Witold M. Rak, M.S. Exercise Physiologist
Founder/Director of Woodside Fencing Center, Inc.
Head Coach/Prevost D´Armes
( USFA, USFCA, Life Member, AAI )

Exercise Physiologist Witold Rak is the head instructor and founder of the Woodside Fencing Center. Coach Rak has contributed greatly to exposing fencing to inner-city youth in New York City through the Sports & Arts Foundation. He is the founder/director of the Woodside Fencing Center in Queens and the co-founder/director of the East Harlem International Fencing Club. In both positions, he prepares grassroots fencing programs for children and adults.

Coach Rak fenced at Eastern Military Academy in Huntington, New York before starting for the varsity at St. John's University in 1970. He earned a bachelor's degree from New York Institute of Technology, a master of science in exercise physiology from Queens (N.Y.) College, worked and attended the Hanover Medical College in Hannover, Germany.

Coach Rak spent eight years competing internationally in northern Germany. He instructed fencing at the TKH Club in Hannover and at Queens College. Rak was on the FIE staff at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games and a production assistant at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Coach Rak has previous collegiate coaching experience at State University of New York at SUNY Purchase, NY and New Jersey Institute of Technology, NJ. He was the coach at the Empire State Games in 1995 for the NYC contingent. He continues to do original fencing research and has presented his work on Motor Control Theory in Fencing at the United States Fencing Coaches Association conference in San Antonio, Texas 2004 and the Portland, Maine Conference at 2005.

Coach Rak has been active in the USFCA annual coach’s conference –

  • - 2001 (Lambertville, NJ) At Bucks County Academy of Fencing,
  • - 2004 (San Antonio TX) At Palo Alto College; Gave a presentation on “A Working Model of Skill Acquisition with Application to Teaching Motor Control Movements of Fencing (Open Skill)” From a Teachers and Students Perspectives, Queens College, 1995,
  • - 2005 (Westbrook, ME) At Portland Fencing Center; Gave a presentation on “Motor Control of Fencing(Open Skill)”,
  • - 2006 Chicago/Evanston, IL) At Northwestern University,
  • - 2007 (Oklahoma City, OK) At Redlands Fencing Center,
  • - 2008 (New Hope, PA), At Bucks County Academy of Fencing,
  • - 2009 (San Diego/Escondido, CA) At San Diego Fencing Club,
  • - 2010 (Louisville, KY) At Louisville Fencing Center,
  • - 2011 (Las Vegas, Nevada) At Fencing Academy of Nevada

In addition, Coach Rak
  • - Wrote a Program Fencing an outline/lesson plan for P.E. Teachers for after school fencing programs,
  • - Did original Fencing Research at the 1986 Fencing Nationals at Manhattan College in Riverdale, N.Y. “Changes in Ionized (free) Serum Calcium and Ph levels after Intense short-term Fencing Exercise", Queens College, 1995
  • - “Movements on a Pendular Platform with Angular Acceleration/Extrapyrimidal & Pyrimidal Balance Profile Curves”,
  • - At Beth Isreal Medical Center, Presented at Society for Biomaterials, NYC, 6/1987 and AAMI, Chicago, IL. 1986, & FACEB, Washington, D.C. 3/1987

Woodside Fencing Center also completed a USFCA Epee Clinic on May 2012 with Certification of Coaches May 7, 2012.

He has served as Fencing Program Director at Thomas Jefferson Recreation Center, East Harlem, N.Y.C. since 1986 with Mikey and Negra Rosario (Boxing) and NYC Dept. of Parks and Recreation athelic programs. He is co-founder of the East Harlem International Fencing Club 1991 with Coach St. Clair Clement of the Salle Dumas Fencing Society and former fencing instructor at Our Children Foundation (West Harlem) since 1990.

As a “Woodsider”, Coach Rak is also a former student and teacher from Intermediate School 125 Sunnyside, Queens, NY, a former Community Board 2/ Public Member /Youth Committee, former president 1996-97 and current Board Member of the Woodside Kiwanis Club as well as board member of “Woodside on the Move” since early 1990's; member of the NYC Amateur Sports Alliance to promote Sports throughout New York City.

Moses Sistrunk Jr.: Foil & Saber Coach:
Moses Sistrunk, Jr is currently a Certified Foil Fencing Instructor (Foil & Saber Coach): A Harlem born enthusiast of the sport of fencing since the early 1990’s, Moses Sistrunk, Jr.’s dedication to the sport began at Our Children’s Foundation, Inc. (OCF) It was here where he met Coach Witold Rak who was the instructor at the time. Years later after they met, Mr. Sistrunk was assisting Coach Rak in spreading the sport of fencing to the inner city youth all over New York City.

This collaboration evolved into several instructional positions:
• Our Children’s Foundation, Inc. (since 2004)
• Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation (since 2005)
• Woodside Fencing Center (since 2005)
• NYC Professional Karate Team Youth Outreach Initiative (since 2010 on a volunteer bases)

Co-Founder & President of Inner City Fencing (2012)
He would implement what he was taught by Coach Rak and techniques he created on his own that were innovative and fun for the students. His current primary focus is going to Woodside Fencing Center for training as an instructor and an adult competitor. He is also a U.S.F.C.A. member and has been since 2006. He has been to several conferences for instructional training and is currently certified as a foil instructor.

The United States Fencing Coaches Association Conferences (Professional coaching training):
• at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois (August 10-13, 2006)
• at Redlands Fencing Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (August 10-12, 2007)
• at Louisville Fencing Center, Louisville, Kentucky (July 29- August 1, 2010)
• at Fencing Academy of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada (July 28-31, 2011)

The United States Fencing Coaches Association Clinic (Accredited Training):

Coach Charles James - Trained in Italy, Wheelchair Fencing Certified, Foil Certified with US Fencing Coaches Association