As with any other school of martial arts, the Black Falcon School of Arms recognizes a system of ranking within the school's attendees. The system of ranks is inspired by the traditional grades within historical English fencing schools. These ranks are intended to define the progression of students within the group.
Note that there are relatively few ranks, as opposed to the intricate list of grades found in some Eastern martial arts. Therefore, progress through the ranks is slower, being a process of years' work. Currently there are only four recognized ranks, Student, Scholler, Free Scholler, and Provost.
Interested parties attending BFSA practices are referred to as "novices" before they take their student's entrance exam. "Novice" is not an offical rank within the BFSA, per se, but rather a way of recognizing potential students of the art.
A novice holds no official rank in the BFSA and is simply a term used to denote members who have begun their study with the BFSA but have not yet completed the introductory course. Novices are not expected to own any equipment of their own and are only allowed to spar on a very limited and controled basis.
Students are those who have chosen to seriously study European martial arts within the BFSA, and have passed the entrance exam into the school. A student may attend any open practices, and is assumed to possess knowledge adequate to be able to attend any class in the BFSA without the need for extensive remediation in the basics of longsword use. Students may wear a black garter with their traditional uniform.
Schollers are those whose dedication has brought them to a level of expertise such that they are judged competent to teach novices independent of any additional input from the rectors. A Scholler must have studied for a minimum of one year with the BFSA as a paid student in good standing, and own appropriate equipment. Once a student feels ready to test for Scholler, the rectors and other Schollers of the school administer several tests, culminating the Prize Play, in which the prospective Scholler must fight several rounds against a variety of challengers in order to demonstrate competency in the application of longsword use. Schollers may wear a red garter with their traditional uniform.
A Free Scholler is a student of the sword and staff who has demonstrated continued dedication to the mission of the Black Falcon School of Arms and is a senior member thereof. Free Schollers may teach any class within the BFSA without consultation from the rectors. A Free Scholler must have studied for a minimum of five years with the BFSA as a paid Scholler in good standing, and own high-quality, appropriate equipment. Free Schollers are charged with the responsibility of taking an organizational and educational role within the BFSA. Once a Scholler feels ready to test for Free Scholler, the rectors and other Free Schollers of the school administer several tests, culminating in the Prize Play, in which the prospective Free Scholler must fight half a days' worth of rounds against a variety of challengers with a variety of weapons in order to demonstrate competency in the application of at least longsword, staff, sword and buckler, wrestling, and dagger. Free Schollers may wear a silver garter with their traditional uniform.
A Provost is a student of the English martial tradition who has demonstrated exceptional dedication to the mission of the Black Falcon School of Arms, and is a senior instructor thereof. Provosts may establish their own Black Falcon School branch and set the curriculum according to their own desires. A Provost must have studied for a minimum of five years with the BFSA as a paid Free Scholler in good standing, and own high quality, appropriate equipment (including sharps, armor, and their own library of sources). Provosts are expected to take a leadership role within the BFSA. Provosts may wear a purple garter with their traditional uniform.
Rector is not a rank within the school, but a title that simply means "instructor." Rectors wear gold garters with their traditional uniform, and can be recognized by the dark circles under their eyes and their tendency to complain about the paucity of English source material. In the absence of true Maisters of the art, rectors act as a substitute to the best of their ability.