Metro Tacoma Fencing Club

The Home of Sport Fencing in the South Puget Sound

Thank You

For most of its early years Metro Tacoma Fencing Club relied exclusively on volunteer coaches who gave their time generously to help the club grow. We would not be here today without these coaches. We have had a number of coaches graduate, relocate, and retire given the longevity of this fencing club. We also rely on the volunteer board members to whom we are grateful.

We want to acknowledge and thank all these individuals and their contributions.


Club Founders

Harald R. Hillemann (1920-2007) President Emeritus and Club Founder. Anivivo! Anaviva! Harald R. Hillemann founded the Blue Steel Fencing Club in 1967. He was the senior member and President Emeritus of the Blue Steel fencing Club and the 'Metro Tacoma Fencing Club, Blue Steel'. He began his fencing career in Poland in the 1920’s. Later in his 30’s he studied with Maestro Leon Auriol becoming proficient in all three weapons. Since 1967, Harald actively taught fencing in the Tacoma and Pierce County area. He began programs in fencing instruction at Fort Lewis, McChord Air Force Base, the YWCA, Pierce College, First Covenant Church, and the University of Puget Sound. Harald attended the United States Fencing Association Coaches College for Sabre in 1994 studying under Maestro Ed Richards. Harald participated in numerous fencing tournaments and demonstrations in his career. Harald brought his faith to the sport and was a fast proponent of Classical Fencing technique and style. A fierce competitor, spry and crafty, Harald took on all comers. Coach Hillemann taught all three weapons for the Club.

Marty Tetloff,(Coach, Prévôt in Épée, and Moniteur in Foil and Sabre) founded the not for profit Metro Tacoma FC in 1998 and served on the Board of Directors as President and CEO. He was certified by the United States Fencing Coaches Association (USFCA) and Academie of Armes Internationale (AAI) as a Prévôt in épée and Moniteur d'Armes to teach all three fencing weapons. He is a rated referee in all weapons. Marty developed, implemented and coached various programs in his fencing career including: Gig Harbor Sport Fencing, Metropolitan Park District of Tacoma, The City of Enumclaw Parks and Recreation, Enumclaw Home School Cooperative, Tacoma School of the Arts (TSOTA) and the West Chester University Fencing Club in Pennsylvania. Marty has intercollegiate, local, divisional, regional and national competitive experience: USFA National Championships, Foil and Épée - national points ranking; had a B rating in Épée and a C rating in Foil. He has fenced in North American Cup circuit events and the following USFA Divisions: Western Washington, Oregon, Northern California and Philadelphia. Marty was a 3 year NCAA fencer at California State University, Sacramento where he first started to fence in 1976. Marty has had articles published on fencing and edited the chapter on fencing for the book Playgrounds to the Pros: An Illustrated History of Sports in Tacoma-Pierce County by Caroline Denyer Gallacci, Marc Blau and Doug McArthur.

Former Coaches

Dana Sanford (Coach). Dana has been fencing since the age of 12, competed nationally for 4 years, and trained at Northwest Fencing Center during his senior year of high school, 2002-2003. He attended Drew University and was selected to participate in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Fencing Championships 3 of his 4 years while there. He was inducted in the Drew University Hall of Fame in 2018. When he was competing, he held an A classification in épée. His students have earned a number of national medals, achieved national rankings, and represented the United States internationally. Dana served as president of Metro Tacoma Fencing Club from 2018-2019.

Christian Ford (Prévôt in Foil and Épée). Coach Chris started fencing in 1983 at Wallingford Rod and Foil and was trained by Ray Coats, Steve Colton, and Jim Denton. Chris later trained and worked for the former South Korean Olympic coach, Maestro Kim Man Sik who was the coach and director of the Korean National Fencing Team, decorated by four different presidents of Korea for his outstanding achievements in fencing representing Korea, and served as executive director of the Korean Fencing Federation from 1977 to 1981. Coach Chris was a popular coach at Rain City Fencing Center where he trained Elite fencers along with Maestro Garik Balayan who was awarded the USSR Medal of Merit for his performance as a coach at the Olympic Games in Seoul and named a Coach of the USSR in 1990, the highest Soviet coaching rank. Since Chris started coaching, his students have qualified for World Cup events, earned national medals, achieved national rankings, and represented the United States internationally. Chris’s students have received scholarships and have been captains and team members of university fencing teams.

