2019 Class Offerings*

The New York Summer Sling offers a wide selection of stage combat classes for actors and fight artists. It's a fun opportunity to experiment with different weapon disciplines, work with incredible teachers and fight directors, and be a part of the national stage combat community. Example classes range from introductory lessons to historically themed weapons work, from learning how to stage a fight scene to a class designed to push you to your limit.

Class sign ups occur the week of the event through a digital, first-come first-serve, process based on when you registered for the Sling. We will send out an email to students with more information as the sign up period approaches. 

*Courses subject to change

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Class Descriptions:

Introductory Classes

Whether new to stage combat, or just a little out of practice, this series will get you slinging steel on day one! We will be offering two chances to take each of the 8 SAFD weapon disciplines over the 4 day workshop. For the actor-combatants, pop in and take weapon disciplines you haven't tried yet. Open to all skill levels. 

  • Unarmed: Unarmed fighting is the theatrical form of fighting that uses the “natural weapons” of the human body: fists, feet, elbows, knees, etc. rather than weapons.

  • Broadsword: A broadsword is the theatrical form of swordplay most commonly representing combat with a broad bladed sword roughly thirty to thirty-eight inches in length, with a two-handed grip and simple cross-hilt, generally encompassing the span of European history from the tenth century to the end of the fifteenth.

  • Rapier and Dagger: The rapier and dagger is the theatrical form of double fence that most commonly represents the fashionable style of swordplay from the later half of the sixteenth century and the early portion of the seventeenth. The rapier is a single-handed stage weapon consisting of various hilt configurations and a blade of roughly thirty to thirty-eight inches in length that may be used for both cut and thrust (schlager and epée blades are most common). The parrying dagger (also called a Main-Gauche and Quillon Dagger) is a single-handed stage weapon consisting of various hilt configurations with a blade of roughly ten to twelve inches in length that may be used for both cut and thrust.

  • Broadsword and Shield: The sword and shield is the theatrical form of combat that most commonly represents the Medieval and Renaissance double fence style of fighting that has the combatant armed with cross-hilt, backsword or similar weapon and a shield strapped upon the other arm. The sword is a broad bladed weapon roughly twenty-eight to thirty-four inches in length, with a single-handed grip (sometimes a hand-and-a-half grip) and simple cross-hilt. The shield is roughly eighteen to twenty-eight inches in diameter and can be of a variety of shapes (including but not limited to circular, oblong, and triangular) any of which have a strap for the forearm and handle for the hand.

  • Knife: The fighting knife is the theatrical form of combat executed with a weapon consisting of a simple hilt or guard, a single-hand grip, and a blade of roughly seven to twelve inches in length that may be used for cut and thrust, offense and defense (a fighting knife has one edge, a fighting dagger has two edges). The blade may be fixed in the handle, either rigidly or with a joint (such as a lock-blade or switchblade).

  • Quarterstaff: A quarterstaff is the rustic style of theatrical combat executed with a straight, stout pole of roughly six to eight feet in length. The stage quarterstaff most commonly represents the staff or pole-arm generally used by European peasantry in the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

  • Single Sword (sabre, single rapier, Hollywood swashbuckling): A single sword is the theatrical form of swordplay that most commonly represents the light, fast, style of combat often reminiscent of the old film swashbucklers. A single sword is a cut and thrust weapon with various hilt configurations and a blade of roughly thirty to thirty-eight inches in length that is light enough to be wielded in one hand (including, but not limited to the Transitional Rapier, Light Cross-Hilt, Saber, etc.) and must be used alone to function both offensively and defensively (heavy sport epée blades are most common).

  • Smallsword: a smallsword is the theatrical form of the light, thrusting weapon used in Europe through the later part of the seventeenth century and through much of the eighteenth. A smallsword is primarily a thrusting weapon generally consisting of a large sport epée blade (roughly thirty-three inches in length) with a very simple hilt (often consisting of two half shells, or an elliptical plate), and a smaller guard for the hand and fingers than that of the rapier or broadsword.


Isolations? Precisely: Exploring isolations and precise movements to bring a cinematic flair that keeps your fights looking vicious.

Multiple Attackers: Building a Singlesword (rapier) sequence with multiple attackers. All participants learn all the parts. The larger the class, the better.

Voice in Violence: Learn how to tackle the vocal demands of stage violence.  Students will be taught how to scream, gasp for breath, and shout safely as well as how to put vocals in a fight.  Students will learn a short unarmed sequence and add appropriate vocals to fit their wounds and story.

