Instructor Intensive Week in Review

Phew! It’s done!

It was indeed an intense but satisfying experience teaching Academie Duello’s first formal, week-long instructor training intensive. From October 26th to 30th, thirteen aspiring instructors joined us here in Vancouver for a five-day, 50-hour intensive to kick off their ongoing instructor training program.

Attendees hailed from both our local area (British Columbia's Lower Mainland) as well as various locations across North America; they also arrived armed with varying levels of experience. While some students had been studying at Academie Duello or another fencing school for a handful of years, others had very little experience in formal swordplay at all. Every last one of them, however, came with the desire to learn the arts of the longsword and rapier as we teach them, and the processes we use. A few even stuck around afterward for additional training and workshop time -- those die-hards!

50 hours is no small amount of work to cram into five days. Here’s a clip from a review written by attendee Aaron LaMontagne where he describes the daily format and how it positively challenged him:

“The days started at 08:00 with warm up and grappling for 30 minutes, and rapier for three (yes [...] three (3)) hours. A half hour break comes at 11:30, and then class resumes at noon with another half hour of grappling, and an afternoon of longsword training for another three hours. Following yet another half hour break, there was a two hour methodology section where we learned about the nuts and bolts aspects of teaching, training, philosophy, and knowledge retention.

It was an infinitely wonderful experience for me, because I've spent this year away from training. In large part, due to my job as a security professional. Ten hours a day is a holy-mother-of-god lot of training, but it has been immensely useful for me.”

You can read more of his review here.

The goal of the five day intensive was to instill a solid technical and theoretical base in the students, to prime them for exposure to the next level of material for at-home study in the months following. Beyond technical content, we explored teaching methodology with topics such as:

  • Martial Arts and Teaching Values
  • The Mechanical/Contextual Spiral - Effective Teaching
  • Stimulus, Action, Reaction, and Consequence - Maximizing Drill Effectiveness
  • How to Maximize Skill Retention
  • Tactical Drill Building - Pressure Testing Mechanics
  • Using Sparring Games, Free-Sparring, and Tournaments

I was really impressed with how the whole week ran. It’s a beautiful thing to see inexperienced people build from nothing to competence and to see experienced people become significantly more effective both as fighters and teachers. The exercises that we used allowed for us to provide a scaling level of complexity that didn’t overwhelm the new students while still providing a proper challenge for the more seasoned ones.

But the course doesn't stop there! For these students, the week-long intensive was only the beginning. Starting now, our thirteen inaugural attendees will participate in an eight-month long program aimed at deepening the technical and teaching skills learned in the opening week. We’ll be sending out weekly rapier and longsword training plans, supported by Duello.TV video content, and each month we will have a group meeting with program members -- both local and abroad -- to help guide their learning and support their growth as students and teachers. We also have a video review process that will allow for a two-way connection until program members can return to Vancouver.

Now that the first section is underway, we're getting ready for a second cohort to begin this February from the 15th to the 19th. Registration opens on November 15th. If you’re interested in learning more about the course, check out our information page here.

Also, feel free to share your questions and thoughts on the program with us!

Devon Boorman is the Co-Founder and Director of Academie Duello Centre for Swordplay, which has been active in Vancouver, Canada since 2004. Devon’s expertise centres on the Italian swordplay tradition including the arts of the Renaissance Italian rapier, sidesword, and longsword, as well as knife and unarmed techniques.
Read more from Devon Boorman.