Our Coaches

Head Coach, Michael Botenhagen, Prevot D'Escrime Epee

Michael Botenhagen, has fenced for more than 30 years and worked over 10 years as a fencing coach. He was a National point holder in Div.1 Epee and has 3 silver medals from The Pacific Coast Championships, in the Pacific Coast Section, 1997, 1999 and 2001. He also has a silver medal from The California State Games, finishing 1 touch behind Olympian Soren Thompson. YAY! Mike finished 8th at the 2002 Duel in the Desert in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was a Epee World Cup participant in 2002.

Michael has over 30 years of competitive fencing experience and is a Professional member of the USFA (United States Fencing Association) He is also a certified Moniteur D’ Armes and Prevot D` Escrime in Epee by the USFCA (United States Fencing Coaches Association). He was awarded the classification of Level II Instructor in The German Epee System at Halberstadt Fencing Studio, San Francisco, CA in 1992. He is also a Level II Epee Instructor, from the USFA National Coaching Development Program, Coaches College, Colorado Springs, CO, awarded in 1999.

Michael’s students have gone on to fence for Stanford University Varsity fencing team, University of Pennsylvania Varsity fencing team, and University of California, Berkeley. Michael is CA State, and USA Nationally Live Scan certified.

Student’s recent achievements:

  • 6th Place, Men’s Epee, Div II, USA National Championships 2015
  • 3rd Place, Men’s Epee, Vet 70, Vet World Championships, Oct 24th, 2014, Debrecen, Hungary
  • 1st Place, Men’s  Epee, Vet 70, USA National Championships, June 2014
  • 1st Place, Men’s Epee, Vet. 70, North American Cup, Dec. 2013
  • 5th Place, Men’s Epee, Div. III North American Cup, March 2013
  • 7th Place, Women’s Epee, Div. II North American Cup, Dec. 2012
  • 2nd Place, Men’s Epee, Vet. 60, USA National Championships 2012
  • 1st Place, Y12 Men’s Epee, Royal Arts Super Youth (SYC) March 2012
  • 3rd Place, Y14 Men’s Epee, Royal Arts Super Youth (SYC) March 2012
  • 3rd Place, Women’s Epee Y14, North American Cup 2011
  • 1st Place, Women’s Epee, Div. III, USA National Championships 2011
  • 1st Place, Men’s Epee, Div. III North American Cup “D” 2011
  • 2nd Place, Men’s Epee, Junior Pacific Coast Championships 2010
  • 2nd Place, Men’s Epee, Div. II North American Cup “E” 2009
  • 5th Place, Men’s Epee, Div. III North American Cup “E” 2009
  • 5th Place, Men’s Epee, Div. II U.S. National Championships 2008
  • 3rd Place, Men’s Epee, Div. II North American Cup “E” 2008
  • 1st Place, Men’s Epee, Div. III North American Cup “E” 2008
  • 2nd Place, Men’s Epee, Veteran’s USA National Championships 2006
  • 3rd Place, Men’s Epee, Veteran’s USA National Championships 2005

Coach, Heath B Winer, Moniteur D’Armes

Heath found fencing while attending community college in Overland Park, Kansas. He quickly realized that since this sport was the perfect marriage of strategy, tactics and physical ability.  In 1999, Heath won Gold at the Kansas Division Senior Men’s Saber Summer Nationals Qualifiers as well as several medals in local tournament.

Since 2011, he has been teaching students the art of swordplay. In October 2015, Heath started TFC’s third Competitive Training Program in Saber.

In January 2017, one of TFC’s Saberists earned his E2017.

February 2017, Heath took Four Saberists to the Junior Olympics National Championships.  This was the first time in 20-25 years TFC was represented in Saber.

Heath is a Moniteur d’Armes (Saber, Epee and Foil), a Professional Member of the United States Fencing Association, a Member of the United States Fencing Coaches Association and is both FBI and California DOJ Livescan certified.

Coach, Connie Yu, Moniteur D’Escrime Fleuret & Epee

A founding member of The Fencing Center’s first board of directors, Connie Yu, selected as the USFA Western Region Developmental coach of the year in 2000, has over 16 years of competitive fencing experience and is a certified Moniteur D’Escrime in foil and epee by the USFCA (United States Fencing Coaches Association). In 2010 Connie was awarded The USFCA Award of Merit for contributions to the promotion and teaching the art of fencing.