Kali Double Stick #1: This class will explore matched patterns of this Filipino martial art, popular in the stunt industry, and very valuable for choreographing fights for stage and film.

Kali Double Stick #2: Had the Kali Double Stick 1 class?  Want to learn more patterns? This class will continue with more stick patterns, popular in the stunt industry, and very valuable for theatre!  Note:  Kali Double Stick 1 is required.

The Ground is Your Friend: Join me in an exploration of falls and practical choreographic applications or throws, sweeps, slips, rolling and more!

Fight for your Knife: In this class we will explore cuts and thrusts as well as character reactions and vocals.  Students will then put together a short fight with raised stakes.  See if you can fight for your knife – and life!

But I DO Have a Belt: Self-defense techniques designed to use a common belt translated for exciting choreographic variations for performance. The possibilities are nearly endless, and you can't beat the price of the equipment. We'll explore its versatile use against an unarmed opponent and against a knife.

Rhythmic Beatdown: Playing with beat ups and beatdowns and beats

Dancing with Angelo: A rollicking exploration of partnering, distance, rhythm and spatial awareness. 18th cent. smallsword master Domenico Angelo recommended that a fighter train in fencing, equitation and dancing.  We don't have horses, so the class will emphasize Top 40 dances from Angelo's lifetime.

Rapier and Cape: This class will fry your brain and make you sweat by pushing you to understand how to be as fluid and supple as water in one hand whilst striking like a cobra in the other, all while looking fantastic. The dynamic and chaotic nature of the capes adds a level of finesse not found in most other styles.

Intimacy for the Stage: Learn about the art form of theatrical intimacy through the use of the 5 Pillars established by Intimacy Directors International.  Students may choose to participate in simple exercises with or without contact as modifications are always available.

Vocal Storytelling: Mentally demanding, Drills and techniques, Choreography, Acting Never get the dreaded  “GPM”  note again! Does the body influence the voice or the voice influence the body? There's absolutely no way to know for sure… unless you take this class. This class focuses on utilizing breathwork and movement to create interesting vocal reactions.

Pool Noodle Duel: an elimination duel game using pool noodles

Hit ‘em with a Toaster: Mentally demanding Supplies: A collection of non traditional weapons. Everyday household objects A toaster, An umbrella, your neighbors cat! Who cares- It’s a weapon now! This class will explore the range of storytelling through found weapons. We’ll discuss the different categories, safety procedures and techniques of fighting with… anything! 

Contemporary Violence: Improvisation exercises toward creating choreography which tells a story using the actors' individual movement and physicality.

Clown Combat Zone: This workshop is designed to introduce theatrical clowning as a tool for the performer to relish in the playful nature of acting, to discover onstage with truthfulness and vulnerability, and to relate to those who are present with the performance-namely, fellow performers and the audience.  Clown Combat introduces basic timing and rhythmic elements inherent to physical comedy and clown using high energy games, improvisation, and simple unarmed stage combat techniques.   Clown is an invaluable art form that gives special credence to live performance, to human nature, to laughter.  Clown Combat  endeavors to bring these ideas to the performers in a safe, fun, and respectful environment which, with a little bravery on their part, allows for the performer's clown to come out and play with reckless abandon. 

Best Teaching Practices: A discussion on mindful and intuitive teaching practices. How different types of classroom environments affect your students process and progress.  Discussions on how progressive and inclusive language, techniques and practices can lead to a more effective teaching style. 

Slo-Mo Broadsword: Using the broadsword beyond the standard cut-and-parry techniques. Helping to create spatial awareness, and expanded imagination with sequences.

Intro to Intimacy in Performance: The theater and screen industries are experiencing a paradigm shift in the practice of choreographing scenes of physical intimacy; Intimacy Directors and Coordinators now facilitate scenes that involve intimate touch, sexuality, nudity, or stories of sexual assault.   This workshop is an introduction to staging intimacy from the perspective of the actor.  Taught by Intimacy Director Judi Lewis Ockler, This workshop offers actors the tools to approach basic intimacy practice including consensual based working, communication and choreography within an intimate context

Consent & Creating Safe Spaces: Emotionally & Mentally demanding,  This class will utilize exercises and group discussions* to discover how to integrate consent into both the rehearsal and performance process. Explore what it means to create a safe space and respecting others’ boundaries while still taking artistic risks and creating art.  *Participation in every activity is not mandatory to take the class *

Mixed Martial Arts: a study of MMA and how to stay true to its dynamic style with safety and specificity of storytelling


Hello, Let’s Fight: An introduction to the fundamentals of Stage Combat (safety, distance, partnering, etc.), through the lens of classic unarmed techniques.

