Appleton Police sergeant is also a historical fencing master

Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 5:33 PM CDT
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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - The Appleton Police Department wants to show who its officers are outside of the station. Part of its “Many Faces, One Mission” initiative is showcasing some of the officers’ unique hobbies on social media.

Sgt. Aaron Pynenberg has spent 26 years with the Appleton Police Department. He’s spent nearly as long becoming a Historical Fencing master.

“I saw someone using a European longsword the way in which it’s intended to be used. And, like you saw, it’s like a baton, it’s flipping all around and stuff,” said Pynenberg. “It’s not like the movies.”

When Pynenberg discovered the centuries-long history behind the sport he was hooked. He traveled through Europe and the U.S. to learn from anyone with knowledge on Historical European Martial Arts.

“We know it today as fencing, or sport fencing, but prior to that it actually had a long lineage of real martial history and heritage,” said Pynenberg.

He took what he learned to create the Wisconsin Historical Fencing Association, teaching others the techniques using textbooks of the time, which have been passed down for centuries.

“They’re listing different techniques and talking through how they should be applied and used,” said Pynenberg while referencing a reprint of a 14th century training book.

“Without context, it’s just some people hitting each other with metal,” said PJ Stahl.

PJ Stahl is one of many who’ve been taught by Pynenberg over the years.

“He has this great mix of a sense of fun, a sense of play, but also a sense of discipline,” said Stahl.

The trainings are for people of any skill level, whether they’re curious about the history or want to train to compete.

“It’s fantastic, I would like everybody to look into it. It’s definitely worth your while,” said Ben Welch, who started taking Pynenberg’s classes 14 years ago.

”It’s not a fight club, we don’t come here to try to beat each other up and prove who’s better, we come here to try and master and learn the techniques that we’re taught in the 13th century and beyond from these textbooks,” said Pynenberg. “And that’s the true gift that we have, is we have it in their language, in their own words.”

Pynenberg says he’s gotten some new interest since the Appleton Police Department posted about his passion for historical fencing. He’s glad to let the community see beyond the badge.

“Show people that we’re just like everyone else,” said Pynenberg. “You know, we’re here to be part of the community, each of us has our own interests and little niche things that we do beyond just being a police officer. So, it is really nice.”

To learn more about the Wisconsin Historical Fencing Association visit its website or Facebook page.

People can also learn about other officers as the Appleton Police Department continues the series on its Facebook page.

Appleton Police Department officers are so much more than the badge and uniform. As part of our "Many Faces, One Mission...

Posted by Appleton Police Department on Wednesday, May 5, 2021

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