorf said Liu has been successful for a number of reasons, namely due to his ability to stay balanced and grounded.
“Liu is driven but doesn’t forget fun, and ready to learn new things but not scared of learning new things and then trying to implement them. Plus he’s somebody who goes with an open mind through life,” Bissdorf said.
Liu’s constant determination to improve has inspired those around him.
“I think that’s something really special about him. Some people that he fences with are more experienced, much older and they’re stronger than him. Patrick always finds a way to make it work. And if he loses, then he accepts it and if he wins it, he’s always happy. He fights really hard,” Huang said.
With Liu in his last year before college, Bissdorf said he is looking forward to the progress Liu will continue to make.
“We will miss him, but I think he’s ready for life beyond high school,” Bissdorf said. “And I have no doubt that he’s going to be successful in the future in whatever he’s doing and whatever he’s trying to achieve.”