Fencers honour master in grande style

A “Grande Salute” is planned to honour retired University of Toronto head fencing coach and current McMaster assistant fencing coach, Maître (master) Ken Wood at the Ontario University Athletics’ West fencing qualifiers. The event, hosted by McMaster University on Saturday (Jan. 30) will include the brief tribute performed by student-athletes and coaches from the five competing universities (approximately 150 participants).

Wood has served the OUA fencing community for more than 45 years.

As the head coach of the University of Toronto, the Varsity Blues have earned countless individual medals and team banners. His teams dominated the ’80s, collecting an impressive eight Ontario university championships during the decade. In 1980-81 he led the Varsity Blues to four Ontario university titles (men’s and women’s tennis and men’s and women’s fencing).

In addition to his coaching duties at Toronto, he served as the founder of both Ryerson and York fencing clubs. In 1985 he was named the Thomas R. Loudon Award winner for his outstanding contribution to the advancement of university athletics. The OUA women’s foil championship award is named the Maître Ken Wood Trophy in his honour.

At the national and international level, Wood is a highly experienced fencing master, having received Fencing Master’s level certification in Great Britain, the United States, and Canada. He is believed to be one of only a few individuals to have been bestowed maître d’armes, top level fencing coach in three countries (Canada, the U.S., and the U.K.)

The World War II veteran has been a member of the Canadian Fencing Federation since its inception. He has served as the head coach of the Canadian women’s foil national team, head coach of the 1971 Canadian Pan-American Games (Cali, Columbia) fencing team and head of the fencing masters academy.

The “Grande Salute” was used as a courteous salutation to the spectators and the participants in a formal public fencing contest during the height of the classical fencing era of the 19th century.