Jr. Olympic Champion Cory Werk and his coach, Ted Katzoff at the 1994 Jr. Olympics in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Ted Katzoff, Fencing Master
In 1955, my parents enrolled me in a fencing class at the Westside Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles. I was twelve years old. The man teaching the class was Mel North, a very charismatic coach. I became a charter member of Salle Du Nord in 1956. In 1957, the coaches of Southern California created the Junior League of Southern California so that fencers age fourteen through sixteen years old could have organized competition with their peers. This was one of the precursors ofthe Junior Olympics. There were about three hundred boys and girls, all foil fencers. We fenced all pools from the preliminaries to Finals. I was undefeated during the two years I competed in the League.
When I graduated high school in 1961, I went to Lawrence University of Wisconsin, where I started a fencing program for the Physical Education Department. I was a sophomore at the time. After my graduation in 1965, the program became a Varsity sport and remains so to this day. After graduate school at the University ofConnecticut, where I earned an M.A. in Theater Art s, I taught drama at Bennett College of Millbrook, N.Y. where I started another fencing program. I returned to Los Angeles in 1970. During th at time, I would work at Salle Du Nord as a summer coach. Later that year, I went to work for Maestro North as his apprentice and assistant coach, teaching and training others for the next three years. I also assisted at UCLA for a coupl e of seasons. In 1973 I founded Salle Gascon, and that club remained active for thirty years.
In 1983, the UCLA Athletic Department eliminated fencing from the Varsity roster. I coached the UCLA fencers as a club team for seven years. I had been teaching the recreational Fencing Team there as well, and did so for a total of fifteen years. In 1984, I founded the Westside Fencing Center ofLos Angeles with Salle Gascon as the home club. During that time; the late ' 70s through the early '90s; I had been teaching fencin g at Crossroads School, Windward School, Oakwood School, Loyola-Marymount University, Occidental College and Harvard School, now HarvardWestlake School. I began at Harvard-Westlake in 1980 and am still teaching there thirty years later.
In 1986, I took the exam for Fencing Master at San Jose State University under the direction ofMaestro William Gaugler, and in 1990 I received the Master's Diploma from the International Academy ofArms. I was the First Coach for a number of fencers who became very succes sful. Among them were Nick Bravin, Chri s O'Iaughlin, Peter Schifrin, Al Carter, Geoff Russel and Alex Edelman. In 1998, 1999, and 2000 I was a Staff Coach for the US National Wheelchair Fencing Team.
My other fencing-related activities include training and choreography in stage combat, Theatrical and historic swordplay. Some of the people I trained and choreographed included Gabriel Byrnes, Dustin Hoffman, Robin Williams, Christopher Guest, Shelly Long, Keanu Reeves, Geena Davis and Matthew Modine. I created and directed the battle scenes for "Wellington' s Victory" at the Hollywood Bowl, and directed "The Ring of Steel" at the Mark Taper Forum for the Los Angeles Arts Fringe Festival . I drected the openeing fencing scene for the film, "Outrageous Fortune" and was the Lead Choreographer for Speilberg's "Hook" in 1991. Currently, I am teaching and coaching fencing at Harvard-Westlake School and the Beverly Hills Fencer's club.