Coaching Team

David R. Packer, Head Instructor, holding a longsword

David R. Packer


David 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. He fell in love with historical swordplay, and the rapier in particular, a couple of decades later. In 2004, he founded the Academie Duello Centre for Swordplay with Devon Boorman. After leaving Academie Duello, he spent years refining his training methods before co-founding Valkyrie Western Martial Arts Assembly in 2012. David also has a wealth of experience in security, self-defense, and tactical training. He has worked as a bouncer and security contractor, and has designed and delivering self-defense and intervention training to a range of audiences - from emergency responders to single teen mothers - since 1998. He currently works as a roleplayer at Vancouver's Tactical Training Centre.

David’s Box Wrestle Fence method is the training foundation for Valkyrie WMAA. He uses his extensive experience to create lessons that are challenging, exciting, and varied, and to draw out the mechanical and philosophical foundations that underpin the arts we practice. He is particularly interested in the science of movement and fitness, and loves bringing the latest sport science into the classroom. As a coach, David 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. To learn more about the philosophy behind his teaching and his thoughts on other subjects, visit David's blog, BoxWrestleFence.

Courtney Rice


Courtney Rice has been practicing martial arts since 2005, and co-founded Valkyrie WMAA with David R. Packer in 2012. She was the first woman to attain the rank of Free Scholar at Academie Duello, where she began her fencing training. She leads Valkyrie's longsword classes, and was instrumental in developing the Box Wrestle Fence training method that underpins all of our teaching. Courtney 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 worked as a roleplayer with the Vancouver Police Department since 2015, and regularly participates in their tactical scenarios and physical skills training. She 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).

Courtney Rice, Instructor, with Rapier and Dagger

Kaja Sadowski, Instructor, with boxing wraps

Kaja Sadowski


Kaja Sadowski has been a physical instructor since 2004. She taught figure skating, rock climbing, and mountaineering before coming to martial arts in 2010. She joined the coaching team at Valkyrie WMAA in 2012, and created their beginner program that year. She currently runs the school's self defense program and has delivered talks and workshops all over Metro Vancouver. Kaja's primary weapon is the rapier, and she also teaches unarmed striking, grappling, and knife combat. She has worked with the Vancouver Police Department's Force Options Training Unit since 2015, participating in realistic tactical training scenarios and providing guest instruction to their Special Municipal Constable program. She has taught swordplay and self defense at a number of international events, including the Vancouver International Swordplay Symposium (2015, 2017), Swordsquatch (2016, 2017, 2018), Violence Dynamics Vancouver (2017), and 2 Days of the Blade (2018). Her book, Fear is the Mind Killer: How to Build a Training Culture that Fosters Strength and Resilience is now available worldwide.

Justin Ring


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 David R. 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. He is the school's boxing lead, and runs sparring and conditioning classes alongside our regular programming. 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 taught his first guest workshop at Swordsquatch (2017), and is working towards his NCCP coaching certification.

Justin Ring, instructor, with smallsword

Jordan Both, instructor, with a karambit knife

Jordan Both


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 began training informally with David R. Packer in 2012, and his enthusiasm and facility for recruiting new students led to the establishment of Valkyrie WMAA. Jordan leads our Saturday morning Power Classes, and is a favourite coach in the Valkyrie Base introductory program. He and Justin Ring have become a dynamic teaching team that covers everything from Core classes 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).

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. He plays an active role in Valkyrie Core and Power Classes, and has parlayed his interest in historical weaponry and his manufacturing skills into growing the school's collection of canes and sharp swords.

Phil Van Humbeck, instructor, with cane

Sylvie La Riviere, Ryan McNeill Bolton, Mike Kovac, Chelsea Thompson


Sylvie La Riviere is a fight choreographer and certified actor combatant with Fight Directors Canada, the British Academy of Stage and Screen Combat, the Society of American Fight Directors, the Society of Australian Fight Directors, and the Nordic Stage Fight Society. She loves choreographing big, fun fights and creating new games for her students.

Ryan McNeill Bolton's primary background is Shotokan Karate, which he practiced froman early age. He has also cross-trained in boxing, aikido, and capoeira. Ryan is a trained actor as well, giving him a solid foundation for realizing character and story through violence. He has been working and training in Stage Combat since 2011 and looks forward to many more years.

Mike Kovac has training in professional wrestling, Shaolin-Su style Kung Fu, and is a certified instructor with Fight Directors Canada. He has also worked as a stunt actor on The 100, Van Helsing, Supernatural, Legends of Tomorrow, and Tin Star. Messy, storyline driven fights are a favourite.

Chelsea Thompson is a big nerd. More specifically, she is a theatre nerd who discovered stage combat 10 years ago and hasn't looked back. She is excited to initiate you into the glorious world of beating the snot out of people (for fakesies).

Danielle Rice, roleplayer, with a High Gear training helmet

Danielle Rice


Danielle Rice joined Valkyrie WMAA as a self-described "couch potato" in 2013. Since then, she's become a proficient rapier fighter who competed in her first tournament in 2016, and has radically transformed her physical capability. Danielle has been a roleplayer with the Vancouver Police Department since 2015, participating in small and large-scale tactical scenarios and Use of Force training. She is currently training in Expressive Arts Therapy, and is preparing a Master's thesis on the role of martial arts in therapy. Danielle's roleplaying experience, counselling focus, and background as a non-athlete makes her a valuable asset to Valkyrie's self defense program. She participates regularly in our training scenarios and is a challenging adversary for students under stress-testing conditions.

John F. Irving


In his 28 years of service as a police officer and over a decade as a Use of Force Instructor, Cst. John Irving has developed and run tactical training programs for agencies across the country. He designed the Spontaneous Assault and Edged Weapons Defense system, which is now used in police academies in Canada, the US, the UK, and Australia, and has been an integral part of training local law enforcement officers through the Justice Institute of BC and Vancouver's Tactical Training Centre. John is a TASER Master Instructor, advanced Pistol instructor, Crisis Intervention and De-escalation Instructor, and Tactical Police Performance Instructor, and has been a conference presenter and guest speaker at events across North America. Since joining Valkyrie WMAA in 2014, John has been generous in sharing his knowledge of knife defense and sparring with our student body, and runs guest workshops every year.

John F. Irving, adjunct instructor, unarmed (or is he?)

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