Fencing is Teddy Levitt’s Forte
Palisadian makes mark on competition and school Palisadian, Teddy Levitt (right) practices his form with
coach Daniel Costin at the Los Angeles International Fencing Center.
From The Palisadian Post, article by Steve Galluzzo
When he was eight years old, Palisadian Levitt decided to attend a boys’ summer camp in Maine. Scanning a list of activities, his father suggested he try fencing. At first, the son thought that was the art of building a fence, but he decided to give the activity a chance. It might be a useful thing to know.
Nine years later, it is safe to say that Levitt is a master at his craft. Or at least a work in progress. He ranked 31st in the junior division (under 19) – that after attaining a United States ranking of no. 6 in the cadet (under 17) category. His weapon of choice was a saber and he wields it with the skill of a samurai warrior. Though most people start out with a foil, Levitt soon took to the saber because it is unique from the other two types of swords. “I like the saber because the sparring is much faster moving and you can slash with the side of the blade as opposed to just the tip.” Levitt says, “There are a lot more ways to score than just poking the guy. There is a lot of explosive muscle movement, and you can get pretty tired by the end of a tournament.
Levitt is used to reaching the end of tournaments. He won all his bouts this season as captain of the Harvard—Westlake High fencing team, which won the Mission League championship. He also placed 6th in his division at the junior Olympics February 7th in Cleveland Ohio. His schedule is booked for the rest of the year too. He is slated to compete in the Summer Nationals in Charlotte, North Carolina, and then it’s on to Prague to fence with the Hungarian national team in July.
“I played a lot of sports growing up,” says Levitt, who lives up the street from Riviera Country Club. “I also played PPBA, I played AYSO, I played school volleyball. But when I was twelve, I really started committing myself to fencing. The thing I like most about it is that no matter how bad the day went, I can put on my stuff and release all my energy.”
For three days a week, Levitt trained under the tutelage of his coach, Daniel Coston, at the international Fencing Center (located at Olympic and Barington) in West L.A. There he benefited from sparring sessions with Jason Rogers, a standout High school fencer from Benton. Now a senior from Ohio State University, Rogers recently qualified for the 2004 US Olympic Team. Occasionally, Levitt even crosses swords Daniel Grigori, a member of Romania’s Olympic team.
“The mindset I learned from my coach, is that if your facing someone you know you can beat, you shouldn’t be nervous,” says Levitt, “ If you are facing someone you know is better, you have nothing to lose, so, again, you have no reason to be nervous.”
Though fencing occupies much of Levitt’s time, it is not his only interest. He plays two instruments; the flute and the saxophone in Harvard-Westlake’s jazz band and he counsels underprivileged kids at camp Harmony in Malibu. On days he is not fencing, Levitt cross-trains by running, swimming, and playing tennis. At 5-10 Levitt is neither too small to lack the reach, nor too big to be hit in preparation when he is close. Having success, he says, is all about balance. “You can’t be one—sided. You have to have a healthy balance between attack and defense. If I had to define my style, I’d say I was a little more defensive. I like to make my opponents miss so I can hit them.”
Levitt isn’t thinking too far ahead, but he sees fencing in his immediate future. He is considering East Coast schools with strong fencing teams like Yale, Princeton, and Duke, but has far from made up his mind.
“I don’t know where I’ll end up. Right now, I’m just working as hard as I can. No one comes out of the womb with sword in hand. It’s a sport you really have to work at, and that is one of the reasons I enjoy it.”