Nikanor Ford (Instructor Assistant, Assistant Moniteur). Nikanor was born in Iceland and moved to the United States when he was nine years old. In Iceland Nikanor practiced soccer for three years with Knattspyrnufélag Reykjavíkur, the oldest and most successful soccer club in Iceland and started fencing in Skylmingafélag Reyjavíkur or Reykjavík Fencing Federation. Nikanor trained at Rain City Fencing Center, where his dad, Coach Chris Ford, coached for many years; Nikanor also took classes from Maestro Garik Balayan. Nikanor is in Coach Chung's Elite foil class and has assisted Coach Chris with classes and camps over the last two years after they joined MTFC. Nikanor attends the School of Industrial Design, Engineering & Art (IDEA). He is an artistic, creative introvert and likes to work with his hands. He holds an E2022 in épée. He earned his Assistant Moniteur certification in 2022.

Joseph Jasper, MD (Head Sabre Coach, Prévôt in Sabre). Dr. Jasper is certified by the United States Fencing Coaches Association (USFCA) as a Prévôt in Saber and also teaches foil. He is a valued certified saber and épée director. Joe first fenced in 1971 in NYU’s Junior Varsity team under Hugo Castello, and continued at Case Western Reserve University. Joe has worked with coaches Bruce Burch, Harald Hillemann and later M. Wang Yung. Joe stays busy outside the salle with his career and the medical community, where he served as President of the Pierce County Medical Society. Joe enjoys teaching foil to new and intermediate fencers. Joe has been a volunteer coach at Blue Steel then Metro Tacoma Fencing Club for 25 years. Joe has a keen mind, level head and great sense of humor. His positive attitude and active lifestyle are gladly shared with his son, Max, one of our former star fencers. Coach Joe will be spending more time enjoying fishing, photography, woodworking, hiking, and spending time with his family.

Sofia Guerra (Instructor Assistant, Assistant Moniteur, MTFC Youth Athlete Representative). Sofia has been fencing foil since she was eight years old. She holds a B2021 in foil. Some of her top finishes include first place at the Div II Women’s Foil National Championship in Philadelphia and 7th place in Y14 Women’s Foil in the 2021 April NAC in Houston. Sofia has worked as an assistant coach in beginner to intermediate foil and épée classes, earning her certificate as an Assistant Monitor from the US Fencing Coaches Association in 2022. Sofia is serving as the Metro Tacoma Fencing Club Youth Athlete Representative from 2021-2023. Outside of fencing, Sofia enjoys writing, researching obscure marine biology facts, and listening to music. She graduates from Annie Wright Upper School in 2023 and will be attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Brian Li (Instructor Assistant, Assistant Moniteur, MTFC Youth Athlete Representative). Brian has been fencing since 2014. Brian earned the Regional Gold patch for Cadet and Junior épée for the 2019-2020 season. His best finish has been 2nd place for division 3 men’s épée at the April North American Cup (NAC) at Salt Lake City in 2019. Brian has a classification of A2021 in épée and E2022 in foil. He is a rated referee in all three weapons with a rating of L1 in épée, L2 in foil, and L2 in saber. Brian has assisted with the beginning épée class and substitutes when needed. He earned his certificate from the US Fencing Coaches Association as an Assistant Moniteur in 2018. Brian enjoyed glass blowing as part of the Hilltop Artists Production Team before going to college. Brian was the Metro Tacoma Fencing Club Youth Athlete Representative from 2019-2021. He has been competing on the Vassar fencing team since 2022. In college he was awarded the NCAA division 3 epee newcomer of the year award. His coaches are Dana Sanford and Bruce Gillman.

Andrew Lee (Instructor Assistant, Assistant Moniteur). Andrew has been fencing since 2008. He consistently earned national points in épée in the youth, cadet (U17), and junior (U20) age groups. His highest finish was 21st for senior (open) men’s épée at the USA Fencing July Challenge in 2018. He represented the United States in the Cadet World Cup at Copenhagen, Denmark in 2015. He earned a classification of A2022 in épée and D2021 in foil. He is a rated referee with a 10 in foil and 10 in épée (2016). He graduated from Charles Wright Academy and Harvard College where he was a member of the varsity fencing team. He qualified to compete in the 2020 NCAA fencing championships. Andrew earned his certificate from the US Fencing Coaches Association as an Assistant Moniteur in 2013. His coachs are Dana Sanford and Daria Schneider. Andrew is the Metro Tacoma Fencing Club webmaster.

