2017 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 a week or so before 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. 


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.

Open Classes:

Open classes are designed for all skill levels, and typically dive deep into an aspect fight performance. Some of our class offerings include:

Action & the Camera (Corey Pierno) - Focusing on physical storytelling in cinema, students will learn insights into the action filming process, and will build and film a fight scene by end of class. 

Against the Odds Sword & Obstacle (Ricki Ravitts) - 

Bar Fight (Ron Piretti)

Breath & Action (Ray Rodriguez) - Explore connection to choreography through different breathing techniques.

Broadsword Plus (Michael Chin) - This is a class for students who have a working knowledge of Broadsword techniques, but want more training. We will focus on drills and working choreography. Students will work on their mechanics and hone their skills.

Clown Combat (Judi Lewis Ockler) - "I'm not funny. What I am is brave."- Lucille Ball. Welcome to the Clown Combat Zone-- are you brave enough to fall on your a**, literally and figuratively? Clown is an invaluable art form that gives special credence to live performance, to human nature, to laughter. 

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 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. 

Contemporary Violence (Ricki Ravitts) - There is a way to choreograph fights without choreographing fights, thereby making the fight more organic for the actors. This class is open to all experience levels. 

Craft & Art of BJJ (Eugene Solfanelli) - learn the fundamentals of BJJs submissions, locks, holds and throws. Learn how to apply these fundamentals to choreography in unarmed stage combat, and learn how to work them safety, efficiently and with clarity of storytelling.

Dancing with Angelo (Ricki Ravitts) - Social dancing in a stage combat workshop?? Why, yes. And by the end of the class you’ll understand distance, timing, rhythm and communicating with your partner(s) on a deeper level. Then discover how well that transfers to stage combat. This class is open to all experience levels.

Fighting the Fantasy (Denise Hurd) - Students will fight with invisible weapons and invisible people, and make it clear for all to see.

Fighting in Skirts (Denise Hurd) - Sword fighting in skirts, hindrance or help? You decide. Open to men and women.

Free Play (Chris Beaulieu ) - an exploration of allowing the release on tension and expectation in order to freely allow for new idea’s and a clarity of thought and movement (all levels)

High Stakes Intentions (Chris Beaulieu)  - Enter as if your life depended on it! Amp up any performance with honest engagement and catch the audience’s breath. This technique helps you find real anchors in a world of fiction. “Higher Stakes” won’t be a common phrase anymore, it’ll be a mantra! (All Levels)

Instant Battle (Ricki Ravitts)

Intimacy for the Stage (Siobhan Richardson) - A practical approach to staging Scenes Of Intimacy in performance. In this workshop, you’ll learn specific techniques for helping actors to access their vulnerability in a dramatic context, resulting in powerful chemistry between characters without compromising personal boundaries.  Focus is on subtle and specific details in choreography, and on acting exercises to keep partners connected physically and emotionally.  It’s an exploration of vulnerability within a dramatic context for the purpose of telling the story of the scene. We’ll also touch on suggestions for Best Practices, addressing permission vs. consent, psychological safety, minimum working conditions. Exercises include “instant chemistry and comfort” and “asking for consent”, as well as a brief discussion on how to approach choreographing moments of intimacy.

This is not just kissing or sex scenes. The principles can include the intimacy between parents and children, between dear friends, and can also apply to scenes of sexual violence. 

Touching (handshakes, handholding, hugging) through guided contact improv is part of the course. Kissing is not required. While the goal is to explore emotional and physical intimacy, the core concept of this work is Safety, for the facilitation of safe exploration. All touching is consensual, and participants are always invited to sit out and watch, should they feel uncomfortable or triggered.

Kali (Corey Pierno) - An open introduction to the Filipino martial arts system, this class will get you swinging sticks, crashing distance, and whipping between quick and power strikes.

Living in the Consequences of Action Sword and Shield (Andrew Ray) - A sword and shield class that focuses on dealing with the trauma that this weapon inflicts on the body.

Loop-D-Loop (Michael Jerome Johnson) - We’ll learn some choreography loops in on itself so that the students can enter or leave the choreography at any point depending on their particular scene. Then we’ll share the scenes at the end of class.

Make Your Partner Look Good (Siobhan Richardson) - We’ve all heard this phrase before. In this class, we explore exactly HOW to do that. Explore various methods of how to connect with your partner – with breath, movement, observation, and more – to be the best partner they’ve ever had, and make your scene “greater than the sum of its parts”. You’ll find that great communication and partnering are the pre-requisites to outstanding, compelling and memorable fight scenes.

Martial Toolbox (Eugene Solfanelli) - in response to martial arts movies and TV shows (John Wick, Iron Fist, Marco Polo) learn how to do fundamental locks/holds/throws/submissions, how/why they work and how to do them safely. Fill your martial arts tool box and be ready kick butt on stage and screen!

Motion Capture Performance Motion Matcher (Andrew Ray) – This mocap class focuses on the application of a new capture technique called motion matcher. Students will move thru extended patterns in character trying to find an accurate and natural performance while maintaining character and hitting all marks. 

