2015
07.08

Hello,

It’s been a while since I last wrote one of these, actually it’s been a while since I’ve been fully engaged with True Edge Stage Combat due to my expeditions and undertakings in lands further afield, however I’m back and that is the topic of my blog today; Re-engaging and committing to the things we love.

Now my dis-engagement wasn’t something intentional, just a thing that happened over time, ‘it wasn’t you True Edge, it was me’.  The distance was a buffer, an excuse to flirt with other subjects and topics such as creative writing, learning Cantonese and playing the Ukulele!  But deep down I knew there was nothing that could compare to that marriage of physicality and creativity you give me.  A place where I could lose myself in the moment every time, where my muscle memory would kick into place to parry a blade swiping towards my head and releasing a rush of endorphins and adrenalin to make that most exhilarating of cocktails that only you, True Edge, could serve up.

Now jokes aside (you can see my creative writing course hasn’t gone to complete waste ;) , we have a lot of students come to us inspired to take up this new skill, it may be to further the amount of strings on their acting bow or to satiate some deep dark desire to beat people up but without the downside of causing someone actual bodily harm or being criminally incarcerated for their actions.  These students have an amazing time and I’d say 99% leave the course or workshops fully invigorated, with a sense of getting value for their time and money.  They leave with a newfound confidence and knowledge that they didn’t have at the start; they’re on their way to becoming masters of a craft.  Now if they had the time and means to sign up for more there and then, of that 99%, I’d say 100% would do so without batting an eyelid.  However much like myself, the further one gets away from something, other temptations start to creep in, the lure of creative writing, learning Cantonese and playing that God Damn Ukulele all seem like great ideas.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Stage Combat is the only hobby, skill or extra-curricular activity one should undertake once you’ve started, what I’m saying is as an actor for over a decade now, the business is tough, extremely tough!  Not only must you have the right essence, gender, age, race, height, hair & eye colour, accent and physique for a role, you need to establish relationships with Casting directors, Directors, Writers, Choreographers, Producers, Agents and other Actors…. have I put you off yet?  It’s tough and can be miserable at times but that still doesn’t outweigh the joy of being onstage and making the audience feel the emotions you live up on stage or shooting a film or show out on a live set in the Desert or on snowy mountains or even rehearsing in class and losing yourself in that moment, it’s as if you’ve tasted the most exhilarating of cocktails full of adrenalin and endorphins and you want more of it!

Anyhow the crux of my argument is this; Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers claims that the amount of hours it takes to become a master is 10,000 which equates to just short of 417 days, which is 59.5 weeks which is just over a year.  Now you’re not going to dedicate 1 full year without sleep or eating or anything to mastery in acting, however if you were to spend an average 2.5 hours a day, that would make you a master in 10 years!  At this point, you’re definitely committing to the ‘it’s a marathon, not a sprint’ theory but if like our students at True Edge or myself, you’re able to practice and hone your craft with subjects you love like singing, accent, dance and dare I add Stage Combat… then maybe there is a chance of becoming a Master, maybe there is a chance of carving out a niche in this over saturated market as the guy or girl who has a particular set of skills, skills you have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make you a nightmare for people like… (Sorry I had to run with that), anyhow you get my point.

Now just to cap this off, here’s a little story, I recently was asked to send a taped audition in for Oscar award winning director Ang Lee.  This opportunity came about from years of investment in the American industry, my relationship with the casting director, the fact I spoke Arabic and having the look of a young Middle Eastern male, however what I wasn’t able to show them was the years of training I’ve had in stage combat because it wasn’t on my show-reel.  That’s important because they ended up casting a stunt man; they wanted someone capable of carrying out the fight routine.  So if you’re going to carve out a niche, which I suggest you do if you want to stand a chance, then make sure you sell it, you market the hell out of it so everyone knows.  Furthermore if you’re going to spend that much time on mastery, then make sure it’s on something or someone you love, it’s okay to go away and learn and invest in other skills etc. as long as they align with your ultimate goals and that you come back and show love to each of those skills over time, therefore keeping the ball up in the air and maybe, just maybe giving you that inch over the other person you’re competing with for the role.

Over the coming year we have many more exciting workshops lined up and opportunities for you to further your skills in the world of stage combat.  Let us know if you’re interested or have any questions and I look forward to either meeting you or seeing you again for those looking to keep up with their skills.

RACHID SBITRI

2015
02.05

A Change from the Usual

It’s finally happened! The BADC are changing their grading system for their exams! This will make some jump with joy and others fill with dread, but no matter what it is for the best… trust us.

