2018 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. 

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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.

BASIC

“Make Your Partner Look Good!”  (Basic) Have you heard this a lot, but don’t know how to do it? This class is for you! Learn specific rehearsal and performance practices that will Make Your Partner Look Good (and make your whole fight scene rock in the process)!  (Siobahn Richardson)

From The Ground Up  (Basic)   The very basics of stage combat. Learn the foundation safety features of unarmed. You can apply these principles to every move in your fight scene, so that you always know what your character is doing, and what you, the actor, are doing. For people with absolutely NO stage combat training whatsoever. Also a great tune-up if you’ve already done some stage combat, and a great overview-reminder for aspiring teachers.  (Siobahn Richardson)

Developing Reaction Time (Basic)  Weapon: Knife/UA  -  The ability for an actor to successfully portray martial competence on stage or film is heavily dependent on their reaction time. Regardless of how simple or complicated the choreography may be, if an actor demonstrates a lack of efficacy in their response to choreographic cues, the actor/character will read as ill prepared, or the fight will appear staged. In this course we will investigate how the body and mind work in response to visual cues, decision making and execution of choreography.

In this course, students will learn to quickly increase their response time, allowing safer "up to speed" practice of choreography. Finally, we will examine how to generate characterization through different tempos.  (Patrick Kelly)

Broadsword Plus Basic & Basic/Int  : This is a class for students who have a working knowledge of Broadsword techniques, but want more training. This is s review class focusing on drills and working choreography. Students will work on their mechanics and hone their skills. This is for students who are beyond a basic level looking for more challenge. (Mike Chin)  

You, Me, and the Knife Make 3! (Basic) Knife fighting where only one person has a knife and the other person is unarmed. The class will explore partnering, grappling, body isolation and avoids to really sell the danger of the weapon. We will also explore locks, disarms, and foists to shift the balance of power.  (Rob Aronowitz)

CORE-terstaff   (Basic) 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.  (Jenny Male)

Rapier/Dagger and Obstacles  (Basic) Sometimes there’s more to deal with than just the weapons.  What happens when the set, the characters and/or the weapons seem to get in the way of the choreography.  (Ricki Ravitts)

OPEN

Found Weapons for Everyone  (Open) Exploring Weaponizing Whatever You Can Find. This is a class based upon the teaching of James Finney and explores how to imagine the inherent "weapon" options of found items and then how to apply those discoveries to new ways of manipulating the traditional weapons.  (Andrew Hayes)

Moulinets Are Your Friends (Open) We'll explore the different kinds one moulinets and how they can help tell the story of the fight as well as the characters.  (Michael Johnson)

So THAT's What That Move Means (Open) The students will learn part of a djuru (kata) from Silat and we'll explore how it can be used to learn the nuances of stage combat, as well as how to create choreography from the djuru.  (Michael Johnson)

Stick It To 'Em  (Open) We'll explore the single stick aspect of the Filipino Martial Arts, and see how it can inform our study and performance of stage combat.  Single Sticks.  (Michael Johnson)

Up Your Game  (Open)  What is a professional actor/fighter?  You’ve worked long and hard (or are working towards) a particular skill set. How do you represent yourself in the industry and in the world as someone who is a professional in this craft? In this class, we explore what goals you can set beyond getting certifications. Lean in to being truly advanced, truly being a professional.  (Siobahn Richardson)

Head Over Heels (Open)  So you’ve learned how to fall safely, what about those pesky rolls? Join me in an exploration of movement that will sweep you off your feet and have you rockin’ and rollin’ in no time!   (Rob Aronowitz)

Prise de Fer (Open) Weapon: Single Sword:  Being able to steal the momentum of the opponent is an important skill to develop for any fencer.  This fundamental concept is often glossed over in training and too often the purpose of the prise de fer is lost in over-wrought choreography design.  This course will focus on the foundational skills needed to properly perform martially correct prise de fer techniques and discuss where to go from there.  We will also discuss how to counter the common prise de fer techniques.  (Patrick Kelly)

Voice in Violence  (Open) 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.
(Jenny Male)

From Rapier to Unarmed (Open)  When a sword fight turns into a fist fight (maybe with a better title) - a class exploring a piece of choreography that is equal parts sword fight (I think single rapier) + grappling and striking.  (Rod Kinter)

Fight For a Place in Valhalla   (Open): Sword and Shield:  This course will take the students through the audition and fight call process and examine what is needed to leave a positive impression on fight coordinators. Choreography and drills will be used to assess the students' ability to sell the fight. Students will create their own choreography through a collaborative process and be lead through professionally designed fight choreography from the TV Series Vikings.  (Patrick Kelly)

Stunt Double: How to. (Open)Just got hired to double an actor? Don’t have any idea how to do that? Come, learn. Don’t go to that job clueless. Wink face   (Sam McDonald)

