Maître Michel Sebastiani has a long association with the sport of fencing as a scholar, a competitor and a coach.
He holds a Master of Science degree in Physical Education from the National Institute of Sports in Paris, France and is a graduate of the Ecole Superieure d’Escrime of the National Institute of Sports where he also earned his Maîtrise d’Escrime M.A. Fencing Master degree. He was a member of the 1959 French Modern Pentathlon National Team and was selected to the 1960 French Olympic Team.
In 1963, Maître Sebastiani came to the United States as assistant coach for Cornell University’s men’s fencing team and head coach for the women’s fencing team which won the national title in 1967, 1968 and 1969. From 1971-1977, he was an assistant professor of Health and Physical Education at Brooklyn College and head fencing coach of the men’s team. In 1977, he moved to Houston, Texas and began teaching at Rice University. Concurrently, he founded Salle Sebastiani which was then regarded as one of the top fencing academies in the country. He also served on the coaching staff for the United States Team at numerous Junior and Senior World Championships and the 1984 Olympic Games.
In 1982, Maître Sebastiani was appointed head fencing coach of Princeton University’s men’s and women’s fencing teams. During his tenure, Princeton’s teams won nine Ivy League championships, six IFA National championships, and finished in the top four of NCAA and IFA competitions sixteen times. His men’s teams had nineteen straight winning seasons, as did his women’s teams in eleven of his last twelve seasons there. While at Princeton University, he coached three NCAA individual men’s champions, one NCAA individual women’s champion, and numerous NCAA All-American and All-Ivy fencers. Two of his students, Maya Lawrence ’02 and Soren Thompson ’05, subsequently represented the United States in individual and team events at various Senior World Championships, Pan-American Games and Olympic Games. After 24 years as Head Fencing Coach, Maître Sebastiani retired from Princeton University in 2006, but he continues to teach in the Princeton area at the Sebastiani Fencing Academy.