Huntsman Academies are institutions in Remnant founded by the King of Vale after the Great War and are dedicated to training Huntsmen and Huntresses, warriors whose task it is to defend the Kingdoms from the Grimm. The Academies and their staff also play a significant role in organizing the defense of the Kingdoms. Secretly, the academies were also given the task of safeguarding the four Relics.
The main characters in RWBY were originally students who attended a Huntsman Academy.
Prior to the establishment of the four Academies, combat training came exclusively from the many combat schools throughout the Kingdoms. Almost 80 years before the events of Volume 2, the Great War came to its conclusion, and the peace secured at Vytal saw to the creation of the Academies, one to each of the four Kingdoms. The Academies would train Huntsmen and Huntresses, whose sole purpose it would be to battle the Grimm, and whose allegiance would not be tied to an individual Kingdom. Huntsmen and Huntresses would have the freedom to work for whomever they wished and choose whatever types of jobs they wished to take from mission boards.
Professor Ozpin claims that the King of Vale was influenced by the Mistralian Fairy Tale The Hunter's Children when he created the Huntsmen Academies, having taken the four-man squad and ideals of the tale as lessons to the heart and using them as foundational cores for the Huntsmen Ideology.
The Academies were also given the responsibility to defend each Kingdom's Cross Continental Transmit tower, and each Academy hides a secret object known as a Relic. Qrow states that the academies were founded in part so that the Relics would be protected by highly trained warriors and to prevent humanity from using the Relics irresponsibly.
The Huntsman academies and the Kingdoms they correspond to are:
- Vale - Beacon Academy (Inactive)
- Mistral - Haven Academy (Inactive)
- Vacuo - Shade Academy
- Atlas - Atlas Academy (Destroyed)
Atlas was the only Kingdom whose Academy was part of the state itself. After the Kingdom's capital was moved from Mantle to Alsius, Atlas Academy, the government and the military coalesced into a single entity known as the Kingdom of Atlas.
In honor of the peace of Vytal, students from the four Academies also attend the Vytal Festival, a biennial celebration of the diverse culture of the Kingdoms. In the Festival, students compete in a combat tournament against contestants from other Academies in order to prove their skills and motivate them to strive for excellence. This tradition continues into the present day, with Academies sending students to the host Kingdom every two years to compete in their name.
By the start of the series, Professor Ozpin was the Headmaster of Beacon Academy, General James Ironwood the Headmaster of Atlas and Professor Theodore the Headmaster of Shade. Leonardo Lionheart became Headmaster of Haven Academy at the request of Ozpin in order to decrease the hatred towards Faunus.
As institutions that train the next generation of Huntsmen and Huntresses, the future defenders of the world, Academies are vital to the security of the Kingdoms. The staff of the Academies are highly skilled Huntsmen themselves, and they work to protect the world from harm in addition to teaching and tutoring students.
According to Raven Branwen however, many people who join the Huntsmen Academies don't actually always join to become Huntsmen and do so out of ulterior motives. One example would be when Raven and Qrow Branwen both originally joined Beacon Academy to kill Huntsmen since they were the only other threat to their tribe other than the Grimm. Another example would be Team SMMK who willingly helped the Wave criminal syndicate take control of Kuchinashi after they graduated and were paid a lot of Lien to do so.
Some students were also shown to not be willing to protect Humanity against the Grimm, such as Team NDGO who evacuated from Vale as they deemed it a lost cause as well as one of their members being willing to use a child as bait against a Grimm and traumatize them as a result.
At some point in the past, Lionheart sided with Salem and worked for her as a spy, forging documents for Cinder Fall and her team to enter Beacon unnoticed. Because of this, they were able to cause the Fall of Beacon. Following this, Glynda Goodwitch took up Ozpin's role as the new Headmistress of Beacon Academy and attempts to restore the Academy to it's former glory.
After the Fall of Beacon, Lionheart sold out the locations of Mistral's Huntsmen to Salem in order to save himself while sending the students of Haven home. Ironwood has his men investigate these strange incidents until pulling out most of his men back to Atlas. Due to Ironwood's loss at Beacon as well as the reports from Mistral, he decided to close the borders to Atlas until further notice.
