Sewall “Skip” Shurtz was born in Texas and raised in Hollywood, California during the Depression. He began fencing at the age of 5 under the guidance of the legendary Ralph Faulkner (two time Olympian, legendary coach). He was able to receive lessons in return for his grandmother’s janitorial work at the Falcon studios. Skip became the son that Ralph Faulkner never had.
Skip began competing and winning at the age of 14 and continued on to become both the US National champion of foil (1956) and the US National champion of epee (1954), but also a 1956 Olympian where he placed in the top 10 in the world. Skip is the only American man alive today who was the U.S. national fencing champion in 2 different weapons.
In 1955 Skip was the silver medalist in the Pan American Games in epee. In 1956, Skip, who was one of the most feared and fierce fighters in the AFLA, really hit stride in the US Nationals by taking the US Men’s Foil title and the bronze medal in the Men’s Epee National championships. Skip made the 1956 Olympic team in both foil and epee at the age of 23. In the Olympic Men’s Foil Team event, Shurtz and his team tied for 3rd and placed 4th. And in the Olympic Men’s Epee event he placed 7th in the world. After competing in the Olympics, Skip retired from fencing to pursue his education, graduating from Wayne State University in 1963. Shortly after that he began coaching at Scottsdale Comm. College in Arizona and then opened and coached his own club, the Phoenix Falcons. In 2007 Skip’s aorta ruptured in three places and, after 7 hours of open heart surgery, and 10 months recovering, he began coaching wheelchair fencing for Pia Douglas, the founder of the Grand Canyon State Fencing Foundation. Skip Shurtz has developed fencers who have won at every level ranging from Divisional to National, to World Cup Team and his fencers have received scholarships at several of the top level colleges in the United States.
Skip Shurts in Reno NV at the US Fencing Summer Nationals 2011
Skip Shurtz interview video Part 1
Skip Shurtz interview video Part 2
“The Stamina of a Runner, The Agility of a Dancer, The Reflexes of a Cat”