Martin Brill

Martin Brill, epee fencer, Olympic Epee Finalist, Oceanic Zone and National Champion, Fencing Master (Maître d’Armes), FIE Referee, and a coach at The Fencing Institute, Christchurch, has a personal moto “Beyond skill is mastery” and a goal of “fencing excellence, fencing mastery”.


Born in England in 1956, his family emigrated to New Zealand when he was 10 years old, arriving in February 1967 and settling on Auckland’s North Shore. In 1969 he discovered fencing and a lifelong passion, when at Rosmini College. His training, development and passion for fencing was nurtured by his coach Merv Sharfe, of Westlake Swords Club.


1979 was a special year for Martin. He qualified as a three weapon FIE Referee, was selected in the New Zealand Epee Team and fenced in his first World Championships (placed 33 rd ). He also won his first National Epee Championship. He was also selected for the 1980 Moscow Olympics, but then under pressure from the government to join the US led boycott of the games, the National Federation withdrew him, just before the Games start.


In April 1983, on a one week visit to Paris, newly married Martin and his wife Kate changed their plan of a two year Overseas Experience UK working holiday and chose to attend the French Institute National des Sports et de l’Education Physique (INSEP), Paris, a two year full time Fencing Master training course (Maître d’Armes) in Foil, Epee and Sabre. Thus began a seven year fencing holiday.


In France Martin coached fencing at Levallois Sporting Club. On his return to New Zealand he coached at the Wellington Boys & Girls Institute, and then Toa Rangatira Fencers (now renamed Wellington Swords Club). He continues to coach Epee, Foil and Sabre at The Fencing Institute, Christchurch.


Training, Development and Fencing Clubs:

First Club Westlake Swords Club: Coach Merv Sharfe

In France Martin fenced at VGA ST Maur (coached by Maîtres G. Lefin D.Levavasseur and C.Faget), the Racing Club, and Garde Republican.


At VGA St Maur Martin developed a friendship with Joel Bouzou, of the French Modern Pentathlon Team and became a regular fencing training partner. Prior to the 1984 and 1988 Olympics Martin participated in their training camps and in 1987 joined in the French Pentathlon Team training, to prepare them for their 1987 World Championships, where Joel became World Champion.


As well as coaching Fencing, Martin is an active member of The Fencing Institute, Christchurch as a Veteran Epeeist and regular competitor in the NZ Masters Games.


Olympic Games: Los Angeles 1984, Epee 15th, Seoul 1988 Epee 7th.

World Championships: 1979, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1987

Oceanic Zone: Men’s Epee: 1979 2nd, 1981 1st, 2014 1st.


Theatrical Fencing:  New Zealand School of Drama: 1991-1994

Royal New Zealand Ballet: Romeo & Julliet

Film (Cloud Nine production): The Twist In The Tale



1981 saw Martin challenge himself. The question regarding international fencing was simple. Could he train like an international fencer has to?

Martin took leave without pay to train, 6 days a week for three months at the West German National Training Centre, at Tauberbischofsheim.

After meeting Jacques Donadieu at a coaching course in 1981Martin left New Zealand with Kate to work with Jacques at the French National Institute of Sport where Jacques was director. They were at INESP for two years, working with the French national team learning coaching. In the evenings, while not working, Martin fenced at the club “VGA”, La Vie au Grand Air. At VGA he was coached by Maitres D. Levavasseur, G. Lefin, Faget and Bousquet

After INESP Martin got a job as a coach at Levallois sports club

 , which was then a small club looking to build up and gain a reputation…. More here

In 1990 Martin started working with Fencing NZ to put in place a plan to build up the sport of fencing in New Zealand, based on his experience working with the French national team and the professional fencing scene in France. Later in 1990 Martin returned to New Zealand to take up the position of National Coach for FENZ, based in Wellington.

During this time Martin started a new club in Wellington, Toa Rangitira, which later merged with the then-defunct Wellington Swords club.

Move to chch, Fencing Institute...

Born 1956

FENZ Life Member


  • Selected for Olympic Games 1980 Moscow, Representing New Zealand, Individual Epee. Just weeks before the start of the Games, under the mounting Government pressure, NZAFA (FENZ) withdrew him as part of the US led protest at the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
  • Olympic Games 1984 Los Angeles, Representing New Zealand, Individual Epee. 15th place.
  • Olympic Games 1988 Seoul, Representing New Zealand, Individual Epee. 4th place.

President FENZ 2002 - 2009

NZ Selector 1998 - 2002