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IN MEMORIAM: Professor Alfred Avril

lead fencing instructor

Professor Alfred Avril was a master of Haitian machete fencing, having trained in the art form since childhood. He taught generations of students from all over Haiti and the world. He is the subject of the award-winning documentary short film Papa Machete. When he was not teaching fencing, he farmed his land on the wooded slopes of Cap Rouge, just outside of Jacmel. Professor Avril passed away on December 1st, 2014. We consider him still with us in spirit.

Roland Avril

lead fencing instructor

Roland is Professor Alfred Avril's chosen successor, and a master of Haitian machete fencing in his own right. He has trained intensely with his father since early childhood. More recently, he has spearheaded our effort to explore the functional applications of his father's techniques in collaboration with students of other global combat styles. When he is not teaching fencing, he drives a motorcycle taxi in Jacmel. He is featured in the documentary short Papa Machete.

Jean-Paul Avril

fencing instructor

Jean-Paul is Professor Alfred Avril's second youngest son. He is a master fencer who carries forward his father's subtle, almost painterly style of attack. It is not surprising, therefore, that when Jean-Paul is not teaching fencing he is a professional painter who creates stunning works of fine art in traditional Haitian styles. He also supports his family by taking sign-painting jobs around town. He is featured in the documentary short Papa Machete.

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Fredo Avril

fencing instructor

Professor Avril's son Fredo is a journeyman mason who works in the construction industry in town, as well as a master machete fencer. More than any other of Professor Avril’s sons, Fredo embodies his father’s perfect expression of Tire Machèt’s classic form. As an instructor he excels at helping students level up their footwork, posture and timing. He was pivotal in our effort to rebuild the Avril family home with help from our wildly successful 2014 Kickstarter campaign.

Michael Rogers

fencing instructor, program coordinator

Michael is an assistant professor of humanities at Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon. He first traveled to Haiti in 2002 and has spent over four years living and working there. He is the only non-Haitian known to have mastered the art of Haitian machete fencing, and is featured in the documentary short Papa Machete, which he worked on as a consultant from concept through post-production. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Cambridge.

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Reginald Turnier

fencing instructor, logistics coordinator

Reginald is the steward of his family’s ancestral lands in southeast Haiti and the proprietor of the nightclub Vatican in Jacmel. His network of family, friends and associates provide for our needs and security while in-country. He was raised in both Haiti and the U.S., but has lived primarily in Haiti since 2001. He has been a student of Alfred Avril’s machete fencing technique since 2004, and acted as a consultant for the film Papa Machete.

Tobias Zimmermann

development coordinator, Europe

Tobias is an instructor of Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA), based in Munich, Germany. He is the proprietor of the fencing school Fechtboden Zimmermann, where he teaches saber, smallsword and bayonet. He has hosted multiple Haitian fencing workshops in Munich, and visited Haiti to train with the Avril family in 2018. He now collaborates with the Haitian Machete Fencing Project on our outreach efforts in Europe, and incorporates Haitian fencing techniques into his curriculum.

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Michael Grimes

development coordinator, United States

Michael has been an IT professional for over 20 years. He was first introduced to bladed martial arts through Eskrima in 2015. In 2016 he took an interest in the sacred traditions of the African diaspora, including Haitian Vodou. This led him to discover the Haitian Machete Fencing Project. Since then he has taken an active role in our work, and visited Haiti to train with the Avril family in 2021. An avid practitioner of other Afro-diasporic arts including Capoeira, Michael is dedicated to the preservation and teaching of Haitian machete fencing abroad.

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