En Guarde'

Beginning (1991 - 1993)

I started Fencing back in 1991 whilst at the Sir Graham Balfour High School, and continued to fence as a club member at the Staffordshire University club between 1993 and 1996.

My coach was a Mr Nick Chapman, who introduced me to the sport and to the Foil.

I am fourth from the left in this picture and Nick (Coach) is far left.

The fact that Bruce Dickinson, vocalist with my favourite band - Iron Maiden, was a fencer, may have had an influence too.


Staffordshire University (1993 - 1997)

I trained with the Staffordshire University Club between 1993 and 1997 whilst studying for my undergraduate and masters degrees in Stoke-on-Trent.

UMIST Fencing Club (1997 - 2003)

During my Ph.D at UMIST between 1997 and 2001, I took an active role in the University Fencing Club. Between 1997 and 1998, I trained with the University of Manchester Club at the McDougall Centre, and in 1998, I orchestrated the revival of the UMIST Fencing Club, organised for a number of coaches to support the club and supervised its existence for two years, as club president (1998-99) and then Vice President (1999/2000).

The UMIST club trained in the newly built Sudden Centre on Grosvner Street in Manchester.

Although foil was my weapon of choice I started at UMIST, I discovered the Sabre and didn’t look back. I also spend a significant amount of time undertaking coaching experience at the club, and was awarded with my British Fencing Club Leaders Certificate in 2000.

I purchased a new set of Sabre kit from Duellist (part owned by Bruce Dickinson - of Iron Maiden Fame) in 1999 - it was about time I updated.


I also fenced what the Tameside Sabre Club also under the tutelage of Les Jones, Colin Walls and Martin Roberts.

I entered a few competitions, got into the UK National Sabre Rankings (quite low, but never the less, won a few fights and entered the UK Universities (BUSA) competition in Nottingham in 1999, where I fenced all three weapons.

I continued training with the UMIST/University of Manchester club and the Tameside Club until 2003.

I developed skills in website design using Claris Homepage and progressed to Dreamweaver, designing and managing the University club web site.

The pages can be found on the following link.



Vision 2000 Mask (2001)

In preparation for the 2000 Olympics, the Leon Paul Company introduced the Vision 2000 Pro-Fencing mask. This was intended to replace the existing wire mesh masks by adding a polycarbonate visor to improve vision for the fencers, and also increase the appeal of the sport to spectators - as they would be able to better see the expressions of the competitors.


The mask comprised of an internal structural component and an external "scratch" plate. Unfortunately, the air gap between the two structures resulted in birefringence and loss of light transmission due to internal reflections.


To address this issue, I published a paper in the Journal of Sports Engineering suggesting a potential solution to the problem.

RJ Holmes, NJ Goddard, K Singh, and S Mohr. Improving the Optical Characteristics of a Polycarbonate Fencing Mask, J. Sports Engineering (2001) 4, pp 225 – 231

DOI: 10.1046/j.1460-2687.2001.00068.x

Harrogate Fencing Club (2017-present)


I took a break from fencing in about 2003, moved house and have since restarted at my new local club, the Harrogate Fencing Club.

We train on Wednesday evenings at the Rossett Sports Centre in Harrogate. I assist with junior coaching occasionally, and try to get involved in a number of other areas, supporting club activities, competitions and management.

The club has significant strengths in Epee, and so I have put down the Sabre and started fencing with an Epee - both left and right-handed.


I have also started to repair some of the club equipment, specifically the spools and scoring Boxes - some of which are over 30 years old.


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