Benjamin Lee (Instructor Assistant, Assistant Moniteur). Benjamin has been fencing since 2008. He was one of only eight Y10 men’s foil fencers nationally to hold a classification in the 2011-2012 season. His top national rankings by age group include Senior (open) men's foil 24th (12/11/2017), Junior (U20) men's foil 30th, and Cadet (U16) men’s foil 15th. He represented the United States at the Junior World Cup (San José, California, USA) in January, 2020 and placed 34th. He fenced at the Cadet World Cup (Bratislava, Slovakia) in January, 2018 and placed 52nd. He is among the 2% of USA Fencing competitive members who have earned a rating in all three weapons. Benjamin earned a classification of A2021 in foil, A2020 in épée, and E2019 in saber. He is a rated referee with a 10 in foil and 10 in épée (2016). He graduated from Charles Wright Academy and is attending Vassar College where continues to fence on the varsity team. Benjamin earned his certificate from the US Fencing Coaches Association as an Assistant Moniteur in 2016. His coaches are Kwangsuk Chung and Bruce Gillman.

Nicki Li (Instructor Assistant, Assistant Moniteur). Nicki has been fencing since 2014. Nicki earned a gold medal in division 3 Men’s Foil at the 2019 Summer National Championships. Nicki earned a classification of C2020 in foil. She is a rated referee in all three weapons with a rating of 9 in foil and épée, and 10 in saber (2016). Nicki has assisted with the beginning foil class and substitutes when needed. She earned her certificate from the US Fencing Coaches Association as an Assistant Moniteur in 2019. Nicki graduated from the Science and Math Institute high school here in Tacoma. Her coach is Kwangsuk Chung.

Zoe Tolbert (Instructor Assistant, Moniteur). Zoe started competitive foil fencing in 2011. She placed 2nd in the 2017 April North American Cup (NAC) in both division 2 (C and under) and division 3 (D and under) women’s foil events. She finished 7th out of 136 fencers in Division 3 women’s foil at the 2016 US Fencing Summer National Championships. She has helped coach the Competitive Foil Class and has earned her certificate from the US Fencing Coaches Association as a Moniteur in foil in 2015. She is a rated referee with a 4 in foil, 5 in épée, and 10 in saber (2018) and regularly referees at North American Cup (NAC) events. She earned a classification of B2017 in foil and E2018 in épée. She was a captain of the varsity women's foil fencing team at Vassar College where she graduated. Her coach is Kwangsuk Chung.

Keyon Davoodian (Coach). Keyon coaches some Saturday classes and competes in both foil and épée events. He has a weapons ratings of C2019 in foil and D2016 in épée. He believes that each student learns in a different way. He is a teacher, a fencer, a tropical horticulturalist, an electrician, and a hobby mechanic. Coach Keyon likes to fix things, build things, grow things, understand things.

Tom Priester, PhD (Assistant Coach, Assistant Moniteur, MTFC benefactor). Thomas has been fencing with Metro Tacoma Club since 1999 and is a three weapon fencer. He fenced in college and spent many years fencing in the Capital Division in Maryland. Tom earned his Greco Certification for Basic Foil from Bruce Burch. Thomas Priester has earned certification from the United States Fencing Coaches Association (USFCA) as an Assistant Moniteur in Foil.

Bill Robertson (Instructor Assistant). Bill is a regular coach for the beginning foil class. He competes in foil and épée. Bill is an amazing singer and has performed at previous Metro Tacoma Fencing Club functions. Bill served on the Board of Directors 2015-2019.

Bruce Burch, (Club Maestro). A retired Air Force pilot and Teacher, Bruce was a fencing instructor locally for over 30 years. Bruce, a former All-American Fencer, began in 1950 under Irving Kipnis, a student of Maestro Anthony Greco, and later became a student of Greco’s. Bruce has won 30 Gold, 15 Silver and 15 Bronze medals or trophies, including the Southwest Sectional Championships in foil and sabre. In 1956 he won the Western Intercollegiate Championships in foil and sabre, and placed 2nd in épée.He was on the All Western Collegiate Fencing Team in 1954, 1955 and 1956. In 1956, Bruce was honored with a Conference Outstanding Fencer Award. Bruce taught foil, épée, and sabre at the University of Arizona. In 2000 Bruce began a Basic Foil certification program following a curriculum developed by Maestro Anthony Greco. Maestro Burch has also trained under Ed Korfanty, Coach of the Polish National Sabre Team, Gyorgy Pillar, Hungarian Fencing Master, and Ed Richards, American Fencing Master. Bruce attended the United States Fencing Association Coaches College in épée and sabre, and was a rated referee in all weapons. He was a member of the United States Fencing Coaches Association (USFCA), Bruce taught foil, épée, and sabre.