 

The now old system for Standard Intensives used to be graded: fail, pass, bronze, silver, gold and gold with distinction, six whole available bands(well five, no one likes to mention the first one, sort of like that cousin who you hate who used to get you in trouble and break your things…but regardless of that they are always lurking at family parties). The new system will be much more like that of other syllabuses: fail, pass, merit, distinction. Some will react with ‘great, so much more streamlined, so much clearer.’…others with ‘but… with less bands…is it going to be more difficult to attain?’

Yes, it will, but that isn’t something to be scared of, its something to reach for! We are now all conditioned through education systems to get that piece of paper or that stamp of approval as quickly and as cheaply as possible, but we need to really be focusing on the training, on that process of learning a skill. It is only a skill if we can repeat it after the test day. How many of us went through school learning to parrot the correct answers but not necessarily be able to put it into practice, or even remember it today! Stage combat is a physical skill that takes time to master and everyone masters things in different times.

 

I teach a lot of intensive courses and I am very honest with my students that it is going to be HARD. And I mean HARD not only in a physical way, but HARD in a MENTAL way. The information you take in during the seven days is huge, it’s like trying to learn a language or drive a car in a week and then at the end of this exhausting week you have to go and do a polished performance and be judged.  It can be extremely frustrating, overwhelming and full of self-doubt but the rewards are huge. And when I say the rewards are huge, they are huge in what you have done and how far you have come NOT in the branding you are given. I am using the word branding for a reason (it’s not a typo and I should have said banding). I use branding because at the start of the week, many people are just happy to pass or just do the training… but when exam days come and the examiner doles out the marks, suddenly that shiny pass mark becomes very dull and students look at other marks and feel less worthy.  Old adages such as ‘grass is always greener’ and ‘want what you don’t have’ spring instantly to my mind.  All that pride and growth goes straight out the window and tears come out and frustration make its entrance. The fact that you barely knew which way was the pointy bit or that you couldn’t get your feet to move one after the other let alone learn a 50 move fight WITH that classical dialogue you insisted on using is unimportant, you ONLY GOT A (insert the word: pass, bronze, silver, gold). Oh, and yes, I have had the tears and frustration even with silvers and golds (I know, I know).

 

I wish students would be better to themselves.

I wish we could focus on the process of training and not just the result.

I wish we could celebrate our accomplishments instead of being upset with not getting something else burned into our skin to mark us for life.

 

I wish we could see that the training doesn’t end at Standard but only just begins with the weird and wonderful world of dramatic combat.

I wish people would just go to as many workshops as they could and enjoy LEARNING.

 

So yes, the new system is going to be different…but it will make us better. So lets all cross that bridge together, no matter the results.

2014
09.30

At the age of seven I started Karate. As a small boy who was up to all sorts of craziness in school, Karate was an attempt by my parents to channel my energy into a martial art to keep me out of trouble.

At 8 years old I started to think about what I wanted to become when I grew up. Watching movies and seeing my heroes do extreme feats on the big screen, such as superman and the like, like many young boys I decided I wanted to be a super hero.

Innocently asking my parents what they wanted to be when they where older (not realizing they were fully grown and had jobs already), my dad said he wanted to be a Stuntman but because of us children he had to stick to Scaffolding to pay the bills. My Dad explained to me what a Stuntman was and I began to realise that the Stuntmen were the real heroes of the movie business and it was the stunt guys and girls who were doing the hero stuff on the screen, not just the actors. My mind was made up; I was going to be a Stuntman.

Fast forward to now and here I am being asked by my very good friend Rachid, (who I studied performing arts with) to write a blog for his website about my career.

I have worked on some of the biggest movies in the world and have just finished Avengers 2 where I was the Assistant Fight Coordinator. I have worked on the last 4 of the Harry Potter films where I doubled a range of the characters including Voldermort and the Weasley twins and performed in all but the first season of Game Of Thrones. A full list of my credits can been seen on IMDB.

Fighting is my bread and butter in the stunt world and I often get put into the major fight scenes of the movies if I am not creating them that is.

I have studied many martial arts and have even done the real thing whilst owning my own security firm. In the security business I used to look after people and places and worked on the door as a Doorman (Bouncer) where I would unfortunately have to fight people every other weekend, for real.

Being in that position means I can give a realistic view on what it is like to really be in a fight. As a 3rd Dan black belt my Karate back ground helps me have the control and creativity, as well as the skill of learning long pieces of choreography, to give screen fights a certain style and finesse that the movie makers often crave.

I love choreographing the fights too, it helps satisfy my creative side and just like a dance routine it is all about footwork, rhythm and trusting your partner. The actors put a lot of trust in me to create fights that will not only make them look good but to keep them safe. I bring out the skills the actors already possess and teach them new ones they can take with them to the next show.

