It was in 1976 that Duris De Jong, the great Dutch fencer, started a fencing club in Thousand Oaks, which he called Conejo Fencers. After running a successful lamp and home accessories business, he retired, and moved to Thousand Oaks with his wife Evelyn. Fencing became a regularly scheduled program available through the Conejo Parks and Recreation district. He taught classes and offered individual lessons for all three weapons in the art of fencing: foil, epee and sabre.
Because he was a competitor in two Olympic games during the 1920's, he was well aware of the international standard of competition in the various weapons. He was also a friend, acquaintance, or rival of nearly every legendary historical fencing legend of his time.
The "maestro" (Italian for "professor") as we called him, was certainly giving of his time and skill, but he was also a critical task master. His students were clear targets for this criticism mostly during their individual lessons, which were offered at every practice session, and in his "after bout" evaluations. Memories of these Duris-isms abound. "If I haven't told you once, I've told you a thousand times," or if he really wanted to make a point: "If I haven't told you once, I've told you ten thousand times!" When dealing with all of the various techniques of the sport, or a particularly complex move, with which a student was having difficulty mastering, he would many times step back and say; "K.I.S.S. Keep it simple, stupid." That usually got the point across. Another favorite: "Bend your knees!" The list goes on and on.
Maestro De Jong was also an accomplished pianist, who had particular interest in the music of Spanish composers. He and his wife shared their beautiful home with a Bluntner grand piano, and several "attack" poodles. They were also avid bridge players.
During the late 1980's the Maestro's hip began giving him problems, and he opted to have a procedure done to replace it. He recovered, and returned to his chores as the Maestro of Conejo Fencers. Unfortunately, in 1990 he passed-away. Still, his legacy lives on through his many students, friends, and the club itself.
Editor's note: Shortly before his death, Maestro De Jong handed his weapons and the care of the Conejo Fencers to his student and trusted friend Phil Hareff. Those of us who were lucky enough to know the Maestro, are sure he would be very proud of the work Phil has done, and continues to do.
The Art of Fencing article was written by Duris in 1936.
Swordsman's Hazard was written by Duris, Not sure when it was written.