Radical recreation: Touché

Joseph Longuevan holding medals he has won over the years. Since 2015, Longuevan has been the Alaska State Champion in foil, and has won a total of 40 gold, 18 silver and 23 bronze medals. Photo credit: Joseph Longuevan

Hobbies and passions present themselves in mysterious ways. After watching the fencing scene in “The Parent Trap” with Lindsey Lohan, Joseph Longuevan, double major in economics and history, knew that he wanted to sword fight. At the age of 10, Longuevan began fencing and hasn’t put the sword down since.

Eleven months after Longuevan started fencing, he was the number one Epee fencer in the 10 and under age group in the United States. He later became the number one foil fencer in Colorado in 2012, then in 2014 Longuevan finished in 179th place in Division I foil at Summer Nationals, the largest fencing tournament in the world where the National Team and Olympic fencers are chosen. Since 2015, Longuevan has been the Alaska State Champion in foil, and has won a total of 40 gold, 18 silver and 23 bronze medals.

“Fencing has been the most challenging, remarkable and fun activity in my life. My favorite thing about fencing would be how it drives me to better myself. I know that if I lose a bout [fencing match] against someone that I can go back to training until I understand how to counter what they beat me with,” Longuevan said. “Fencing is one of the greatest tests of mental and physical skill that I know of. Due to the complex strategies that go into it, fencing is commonly referred to as physical chess.”

During the summer, Longuevan spends every Tuesday and Thursday coaching students at the Anchorage Fencing Club located at Pacific Northern Academy. He has been assisting students for the past three years and this will be the first summer teaching his own beginners class.

“In regards to what I look forward to with fencing, I cannot wait to start coaching more. My coaches had such an impact on my life, and I want to continue teaching young people the wonders of fencing,” Longuevan said.

Meeting other fencers from around the world and bonding over their unique passion and discussing previous tournaments is one of Longuevan’s favorite things about the sport.

“One of my favorite parts about fencing is the community, fencing clubs are like a big family, it is a sport that brings a diverse group of people together,” Longuevan said. “There is something about stabbing one another that brings people together in a way that other sports cannot.”

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Longuevan’s mother, Sandra Longuevan appreciates how fencing has helped her son develop throughout the years.

“When he steps on the strip, he is a different person,” Sandra Longuevan said. “It has defined him for who he is and that is a literal statement.”

Because Longuevan’s talent for fencing came so naturally, his father, Dwight Longuevan, is convinced it is what he was meant to do.

“The rules, traditions and sportsmanship of fencing are in his blood,” Dwight Longuevan said.

Aside from Longuevan’s determination for fencing, he is also passionate about his classes and wants to eventually become a professor himself.

“I chose economics because I love learning about public policy, and how to get the efficient outcomes with a given set of information. I also have a passion for cultural history, which turned into a second major,” Longuevan said. “I plan on going into a PhD program for economics and being a professor, I love teaching people and helping them grow as individuals.”

Longuevan still desires to learn more in the sport and to grow as a teacher.

“I am reminded of a fencing quote that is along the lines of, ‘Fencing takes a life time to master, and when one finally understands the mental game, their body is too old and worn to fence,’” Longuevan said. “I plan on fencing until I can no longer hold a sword.”

In the future, Longuevan is looking forward to creating his own economics labs similar to UAA’s experimental economics lab. Research is another passion of his and he hopes to find a way to experiment with fencing. Longuevan is part of a community that trains for many years testing their mental and physical capabilities and now he is able to pass his knowledge on through his teachings this summer.