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Kiraly Fencing Academy

Legal News Reporter

Published: March 19, 2012

When Ernest L. Kiraly sold his wine distributorship 15 years ago, he was left with time on his hands and an empty warehouse at 304 N. Howard St. down by Northside in Akron.

It was the opportunity that he had been waiting for.

“I had always wanted to open a fencing academy,” said Kiraly, now 67, who had studied with fencing masters all over Europe and in Japanese-style swordsmanship in Ohio.

Kiraly’s wine business had taken him all over the globe, along with his interest in the martial arts and fencing. He had started karate lessons when he was about 20, and had become interested in swordsmanship after reading a magazine article on fencing.

He also used the opportunity that his travels afforded him to begin to build a collection of armor and art, which is currently on display at the academy on Howard, and which is open during the annual Artwalk.

Unfortunately, at the time, there were very limited resources for studying the sport locally.

The international sport of European-style fencing had long been dominated by athletes from three countries—Hungary, France and Italy. European fencing, which is the Olympic version of the sport, consists of competition involving three blades—the foil, the epee and the sabre. Kiraly currently teaches these three, as well as broadsword and rapier dagger.

But 20 years ago, there was, said Kiraly, “no one to study fencing with in Akron.” But there was a Hungarian fencing coach at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, the internationally known Maestro Menyard Kadarand, so Kiraly (which means “king” in Hungarian) started driving up to study with him.

Kiraly eventually began teaching fencing himself. Now, when he tours European fencing academies, he finds, he said, that the training that he received in Cleveland was at least as good as the training that he sees in Europe.

At the same time, his interest in Asian martial arts transformed itself into an interest in Japanese swordsmanship. Again, it was very difficult to access the training necessary to learn the two primary techniques of Japanese sword fighting—Kendo (combat) and Iaido (non-combat, sometimes called “moving Zen”). Japanese sword fighting also has its dagger forms and combination forms for the sword and the dagger.

Again, Kiraly found a local Japanese sword master to teach him these ancient sword fighting forms. It turned out that Japanese sword fighting is very big wherever there are large Japanese populations, and that there are large Japanese populations in the United States wherever a Japanese company, like an automobile manufacturer, locates.

Because of that, the Japanese sword tradition is alive and well in Ohio, especially in the Dayton area. Kiraly was able to take swordsmanship lessons in Cleveland from the former head swordsmanship teacher for the Tokyo Police, one of the most prestigious such positions. Kiraly currently holds black belts in Karate and in both primary Japanese sword forms.

Kiraly has been teaching fencing since 1977, at his academy and at Kent State University, The University of Akron, and at various other schools and summer camps in the area.

He is a life member of the U.S. Fencing Association, U.S. Fencing Coaches Association, and Academy D’Armes International. He is also a competitive champion, and, even now, ranks very highly in U.S. fencing.

Adult membership in the Kiraly Fencing Academy costs $100 to join, and then $100 a month for classes in either European (Olympic) style or Japanese. Members can take both for $150 a month. Youth under twelve years of age are half price. Equipment for lessons is furnished; new and used uniforms are for sale at the Academy.

The Academy averages about 100 members at any given time, said Kiraly. Several of his students have gone on to win or place highly in large tournaments and Olympic qualifiers.

European fencing lessons at the Kiraly Fencing Academy are on Tuesday evenings. Japanese sword fighting lessons are on Wednesday evenings. Anyone is welcome to observe a class.

Kiraly may also show a visitor an amazing collection of swords, knives, armor and other like weaponry from around the world and throughout time.

For more information, with the understanding that the academy’s website is currently being reconstructed, visit kiralyfencing.tripod.com, or call 330-762-4866.