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Society of American Fight Directors introduces prominent stage combat training program

Society of American Fight Directors (SAFD) introduces the National Stage Combat Workshop which is one of the foremost stage combat training programs in the United States. Taught by select members of the SAFD, all Summer Stage Combat classes place emphasis on a non-violent approach to stage violence as well as the actor’s rights and responsibilities when required to perform fight scenes.

Sarah Flanagan, member of the Society of American Fight Directors and coordinator of the National Stage Combat workshops, said "One of the primary goals of the organization is creating safety standards within the world of combat, to promote education and training, and protect actors who are performing in shows..."

A workshop is being held at Louisiana Tech University lasting three weeks. Beginning on Saturday, August 6, the public can observe students on test day from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Howard Auditorium and Stone Theatre.

Students in the NSCW program will be in class at least six hours a day, five days a week. Typically, each day will begin with a physical warm-up, followed by classes in two disciplines in the morning, two further disciplines each afternoon, and some evening classes. Related films and additional workshops by guest artists are a unique feature of this program.

Introduction to Stage Combat Students will learn to perform fundamental techniques in the eight basic “fight” disciplines recognized by the SAFD. Although basic skills are covered, these introductory classes do not offer SAFD skills testing. The emphasis is on the development of technique and the process of the work rather than the performance, with a focus on accuracy, safety, and the fundamental techniques needed to protect the actor and their instrument when engaged in dramatic physical encounters. Each class will emphasize the development of the student’s personal command and understanding of their body in relation to theatrical physical conflict while encouraging each student’s personal development and artistic exploration. Styles of stage combat to be covered will include Unarmed/Hand to Hand, Rapier and Dagger, Knife, Single Sword/Swashbuckling, Broadsword, Sword and Shield, Smallsword, and Quarterstaff.

Actor Combatant Skills Proficiency is an intensive course focusing on training students in the compulsory techniques required for the SAFD Actor Combatant Skills Proficiency Test (SPT) in unarmed, rapier & dagger and broadsword. Students will spend over thirty hours learning to safely perform fight choreography in each of the three “fight” disciplines, as well as additional classes in other weapon styles. Although the primary focus of this course is the learning of techniques and choreography containing the compulsory techniques required for the SPT, the class also focuses on developing partnering skills and expanding the artist’s imagination and ability to use these skills to make their stage combat work more connected and truthful. Working in a studio format, students will explore character objectives and beat work within the fight, and are coached/rehearsed through their fight scenes. The course concludes in a presentation of the fight scenes for adjudication by SAFD Fight Masters.

Advanced Actor Combatant Skills Proficiency is open to Actor/Combatants who are well versed in a wide variety of weapons styles used in film, television and live theatre, and offers Advanced Actor Fighters the opportunity to challenge and hone their skills at a highly sophisticated level. This is not a class about simply sword fighting; rather, it is actor training using the props of theatrical violence. Students will have the opportunity to renew their SAFD recognition in specific disciplines and test in additional weapon styles.

Teacher Certification Workshop is an intense testing program for certification as a teacher by the SAFD. In order for the SAFD to not only publicly endorse but also certify someone as a safe and effective teacher of stage combat, there must be a thorough examination of the candidate’s skills over a wide variety of techniques and abilities. It is required that participants in the TCW have thorough training in all eight weapons disciplines tested by the SAFD and that they be able not only to perform the various techniques but demonstrate an understanding of the logic of the technique, its use, and how to teach it. Experience in choreography and teaching are essential.

Additional information for the workshops can be found at Society of American Fight Directors.