Theatrical Stage Combat

Instructor Training

Sign up nowOur instructor training program combines learning our martial system with our proven curriculum, teaching methodology, and effective instructional skills. The program is accessible to both experienced practitioners from within the Historical European Martial Arts community seeking to refine their own approach to their practice and teaching and to new practitioners who want to both learn and teach these arts in a manner that is safe, effective and fun.

Each level in our program combines intensive instruction at our centre in Vancouver followed by access to our Vancouver-based or distance apprenticeship programs that will help you further solidify what you learned in your intensive courses.

Level 1 Instructor Intensive

Theatrical Stage Combat

The level 1 Instructor Intensive is a one-week 50-hour immersive program for practitioners of all levels. Throughout the week you will learn the foundation of our approach to Italian Longsword and/or Rapier with a high level of technical detail. Each day we will develop you as a practitioner and toward being an instructor through detailed lessons on mechanics, theory, tactical application, pedagogy, and learning methodology.

The course is great for people who want to up their technical swordplay ability or develop their ability to teach in our system or others.

Successful completion of the program qualifies you to examine for our Level 1 Instructor Certification. If desired, this permits you to facilitate an Academie Duello study group and continue your study in our programs with our active support.

Technical Material

The program is divided into 20 hours of rapier instructor, 20 hours of longsword instruction, and 10 hours of dedicated learning methodology. Students can focus on one weapon or both. Concepts are unified so that all 40 hours of technical instruction is useful even if you have a particular weapon focus and it is recommended (though not required) you take both together.

Topics covered:

  • Creating powerful posture.
    • Standing and moving in ways that are mechanically sound and tactically effective.
  • Body mechanics
    • Creating power and strong ground connection.
    • Proper joint and structure alignment for long-term health.
    • Aligning mechanics for tactical effectiveness.
  • Blade control, attack, defence, and counter-offence.
    • Controlling the three physical “advantages” that determine winners and losers in blade crossings.
    • Feeling and responding to blade position.
    • Strategic constraint and effective response in deadly encounters.
    • Creating false opportunities and taking advantage of them.
    • Proper defence and recovery of control after errors and with intent.
  • Controlling the four pillars:
    • Measure: the accurate assessment and control of the distance between you and your opponent.
    • Cover: keeping yourself safe and in control through management of blade crossings and lateral space.
    • Line: controlling the effective paths for striking.
    • Tempo: creating moments to strike and control when your opponent is least able to respond.
  • Strategy of the True Fight.
    • How to effectively follow the “true fight” a strategy based on control and strategic constraint.
    • Effective drilling and methods for internalizing effective tactical responses.
    • How to use the true fight and the four pillars to diagnose and understand combat.
  • Grappling, unarmed and at sword.
    • Use of the offhand with rapier to defend and disarm.
    • Longsword grappling, entries, disarms, and throws.
    • Unarmed grappling foundation in grips, locks, and strikes.
  • Connecting to Historical Sources
    • Connecting with original Italian martial sources including

Instruction is aimed at a high level of detail so students can understand it from both a learner and instructor perspective.

Learning Methodology Material

  • Mechanical and Contextual Learning Models
    • Methodologies for quickly learning new physical skills.
    • How to build effective training plans for rapid improvement.
    • Effectively bringing skills from classroom into applied settings.
  • Skills for Maximizing Retention
    • How to ensure that you and your students remember and can apply what you learn.
    • Strategies for quickly repairing technical problems.
    • How to integrate skills into context.
    • How to maximize the effectiveness of training partners.
  • Building Effective Drills
    • How to build drills from simple to complex.
    • Methods for training at your “edge” so you progress rapidly without the overload that sets you back.
    • Effective drilling strategy to move from slow to fast and precise application.
    • Methods for building rapid tactical decision making.
  • Combat Integration
    • Taking skills from drills into more free-form environments.
    • Using combative games, directed sparring, and dynamic drills to both build combative skill and repair combative problems.
    • How to effectively use slow sparring, scaling speed sparring, and full-speed sparring to make excellent martial artists.
  • Triangulating on Martial Art
    • Use of tournament, cutting, games, real tools, and simulators to understand the complete martial picture.
    • Maximizing the effectiveness of different training environments while minimizing their falseness.

Additional Things You Get

  • Examination in the first martial level (Green Cord) with the rapier and/or longsword.
  • Instructor certification to become a Level 1 instructor (Assistant Instructor & Student Guide).
    • Permits you to facilitate an Academie Duello study group and apprentice for Level 2 (Novice Instructor) in Vancouver or through distance education.
    • Gives you access to Academie Duello expertise and instructor resources.
  • Foundational instruction in all of the Level 2 instructor and martial material.
    This material will then be studied and practiced in greater depth in the distance or Vancouver-based programs.
  • Enrolment in the eight-month follow-up distance education course that includes:
    • Weekly training plans, curriculum, and study guidance for you and your group.
    • Supporting video content for at-home learning.
    • Video assessments by Academie Duello instructors to prepare you for Level 2 examination.
    • Monthly online meetings with Academie Duello instructors to help guide your personal and study group development.
  • This course is a prerequisite for taking the Level 2 examination and course.