Aaron Page (Coach, Armorer, Assistant Moniteur). Aaron began fencing in 1993 and was involved in the development of the fencing clubs at Tacoma Community College and later at Central Washington University. He was the Inland Empire Division Champion in Foil in 1997. He has competed in foil fencing in North American Cup events as well as Summer Nationals. He was a volunteer coach in the foil classes. He also served on the Club Board of Directors and was the Club Armorer.

Dylan Waits,JD (Coach and Prévôt in Foil). Dylan began fencing as a high school freshman in 1988 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, moving on to The Hague, Netherlands and training at Club Des Villiers until joining the fencing team at Brigham Young University in 1992. He was team captain, and taught beginning fencing through the Physical Education program. Fencing was cut from the university athletic roster in 1996, so he founded a campus club, continuing to teach. Relocating to Salt Lake, he taught youth fencing at the Salt Lake Fencing Club, eventually returning to coach at BYU for the campus club. Dylan returned to coaching after relocating to Western Washington. Dylan has earned certification from the United States Fencing Coaches Association (USFCA) as a Prévôt in Foil in 2011.

Chris Winslow,(Coach and Assistant Moniteur). Chris began fencing at Eastern Washington University (EWU) where he minored in early childhood education. He facilitated the growth of the EWU Fencing Club with upgrades to electric fencing and a stronger emphasis on competition through his coaching. Chris joined MTFC and assisted in coaching the beginning and intermediate classes as well as the Youth program, combining his passions of teaching children, fun, fitness, and fencing. He was a three weapon competitive fencer with ratings of C in foil, D in épée, and E in sabre. Chris had earned his certificate from the US Fencing Coaches Association as an Assistant Moniteur.

George Peebles,(Coach and Assistant Moniteur). George was a three weapon fencer and had earned his certificate from the US Fencing Coaches Association as an Assistant Moniteur. George assisted in the Youth Program and taught Beginning Foil.

Lauren Roux (Coach and Assistant Moniteur). Lauren served as Secretary to the Board of Directors, was the Communication Director for MTFC and assisted in coaching duties. Lauren had earned certification from the United States Fencing Coaches Association (USFCA) as an Assistant Moniteur in Foil. Assistant Webmaster.

Sierra Roth, (Instructor's Assistant and Assistant Moniteur). Sierra was an assistant with the Youth Program. She earned her certificate from the US Fencing Coaches Association as an Assistant Moniteur. She had an E rating in foil. Fencing was one of three sports in which she competed, the others were Soccer and Volleyball.

Derek White, (Coach and Assistant Moniteur). Derek was a high school fencer, and earned certification from the United States Fencing Coaches Association (USFCA) as an Assistant Moniteur in Foil. Derek was a three weapon fencer and was planning to attend the University of Oregon.

Xian Chen Bu (Coach). Xian Chen Bu began fencing when he was 12 years old. He soon joined the Shandong Provincial Team, studying épée full time. When he was 17, he won the Chinese National Championships and was a member of China’s National Fencing Team from 2005-2007. From 2007-2012 he was a full time coach at the Beijing Fencing School. In 2012, Coach Bu moved to the United States. One of his first competitions in the US was the 2014 Battle in Seattle, where he earned first place and an A rating. Bu and his wife now make their home in Tacoma with their young daughter. He loves to fence and enjoys spending time at the club teaching and practicing.

Arturo Iglesias (Coach) Arturo was a former International 'A' Epeeist from Venezuela. Arturo taught épée.

Former Board

Diane Bartels, MD served on the Board of Directors as Vice President from 2019 until 2023.

Scott Poehlmann, MD served on the Board of Directors as Treasurer from 2021 until 2023.

Ji Yon Kim (Secretary) Ji served on the Board of Directors from 2015 until 2022.

Deborah Li (Treasurer) Deborah served on the board as treasurer from 2016 to 2021.

Joy Kim (At-large member). Joy's family joined MTFC in August 2017. She served on the board until 2021.

Aaron Page (Coach, Armorer, Assistant Moniteur, at-large member). Aaron served on the board when we were located in Normanna Hall in the Tacoma Hilltop area.

Lauren Roux (Coach and Assistant Moniteur). Lauren served as Secretary, Communication Director,and assisted in coaching duties when we were located in Normanna Hall in the Tacoma Hilltop area.