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Fencing and fencers in Sokol Vršovice

Written by KarelAdmin
Tuesday, 01 January 2008

Brief history of our club written by chairman of the club and main coach Miroslav Doležel.

Sokol sign fencers

Fencing and fencers in Sokol Vršovice

The art of fencing in Prague had it's numerous followers and experts even during those ages, when nobody could have any idea about it's future sport form. Schools of fencing could be found here already in 16th century, when the fencing masters were still members of respectable cutlers guild in Prague, first clubs then – officers or academic mainly – since 17th century. The fencing was considered to be a beneficial and noble physical exercise also by Dr. Tyrš (1832-1884, Charles University of Prague professor and co-founder of Czech Sokol Community - an organization supporting modern sport development in Czech lands, translation of "Sokol" is "Falcon"). In spite of his best meant attempt to create Czech language fencing terminology was not successful, his fondness of fencing, and sabre fencing specially, didn't diminish. Fencing also become one of the first “establishing” olympic sports at the end of 19th century. This was the most fortunate beginning of change from martial art to modern sport.

Sokol buildingFirst fencers in Sokol Vršovice (Vršovice is a district of Prague) appeared in 1926 and names like Podhrázský, Vála or Prušák were connected to the beginnings of our club the most. But fencing is an indoor sport and hall dedicated to fencing was not available at that time. The club therefore found the harbour in gym of Citizen's school in Kodaňská street first and in temporary wooden building called “The Nest” erected by the summer practise ground later. Conditions for fencers were there almost ancient Sparta like. No heating summer or winter, just cold water to wash... When the club resettle to the first real fencing hall in new Sokol's building in 1933, fencers could finally train in appropriate environment of above average level in Prague.

Beside good background it is necessary to have talented students and experienced instructors to be successful in sport. We can say that fencers of Sokol Vršovice club had both of it. Famous fencing masters tought in Prague at that time – Di Rosa from Italy, Goffignon from France, gentlemen Sokolowski, Kamenický, Pavelka… Fencers of Sokol Vršovice club had shorter or longer opportunity to learn from almost all of these men of famous names. Though accredited fencing masters Albín Richter, Raymund Pelíšek and since 1932 also Czech national team member František Kříž worked in our club the most. It was also self-evident that experienced fencers helped and advised their younger and beginning followers. We can find a name Rudolf Kratochvíl on the list of Vršovice fencers somewhen after 1934 for the first time. Some of us still remember him well and are able to match a face to this name. Fencing in Sokol Vršovice went through many changes, both good and bad times were in front of it before this young and talented ČOS team member become such a gracious and patient teacher as remember some of us.

badge Prague 13Probably the biggest success of a club member was victory of Marie Šedivá on world championship held in Piešťany (Slovakia) in 1938. She won the foil - the only women category - without any single defeat (!). She was four times Czech national foil champion in 1934-37, another club member Rybka become twice national champion in epée, Sokol Vršovice was successful in team competitions too. Unfortunatelly, occupation of Czechoslovakia by fascist Germany interrupted these sport successes of Vršovice's weapons and Sokol activities were prohibited. Vršovice fencers spreaded into other Prague clubs. They were adopted in ČŠK Riegel, in Slavia (Marie Šedivá and Jaroslav Krůba), gentlemen Korbel, Bezchleba, Kyselý or Rudolf Kratochvíl went to Rapid Vinohrady. But all of them returned to Sokol Vršovice immediatelly in the middle of 1945 with hope to continue in famous pre-war tradition. They didn't suspect that they had only two calm years in front of them. "The All Falcon Rally" in 1948 was the last big blaze of Sokol. The communist conception of "unified physical education" came to life and there was no space for Sokol as a symbol of old democratic Czechoslovakia any more. Therefore 22 men, 14 women, 14 boys and 6 girls separated again and fencing club Sokol Vršovice winded up. For long, long forty years this time.
Experience though can't be forgotten so easily and friendship tied on the fencing piste last long. Though club didn't exist and though fencing was not preferred sport during communist regime, former members continued their work different way in another places. Marie Krůbová-Šedivá and Jaroslav Krůba took several of their fencing students to national champion title (for example miss Machanová, Šimáková, Šabarta siblings ) and many others brought to love for intelligent, technical fencing they tought. Rudolf Kratochvíl become that gracious and respected "Kráťa" in TJ Spoje fencing club. He was the one who took hold of foil, epée or sabre so easily and whose lessons were unbelievably modern and dynamic all the time. Therefore he was the one who was able to teach something new and useful any of us even in his age of eighty. It's not possible to mention here everybody who managed to save and handed over the craft, skill, diligence and friendly spirit of former Sokol Vršovice fencing club. Every single of these people, his or her own way on different places contributed to raise the new generations of fencers in Prague.

logo 1991And therefore when one is not lazy even miracles could happen, “Kráťa”, one of the last living members of old Sokol Vršovice club, lived to see his club reborn in 1991!

Mr. Miroslav Doležel, current chairman and main coach of Sokol Vršovice recovered this fencing club again and together with Kráťa, Markéta Bláhová, Jan Houžvička and later with Martin Chaloupka, Dáša Novotná, Zdeňek Cvejn, Bronislava Cvejnová-Skalická, Iva Veselá-Benešová and Petr Veselý worked hard on resurrection of fencing in Sokol Vršovice. This work wasn't easy becouse members changed several times during years and every time was necessary to start practically from the beginning. We settled our first web pages in 1999 which helped us to promote better our club.

logo 1999After more then ten years of its existence, our club can be proud of about 60 members with majority in categories of pupils and cadets (i.e. till age of 16) and stable team of instructors. Regrettably, without help of Rudolf Kratochvíl - "Kráťa", since 1998.
Results of our members in Czech foil competitions like Czech cup, Championship of the Czech republic and Championship of Czech Sokol Community are quite remarkable. Raising young starlets like Daniela Doležalová, Marie Soukupová, Daniela Kordíková, Michal Boháč or Adam Brož already know what is the taste of victory in tournaments or final fights for medals.

As far as tournament results concerns, our club reached 15th position between 34 registered fencing clubs in the Czech republic in millenium year 2000. Our members also reached qualification to participate in Championship of the Czech republic 2000 in all age categories for the first time!

But to cross the fingers to fencing is not enough! Every club member can continue in famous tradition by his or her results and become a part of the newest history of our fencing club!

Last Updated Monday, 16 July 2012
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