Get Started

The next Level 1 Instructor Intensives:

  • March 5th to 9th, 2018 (Registration is open, see below)
  • August 6th to 10th, 2018
  • October 29th to November 2nd, 2018

Register Early Intensives fill quickly.

Course Name


Option 1 – $795 CDN
Instruction in your choice of rapier or longsword. (7 hour days)
Teaching and pedagogical instruction.

Option 2 – $945 CDN
Instruction in both rapier and longsword. (10 hour days)
Teaching and pedagogical instruction.

After you complete the intensive you can continue in our apprenticeship program (included).

Apprenticeship In Vancouver

A Vancouver-based program is one of the most thorough and effective ways to build proficiency as a practitioner and teacher of swordplay. You will learn martial skills in our ongoing classes with as many as 45 hours per week of instruction. You will also be mentored as an assistant instructor by our experienced teaching staff.

Apprenticeship Outside Vancouver

After you complete your Level 1 certification you are authorized to facilitate a study group in your area. We will help you develop this group and your own skills through a combination of structured weekly training plans, video lessons, video assessment for you and your training partners, and regular mentorship meetings.

Level 2 Certification and Further Training

After you have completed your first course you will be invited to attend a second intensive in Vancouver. At this intensive you will review the material you have been practicing over your apprenticeship and then participate in both a martial and instructional examination. After passing this exam you will qualify to begin your Level 3 program and apprenticeship.

Training Program Levels

sword class smallBecoming an instructor of Historical European Martial Arts is a long and rewarding journey. We believe that you must first develop yourself as a practitioner then, from a solid theoretical and physical base, you can begin to share that knowledge with others and grow as a teacher.

Achievement of each of our instructor levels requires both instructional training as well as certification within the technical levels of our martial art. The earliest levels can be achieved through a few weeks or months of training, the later levels require years of dedication and learning.

Level 1: Assistant Instructor & Student Guide

Instructors at the first level have a technical grounding in the fundamental level of our martial system and foundational coaching skills. They are able to assist another more senior instructor in the classroom environment. As a Student Guide they are able to facilitate an external study group and help students learn from Academie Duello distance learning resources.

Level 2: Novice Instructor

A novice instructor is able to teach beginners and prepare them for their Level 1 martial examination (Green Cord). They are also able to assist a senior instructor in instructing Level 1 programs.

Level 3: Journeyman Instructor

An instructor is able to implement existing lesson plans and lead group instruction in the Academie Duello system up to their own martial level based on the direction of a Master Instructor.

Level 4: Provost Instructor

The provost instructor has certified at a technical and instruction level that recognizes their ability to both implement existing lesson plans and develop new plans based on the learning objectives of the Academie Duello curriculum. These instructors are able to examine and certify students up to their level in martial programs on the direction of a Master Instructor.

Level 5: Master Instructor

At this level, a certified instructor has a high level of proficiency within the martial art, is able to design curriculum from the Academie Duello syllabus, and can manage ongoing lessons, develop other instructors, and oversee the instruction of a school.

How Our Distance Education and Study Group Approach Works

Our approach is to:

  1. Teach you the material in-person.
  2. Prepare you to facilitate the learning of others as a study group leader.
  3. Have you solidify and deepen the skills you learned with your study group, guided by our weekly lesson plans, training guides, and videos.
  4. Mentor you as an instructor and student, as well as the members of your study group, through video conferencing, regular check-ins, and connection to a group of peer instructors at your level.
  5. Have you return to get coached on that material and then certify for the next level.
  6. Teach you the material for the subsequent level and help further guide both your development and that of the members of your study group.

Members of your study group are welcome to come to Vancouver as well. They can participate in the full instructor training or simply in the martial skills portion. As your group develops, members can assess their skills from abroad (through video assessments) and challenge the martial skills rank examination in Vancouver or have us come to you to run a local examination.

Our Curriculum and Experience

Devon Feenstra PhotoFounded in 2004 by veteran swordsman Devon Boorman, Academie Duello has an approach based on more than 20 years of experience and research into European Swordplay and its related arts. Since its inception, our school has trained more than 10,000 students and has become the largest school of its kind in the world. The system we teach and the way we teach it has been rigorously tested and refined and represents one of the most mature systems in the field.

Our martial art is based within an Italian heritage from the late medieval and renaissance periods. We have a highly technical approach strong in both theory and physical practice. The disciplines of our system include:

Movement and technical language is derived from historical Italian works including those of Fiore dei Liberi, Achille Marozzo, Antonio Manciolino, Camillo Agrippa, Ridolfo Capo Ferro, Nicoletto Giganti, and Francesco Alfieri.

Professional Testimonials


“[Academie Duello Director] Devon Boorman is one of the best swordsmen I ever had the privilege to fence with. Moreover, equipped with an analytic mind and the ability to precisely articulate his insights gained in years of practice, competition and research, he is also gifted with the talent to impart his knowledge in a calm and highly instructive manner to the benefit of both novices and advanced students of historical fighting arts, as myself and thousands of practitioners who had the pleasure to take one of his classes can attest to.”