Intro Stunts Q&A  (Open)  New to stunts?  Wondering if they’re for you? Hear about the basics and ask your questions.  (Sam McDonald)

Archetypes  (Open)  character choices made easy (open)-unarmed

This class will explore how to make quick character choices to help you act the fight quickly and efficiently.   (Sam McDonald)

Fighting in Mass Battles (Open)  In this class, students will learn how to fight in patterns that support the main story of a big epic battle.  Choose a side and your weapon – then prepare for the battle to come!  (Jenny Male)

Fight for Your Knife! (Open)  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!  (Jenny Male)

Hamilton – The Battle of Yorktown   (Open)   Like to dance?  Like to fight?  Then take this workshop that explores the use of both in "The Battle of Yorktown" from Hamilton!  Choose a side and get ready fight - and dance - for your life!   (Jenny Male)

Breathe and Action (Open)  Incorporating breathing techniques and active choices to explore choreography. Allowing the participants to discover and create moments in choreography that integrate total body involvement.  (Ray Rodriguez)

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

Anatomy of the Kill  (Open) What REALLY happens when you take that stomach slash?  How about when one of your various arteries is severed?  This class reveals the reality of some of the most common injuries and kills we are asked to perform as combatants.  (Alicia Rodis)

Intimacy in Film or on Stage (Open) Navigating intimate scenes for the stage or camera, as well as the film and tv industry. (Alicia Rodis)

Dancing with Angelo  (Open) 18th Century Small sword master Domenico Angelo, said that a gentleman must know how to fight, ride & dance.  No horses today – just dances from the smallsword years.  Emphasizing partnering, timing and spatial awareness within choreography – and moving to the music.  (Ricki Ravitts)

Contemporary Violence  (Open)  improvisational exercises toward discovering unarmed choreography based on pursuit of an object, telling a story and honoring your physical impulses.  (Ricki Ravitts)

Grrr, Aargh (Open)   Exploring the martial voice. Includes making vocal choices in your fight scene, and maintenance of vocal health.  (Siobahn Richardson)

INTERMEDIATE:

The Dangerous Dance (Intermediate)  Mixed weapons, fighting with Longsword and Knife. (Siobahn Richardson)

Shaolin Staff Fighting (Intermediate)   staff and spear fighting with Northern Shaolin applications. Students will be taught martial arts techniques as they apply to staff fighting. Exploration of Western and Eastern techniques.   (Mike Chin)  

Quarterstaff (Intermediate)   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!  (Jenny Male)

Rhythm and Blades – Single Sword (Intermediate)   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!  (Jenny Male)

Tomahawk and Knife (Intermediate)  This course will take the students through the use of the tomahawk small axe paired with the long knife drawing from Filipino and Indonesian martial concepts, historical combatives training regimen and proper stage/film fighting technique. The unique qualities of the small axe and the speed of the knife make this weapon platform a fascinating and lethal combination in storytelling as seen in such films as Last of the Mohicans and The Patriot.  (Patrick Kelly)

Instant Choreography (Intermediate)  using a deck of playing cards, students will perform the choreography as dictated “by the luck of the draw”. Knowledge of parries and cut positions and Rapier terminology required.  (Mike Chin)  

Mock stunt audition (Intermediate)  Interested in stunts? Come see what it is like to "audition" for the tv/film industry.  You will be run through a mock audition with "some” of the things you may run into at a stunt audition.  (Sam McDonald)

Pick it up. A Choreography challenge. (Intermediate) -Unarmed (possible knife)  In this class you will be challenged. How quickly can you pick up choreography? How quickly can we create choreography that flows?  (Sam McDonald)

Swash on with Your Buckled Self - (Intermediate)  single sword. Get in and get down with the style of Single Sword.  (Alicia Rodis)

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

German Longsword: Master Cuts: (Intermediate)   Broadsword:  This course will take the students through the concepts of the five meisterhaus (master cuts) from the 14th century German Master-fencer Johannes Liechtenauer's longsword fencing tradition: the Zornhau, Krumphau, Zwerchhau, Scheitelhau, and Schielhau.  Typically, these five concepts were utilized in blossfechten—unarmored combat.   They are quick, efficient and often deceptive.  They incorporate defense and offense into a single focused movement, defensively close off a line of attack from the opponent while simultaneously offering a counter-attack. Lots of fight ending/killing blows will be covered!    (Patrick Kelly)

Medieval and Renaissance dagger combat; a 2 part class  (Intermediate)  

Part 1: Dagger vs unarmed        Part 2: Dagger vs Dagger

(Rod Kinter)

Drunken Street Brawl: Shakespeare’s Othello  (Intermediate)    (rapier and/or rapier & dagger experience required)  Modeled on last year’s Drunken Street Brawl: R&J Verona. In this scenario, Roderigo and three other Cypriots, all of whom are drunk, will join Iago and Cassio on guard duty. Amidst all the drunkards, Iago will lead Cassio into committing an action that will disgrace him. Soon, the soldier’s revelry turns into riot!  (Dan O’Driscoll)

