About Aaron Pynenberg

Aaron Pynenberg served his country in the US Army/ US Army National Guard as a Combat Medical Specialist from 1992-1998 with the famed “Red Arrow” 32nd Brigade.  He was primarily assigned  to the HHC 1/127th, however was temporarily assigned to units ranging from the Army Scouts, (where he trained extensively in ambush/counter ambush infantry tactics, intelligence gathering, CQB techniques and demolitions operations),  and the mechanized infantry where he was responsible for a mechanized ambulance unit, (M113A3). 

As Deputy Director of the Association for Renaissance Martial Arts (ARMA), he quickly rose to become ARMA’s only Provost and won his prize playing event by the highest win-to-lose ratio so far recorded.  He is featured heavily on the ARMA website, and helped to keep the membership highly motivated. He became ARMA Director John Clements’ official apprentice and contributed to reform ARMA’s training methodology and study approach.  He has assisted and led numerous training seminars and programs across the US and in Europe.  He left ARMA in 2012.

As a medieval combat specialist he was featured in a number of Hollywood projects including the re-release of the movie, First Knight, the documentary Reclaiming the Blade, and on National Geographic’s Medieval Fight Book.  Along with his long-time training partner Jeremiah Backhaus, they appeared together in the documentary Makers and Masters for the re-release of the original movie, Conan the Barbarian .  He is also heavily featured in a number of on-line videos and other programs.  He is a proven expert in the use of the European longsword, rapier, messer, dagger and fighting in harness (European armor).  He is also currently undertaking an extensive and exhaustive study of traditional CQB training methods and ringen (combat wrestling).  He will also star in upcoming independent movie Devolution. 

Presently, he is a 19-year Police Master Sargent serving with the Appleton Police Department in Appleton, Wisconsin.  He spent 5 years on his department’s street crimes unit, and was responsible primarily for investigating gang and drug crimes.  He also worked closely with units from the FBI, DEA and the MEG Unit.  A 10-year SWAT Veteran, he currently serves on the multi-jurisdictional SWAT team as the lead Entryman.  His specialties include ballistic shield and pistol, close quarters battle, and assault rifle. He has served as his department’s primary instructor in DAAT, the State of Wisconsin’s program covering all aspects of use of force including the proper use and application of deadly force.  He has been instrumental in implementing realistic and continuous training programs which have won several awards and commendations.  He recently assisted other noted experts to rewrite the policy on the use-of-force for the City of Appleton, creating a comprehensive policy that will serve his agency in the years to come. 

Aaron was also instrumental in creating and implementing specific training for women in law enforcement.   By targeting this issue he created a specialized curriculum which addressed differences in how women learned these skills, resulting in officers who are more confident and better prepared.  He is routinely responsible for creating on-going in-service instruction for over 100 sworn officers in decision making skills and the application of use-of-force during high-stress environments.  To accomplish this task he directs a cadre of 15 highly trained professional instructors and administrators.




In April of 2012, he was instrumental in the Grand Gala-Opening for the Castlerock museum.  He gave several presentations on the art of fencing for the Museum and for Mr. Gary Schlosstein, the Museum’s founder and arms collector. Aaron was presented with the unique privilege of personally handling several authentic pieces from the collection, including a sword from the First Crusade.

On the subject of training in historical fencing Aaron says: “Many times I am asked why I train in swordsmanship, to which I used to be somewhat perplexed, now I use a quote that I believe sums it up perfectly…”

But it is to the keen swordsman who looks upon foil fencing as the key to all hand-to-hand fighting, that the historical development of the art offers the greatest interest.  It shows him how many generations of practical men were required to elucidate the principles of fencing, and adapt them in the most perfect way to the mechanical resources of the human anatomy, and how utterly unknown many of those principals, which are now looked on upon as the A B C of swordplay, were still, in the proudest days of the sword’s reign.

The sword is now truly a thing of the past, and elaborate swordsmanship can only be looked upon as a superior kind of pastime, combining mental excitement and bodily exercise-the excitement of a game of skill not entirely independent of chance, together with the delight, innate in all healthy organizations, of strife and destruction-and an exercise necessitating the utmost nervous and muscular tension while it affords the refined pleasure of rhythmical action.

But in days gone by the sword was indeed a part of the man, and the skillful use therof, on most occasions, of more import than a good cause.  It has often been said that a history of the sword would be a history of humanity, since the latter has ever been a chain of struggles between nations and men ultimately decided by violence.-Egerton Castle 1885     

As the lead trainer for the newly formed Wisconsin Historical Fencing Association, he is looking forward to working closely with other members of the HEMA Alliance and scholars everywhere to advance the art and is coordinating and leading a number of training seminars around the US and Europe.