The ranking system described below is based on a similar ranking system first employed by academic institutions around the 15- 16th century to determine the individual's position within a hierarchical system of competency. Ranking includes five (5) distinct levels: recruit, scholler, free scholler, provost and maestro. The word "scholler" is derived from a Latin word "schola" or "school". Therefore, given that a scholar or "scholler" (old English) is someone who studies an academic subject (using the "under-graduate student" analogy), this was found to be applicable to the initial rank of a western martial arts student. Taking this further, a "free scholler" is one who is undergoing advanced training, similar to a graduate student from an academic perspective. The academic or research component of this ranking system begins early in the "scholler" rank during the student's training with his/her participation in an existing or ongoing research project.
The designation of "provost" is granted by the school's governing body and is achieved when the student has achieved the highest technical skill of a weapon and that a research project is completed along with a research paper submission. A "provost", by definition is an individual who is the head or master of a particular college or subject. Using this definition with respect to martial arts would also include weapons skills, relevant techniques and their surrounding history. One can use the analogy that a "provost" has obtained a doctorate in this particular weapon's type. A "maestro" is one who has been granted this title by an external governing body such as the International Masters at Arms Federation (IMAF3) and who has achieved the highest technical and intellectual skills with a minimum of three (3) weapons types (an individual who holds multiple "Ph.D's").
One of the most important steps in the progression from the rank of scholler to maestro is the concept of "prizes and challenges". The quest for the prize of promotion is a fundamental cultural component of the Academy, in which most, if not all students desire to obtain the prize through a minimum of 3 challenges against individuals in the next rank desired for each weapon currently being trained in. The play for the prize is comprised of two steps. The first step occurs as an event internal to the Academy in which the student's skills are assessed in private by the AEMMA governing body. The second step is for the student to submit a challenge for the prize of scholler, however, no student is allowed to submit challenges until the private examination is complete and deemed successful. There is no real time span before the student can play for the prize once the challenge has been submitted, however, it is usually left up to the student. Only the recruit and scholler has this prize option in the promotion to scholler and free scholler rank respectively. Higher ranks prizes are governed on a time basis structure.
The expectation of training is that the student, with regular practice and commitment can achieve the highest ranking and competency level, maestro in approximately 5 to 10
years. This has great variations, depending upon the commitment of the student to training, attendance to classes, research project development, availability of the student to training, physical capabilities, stamina and their natural physical skills of the student. Skill and safety are paramount in the training program. The ranking and competency levels are described below.
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