What is Stage Combat?
In its simplest term Stage Combat is the study of martial arts for performance purposes. This includes creating fight scenes and other illusions of violence for theatre, film and television use. Unlike any other martial arts schools, the study of Stage Combat encapsulates combat systems from every corner of the globe and from every different time period. These include, but are definitely not limited to, Ancient Greek weapons, Gladiators, Vikings, the Crusades, Medieval Knights, Musketeers, Samurai, Renaissance and Restoration fencers, Pirates, Colonial American fighting and modern Close Quarters Combat. But this is just the beginning. Stage Combat delves into every style, and even the differences in one style from one country to another of the same time period (16th century Spanish and Italian Rapier, for example).
Just like any other martial arts school, Stage Combatants train in realistic, martially sound techniques, but just like most martial arts school in the world when we train we do not injure each other. The main difference between traditional martial arts and Stage Combat is that in Stage Combat we never train with the intent of causing harm, instead we work towards creating the illusion of fighting without actually hurting each other. The whole concept of Stage Combat is to recreate with exact detail the techniques and styles of a huge range of martial arts but in a manner that is safe and repeatable. To that end, just as in training in a karate school we indicate a knee kick, we don’t actually break the knee.
Stage Combat deals with a huge variety of martial arts, both Eastern and Western. Many people think of martial arts as coming only from Asia: Japan, China, Korea etc. However Europe has just as ancient and intricate a martial history. To break it down ‘martial’ simply means war or fighting (taken from the Roman God of War, Mars), and ‘art’ means the study and perfection of. So therefore any culture that has studied combat in any way has in fact been creating their own martial art. The fighting systems that emerged from Europe over the last two thousands years are known these days as Western Martial Arts and are actually more common than their Eastern counterparts within live theatre writings.
Stage Combat is the study and practice of all of these fighting systems, both Armed and Unarmed, for an Actor Combatant needs to be ready to apply their skills to any situation at any time. But Stage Combat is not just for actors and performers. Many members of the general public have found enjoyment in this art form for many years. Some have been looking for a way to transform their particular style of martial arts towards performance or stunt-work, others have just always had a fascination or love of swords and fantasy and wanted to play out their dreams of being Zorro or Luke Skywalker, and yet others are just looking for a new personal challenge or way to get fit, have fun and meet new people.