The British Federation for Historical Swordplay

Instructor Certification

The purpose of the IL programme is to provide structured coach development and a measure of quality control that will protect the BFHS and its members/officers as well as strengthening our reputation as an effective historical fencing organisation.

As currently proposed, there are four levels. The IL1 was always intended as an entry level qualification and will remain the minimum standard to obtain BFHS accreditation as an instructor. It is entirely possible to run a class as an IL1, but the intention is that IL1 instructors will progress to a higher level or operate under the (possibly distant) guidance of more advanced instructors.

In very basic terms:

IL1 – The instructor is safe and competent to teach a fencing lesson

IL2 – The instructor is competent to teach a fencing class on an ongoing basis

IL3 – The instructor is skilled at getting the best results for each student within a class

IL4 – The instructor has gone beyond the material taught in IL2-3

To put that in very simple terms, the minimum an instructor of a given level will be able to do is:

IL1 – Teach a class

IL2 – Teach a fencing course

IL3 – Coach fencers and develop new instructor candidates

IL4 – Raise the standard of the BFHS overall

Note that levels above IL1 are NOT MANDATORY. A highly experienced coach might not see the need to take these courses, and would not be forced into it. However, for many coaches the structured development programme will be highly beneficial.

Note also that historical interpretation plays no part whatsoever in assessment, other than a requirement that the candidate be teaching some form of historically authentic swordsmanship or related arts. A candidate cannot fail on interpretation of historical material. Nor are there hard-and-fast rules for how any given coach must teach. Teaching is an art, not something that can be neatly codified and turned into a box-ticking exercise.

Thus the purpose of the IL programme is not to force coaches into teaching any given thing, nor to teach any given way. Instead, it is designed to provide all BFHS coaches with a comprehensive toolkit to use in their own particular style and manner – and to ensure of course that BFHS accredited coaches are of an adequate standard in terms of safety and competence.

It is not necessary to be IL1+ qualified to be part of a BFHS member group, but to be a BFHS instructor (and to obtain insurance through the BFHS) IL1 or higher qualification is needed.  It has been suggested that the BFHS might award IL1 status without assessment to individuals qualified under other systems, but this is not appropriate. We cannot take responsibility for someone whose teaching we have not seen for ourselves.

By way of example, the current Chief Assessor had 25 years of teaching experience, a Bachelor’s degree in Education, qualification as an instructor in sport fencing and four martial arts… and still took the BFHS IL1. There are no exceptions and no reasonable grounds for one.


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