Preventative Action (Siobhan Richardson) - Sustainability is the key. Let’s all keep doing this work – injury-free – for our wholes lives. Learn some of the common acute and chronic injuries of stage combat and how to prevent them. We’ll be looking at shoulders, knees, neck, and special requests from the class.

Playing the Wound (J. David Brimmer) - This class involves the exploration of wounds/kills through improvisational (foam sword) sparring. This class is open to all experience levels.

Reiki 101 (Mitch McCoy) - Designed as an energetic healing practice, this class will give the students a chance to restore their energy, calm their mind, and be present in the moment to absorb the most information they can throughout the day. This class will focus on the practice of energizing and healing one’s self to prepare for the rest of the day or to analyze, assess, and reinvigorate throughout the day.

Rip it Like a Chainsaw, Meyer’s Over Gripping (Mitch McCoy) - 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 cross guard 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 longsword by changing your awareness of the weapon’s balance.

Slow Motion Broadsword (Ray Rodriguez)

Tai Chi (Mitch McCoy)

Universal Martial Principles (Siobhan Richardson)- Every style can be described as an expression of principles that are common to all martial arts. Understanding these principles are integral to analyzing and learning new styles quickly and efficiently. They can also be further applied to stage combat in order to expand your character choices within the choreography. This class is an introduction to these Universal Martial Principles, and how you can apply this knowledge to understand the foundation concepts of any style, as well as how to apply them to choreography, thereby revealing a breadth of information for character interpretation.

Where Strangers Meet (Andrew Ray) - An unarmed class that looks at how we respond to people invading personal space and how we can use those reactions to que and communicate in different and new ways. Beginner

You Want Blood? (J. David Brimmer) - This class is a how-to of blood use/ application for the stage. This class is open to all experience levels.

Intermediate Classes:

Designed for actors, martial artists, and performers with some experience in stage combat. If you have never trained in the weapon before, take an introductory course instead. If one of the SAFD's eight weapons are listed, the class will take you deeper into the weapon. Some of our class offerings include:

Faster (Without Trying Harder) Longsword (Siobhan Richardson) - Chunky broadsword choreography is a thing of the past. Here’s an introduction to longsword with flow and challenging choreography… and how to perform it with an ease that’ll make you look like a seasoned veteran. Choreography and drills in this class are drawn from martial techniques, in conjunction with stage combat safeties and acting principles. Pre-requisite to participate: must have prior training in sword and/or quarterstaff. Anyone can audit.

Giganti, Book 1 Rapier and Dagger (Joe Travers) - Techniques and choreography exploring the content of Nicoletto Giganti’s first treatise of 1606 .

Instant Choreography Single Sword ( Michael Chin) - 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.

Medieval / Rennaissance Combat Dagger vs. Unarmed (Rod Kinter) - 

Pirate Boarding Party Part 1 (Dan O'Driscoll) - It's a party! Learn the techniques used in boarding a hostile ship. 

Pirate Boarding Party Part 2 (Dan O'Driscoll) - A continuation of Pirate Boarding Party Part 1, please stick around to go deeper in the work.

Prison Knife (Andrew Ray) An intermediate / advanced choreography logic class looking at repetitive action to the same line. 

Question and Answer Rapier and Dagger (Michael J. Johnson)

Shakespeare Street Brawl Rapier & Stuff (Dan O'Driscoll) - Exploring using transitional rapiers as we stage a street fight between the Capulets and Montagues in 15th Century Verona. Students should have passed a smallsword, singlesword or rapier&dagger SPT or have equivalent training. Level: Advanced Beginner/Intermediate.

Shaolin Staff (Michael Chin) - 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.

Single Sword Rhythms (Joe Travers) - Developing complex rhythm and flow through the use of the single sword.

Slap Stick (Chris Beaulieu) - Explore comic timing, rhythm and scale inside your fights

Smallsword Plus (Michael Chin) - This is a class for students who have a working knowledge of Small sword 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.

What If Romeo Hadn't Interfered? Rapier & Dagger (Michael J. Johnson) - Well...what if?

Advanced Classes:

Designed for those with advanced experience in the weapon. If you have not taken the weapon before, or it's been a few years, take an intro, intermediate, or open class instead. 

Adv. Action & The Camera (Corey Pierno) - Building on students prior experience, this class will examine several advanced film techniques for clarity in narrative cinematic storytelling. Part fight performance, part filmmaking challenge, let’s shoot something!

Comic Sword Fights! The Court Jester et al (Dan O’Driscoll) - It’s not that easy to stage a comic sword fight - you need to be pretty skilled to look completely incompetent and still keep the fight safe (and for stage, repeatable). We will have fun as we examine The Court Jester (Basil Rathbone made Danny Kaye look brilliant) and other movie favorites.

Rapier & Dagger (Lewis Shaw)

Mismatched Weapons: R&D vs. Broadsword (Michael Chin) - The ferocity and brute strength of the bashing two handed broadsword vs. the mobile cutting and parrying ability of the rapier and dagger. Explore the nuances and subtleties of these two edged weapons. Who has the advantage?

Small sword vs. Rapier (Michael Chin) - The precision and deadly accuracy of the needle sharp small sword versus the strength and cutting power of the longer and heavier rapier blade. The thrust against the cut. Which is superior? Explore the nuances and subtleties of these two different fighting styles.

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