Broadsword Essentials: The nuts and bolts of broadsword fighting for the stage.  The class utilizes the integration of body and breath to move the weapon with ease and grace.  Classical techniques are melded with theatrical demands culminating in an exciting short sequence performed for the class

Core-ter Staff: Welcome to the exciting world of quarterstaff fighting!  Learn to handle the weapon with ease while using your core to maneuver the stick into successful attacks and parries.  Different historical staff styles will be covered as well as a few Hollywood tricks just for fun.

Double Trouble: This class will explore this system of double fence, popular in such works as Romeo and Juliet and Three Musketeers.  Students will learn footwork, drills, parries, cuts, thrusts,  and end with a demo of exciting choreography!

Acting with a Sharp Prop: Looking at a knife fight through the primary lens of acting choices

Breath and Action: Incorporating breathing techniques and active choices to explore choreography. Allowing the participants to discover and create moments in choreography that integrate total body involvement. 

Rip it Like a Chainsaw: This class will focus on the style of longsword fighting mentioned in Joachim Meyer’s manual, more recently nicknamed “chainsaw grip,” in which the combatants grip the crossguard with the primary hand and the pommel with the secondary hand. This class will force you to engage your core and give you a deeper dynamic understanding of the use of the broadsword by changing your awareness of the weapon’s balance.

Playing the Wound: Exploration of wounds/kills through improvisational (foam Sword) sparring

Gang Fight: A found weapon fight exploration with the FD of the West Side Story revival, Ron Piretti!

Single Sword Sets: One of the ideas of a single sword fight is that there are a series of set patterns, choreographic Lego blocks, if you will, with which one can build a fight on the fly. In this basic class we will a cover a few of them and then put together our own “set fight”

Badass 101: This class takes an archetype or iconic character and uses their style to perform Umarmed choreography.

I Fall Down for a Living: The most useful and lucrative skill in a 25 year career as a physical performer?  The front and back fall, with variations.  Veteran stunt performer, clown, and  fight director Judi Lewis Ockler teaches the money maker moves, culminating in a student catwalk strut gone horribly wrong.

On the Other Hand: Explore performing choreography when the characters and/or the actors are challenged by physical and/or spatial limitations or challenges.

Full Contact Choreo: Physically demanding, mentally demanding, Choreography, Acting When you need messy fights but don’t have experienced actors. How to build organic choreography from scratch. We’ll use weight sharing and contact improv techniques to explore, create and play.

Moving Inside the Box: Exercise more than your thumbs as you practice receiving information from inside a cube rather than feeding one. This class focuses on the scales of the cube from Laban's movement analysis. Can be presented as a movement only, foundational class. Or as one which integrates this scale with single sword or knife cutting patterns to develop awareness for multiple attacker scenarios or relation to camera for film fights.

Lunch Money: This class takes the fun card game lunch money and turns it into an Unarmed free-for-all.


Sentiment de Fer: An exploration of “feeling through the blade”

Multiple Attackers: Building a sequence with multiple attackers. All participants learn all the parts. The larger the class, the better.

Musketeers - Multi-opponent: King’s Musketeers versus Cardinal’s Guards. We’re all French - so, we’ll get in trouble if we kill each other. But, the Three Musketeers (and D’Artagnan) must get the Queen’s jewels back to the Palace immediately.  The Cardinal wants them stopped. Disarms, bludgeoning, wounding - whatever it takes to reach the goal.

Inside Shakespeare in the Park: A look inside fight directing at the Delacorte Theater with Broadway FD, Thomas Schall

Choose Your Character: Now that you have a basic understanding of some Unarmed techniques, let’s layer a character on top and explore different fighting styles and techniques!

Rhythm & Blades: Let the music move you!  Students will be given choreography that plays with the rhythms of single swords and music while exploring the characters’ motivations.  Get ready for a smokin’ hot routine!

Knife vs Unarmed: choreography and techniques for this combination

Quarterstaff: Learn new and exciting ways to better your short and long form work in quarterstaff.  Emphasis will be on targeting, speed, and changing rhythms.  Spice up your short and long form while continuing to work your core!

