Walk into Cracovia Olympic Foil Fencing School, and you'll notice a large purple crest right away. A display stand holding foils is to the right. Keep walking, and you'll enter a large, open practice area. High ceilings, wood floors and sound panels that double as practice targets make for a beautiful studio. "En Garde!" A fencing match is beginning. The new fencing facility opened this month, and is a dream come true for owner Krystyna Kostecka. A world class fencer from Poland, Kostecka has decades of experience as a competitive fencer, and her love of the sport is contagious. Her students dress head to toe in protective fencing gear, and maneuver back and forth, challenging their opponents and protecting themselves at the same time. "Safety First!" she says. She mentions that the facility is fully insured.
She opened her school twenty years ago, starting small. Her dream was to provide a place for all ages to learn and grow, while enjoying the sport of fencing. Today she enjoys classes full of both students and adults. Cracovia offers an opportunity for exercise, creativity and entertainment on Madison's west side. Kostecka encourages fencing for anyone over age 10, and says it offers so much more than just mastering the foil. Most of her students come wanting exercise, discipline and a good time. A few have chosen to compete in larger competitions, and returned with medals. She welcomes both types of students, and for the younger crowd, she sees herself as a mentor, encouraging students to give their best, remain disciplined, and work hard for the rewards. "I came from Poland. I didn't have anything handed to me here. I had to work for it. And they need to work for their success too," she says. For adults, Kostecka offers personal training, and professional, team-building sessions to area businesses. "It's both physical and mental training," she says. You learn to master movement, coordination, balance, endurance and critical thinking. You succeed when you are both fast, and able to create a sense of surprise.
In addition to being an accomplished fencer, Kostecka has a law degree, and practiced law in Poland, before coming to the U.S. She decided to follow a dream, and create a school to teach what she loves most, fencing. It's not always easy running a small business, but it's been worth it. She says the community that has formed within her school is "beautiful." Cracovia hosts open houses each month. Guests can try fencing for free, and watch experienced fencers in action. A grand opening of the new facility is scheduled for the last Saturday in June. Cracovia Fencing School is just one more example of the great variety of activities and events available in Madison!