Five Rules for Being a Great Martial Arts Instructor

With one instructor intensive behind me and another coming in February, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it takes to be a great instructor. There are many false roads along this path and I’ve certainly had my share of internal struggles. I thought I’d share a few pieces of advice that I have found valuable.

Also for those interested in the February intensive, I’ve included some details below. Enjoy!

Five Rules for Being a Great Instructor

  1. Keep being a student.
    The greater your journey as a student of your art, the more you will have to share as a teacher, the more connected you will stay to the experience of being a student, and thus the more you will connect effectively with your students.
  2. Think about the students you can inspire instead of the asses you can kick.
    The fastest runner in the world is not trained by the even “fasterest” runner in the world. It is important to be an experienced practitioner but students will most respect your ability to make them better.
  3. Impart good values, not just good technique.
    I am often most inspired by what I learn about living from my instructors beyond what I simply learn about martial arts. Make sharing your broader experiences part of your teaching process.
  4. Let yourself be wrong –always improve what you teach.
    What I teach now is significantly different from what I taught 15 years ago and (I hope) better. Your students will have even more confidence in what you teach them if they see that you are always changing and improving your approach.
  5. Be an authority through expertise, not status.
    The most inspirational teachers I have are humble partners in my learning. They seek mastery of their art, not mastery of its students.

About the February Intensive

For those interested in an immersive experience in both the technical and methodological aspects of being a great WMA/HEMA instructor, I invite you to join me in Vancouver from February 15th to 19th.

The intensive combines a week of training in Academie Duello’s martial system with the rapier and longsword as well as a teaching and learning methodology track. Our teaching approach has been developed over the last 11 years and has been tested and refined through exposure to literally thousands of students. The week includes:

  • 50-hours of technical and pedagogical instruction in the rapier and longsword (as well as surrounding disciplines).
  • The foundation for becoming a teacher of our first two martial levels.
  • Instruction in teaching and learning best practices.
  • An opportunity to test and certify in our first martial and instructor levels.
  • 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 development as well as that of your group.

If you’re excited about doing a program like this but are not sure that you could afford it, we offer payment plans, a discount meal plan, and billeting options in Vancouver. If you’re passionate about becoming an instructor and high level practitioner we want to help make it possible. Don’t hesitate to be in touch.


Registration is going to open up on Sunday, November 15th at 10am. The last intensive filled in 2 days so be sure to mark your calendar. Registration will be available through the intensive information page here.

Please ask questions and share your comments about this course. Also please pass this along to anyone you know who may be interested!

I’ll have more to share regarding the intensive in the coming days.


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