"My Fencing Master and My Friend"
just received the news that my Fencing Master's journey here on
earth has ended.
Robert Scranton was a professional Fencing Master, a Life Member and the former President of the United States Fencing Coaches Association (USFCA), a member of the International Academy of Arms (AAI), a member of the United States Fencing Association (USFA), an official "Artist-in-Residence" for the State of Arkansas, and a member of the Society of American Fight Directors.
A fencer since 1964, he received his Fencing Master's Diploma at the American Fencing Academy (Ithaca NY, on site at Cornell University) under the famous French Fencing Master and author, Maitre Jean-Jacques Gillet in 1980, and was certified by the USFCA that same year. He participated in over 100 fencing clinics and camps and has taught and/or competed in 40 states, Canada, England, Germany, Austria, Japan and Panama C.A. and has choreographed fight scenes for over 25 stage productions and 2 documentaries.
Competitively he took first place in his age group 4 times and was 2nd overall twice in the US Nationals Senior Age (now called Veterans) events. He placed in the top three in the USFCA Fencing Master's Championships in an individual weapon on nine occasions since 1983 and was twice a member of the USFCA Fencing Masters team representing the United States at the AAI World Championships. His former students have included a FIE Junior World Finalist, a two-time Junior Olympic Bronze Medalist, and many USFA Divisional Champions. He is a former NCAA Division I Fencing Coach and has taught fencing and stage combat at several colleges and universities and at the Arkansas School for the Blind. He was the head coach of the Arkansas Fencers Club in Little Rock Arkansas and the adjunct professor of Fencing and Stage Combat at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
In addition to being a Master Sport Fencing Coach and a Master Fight Director/Choreographer, he was also a Master of the original martial arts from which they both evolved, 19th century Classical Fencing (both the French and Italian styles) and 16th - 18th century Historical Swordsmanship (English, French, Italian, and Spanish weapons and styles).
After honorably serving in the United States military Mr. Scranton attended college on the GI bill and received his bachelors degree in Philosophy from Atlantic University in Florida. It was there while coaching the fencing team that he met his wife, Margaret who was working on her masters degree in Political Science at the time. She went one day to check out the fencing program and he was there teaching and she says it was love at first sight. They were married a year later.
Master Scranton excelled not only as a competitive fencer but also as a teacher and coach. Because of his comprehensive knowledge and practical expertise in so many of the national styles of modern, classical, and historical fencing and their histories he has been referred to as "a virtual walking encyclopedia on fencing" He was a quite, gentle, and passionate man who was drawn to fencing because of it's high level of strategy. To him it was "Poetry in Motion" and Brain Chess."
He was a gifted teacher who was constantly in high demand by elite level fencers and coaches here in the USA and also in the International realm. He tirelessly traveled the globe representing the USFCA, introducing fencing to new people, teaching workshops and coaches clinics, coaching private individuals and international fencing teams, and training his apprentice for Fencing Master certification.
During his tenure as President of the USFCA he worked tirelessly to promote fencing and the USFCA. He greatly expanded the USFCA's member services. He turned the organization's small quarterly publication, The Swordmaster in to a state of the art magazine with a wealth of information for fencing coaches. He instituted the annual USFCA Coaches Conference where sport fencing masters from all over the world gather together to teach and attend workshops and seminars, to take fencing master exams and to compete in fencing tournaments. He established the official USFCA Apprenticeship recognition program and made many other positive changes in the USFCA structure.
In October of 1999 he was the Guest of Honor at the official re-opening of Shakespeare's Globe Theater in England, during which British Fencing Masters and Fight Choreographers put on a staged portrayal of several hundred years of English Fencing and Swordsmanship, called the "Golden Swords."
Master Scranton was never concerned about making money off of fencing. He came down to the Mississippi Academy of Arms numerous times to teach workshops, administer coaching exams, give private lessons, and train me as his apprentice. Every time his asking fee was always so low that it barely covered his travel expenses. We always surprised him by paying for his hotel and all his meals anyway. He was a generous man who believed so much in the many benefits that fencing had to offer that it became his mission in life to introduce it to as many people as possible.
There is so much more I could say about Robert Scranton, his anecdotes, funny stories he told me about his Olympic experiences, experiences we had together during my apprenticeship with him. I suppose I could fill up a whole book.
Suffice it to say, he was a good man who will be greatly missed by his wife, his daughter, his friends, his students, his fellow coaches, and everyone who knew him.
I miss you Maestro!
Rez Johnson, M d'A
"Standing guard on old,
forgotten roads, that no one travels anymore."
Earendel engla beorhtast