Our instructors

John Bradstock Chow is the Chief Instructor and one of our founders.

After a misspent youth involving martial arts in Hong Kong and a few years fencing fancy private school boys, John started sabre seriously during his doctorate. He started teaching sabre in 2009, and takes an old-school scientific approach to sabre training. This is why he still fences — occasionally to World Cup level — to test his theories on himself.

This is fun for him.

In his alter ego life, John is a fallen government executive, recovering management consultant, and lapsed scientist-engineer. He now moonlights as a corporate mercenary on ad-hoc assignments.

Frances Bradstock Chow is the Boss Referee and one of our founders.

Not traditionally a sporty person, Frances was dragged into fencing by her husband John (see above) while working on her PhD in medicine. She liked it and things escalated rapidly.

Although she’s competed at national and World Cup level, she now works as a referee and holds an FIE-B (read: international professional) license. Frances loves to introduce complete beginners to the sport so that they can play the game and enjoy it as soon as possible.

When not at the club or wrangling her two small children, Frances promotes sabre. She runs Sydney Sabre’s YouTube, social media and blog. If you get into a flamewar with Sydney Sabre online, you’re talking to her.

Hayel Albassit is the Chief Armourer, reserve (read senior and scary) Instructor, and part owner of Sydney Sabre.

He’s spent his life working up the combat chain, from backyard brawls to regular rugby to sidewalk showdowns. He started sabre with us in 2012, pummeled people personally for a while, then moved onto teaching others to hit, fixing their equipment when they got hit, hitting things with big hammers, and hitting big things with hammers. If something breaks, talk to him: either because he hit it, or he can fix it.

When Hayel isn’t at the club, he’s selling motorcycles, interpreting their parts, lifting heavy things, putting them down again, hitting hot pieces of metal, working on some project, or buying a new power tool.

Joshua Roncolato is an Instructor and Apprentice – a literal one-in-thousand graduate of the Sydney Sabre cadet, adult and instructor programs.

He was born into a family of northern Italian fencers and sent to learn the sabre as a mature-age student aged 10. He fought his way up from the lowly depths of the Children Grade 1 squad, forced to use foam swords, through the various savage circuits (schools, cadets, state, national, international) to become a full member of Sydney Sabre and one of our core Instructors.

In his other life, Josh is an elite scholar-athlete at a top university and a chemist at a major industrial firm. He likes long walks on the beach, driving his family members to various dawn rowing meets, and playing concert-level piano. He is also tall and blonde and a half-decent Muay Thai afficionado. We still like him.

Isobel McRobert is an Assistant Instructor, Apprentice, and the first female graduate of the full Sydney Sabre program.

She started sabre at the right age, in her mid-teens, after 15 years of ballet and other dancing disciplines. Isobel started casually as a recreational fencer, then decided that sabre was more fun and less painful than dance, and quickly progressed through the cadet squads and adult course.

Apparently we are less traumatic a sport and club than any of her former ballet teachers or her overachieving performing-arts alma mater.

Isobel is locally infamous for her parry 3 (tierce), undercut between the legs, and landing in splits. On occasion she does all three at the same time.

On her off days, Isobel teaches swimming to small children at ludicrous rates under “trying circumstances”, camps out in the wilderness with fully-armourer combatants, and studies niche professional qualifications. This is fun for her.