Michel Rensen

Michel Rensen started training at Zwaard & Steen in 2013, and little more than a year later he started the process to become a trainer at the club. He became a trainer about a year after that, and by now he teaches at the club’s Rotterdam branch every week. He’s also involved in co-writing the club’s lesson plans. Besides teaching at Zwaard & Steen, he also regularly gives workshops, both in the Netherlands and other countries. He also often competes in tournaments.


Armchair Swordfighters – Coaching for HEMA

In HEMA tournaments, you can see an increasing number of fighters being supported by a coach in their corner, who are there to provide quick and concise feedback on technique or to regulate the fighter’s mood (calm them down or fire them up). As a fighter, having a coach in your corner can be a tremendous help as it allows you to focus on the fight a lot more.

However, this type of coaching can also be helpful to those who don’t (plan to) participate in tournaments at all. After all, the coach can look at the fight from a detached perspective and provide useful feedback about errors that neither fighter might be aware of. Of course, for this to work, the coach needs to be well-trained in observing fights and identifying areas of improvement.

In this workshop, we will be looking into the role of the coach, and practice for that role by means of various sparring exercises, designed to let the coach practice observing, diagnosing and solving problems in a concise manner.


Because of the setup of this workshop, we are going to need roughly the same amount of fighters as we need coaches. It is possible to change roles in-between exercises. If you plan on just coaching, you will need at least a sword and mask. For fighters, it is recommended to bring full sparring gear, but you will at the very least need a mask (with back of head protection), a gorget, a chestplate, gloves, elbow protection and a sword. This workshop is mainly focused on longsword, but it is possible to participate with other weapons, as long as you have an opponent with the same weapon.


Level: Open

Equipment: full gear