Ferdinand Feilmann joined the Royal Navy in 1898 when he was just 14-and-a-half years old. He saw over 20-years-service and reached the rank of submarine commander. He was a member of the Royal Navy fencing team and also Magrini’s School of Art, and in 1907 Feilmann was the English national sabre champion. Later that year he won the sabre title at the prestigious Germany Gymnastic Society competition. He came close to regaining his national title in 1910, but finished runner-up after losing a fight-off with Alfred Ridley-Martin. Despite specialising in the sabre, Feilmann entered the Amateur Foil Championship for the first time in 1908, and reached the final pool. In 1916 he announced that he wanted his surname to be changed from Feilmann to Feilman.