The JFF or the Jamaican Fencing Federation was essentially born of many intersecting factors spanning several years in the making, not merely one person. Several years ago Jamaica was once represented in the 1966 British Empire & Commonwealth Games by Derek W. White, Raymond E. Jackson, Ronald V. Nasralla, Rudolph A. Abrahams, Hugh H. Blackburn, John D. Mitchell, Denis W. Jackson, and later in 1970 by Patience A. Rose, and P. Whittingham.
Unlike our famous and legendary Bobsled team, Fencing actually had a history on the island. Even after much of these fencers migrated overseas, and the fencing program in Jamaica was disbanded, Jamaicans abroad with their innate spirit for adventure and inability to feel out of place continued to participate in a diverse range of activities including Fencing. Our founder, James McBean, was one of these Jamaican fencers among many others who sprinkled the fencing scene in the USA, Canada, UK, and beyond. It is these fencers and these efforts that indirectly laid the foundation for the creation of the JFF.
The JFF Emblem
The Jamaican Fencing Federation emblem consists of the 3 arms used in modern fencing, a shield baring the Jamaican Flag and the “Doctor Bird” the national bird of Jamaica positioned prominently in the foreground. The Doctor Bird is of great significance to the JFF as its spirit embodies the vigilance, elegance, beautiful and indomitable nature that embodies Jamaica, its people and its fencers.
Jamaican folklore has it that the Arawaks (who were one of the early inhabitants of Jamaica) held the belief that the Doctor Bird had magical powers. They called it the ‘God bird’, believing it was the reincarnation of individuals that had passed on before. This is manifested in a Jamaican folk song which says: “Doctor Bud a cunny bud, hard bud fe dead”,(The Doctor Bird is a clever bird which cannot be easily killed). Just as the doctor bird is said to be a hard bird to kill and a reincarnation of the departed, so too is the Jamaican Fencing Federation indomitable and also a revival of those that have championed our values, and so this too is a rebirth of that which has been here before in one form or another.
A brief History of the Jamaican Fencing Federation
The Jamaican Fencing movement began as James McBean’s brainchild, but as noted above he was not the first to bring Fencing to Jamaica nor was he the only Jamaican fencer that dreamed of seeing a Jamaican Fencing organization based in Jamaica. The story goes that McBean first studied Martial Arts in the 1980´s from the age of two with his father, James McBean Sr., and later with his Taekwando instructor Rev. Eaker McClendon.
Upon receiving his black belt in June of 1995, McBean’s Taekwando instructor promised to teach him to use the sword. Unfortunately in December of 1995 McClendon would pass away.
JFF Founder James McBean Practicing Karate with Father
Etiquette, Modesty, Perseverance,
Self-Control and Indomitable Spirit;
these 5 standards were handed down to McBean by his late Taekwando instructor and they gained new life when he was introduced to fencing at Hopkins School in New Haven, CT by Henry “Hank” Powell who in the Fall of 1996 fatefully came along and put the sword in McBean´s hand. It was a promise fulfilled. It was while studying at Brandeis University and training with Bill Shipman that McBean made more serious strides towards creating the Jamaican fencing movement. His parent´s continual urging was a driving force to live up to those before him.
From these rather inauspicious beginnings, the JFF is growing and set on becoming an organization that will come to define many aspects of social entrepreneurship, sport culture and creating a new avenue through which young people inside and outside of Jamaica can rise to prominence and success.
The World’s First Ever
Jamaican Women’s Fencing Team