Harold Hayes is owner of and instructor at the Pacific Fencing Club. From Stanford University (where he studied philosophy) to the Peace Corp to UC Santa Cruz (where he studied fencing and earned a degree in history of consciousness), Hayes ended up in a professional fencing program at San Jose State. His interests ultimately coincided, and he’s been engaged in fencing ever since.
1. Aren’t you an unlikely person to be a businessman?
Absolutely. I had a lot of learning to do to become a businessman; going into business was not my original plan. But now I see myself as a professional businessman. I’m not in it for the money, but for the people. I care about and like interacting therapeutically with healthy people; that’s my business. However, my current job doesn’t come with a pension, so I’m moving in the direction of also being a writer.
2. What have you written?
I’ve most recently published a book called An American Opera in Prose. It’s a work of philosophical fiction.
3. How has your background and education in medical philosophy helped with teaching fencing?
It has helped a great deal. The skills that make a difference competitively in fencing are neurological
skills. There is a definite connection between one’s rapid skills position and one’s motor performance. Fencing requires the three main cerebellum functions: balance, sequencing and adjustment of movement. These functions assist with everything done with the sword.
4. What’s so great about fencing?
It’s a reality check. It’s one of the last real adventures you can have. Every move you make is either right or wrong. Also, there’s tremendous opportunity for personal growth with fencing. It’s not a talent sport, but one that requires a lot of patience and focus. Even in Europe, fencing is considered a minor sport but the difference is it gets more press there.
5. Do more men get involved in fencing than women?
My program used to be half men and half women, but right now there are more men in it. But you’d be surprised at how many women in the world fence. It’s an empowering, mental sport that gives access to physical prowess to both sexes.