Hulk ‘Smash': Aggressive Sword & Shield Technique  (Intermediate)  (previous sword & shield training/experience desirable) Nothing subtle here. Multiple rim, flat, edge, point, quillon and pommel attacks!  Learn to use every part of your broadsword and shield to subdue your enemies! Hulk smash!   (Dan O’Driscoll)

Leashing the Rapier and Dagger (Intermediate)  One of the most common critiques of Rapier and Dagger performance is the lack of involvement from the Dagger. Having the Dagger out of the fight, or worse hanging limply, can ruin an otherwise amazing fight. This course will focus on concepts and techniques from Historical European Martial Arts pertaining to the dagger’s role in defense during double fence.  Keeping the dagger in close proximity to the rapier during both offense and defense, allows the fighter to quickly engage the off-hand weapon which, in turn, allows for faster counters with the rapier. Students will create their own choreography utilizing techniques and concepts taught in the course.  (Patrick Kelly)

INT/ADV

For Kicks! (Int/Adv)  A short intensive on improving your kicks! We start with warm ups, and a quick refresher on the classics, like front kicks and side kicks. Then we add drills and exercises to step up to jumping kicks and turning kicks! Ending off with some stretches that you can do to improve your flexibility for more height and accuracy.  (Siobahn Richardson)

English Style Q stick  (Int/Adv) Grab the butt end and don’t let go!  (Robert Tuftee)

Adaptation  (Int/Adv) The difference between being hired and bring hired again = trouble shooting, problem solving, and delivering a product that meets or exceeds expectations. They don’t care about process, just about outcome. You delivering gracefully under fire is the most desirable asset. Your ability to ADAPT is key.   (David Dean Hastings)

Taking a Knife to an Alley Fight  (Int/Adv) The students will learn a piece of choreography for the knife in an open space. Then, we'll move the fight into more confining areas, such as corridors and stairways, to see how the story of the fight changes for both the actors and the audience.  (Michael Johnson)

Just Kill 'Em  (Int/Adv) explore why it may be more advantageous to just kill off a character instead of choreographing a fight for that character. We'll use Romeo and Juliet as a reference. Rapier and Dagger. Lots of space.  (Michael Johnson)

Bourne to Play Lee: Wing Chun Gung Fu in Unarmed Choreo (Int/Adv) Learn several fundamental concepts and techniques drawn from Wing Chun Gung Fu and apply them to Unarmed choreography to bring a more dynamic and martially proficient element to the story. Utilizing Hand Immobilization Attacks (HIA), or trapping, the students will quickly and safely be able to speed up their Unarmed choreography and add a martial flair to their fights. 

We will investigate the proper bio-mechanics and tactical reasoning behind one of the most popular martial art skill sets in East Asian film fighting. The skills learned in this course translate quite well to Knife choreography.  (Patrick Kelly)

Shaolin Staff Fighting  (Int/Adv) - staff and spear fighting with Northern Shaolin applications. Students will be taught martial arts techniques as they apply to staff fighting. Exploration of Western and Eastern techniques.   (Mike Chin)  

Three Musketeers: Dealing With Multiple Attackers  (Int/Adv)  rapier and/or rapier/dagger experience required.  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.  (Dan O’Driscoll)

Instant Choreography (Int/Adv) using a deck of playing cards, students will perform the choreography as dictated “by the luck of the draw”. Knowledge of parries and cut positions and Rapier terminology required.  (Mike Chin)  

Like Clockwork: Knife Disarms  (Int/Adv)      Weapon: Knife: This course will run through a series of knife disarms taken from the Filipino and Indonesian Martial Arts. The disarms covered in this course are organized by sectors (positions) of engagement to make training and retention much simpler for students. Students will learn to quickly flow from one disarm position to another, providing a variety   (Patrick Kelly)

Hulk ‘Smash': Aggressive Sword & Shield Technique (Int/Adv)  (previous sword & shield training/experience desirable) Nothing subtle here. Multiple rim, flat, edge, point, quillon and pommel attacks!  Learn to use every part of your broadsword and shield to subdue your enemies! Hulk smash!   (Dan O’Driscoll)

Leashing the Rapier and Dagger (Int/Adv)  One of the most common critiques of Rapier and Dagger performance is the lack of involvement from the Dagger. Having the Dagger out of the fight, or worse hanging limply, can ruin an otherwise amazing fight. This course will focus on concepts and techniques from Historical European Martial Arts pertaining to the dagger’s role in defense during double fence.  Keeping the dagger in close proximity to the rapier during both offense and defense, allows the fighter to quickly engage the off-hand weapon which, in turn, allows for a faster counters with the rapier. Students will create their own choreography utilizing techniques and concepts taught in the course.  (Patrick Kelly)

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