Founder and Director of Athletic Development Alexandre Ryjik
Alexandre Ryjik began fencing at age eight in St. Petersburg, Russia. At age 17, he earned a Master of Sport in Fencing of the USSR, one of the most prestigious certifications in this sport. As a fencer he holds many championship titles: All Republic Champion, Army Champion, Leningrad Champion, and National Youth Champion of the Soviet Union. As a coach he has produced a number of national champions and medalists, World Cup and world championship competitors. He was designated United States Coach at the 2009 World Championships in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and head of the U.S. delegation at the 2010 World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan. He developed a curriculum and trained coaches at the High Level Technical Courses at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He is also a Professor of Fencing at American and George Mason Universities. He currently serves as Chair of the USFA Club Development Committee.
Director of Historical Swordsmanship Programs and Senior Coach Bill Grandy is an authority on Historical Swordsmanship, and he combines the athletic approach of sport fencing with extensive historical research. He has been invited to teach across the U.S., most notably the Western Martial Arts Workshop in Racine, Wisconsin for multiple years, Chivalric Weekend, Longpoint, and Swordfest. He has written articles in martial arts publications on the German longsword, Italian rapier, training methodology and pedagogy. His new book Italian Renaissance Swordsmanship is due to be published later this year. Coach Bill teaches intermediate and advanced rapier and longsword classes at VAF, as well as beginning and intermediate sport fencing classes.
Senior Coach Alex Wood has been involved in fencing for over 25 years, having trained under several Olympic coaches. He attended Stanford University where he became a three-time NCAA All-American in Foil. Coach Wood was a U.S. National Champion, a 5-time World Championships national team member and a 4-time Junior Olympics champion. He served on the USA Fencing (National Governing Body of Fencing) Board of Directors from 2004 until 2012, with the last 4 years serving as the Chair of the USAF Athlete Council. He is currently the Chair of the National Team Oversight Committee, which reviews and oversees all international team development. He teaches competitive classes and provides individual lessons for elite students.
Senior Coach Russ Wilson has over thirty years of experience in fencing. He was an All-American and All Ivy-League fencer at Columbia University. Russ was trained by legendary fencing master and U.S. Olympic coach Csaba Elthes. A member of three U.S. national under-20 teams, he was 1983 National Under 20 Sabre champion. He was also a member of the 1985 USA Maccabiah Team and won a bronze individual and a team gold medal in the World Maccabiah Games. As a “AAA” rated international referee, Coach Russ was selected to referee at the 1984, 1988 and 1996 Olympic Games. Coach Russ holds the rank of "Referee Emeritus" in the United States Fencing Association - this is the highest honor granted a referee. He has served as chair of numerous panels for USA Fencing, and is USA Fencing's Director of Security since 2001. Professionally, Russ is an expert in national security affairs and holds five advanced degrees. In 2010, Russell Wilson was inducted into the USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame. He coaches all three weapons and at all levels at VAF.
Senior Coach David Rowe has been with Virginia Academy of Fencing since 1999. He underwent training from the Fencing Master and the Director of Historical Programs. His lifelong dedication to fencing has allowed him to develop an athletic yet personable teaching style. Coach David has been invited to teach nationally and internationally at various Historical Swordsmanship workshops, and he actively competes in Historical Swordsmanship and is a decorated medalist at the national and international level. Coach David also assists with research and interpretation for Historical Swordsmanship, and is currently undergoing his graduate studies at Catholic University with a focus on Medieval fencing manuscripts. He has taught beginning sport and historical fencing classes to hundreds of students in the area at schools and recreation centers. He teaches beginning, intermediate, and advanced sport and historical swordsmanship classes.
Coach Kelly Wynn was trained in sport fencing at James Madison University where she graduated in 2000. She continued her training under the Fencing Master and the Director of Historical Programs at Virginia Academy of Fencing and began teaching in 2005. Coach Kelly received specialized training in rapier and smallsword from the Director of Historical Programs. She teaches beginning and intermediate sport fencing and historical swordsmanship classes. She also often performs demonstrations of sport and historical fencing at local and regional exhibitions in the area.
Coach Wesley Miller has been with VAF since 2006. He was trained by the Fencing Master and is a decorated competitor at the regional and national level. Coach Wes was a 2009 Virginia State Champion and was a member of the NCAA Division I fencing team at Cleveland State University. Coach Wes teaches classes and private lessons in sabre and foil.
Coach Alexander (Sasha) Ryjik is a competitive A rated fencer, and a long-time member of the US National Team, representing the U.S. at the 2009, 2010, and 2012 Junior and Cadet World Championships and numerous World Cups. He is also a 2-time National Champion, a Pan-American Champion, and 2013 Ivy League Champion with Harvard University. He teaches all levels and disciplines of fencing.
Coach Mark Miller brings 10 years of coaching experience to VAF. In addition to this, he is licensed to teach grades 6 to 12 in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Coach Mark is a very competitive fencer at the Veteran category level. He is also actively involved in fencing as treasurer and coach for the National Fencing Foundation of Washington D.C., a non-profit organization that promotes the sport of fencing for at-risk middle and high schools students. He teaches both beginning and intermediate Olympic Sport fencing classes.
Coach Jonathan Gordon has been with VAF since 2008. He teaches German Longsword and Italian Rapier in the Historical Swordsmanship program as well as modern Olympic foil. In addition, Coach Jonathan has a love for all things Scottish and is the vice president of the Clan MacKenzie Society in the Americas. He actively researches and recreates Scottish historical swordsmanship based on period fencing treatises, and has traveled internationally to train with experts in the field. He teaches beginning and intermediate Olympic Sport Fencing and Historical Swordsmanship classes.
Coach Michael “Misha” Ryjik has been fencing since 2005. He was trained by the Fencing Master and has competed and medaled at the national level. In addition to his longtime commitment to fencing, he is also a professional actor and has extensive experience in stage combat. Coach Misha teaches beginning classes in Olympic Sport fencing.