Michael is a five-time Olympian (1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, and 1996), and is only male fencer in the last 70 years to have made US Olympic teams in foil and epee. Highlights in the course of his athletic career in men’s foil include winning a record eight US national championships, an individual bronze at the Pan American Games and an individual silver at the World University Games. He is a five-time United States Olympic Committee Athlete of the Year.
As a coach, Michael’s fencers have qualified for several US Olympic Games, represented the US on more than 70 World Teams, won World Cup and World Championship titles and more than 50 National Championships in both individual and team events. As the most recent success, foilist Julian Cheng - with whom he worked prior to entrusting the foil program to Ralf Bissdorf - achieved a Top 8 finish at the 2017 World Cadet Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
The success of his students have also earned them Ivy League college placements.
Michael has served as Vice President of the United States Fencing Association (USFA). In 2007 he was named Developmental Coach of the Year by the USFA, and in 2018, National High School Coach of the Year. He has been inducted into the United States Fencing Association and The Oregon Sports Hall Of Fame. Michael earned his Fencing Masters’ Degree in Poland in 1992 under the tutelage of Zbigniew Czajkowski.
Lisa holds a Level 2 certification from the US Fencing Coaches Association and is entering her second decade as a fencing coach. She is an exceptional educator and motivator, and is sensitive to the needs of the fencers at the academy. She initiated the Girls and Ladies programs as she noticed that, as beginners, females tend to be more comfortable practicing with one another.
Before she became a coach, Lisa was a multiple times National Finalist in women’s foil, and ranked in the Top 10 in the US national standings.
Lisa is a certified personal trainer and Pilates instructor.
The genesis of Ralf’s coaching career was somewhat unplanned, yet unexpectedly successful. In 2010, after a long athletic career of his own, he consulted for an established fencing club in Singapore, Z Fencing, where shortly after, became its High Performance Director. In 2012, he spearheaded the Fencing Academy at the Singapore Sports School as Head Coach and created a pipeline of young fencers that qualified to represent the Singapore National Team. Under his leadership, the fencing program (including former students) achieved more than 20 medals at the Asian Junior and Cadet Championships in both individual and team events. His former students won the first ever team gold for Singapore at the 2016 Asian Cadet Championships. In 2017, students Amita Berthier and Julian Cheng represented Singapore and the US at the World Cadets Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, where they finished with a historical Bronze medal for Singapore and a Top 8 for the US respectively. In 2018, Amita Berthier repeated a medal feat at the World Junior Championships in Verona, Italy, this time a Silver medal in the Junior Team Event.
Ralf started fencing at the age of eight in Heidenheim, Germany. At the height of his athletic career, he was ranked first in the men’s foil world ranking for over 500 days. Aside from the individual silver medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, he is a team gold medalist at the 2002 World Championships and a team bronze medalist at the same event in 2003 and 2005. He is the winner of 11 World Cup competitions, a Top 8 finisher in more than 50 Senior World Cups, and the overall World Cup winner for consecutive seasons 1999/00, 2000/01 and 2001/02. He has won multiple European titles in individual and team events and was four times German Champion. In recognition of his athletic success, he was in 2001 awarded the Silver Laurel of the Federal Republic of Germany - the highest award for a sportsperson in Germany.
Ralf attributes his success to his coach Thomas Zimmerman, with whom he worked for 25 years.
Adam’s career as a coach began in Portland, Oregon in 2005 - at the same time that he became a high school physics and math teacher. His dedication to the sport led him to full-time coaching at the Boston Fencing Club in 2010. From 2013 to 2015, by invitation of the US Olympic Committee, he became a resident athlete at the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs where he was also Assistant Coach for the USA Pentathlon team. During this period, he competed in multiple Division 1 finals, won the January 2015 Division North American Cup, and a Division 1A National Championship.
In 2015, Adam and his wife Cassandra Bates made their way to Concord to train and coach alongside Michael Marx at the fencing academy. As Adam rekindled his love for teaching and taught high school first year physics, he was also entrusted to run the epee program as its lead coach till the end of 2016. Amongst many results, one of his students, Kaija Gisolfi-McCready, qualified to represent the US in a 2017 Junior World Cup in Burgos, Spain.
Adam is currently working towards representing the US at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. As he steps up in his preparation, he has handed over the reins as lead coach of the epee program to Michael, and now coaches alongside him as an assistant.
Cassandra began coaching in 2015. As a coach, she plays an active role in the growth of her students in both sports and character. In her classes and student interactions, she is deliberate in her approach to nurture good attitude, encourage positive self-talk and instill goal setting.
As a fencer, Cassandra has been ranked in the top 10 of US Women’s Epee national standings. She is a bronze medalist at the 2018 Division 1 National Championships in Portland (OR), a bronze medalist at the 2016 Division 1 National Championships, a silver medalist at the 2016 Division 1A National Championships, and winner of the 2014 Pan American Sports Festival. She was a training partner for USA Modern Pentathlon at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs from 2013 to 2015.
Like her husband Adam, Cassandra aims to represent the US at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Gregory enjoys sharing the sport he loves with others, and so he began assisting as a coach at Northwest Fencing Center in 2014. In February 2016, he relocated from Portland to Boston to pursue his dream of fencing at the Olympics under the guidance of Michael and Ralf. He has continued to assist with coaching since his move.
As a fencer, Gregory is a two time junior men’s foil Team National Champion and he has fenced in the World Cup circuits at the Cadet, Junior and Senior levels since 2012. He was a Top 16 finisher at the individual event of the Junior World Cup in Bangkok, where he was also part of the US team that won the team event. He was again a Top 16 finisher at the European Juniors Circuit in Bratislava, and a silver medalist in that team event.