Purpose of Instructor Certification
The IC is primarily designed to assist instructors who are seeking teaching opportunities outside of the HEMA community. Within the HEMA community, your reputation is your qualification, but our most accomplished teachers are not household names to university officials or municipal Parks and Recreation managers. It is likely that in these contexts there will be more regard for a credential coming from a large educational non-profit then from your local HEMA school or club. The IC is a service to provide in these situations a basic standard of safety, competence, and legitimacy of representation (your HEMA has an “H” for “History”, an “E” for “European”, and a “MA” for “Martial Arts”).
The IC is not a substitute or short-cut for your reputation, and the IC is not intended to replace or overshadow the standards of your school. We hope that the overwhelming majority of clubs and schools providing candidates for the I.C. will have their own school-specific instructor evaluations that are both more rigorous and more specific than the HEMA Alliance requirements. We hope that all HEMA Alliance Certified Instructors will present themselves primarily as Head Instructor of Topeka Historical Fencing (or whatever), and use our certification as a secondary byline.
Some HEMA Alliance members, club leaders, and some HEMA community members, may find the Instructor Certification process useful as a benchmark or calibration tool. We anticipate that the more developed the HEMA school or club, the less likely this is to add value to their learning structures. Still, a club may decide to use the IC as an outside confirmation of one of their internal ranks, or as a component requirement. However, the HEMA Alliance as an organization will never make a requirement of the IC. We do not expect every instructor among our membership to take the IC, and we will never use it as a prerequisite for anything.
The “Level” of the Exam
The bar for HEMA Alliance Instructor Certification is competence, not mastery. We are not making, or proclaiming, “Masters”. The level of the certification denotes basic preparation for independent teaching.
The IC structure mirrors perfectly the HEMA Alliance’s philosophy of the limited value of “rank” across the wide spectrum that is HEMA in its current state of development. Candidates may apply for Certification in any sphere of HEMA (weapon, manual, historical master, culture), before a Certification Board which may or may not contain Board Members who themselves claim significant specific knowledge of that area. Such an approach, using universal rubrics of martial and athletic skill, can only have legitimacy at the modest competence level that the IC seeks to certify. Most experienced teachers of any martial art will agree that given some time to observe and question a practitioner of any other martial art, they would be confident in assessing whether that person is “for real” or not.
For a higher level of certification, teachers must look to the further development of their own specific schools of HEMA, and coalitions with other schools teaching the same pieces of our great and varied Arts. The HEMA Alliance Governing Council and Curriculum Council are in unanimous agreement that a generalized fundamentals and pedagogy approach is valuable and meaningful, but only at the level of basic competence described. No organization, or persons, could be qualified to make a “master” of a specific art without themselves being masters of that specific art, and there is no such thing as a general master.