Raymond Finkleman, Fencing Master at the Chevy Chase Fencing Club and a native of Washington, DC,
has been fencing continuously for over 50 years and was one of the first two US-trained and certified
fencing masters. He started fencing while in high school and he was an active member of three different
DC area fencing clubs. After graduating high school, he attended Vanderbilt University. Although fencing
was not a NCAA sport at Vanderbilt, he was a member of their very active fencing club which competed
against other colleges and universities throughout the US. Captain of the fencing club’s team during his
junior year, he was the coach of the team as a senior. While in Nashville, he also started a program at
nearby Peabody College (now incorporated into Vanderbilt University) and a private high school. After
graduating with a degree in physics and astronomy, Maître Finkleman was one of the first two students
(along with Maître James Murray) to enroll in the American Fencing Academy, the fencing master program
started by Maîtres Raoul Sudre and Jean-Jacques Gillet patterned after the Institute National de Sport in France. Maître
Finkleman received his Prevost certification in 1975 and his Fencing Master certification from the USFCA and the Académie
d’Armes Internationale in 1976. His fencing master diploma was signed by Maîtres Stanley Sieja, John Geraci and Al
Maître Finkleman started his professional coaching career at DC Fencers Club (DCFC) in Washington, DC and with the
Montgomery County (Maryland) Department of Recreation. In the late 1970’s, DCFC moved from the Chevy Chase
Community Center in DC to a larger facility. Maître Finkleman kept the space at the Community Center and created the
Chevy Chase Fencing Club.
Maître Finkleman’s Montgomery County fencing program was a purely recreational program of foil group classes and club
practice. Those fencers that showed interest and promise were encouraged to join his competitive program at the Chevy
Chase Fencing Club. During his 31-year term as a contractor with the county, he introduced fencing to over 5,000
students. He left the county program in 2007 to devote more time to his competitive fencers at the Chevy Chase Fencing
The Chevy Chase Fencing Club is taught in association with the DC Department of Parks and Recreation. The fencing
program includes foil group classes for adults (age 13 and above); epee group classes for youth (ages 8 to 12); a youth club
practice; and the Chevy Chase Fencing Club practice for adults and more experienced youth fencers. Maître Finkleman’s
Junior Epee Program has been very successful and has produced several top epee fencers. Classes are always in demand
even without any advertising. From 2008-2009 to the present, Chevy Chase Fencing Club members
have won 111 national medals at USFA NACs and Championships. More medals have been won at Super Youth Circuits and
other regional and local events; great results for a club with less than 50 members.
Maître Finkleman has been awarded nine coach’s medals by the US Fencing Association when his students have won gold
medals at the National Championships. He doesn’t work just with young fencers, but also has an active veteran fencing
program. One of his veteran fencers, Ms Bettie Graham, has competed in fourteen Veteran World Championships and is the
2011 National Champion in Veteran-70 Women’s Foil and 2011 and 2013 National Champion in Veteran-70 Women’s
Epee. She won the bronze medal in the Veteran World Championships held in Croatia in September 2011. Another veteran
fencer, Mark Henry, also competed as a member of the US World Team in the 2011, 2012 and 2014 Veteran World
His former student, James Kaull, was an All-American fencer at Notre Dame University on a full fencing scholarship. Maître
Finkleman accompanied James Kaull to Montreal where James was one of the youngest fencers (age 15) to ever win a
Junior World Cup in 2007. James has been a member of the 2007 US Cadet World Championship Team in Belek, Turkey,
and the 2009 US Junior World Championships Team in Belfast, Ireland. He won silver at the Goteborg Junior World Cup in
the 2010-2011 season and was on the US team competing at the 2011 Junior World Championships in Jordan.
Maître Finkleman was also the coach of Olympian Katharine Holmes. Katharine has been a member of the US Cadet/Junior and Senior World
Championship Teams multiple times. Katharine won silver in the 2009 Cadet World Championships in Belfast, Ireland. Katharine also represented the United States at the Youth Olympics in Singapore in 2010 where she won an Olympic bronze medal. She won gold in the Pan American Games in 2015. She was a member of the 2016 US Olympic Team in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Maître Finkleman has also coached several international fencers. Olimar Maisonet-Guzman, the top woman epeeist in Puerto
Rico, has trained with him while in Washington, DC, as a Truman Scholar. She competed for Puerto Rico in the World
Championships in Ankara, Turkey. One of the fencers that Maître Finkleman started at age 8, Nina Moiseiwitsch, has dual
citizenship with US and Britain. Nina decided to represent Britain in competition and Maître Finkleman accompanied
her to the 2010 British Cadet/Junior Championships in Sheffield, England, where Nina won the silver medal in the cadet
event. Nina earned a spot on the British travel team and has competed in many international events including the European
Maître Finkleman’s students have competed in a total of 74 World Championship and Olympic events.
Besides creating great fencers, Maître Finkleman has created great fencing coaches. At least six of his former students have
gone on to coach fencing professionally including his wife, Jean. One, Isobel Combes, has become a certified fencing master
in Britain and has two active clubs there. Another former student, Jill Feldman, is an assistant coach at Chevy Chase Fencing Club and is currently studying coaching in an international program in Budapest, Hungary. Jill has also chaired the bout committee at USFA NACs and
Championships. Their fencers are Maître Finkleman’s “grand-students.
Teaching for the past 42 years, Maître Finkleman’s love of the sport of fencing and the hard work and discipline that is
required to do well in the sport is instilled in his students. It is this achievement of which he is most proud. Students have
commented that Maître Finkleman not only provided them a skill that they can continue to enjoy throughout their lives, but that
he has taught them how to work hard to achieve their goals, to accept defeat honorably, and to continue to pursue their
dreams while respecting others. This is the true vocation of a maître d’armes. Maitre Finkleman’s accomplishments were
recognized by the US Fencing Coaches Association with an Award of Merit in July 2011.