In an exclusive interview, Filipino-American fencer Brennan Louie candidly talks about what he’s been up to,
three years after moving to the Philippines to pursue a career as a Filipino athlete.
Leap of faith
In 2015, Louie took a huge leap and moved to the Philippines to be a national athlete, despite the fact that he
has never lived so far from his family at such a long period of time. When asked what inspired him to do so,
Louie shared that his journey “has always been a homage to [his] family who made sacrifices in order to
provide for the younger generations,” referring to his grandfather who did not pursue a basketball career and
his mother who stopped law school to focus on the needs of their respective families. “Living out my dreams
as a professional athlete in the Philippines has always been heavily motivated by them,” Louie added.
Inspired by his father who was a collegiate-level fencer, Louie first started playing when he was around eight
years old and he has not stopped playing since. His love for the sport heightened after moving to the
Philippines and joining the national team, stating that “wearing [his] country’s flag has instilled an immense
amount of pride and cultivated a new love for the Philippines.”
Coping with challenges
Growing up in a tight-knit family, one of Louie’s biggest challenges was living alone in Manila. “I came to the
Philippines with a dollar and a dream. It was the first time I was on my own,” the athlete shared. However,
Louie’s teammates and Filipino friends helped him feel more at home. “The relationships I’ve built with my
teammates and [Filipino] friends made feeling homesick very negligible,” Louie recalled.
Louie also expressed his struggles as a person diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD),
sharing that he is “often labeled as crazy by Filipino standards.” He shared that his disorder eventually helped
him. “It is something that over time, I’ve learned to deal with and actually find empowering,” he stated. Louie
also wanted to use his influence as a national athlete in inspiring people with mental health issues “to pursue
unorthodox and bigger life goals,” adding that “[he wants] people to say, ‘if Brennan can become a
professional athlete with ADHD, I can achieve my dream!’”
Winning the gold
Louie made the headlines last August 2017 after bagging the gold medal at the 29 th Southeast Asian (SEA)
Games. “Winning gold at SEA Games has led to many opportunities that would’ve otherwise been impossible,”
he gratefully recalled. The Fil-Am fencer was the first SEA Games gold medalist in ten years, and was one of the
athletes given a presidential citation. During a ceremony at the Malacañang Palace last September 2017,
President Rodrigo Duterte conferred said presidential citation on Louie for his achievements during the SEA
More than his big win, Louie expressed that the more important thing is his contribution in “elevating fencing
to the forefront of athletics.” Since the Philippine Fencing Team’s success at SEA Games, the sport became
more prominent in quad-media, with them being invited to various appearances left and right. “Just being able
to have contributed to that movement speaks volumes of the impact of this generation of fencing. I’m heading
the movement of fencing excellence and creating a new culture for fencing,” Louie proudly shared.
His big win at SEA Games was only the beginning; Louie ended up partnering with a fencing organization called
Republic Fencing where he designs a high performance program “so that younger fencers are equipped with
the knowledge and experience it takes to be a world class fencer.”
Life outside fencing
Other than his involvement in Fencing Republic, Louie is also working on Jatayu Life – an athletic techwear
clothing line that he designs with his best friend Eli Schenkel. According to Louie, they aspire to create a brand
“that will become a sustainable business for the Philippines geared towards sports and performance, allowing
underfunded Filipino athletes a chance to compete on the international stage.”
Louie is also a brand ambassador of Levi’s Philippines where he is trying to incorporate collaboration between
local weavers and the known clothing company.
Goals and inspirations
When asked what his biggest goals are, Louie shared that he dreams of “winning the first asian games medal,
repeat golds at the SEA Games and finally qualify for the Olympics.” However, Louie also shared that he
dreams of making fencing become a more popular sport in the Philippines. “There is so much potential in
filipino athletics but we often steer towards the popular sports like basketball and volleyball. There are so
many opportunities for fencers that the world never see,” he pondered.
Louie is also inspired by various people in the field of fencing, including olympic silver medalist Yuki Ota.
“While his accomplishments as an athlete are unmatched, his efforts to the bring fencing to the forefront of
sports has inspired me to do much of the same,” he shared.
His best friend Eli Schenkel is also one of his biggest inspirations. “[Eli] encouraged me to take on this journey.
He was my rival growing up and after many years of gritty bouts with him, we found a common ground in
sneakers and became best friends,” Louie recalled. His younger brother Bryce Louie has also been pushing him
to become a better athlete, especially after Bryce became the top 3 fencer in the US for his age group.
Positive energy and growth
Aspiring fencing athletes were encouraged by Louie to “stay headstrong and follow [their] passions,” adding
that they must “take the time to perfect the small details. Fencing is a complex sport and it requires a lot of
hard work and attention to detail.”
More than the fundamental techniques needed to be a successful fencer, Louie advised that it is also
important for aspiring fencers to “keep [their] identity [because] people excel when they are their truest
When asked what the people should expect from him in the next few months, Louie proudly answered “you
can expect positive energy and growth.”
Written by Badet Macaraig