A note of welcome from WHFA Provost Aaron Pynenberg

Thank you for your interest in the Wisconsin Historical Fencing Association. As our group’s lead instructor, let me be the first to welcome you to our group and this fast-growing martial art.

Whether you want to hone skills developed in other martial arts disciplines, to explore history firsthand, or just find a new way to get a great workout, we have something for you. We provide a supportive, safe—but challenging!--environment for the study of Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA), including longsword, rapier, dagger, and other weapons, as well as unarmed grappling and wrestling. [the same thing? Not really clear on definition of ringen in English] No previous experience is necessary.

These arts developed from centuries-old traditions, but they are alive today! My years of experience with fighting in both the US Army and as a Master Sergeant in the Appleton Police Department has shown me that the basic principles I emphasize when working with SWAT teams are the same ones I teach in our HEMA training sessions.

When I started learning HEMA twelve [??] years ago, I never could have predicted all the life-changing places this journey would take me. I look forward to working with you as you begin your exploration of this timeless craft!

Best Wishes,

Aaron Pynenberg
Provost and Principal Instructor, Wisconsin Historical Fencing Association

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about WHFA

Q: What do you study?
We study the historical martial arts of Europe. Many of these arts did not survive the advent of firearms and are being relearned and interpreted from historical manuscripts. Details

Q: Where do you have clubs?
We currently have clubs in Appleton, La Crosse and Milwaukee Wisconsin. Details

Q: When do you practice?
Appleton: Classes are on Wednesdays and Sundays from 7 PM to 9 PM.
La Crosse: Classes are on Wednesdays and Sundays from 6 PM to 8 PM.

Q: Where do you practice?
Appleton: We train at the gym on the St. Therese school campus, 213 E Wisconsin Avenue, Appleton, Wisconsin. Park off of Summer St. and enter through the parking lot entrance off Summer St.
La Crosse: During the summer during fair weather we usually meet at Scott's house or a park, please contact us for details. Our winter/rainy weather pratice location is generouly provided by St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Onlaska, WI.

Q: Do I need to have a sword?
No; we have training weapons (feders) available for your use.

Q: Are the swords sharp? Will I cut myself?
The swords we use in practice do not have an sharp edge. They should still be used cautiously and responsibly. Like other sporting goods such as hockey sticks, they are not toys!
Advanced students may have opportunities for supervised cutting practice with sharps however.

Q: Is previous martial arts experience required?
Although experience with other martial arts is helpful in learning historic European martial arts, it is not required.

Q: How much do classes cost?
Appleton: Your first few classes are free, but once you have been coming to training for about a month, we ask that you pay a monthly dues fee of $20 to help defray the costs of gym rental and equipment maintenance.
La Crosse: Classes are free, as costs arise they are discussed and split among the members. Chapter members are strongly encouraged to be HEMA Alliance members as this helps with insurance.

Q: I am not yet 18. Do you have classes for youth/kids?
Appleton: You are welcome to train with us as long as your parent comes to the first class with you and signs an insurance waiver on your behalf. We don’t generally accept children below the age of 14.
La Crosse: Currently only adults or children 14+ who are participating with their parent are accepted.

Q: What should I wear?
Comfortable athletic clothing and footwear is recommended. The gym can get chilly in the fall and winter, so bring a sweatshirt. WHFA shirts may be purchased by members.

Q: Any other suggestions? Equipment
A notebook and general sports goods like a refillable water bottle are always a good idea. A few specific thoughts:
Gloves: Sturdy gloves, such as lacrosse gloves or the "Mechanix" brand gloves available at Auto-Zone and other hardware stores. Purple Heart Armory makes low cost padded gloves suitable for low-medium intensity training.
Eye Protection: Fencing mask (aka "3-weapon mask"). If you do not have one, a set of clear eye protection-clear safety glasses. We have a few masks you can use for your first few classes if necessary. Absolute Force makes a low cost dedicated HEMA Mask.
Groin Protection: An athletic cup is recommended for males.
La Crosse: The La Crosse chapter often works on plays from Sigmund Ringeck's Knightly Art of the Longsword so this text will be especially help to new LAX members.

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