Connie, mother of Jennifer (1990 National Foil Champion & World Championship team member), Jessica (Oscar Winner and Multiple World Championship team member) and Marty (Multiple World Championship team member) brings a long history of excellence to youth, junior, and adult development at TFC including several finalists at Junior Olympics and national circuit events. Connie has organized, managed, and coached annual Junior fencing camps since 1988. Since 2001 Connie has organized and coached TFC’s ‘Camp Winabout’ for youth and juniors and was the teacher of Youth Fencing classes at the Palo Alto J.C.C. 1986-2007. Additionally, 2 of her students were among the top 10 youth fencers being considered for the 1998 Moscow Youth World Championship team.

Connie is CA State, and USA Nationally Live Scan certified.

Some of Yu's coaching highlights

  • Charlie Kanavel, won both the Foil and Epee championships at the 1998 Jr. PCC’s.
  • Raelyn Jacobson and Peter Erickson were among the top ten youth fencers considered for the 1998 U.S. Team to the Moscow Youth World Championships.
  • Raelyn Jacobson and Joanne Sickler were on TFC’s gold medal Women’s Jr. Epee team at 1998 Summer Nationals. The team also won 2nd place in the senior team Women’s Epee.
  • Matt Burriesci, 3rd Place Men’s Foil, Div. II, Summer Nationals, 2001,
    Guy Thompson, 3rd place, Men’s Foil Div. III, Summer Nationals, 2004.
  • Dan Tucker Jr., first place, JCC Springfest Jr. Foil Challenge, 2005
    Kersten Schnurle, Jr. PCC’s Women’s Epee, finalist, 2007
    Jason Chang, 3rd Place, Cadet Men’s Foil, Jr. Olympics, 2010.

Connie has always encouraged her students to aim high, and consider the outstanding colleges with varsity fencing programs. Among the student-athletes Connie has coached and mentored are:

  • Lynda Tang, received early acceptance to M.I.T., Nov. 2012
  • Jason Chang, Varsity Men’s Foil, University of Pennsylvania, class of 15
  • Lawrence Wang, Haverford College, 14
  • Kersten Schnurle, Varsity Women’s Epee, Stanford University, 11
  • Dan Tucker, Jr. Varsity Foil Team Captain, Stanford University 09
  • Rebecca Illowsky, Varsity Women’s Sabre, Stanford, 08
  • Jimmy Fruchterman, Varsity Foil, Brandeis University, 08
  • Matt Burriesci, Varsity Men’s Sabre, Stanford 07
  • Greg Donaker, Varsity Foil, Stanford 05
  • Harrison Osaki, Stanford 05
  • Raelyn Jacobson, Varsity Sabre, UCSD 05
  • Nathan Elchert, Varsity Foil, Yale 05

Coach, Yervand Zakaryan, Master of Sport, Saber

Yervand Zakaryan is an advanced level saber coach and Master of Sports of the U.S.S.R. with 50 years of fencing experience.

Yervand brings a high level of fencing experience to his coaching. He was a member of the Soviet Union National Junior Team from 1969 to 1971 and a candidate for the Soviet Union National team in saber from 1971 to 1982.

His fencing results include being the Soviet Union National Junior Champion in 1969. Yervand also served as a member of U.S.S.R. Junior World Championship team and made it to semifinals in Italy in 1970 and went on to win a Bronze medal in the 1971 Junior World Fencing Championships in U.S.A. He took first place at the Armenian National Cup multiple times and participated in many national and international fencing tournaments from 1971 to 1981.

Prior to moving to United States, Yervand has served as a coach of fencing at Athletic Club Spartak in Armenia. He successfully coached numerous fencers to attain significant National results. In recent years, Yervand served as a coach at Hawaii Fencers Club and Salle Honolulu Fencing Club, coaching club members in all three weapons.

Yervand is CA State, and USA Nationally LiveScan certified.

Coach, Tony Barajas, Provost at Arms

In 1991 Tony began fencing with French Foil and Hungarian Saber. In 1995 he continued his training in classical Italian fencing at the San Jose State Fencing Masters Program. In 2002 he added fencing with historical Rapier and Dagger, Side Sword and Longsword as well as foot combat in full armor. In addition to European historical fencing he continues studying traditional martial arts including Aikido, Jujitsu, Kendo, and Iaido. He has earned his Provost at Arms from the San Jose State Fencing Masters Program in 2007. Tony is also a founding member of St. Michael’­s Salle De Armes. He is currently the Guild’s Fight Coordinator, responsible for the safety and efficacy of their combat activities. He was the Assistant Coach at the College of San Mateo Fencing Club. He is the Head Coach of Historical Fencing program at The Fencing Center.