Theatrical Stage Combat

Instructor Training & Certification

Sign up nowOur instructor training & certification programs combine learning an effective martial system with our proven curriculum, teaching methodology, and instructional approach developed and tested with more than 10,000 students.

Whether you’re an experienced Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) practitioner seeking to take your practice and instruction to a new level, or a new practitioner who is wanting to set a safe and effective base from the beginning, our certification program delivers.

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 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 martial arts.

Successful completion of the program qualifies you to examine for our Level 1 Instructor Certification. Academie Duello instructors and practitioners are recognized for their technical ability and effective programs. This certification also qualifies you to run an official Academie Duello study group and access to ongoing apprenticeship program.

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.

The material is based within the Italian martial tradition of Armizare but is delivered in a way that is effective and useful to instructors from diverse swordplay backgrounds including German, English, and French traditions.

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 martial sources and leveraging them in learning and teaching.

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

  • Certification in Academie Duello’s first martial level, Apprentice, with the rapier and/or longsword.
  • Instructor certification as 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.
  • Access to our apprenticeship program 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 certification and course.

Sign up now

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 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

“Academie Duello’s instructor intensive gives a glimpse into a well-established, highly developed curriculum of swordplay as a martial art. I learned systematic learning and teaching techniques that will provide me and my study group with a path to continuous improvement as martial artists. The best part about it was spending a week at such an amazing, passionate and welcoming school.”

– Kate Jeffries, Practitioner and Study Group Leader, San Francisco, CA

“Training in such a deliberately and explicitly safe and respectful environment had a profound impact on me. Devon’s superb care, respect and professionalism in all our interactions helped me grow as a person and an instructor. The intensive format made for a unique and profound life-learning experience that I would absolutely recommend to any practitioner. Thank you.”

– David Barrett, Practitioner, Victoria, BC

“The intensive is exactly that. 5 days overflowing with lessons to learn and time to practice. You can get out of this program just as much as you put in! A really rewarding experience that everyone that has the opportunity to do should try.”

– Noah Patrides, Practitioner, Vancouver, BC

“Devon Boorman has designed a fantastic curriculum that will satisfy the most curious and technical fencers. The course focuses on important mechanics in great detail and covers strategies in fighting. Perhaps the most important, you’ll be taught how to become a better learner and accelerate your own training and studies as well as your friends’ and students’ if you are or wish to become a teacher.”

– Shanee Nishry, Practitioner and Study Group Leader, San Francisco, CA

“At 54 I thought I might have trouble completing and was pleasantly surprised to find although found my edge the experienced instructor was able to help me keep going and complete this incredible course. This is by far the best experience I have had with many years of Rapier and plan to continue training so I may inspire more women to partake in their dream to fight with a sword.”

– Tracey Kuny, Practitioner, Edmonton, AB

“”Instructor Intensive” is a bit of a misnomer, as it’s definitely not just for instructors! It reviews all of the fundamentals and apprentice material over the course of a week, so you get five months worth of content in one week.”

– Marika Purisima, Practitioner, Vancouver, BC

“I highly recommend this Instructor Intensive to anyone who wishes to gain a deeper understanding of the technical side of our art, and to anyone who wishes to learn how to learn (or how to teach) martial arts more effectively. It is a lot of good information and practice delivered in a welcoming environment full of integrity and martial authenticity. “Intensive” is an apt word in the course’s title.”

– Todd Eberts, Practitioner and Instructor, Kamloops, BC

“50hrs… FIFTY HOURS of martial art and pedagogy training in one week! TL;DR version = if you are interested at all in HEMA (Historic European Martial Arts), or just martial arts in general, or want to be qualified to teach martial arts someday… definitely consider taking this excellent course the next time it’s offered.”

– Leo Chang, Practitioner, Richmond, BC

“In brief, it was fantastic, and I can’t recommend it strongly enough. Seriously, it gave me material for my own fencing, and a great deal to think about as an instructor.”

– Aaron Lamontagne, Instructor, Vancouver, BC

“I left with new confidence in my technique, several whole new avenues of improvement to explore, and the desire to completely redesign my lesson plans according to a new and higher standard.”

– Michael Heveran, Practitioner and Study Group Leader, Seattle, WA

“If you’re used to drilling without knowing why, this intensive will not only be a new experience, but will leave you wanting clear explanations for anything else you practice–or at least, it will give you the tools to come up with those explanations for yourself and home in on how you want to improve.”

Malcolm Sheppard, Ontario, CA

“It is a massive amount of information to take in, so bring a notebook and be prepared to be tired. Overall experience was amazing!”

Maeg Rafferty, Vancouver, BC

“This is a fantastic opportunity to get in a ton of practice with dedicated training partners and amazing teachers! There is so much valuable theoretical knowledge presented clearly and the practical lessons really get you feeling it in your body.”

Mark Nelson, Principle Instructor Avalon Martial Arts, Duluth, MN

“I really enjoyed being able to spend a solid amount of time just dedicated to learning swordplay and how to teach it to others. I found the experience to be very enriching and grew a lot from it.”

Sharon Martin, Edmonton Sword Scholars, Edmonton, AB

“The Academie Duello instructor intensive was INTENSIVE! To put it into perspective my group only gets together for 1 hour per week for training and the intensive is 50 hours long so I’m doing pretty much a year’s worth of training in one week!

It will become quite clear in just the first hour of how knowledgeable, professional and methodical Devon and the Academie Duello Team is. The sheer amount of knowledge and information is impressive but what is even more impressive is the quality, fluidity and inter-connectivity of their teaching system is and how it is delivered.”

Alex Lee, Ontario, CA

“I would recommend this course to anyone with a real interest in sword play that is up for the challenge. It is definitely intense but highly worth it. I learned a lot about myself, how to care for myself and be both a good learner and partner. I met so many cool people and feel that there was genuine support despite the fact that I came in with zero experience. I fully intend to take the course again next year, and in truth I’m already hooked.”

Margaret Robertson, Denman, BC

“Sometimes finding understanding in the martial arts is like trying to drink by catching raindrops. This is like drinking from a fire hose; the sheer depth of insight into every aspect of the martial art is staggering to experience. If I retain one tenth of the ‘Eureka!’ moments I had in this intensive, I’ll count myself ten times more understanding of the art than before.”

Elia Kauffman, Vancouver, BC

Upcoming Intensives

The next Level 1 Instructor Intensives:

  • 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)
Learning methodology and pedagogy.

Option 2 – $945 CDN
Instruction in both rapier and longsword. (10 hour days)
Learning methodology and pedagogy.

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

Level 2 Certification and Further Training

After you have completed your first course and the requirements for our second level you are invited to attend our second intensive and continue on your study in our Vancouver-based or distance learning programs. Check out our level 2 intensive information here.

Certification 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 and martial certification. 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.


  • Grounding in the mechanics, tactics, and strategies of effective rapier and/or longsword practice.
  • Understanding of best practices for skill retention, mechanical development, and tactical conditioning.


  • Present yourself as a certified level 1 instructor.
  • Lead an official Academie Duello study group as a separate entity or within an existing school.
  • Act as an assistant instructor in Academie Duello programs.
  • Access to level 1 training and certification resources and support.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.