Following the loss at the Battle of Haven, Lionheart tried to flee but was killed by a Seer controlled by Salem. However, his betrayal was covered up by Ozpin due to believing that the people of Mistral deserved better than the truth.
When Ironwood met up with Ruby's Group, he originally trusted them with his plans and allowed them to use Atlas Academy to rest. However, after he learned that they lied to him and that Salem was on her way to Atlas herself, Ironwood declared martial law in Atlas and planned to raise the city in order to keep the Relics out of Salem's reach, thus abandoning Mantle in the process. After learning the group were opposed to his plan however, he ordered the Ace Operatives to arrest them.
Eventually, they managed to temporarily confine him while evacuating the people of Atlas and Mantle. In the end, when Cinder hands Salem both the Staff and the Lamp, they leave Ironwood in Atlas as it crashes into Mantle.
Students are generally admitted to an Academy at age 17, though exceptions may be made for those with remarkable skill through invitation. Before a potential student can attend an Academy, they must usually attend a Primary Combat School, which are institutions that teach more basic tenets of combat, such as forging a unique weapon. Known combat schools and the Kingdoms they correspond to include:
- Vale - Signal Academy; Pharos Academy
- Mistral - Sanctum Academy, Unnamed Kuchinashi School
- Vacuo - Oscuro Academy
However, some students are accepted without having attended a combat school if they are skilled enough. Examples of this would be Qrow and Raven Branwen, who were both members of a tribe of bandits in Anima hoping to join the academy to kill huntsmen.
Potential students must also sign an application to enter the Academy they want to choose while also allowing them to name their Semblance in the process. However, there have been examples of people cheating their way into the Academies like Jaune Arc using false documents to enter Beacon Academy in order to prove himself to his family. Haven Academy Headmaster Leonardo Lionheart also forged documents for Cinder's Faction to infiltrate Beacon without drawing suspicion to them.
Initiation and Teams
Before classes begin, new attendees at Beacon go through an initiation, which involves some degree of genuine danger, such as retrieving "relics" from a Grimm-infested forest. Following the initiation, students are sorted into teams of four, with one leader.
The purpose of teams is to teach teamwork and empathy and to forge lasting bonds between members. Teams stay together for the four-year duration of their training at their Academy. Graduates have the option to stay with their team or pursue a solo career.
All four Academies group their students into teams of four, but it is not known if they are formed in a manner similar to Beacon's initiation or if they have their own methods of forming teams.
Although only the course at Beacon Academy is known in any detail, it can be presumed to be a typical representation of the other Academies' courses. The course at Beacon Academy lasts four years and consists of both practical and theoretical portions. Classroom lessons include courses on history as well as the various types of Grimm. For first-years, the practical component includes gathering of red sap samples for botany and fights against captive Grimm in a controlled environment.
In addition, sparring or practice matches are held between students; in the lead up to the Vytal Festival, these matches may include students from visiting Academies.
Students also go on real missions in the course of their training. First-year students generally go on lower-risk missions and are accompanied by a Huntsman or Huntress, but second-year and above student teams may go on higher-risk missions alone.
Some more dangerous missions may bring students outside the borders of the Kingdoms and involve actual combat with Grimm. Aside from providing students with valuable work experience, these student missions also serve to keep the Kingdoms safe from harm.
Students are also referred to as cadets.
- The combat schools in each Kingdom have a naming pattern.
- As seen with Beacon, Signal, and Pharos, combat schools in Vale seem to be named after buildings or devices made to navigate, communicate, or attract attention.
- As seen with Haven and Sanctum, combat schools in Mistral seem to be named after places of privacy, safety, and refuge.
- As seen with Shade and Oscuro, combat schools in Vacuo seem to be named after darkness and shelter from sunlight.
- According to series writer Miles Luna, one of the main reasons all the academies focus heavily on teamwork is because Ozpin dearly believes in it.
- Volume 3 Blu-ray feature "3, 2, 1, Begin!"