Get to know the folks you'll be learning from!
Coach - Sparkle School
Claire Wemyss is an educator, coach, and brightly coloured good-time enthusiast. She brings her background in dance, yoga, and martial arts movement practices, as well as her drive for rich and meaningful learning, to creating spaces where people can build strong relationships with their selves, practice, and community.
Claire leads a 1-hour movement and mindfulness class three times weekly, as well as co-teaching Kunst des Funkelns with Jon Mills.
Claire's primary historical focus is on the use of the messer in the medieval German martial arts tradition, and she brings her trademark sense of play to her historical interpretations.
Coach - Sparkle School and VSCK Study Group
Jon Mills is a fitness coach, nutritionist, and longtime martial artist. After co-founding and running Vancouver Strength Collective in 2018, Jon brought his Kunst des Funkelns program to Valkyrie WMAA in 2019.
Kunst des Funkelns is dedicated to studying the martial arts of medieval Germany, and is co-taught by Jon and Claire Wemyss every Friday evening.
Jon's martial arts background includes Historical European Martial Arts and Filipino Martial Arts. Jon is a Certified Kettlebell Teacher level 1 with the IKFF, a Precision Nutrition level one coach, and a certified Qigong instructor with Long White Cloud Qigong.
Coach - The Lab
Jordan Both practiced Tae Kwon Do as a young man, and first picked up a rapier in 2008. He has studied Western Martial Arts continuously since then, expanding his interests to include the longsword, knife, and unarmed striking and grappling. He has also become a student of Visayan Style Corto Kadena Larga Mano Eskrima (under Maija Soderholm) and Baguazhang (under Ed Hines).
He began training informally with Randy Packer in 2012, and his enthusiasm and facility for recruiting new students led to the establishment of Valkyrie WMAA.
Jordan leads our Saturday morning online classes, where he covers everything from swordplay to unarmed arts to gruelling conditioning work with enthusiasm.
From 2015 to 2016, he was a roleplayer with the Vancouver Police Department, and experienced their tactical scenarios and physical skills training from the inside. Jordan was an organizer of the Cascadia North Accolade Tournament (2011, 2012) and has been a guest instructor at Swordsquatch (2017, 2019).
Coach - The Lab and Close-Quarters Combat
Justin Ring began his martial arts training with Dragon Style Kung Fu. He has been practicing swordplay since 2005, beginning with Academie Duello and the Society of Creative Anachronism.
He helped develop the Box Wrestle Fence program together with Randy Packer and Courtney Rice, and was a founding student at Valkyrie WMAA.
Before joining our coaching team, he stepped away from fencing to focus exclusively on his boxing training from 2010 to 2012. Justin ran our striking and conditioning program, POW!, for several years.
Besides his fists, Justin has worked extensively with the rapier, sabre, longsword, knife, and cane. He served as a roleplayer with the Vancouver Police Department from 2016 to 2017, participating in a broad range of Use of Force training exercises.
Justin has been a guest instructor at Swordsquatch (2017, 2019), and regularly runs themed workshops for Valkyrie WMAA on topics ranging from group combat scenarios to lightsaber combat.
Our amazing support crew and living knowledge archive. Meet them at our events!
Kajetan "Kaja" Sadowski
On long-term leave
Kajetan "Kaja" Sadowski has been a physical instructor since 2004, and taught figure skating, rock climbing, and mountaineering before coming to martial arts in 2010. He joined the coaching team at Valkyrie WMAA in 2012.
Kaja's historical focus is the works of Achille Marozzo (1536; sword in one hand, sword in two hands, dagger) and Domingo Luis Godinho (1599; two swords). He also teaches unarmed striking, grappling, knife combat, and self defense.
Kaja worked with the Vancouver Police Department's Force Options Training Unit from 2015-2020, participating in realistic tactical training scenarios and providing guest instruction to their Special Municipal Constable program.
He has taught swordplay and self defense at a number of international events, including the Vancouver International Swordplay Symposium (2015, 2017), Swordsquatch (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020), Violence Dynamics Vancouver (2017), 2 Days of the Blade (2018, 2019) and Autumnfecht (2021).
Kaja's book, Fear is the Mind Killer: How to Build a Training Culture that Fosters Strength and Resilience is now available worldwide. To follow his current projects, visit Kajaswords.com.
Randy Packer began practising martial arts in 1980, starting with Kung Fu and continuing with Aikido, Taekwondo, Tai Chi, Hung Gar, Hwarangdo, Shotokan Karate, and other unarmed fighting arts.
Randy fell in love with historical swordplay, and the rapier in particular, a couple of decades later. In 2004, Randy co-founded the Academie Duello Centre for Swordplay with Devon Boorman. After leaving Academie Duello, Randy spent years refining his training methods before co-founding Valkyrie Western Martial Arts Assembly in 2012.
Randy has a wealth of experience in security, self-defense, and tactical training, having worked as a bouncer and security contractor. Randy has designed and delivered self defense training to a range of audiences—from emergency responders to single teen mothers—since 1998, and recently completed a term of service as a roleplayer at Vancouver's Tactical Training Centre.
Randy’s Box Wrestle Fence method formed the training foundation for Valkyrie WMAA. Randy is particularly interested in the science of movement and fitness, and loves bringing the latest sport science into the classroom. As a coach, Randy works relentlessly to bring out the best in every student and has a particular gift for helping them recognize and exploit their unique strengths as fighters.
Courtney Rice has been practicing martial arts since 2005, and co-founded Valkyrie WMAA with Randy Packer in 2012. She was the first woman to attain the rank of Free Scholar at Academie Duello, where she began her fencing training.
Courtney ran Valkyrie's longsword program for several years, and was instrumental in developing the Box Wrestle Fence training method that underpins our teaching.
She has presented self defense workshops to teens and adults across Metro Vancouver, and spearheaded the inaugural Violence Dynamics Vancouver seminar in 2017. Her primary weapons are the rapier and longsword, and she is a formidable unarmed striker and grappler.
Courtney has been a featured guest instructor at the International Rapier Seminar in London (2016), and at Ottawa Swordplay (2016), as well as Violence Dynamics Vancouver (2017) and Fecht Yeah! (2019).
Phil Van Humbeck
Phil Van Humbeck’s martial arts journey began with the sword. He learned to fight with the epee at his local community centre before discovering historical swordplay through the Society for Creative Anachronism, which he joined in 2004. He spent nearly a decade in its fiercely competitive rapier community, building his skills and reputation as a fighter.
Since joining Valkyrie WMAA in 2012, Phil has branched out into knife fighting, cane fighting, striking, and grappling. Phil has taught group classes and workshops at the school, and excels in small-group and one-on-one instruction. He
Phil has parlayed his interest in historical weaponry and his manufacturing skills into growing the school's collection of canes and sharp swords.