– Roland Warzecha, founder of Hammaborg, Director and Head Instructor of DIMICATOR in Hamburg, Germany, author of DVD “Sword and Shield – Basic principles and technique of medieval buckler combat“

“Devon and the Academie Duello are producing top caliber martial artists.”

– Puck Curtis, Maestro Sacramento Sword School

“Director Devon Boorman is in charge of one of the largest institutions focusing on Historical European Martial Arts, and this large accomplishment isn’t based on luck. Academie Duello’s students show a high caliber of performance and excellence in fencing and martial arts which comes from Boorman’s methodic, logical and trained approach to teaching. As a professional instructor myself, I not only respect Boorman’s approach, I highly endorse his school as a major center for anyone interested in Historical Swordsmanship.”

– Bill Grandy, Program Director of Historical Swordsmanship, Virginia Academy of Fencing

Testimonials from Instructor Program Participants

“Devon and Clint Fernandes are exceptional instructors; their years of experience, thorough knowledge of the subject, and love for what they are doing was evident at every step. The level of organization and integration of key concepts to facilitate comprehension and retention was through the roof. We have attended many workshops where you learn a bunch of cool stuff, but it’s just impossible to retain much of it. This program was clearly researched, organized, and presented to limit that problem. At every turn, we were (and continue to be) impressed. ”

– Jenny Snyder, Head Instructor, Michigan Historical Art of Arms Fellowship

“I don’t say this lightly. The entire experience was really well done, and the value I gained from it was enormous. I already do a lot of teaching in my life, and by all accounts I am good at it, but I came away with more value than I could ever have hoped when it comes to my own teaching practices.”

– Craig Hustler, Head Fencing Coach, Ontario Centre for Classical Sport

“The Academie Duello Instructor Intensive is a fantastic and enriching experience for the body, the mind, and the heart. The environment is supportive in a way that makes it possible for the student to challenge themselves without fear, and the curriculum and teaching practices are some of the best I’ve encountered in any educational institution.”

– Sebastien de Castell, Authour, Fight Choreographer

“I’m absolutely surprised by the amount of material that was covered, by how much I improved in 5 days, and by the amount of the information my brain retained. The intensive was very well thought out, professional, and quickly gave you a feeling of belonging. I would definitely recommend it to anyone at any skill level. Why? A full week of nothing but focus on swordplay.”

– Thomas Belloma, HEMA Instructor, Fort Worth, TX


Examples of Technical Material

Academie Duello makes all of its lesson content available through our online swordplay training centre – Duello.TV. Each week new material is made available free to the public. Additional resources are available through both a free and paid subscriber level. If you’re interested to learn more about what we teach, this is an excellent resource to review.

Visit Duello.TV to see what we’re teaching this week at Academie Duello.

The Tenets

agrippa-diagram-smallOur aim is to bring the historical martial arts of Europe back to a place of esteem and vibrant practice in our modern world. We seek to authentically practice the arts in a martial manner and avoid over-sportification or simply re-enacting a frozen art.

To succeed in these goals we foster an environment where we can get as close to the martial intent and origins of the art as possible, in a manner that allows the art, and the way it is taught, to evolve and grow.

The governors for this environment are these three tenets:

Proper Arms
We always use weapons and equipment that are as close to their historical counterparts as possible. The weapon is your first teacher. It teaches you how it moves, responds, and wounds, most effectively. The closer you get to the authentic martial tools, the closer your art will get to the original art.

Proper Respect
Though we practice with blunted weapons, designed for practice, we always treat them as being deadly. By staying in tune with how a sharp sword is both effective and ineffective you can stay closer to its martial applications.

Proper Context
Our system comes from origins on the battlefield, civil defence, and the duelling ground. The more authentically we can create the circumstances of those environments, the more truly we connect with the art and how it is best applied.

Our Values

Jimmie & Kimmie CroppedIf you’re going to become a part of our training programs as an instructor, study group leader, or distance practitioner, we think it’s important that you share our values. Martial arts are, after all, not simply a passion, but a way of life.

We promote an inclusive and friendly environment. We believe anyone regardless of background or physical ability can engage in Western Martial Arts and through them find physical health, community, and mastery.

Our programs are aimed not just at learning the martial arts we teach but improving our physical health through cardiovascular and strength training, physical conditioning, and rigorous application.

The arts we teach are based on an historic tradition. We honour this history by using accurate training tools and by practicing a true martial art with the care and discipline expected by its first teachers. In turn we foster an environment for our instructors and students to be their truest and best selves.

We give students the tools to be their own best teacher, and encourage them to realize their capabilities and their own personal power to shape their character. Students and instructors are mutually respectful, as their main goal is to practice and learn together.

We believe that details matter. We push ourselves to a higher level of quality in our practice, how we teach it and how we present it. Our space, students and staff keep a polished, clean, and neat presentation. Students are expected to practice good hygiene and assist instructors and staff in maintaining class equipment and the training space. Classes start on time and run on a schedule. We do everything we can to make sure our customers have the most consistently excellent experience possible.

Sign up nowStart on your way to being a certified Historical European Martial Arts Instructor with Academie Duello. Feel free to contact us for more information.