John Wick: the martial science behind the hit movie franchise and learn how to perform the moves in choreography to become John Wick

Fry your Mind: Push yourself with this challenging choreo. Can you keep up?

Knife Fighting: Push your studies further with an intimate look at this intimate weapon

Fighting with Furniture: Using the environment to enhance, add to or just badass up a fight either unarmed or single sword fight.

Theatrical Fighting Fan: A blending of Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Filipino fan styles. We’ll discuss the history of the fan as a weapon and focus on forms, disarms, takedowns and choreography.

Fighting Outdoors: This class shows styles and moves that work for large outdoor audiences (eg. The Renaissance Faire)

Fighting Inside the Box: Exercise more than your thumbs as you practice receiving information from inside a cube rather than feeding one. This class focuses on the scales of the cube from Laban's movement analysis. Can be presented as a movement only, foundational class. Or as one which integrates this scale with single sword or knife cutting patterns to develop awareness for multiple attacker scenarios or relation to camera for film fights.

Combat Moulinet: A look at HEMA Broadsword and its applications for stage fighting

Making it Work: This class takes randomly selected moves and challenges the students to tell a cohesive story within a phrase.

Fight Endurance: This class aims to approximate the experience of battle scenes or live stunt shows wherein a character may be asked to at least be engaged in some sort of action for 5 to 10 minutes at a time. Rather than focus on choreographic retention, we will craft a series of repeatable phrases of action that can be played out in an environment amidst a chase. This class can be performed with any one weapon or a mixture thereof.

Acting with a Sharp Prop: Looking at a knife fight through the primary lens of acting choices


Swetnam R&D: A whole new look at R&D attacks and guards through the book of Swetnam

Infighting w/Single-hand Broadsword: The intricate and precise techniques of Dekiti Tirsia Kali single stick fighting are actually meant for very close combat with a short sword (kris) .  This class takes these basic techniques and translates them to the single-hand broadsword where the corps a corps is expanded to an arena of techniques far beyond pummel strikes and head butts!

Comic Sword Fight: Rapier and … Hand Puppet?

Broadsword on the Run: Get your legs and your broadsword moving!

Dangerous Smallsword: Using the elegance of smallsword technique, this class is a risk exploration for the combatant who is already adept with the basic mechanics of smallsword.  Powerful imagery techniques and a study of the human fight or flight response are used to heighten the dramatic tension and more clearly “sell’ the vulnerability of character with a weapon that demands heightened moment to moment concentration.  The techniques apply to every weapon style, but the particular challenges of this multi-faceted weapon create a formidable challenge for the actor.

Broadsword vs Sword & Shield: Weapon techniques must adapt quickly to a different set of advantages and disadvantages when encountering a dissimilar weapon styles.  This is a rigorous class in which participants develop short sequences of their own based on the unique challenges pitting unmatched weapons together for performance.

Fix it on the Fly: This class will explore real world choreography experiences and scenarios where the set, weapons, director’s vision, and even the actors are subject to change in the blink of an eye!  A great class for up and coming fight choreographers!

Single Stick/Cutlass/Saber: a class using and comparing techniques and choreography with all these

Getting in and Out with Very Little Style: Risk taking, consequence and vulnerability. Exploration of compression and expansion in this double fence style. Create dynamics with movement and then fix thy foot!

Music of the Fight: Physically demanding, Choreography  Integrating violence into the musical bits of a show. Drawing from different choreographic movement styles, students will explore how music affects choreography and vice versa. How to use music to your advantage to make your choreo pop. 

Choreo/Storytelling and Effort: Techniques and tricks to creating martially sound and visually compelling stories. Prior sword use a requirement.

English Style Q-Stick: A look at some differences in the English style of Q-stick and spear

Sample Schedule:

Here is a breakdown of each workshop day. There are five periods with (typically) five classes in each period. There will be one lunch break around 1:50pm, so make sure to bring a snack if you need one. Take a look at our Questions page for answers to other common workshop questions. 

  • 8am - 9am: Welcome / Registration

  • 9am - 9:20am: Warm Up

  • 9:30am - 10:50am: Period 1

  • 11am - 12:20pm: Period 2

  • 12:30pm - 1:50pm: Period 3

  • 1:50pm - 3:15pm: Lunch

  • 3:15pm - 4:35pm: Period 4

  • 4:45pm - 6pm: Period 5

All classes and schedule listed are examples only. We reserve the right to change any classes listed, at anytime, and under any circumstance. 

Summer Sling