You can check out my Choreographers reel that shows some of my early pieces of work. Titled The Beauty Of Violence it can be seen here

Also, if you want to see me in action getting smashed up, falling and being beaten up by Denzel Washington amongst others you can have a look at my stunt reel

Becoming a Stuntman was my childhood dream and with dedication and hard work I have made it my reality.  If you train hard and stay focused you too can accomplish anything.

2014
08.01

The more I teach, choreograph and perform dramatic combat, the more I reflect on the beginning of my own training. Even before I began at the Guildford School of Acting (now GSA Conservatoire) one of the things I was most excited about was the fact that it offered all three levels of examinations spread over the three years of training. As I grew up with a mix of competitive Tae-Kwon-Do, recreational Jiu Jitsu and a rough primary school, I knew a little bit about the world of conflict and I was very keen to learn how to put it on stage and screen.  I was very lucky to have some wonderful mentors and I really wanted to be one of the best.

When I work with students now it makes me smile over their first few days as I watch them go from ‘yes, I will master this in a week’ to ‘….my, this is very intensive’ to ‘……………. How am I going to get through this’ and ‘WILL I PASS???’ I watch as they pick up a sword for the first time as a beginner barely knowing how to hold it (I wouldn’t go as far as what end to hold it but sometimes it isn’t far off). The first few days are always the hardest, and I always tell my students that it’s okay to be frustrated and doubtful, as long as we keep moving past it.

Usually by day three I tell them this little story…

My first term assessment was coming up and my partner and I had worked very hard and thought we had it together… when the assessment came I don’t even recall a single thing going right. I mean, it must have, we got a C, but in my overly competitive mind a C was the equivalent of the world ending.  I remember approaching my teacher and his assistant and asking, through tears … yes…actual tears…’Excuse me Andy, but even with this assessment will I still be invited to do the Advanced level in third year?’

…Please remember the following facts.

…This was first term…first assessment…first year….I know, I know, I am shaking my own head at myself right now.

Andy and Katie both looked at me with very bemused looks and said ‘yes, I think you’ll be okay.’ They could have brushed me off as a mildly hysterical first year, but they took it instead for a sign that I cared.

I tell this to my students, especially on intensives where they are cramming a whole year into a set amount of days. Usually about day two when they really see the mountain that they are climbing for the first time.

Yes, it’s hard.

Yes, you will struggle.

Yes, you may even feel like it’s terrifying.

But remember…even I cried…and I now do this as a profession.

So, have your cry, because every Warrior cries sometimes…it means they care.

2014
02.17

Picture this. A heaving mass of people against the wall. Pens being thrown to friends like life lines. People standing. People on the floor. The huff of the late and the delighted sounds of the first there. This is class sign up at the Paddy. The hours you have spent pouring over the class descriptions goes out the window when everyone seems to want the same thing as you.  However, not getting the class you wanted means nothing. Everything at the Paddy has something to offer, sometimes you learn the most when you give in to not being in control.

Here are just a few of my favourite class that I attended. If I wrote about them all, it would be a novel.

RUSSIAN SPEC-OPS AND NATURAL COMBAT

“Before the Iron Curtain fell, the Russian culture had a thriving tradition of martial arts.  Today, a piece of that tradition survives in the training of the Russian Speztnaz, the Russian Special Forces. This year we will also explore KGB-proven abduction techniques and hostage scenarios. ”

This was one of the first classes I attended at the Paddy and it completely blew my mind right open. Spencer Humm was such a fountain of knowledge and experience that I immediately wanted to attend every class he was leading. What really struck me about Systema was the practicality of the brutality, completely emotionless and very time efficient.  Techniques included: how to kill someone in a movie theatre, how to abduct someone in a team while using a carpet….seriously.  Spencer also dropped the knowledge bomb on me with his mantra “what is in the way, becomes the way” and I use that whenever I come up against an obstacle in any part of life. Yeah, it hasn’t gone as planned, we can either stand here stressing about it OR it’s happening, get on with it.

RICK SKENE – STUNTS

If you see this man’s name, go and learn from him.  Rick Skene is one of the leading stunt coordinators in North America, and is very generous with his knowledge. Rick led classes in fighting for film, concrete moves you need to know in the stunt industry and much much more. Giving away his experience is no something you always find in this particular industry and you know you are learning from someone who has done it.  All of his classes end with hugging it out…how can you not love this man.

NUCLEAR SMALL SWORD/SMALL SWORD AND CLOAK

You want exciting and fantastic choreography…go and work with Ian Rose in Philly. He brings everything into the art form that you want from sword choreography, dynamic moves twinned with perfect execution… and you get to Zulu lunge. Not going to tell you what it is, go and find out. You will love it, your thighs won’t.

I also attended his small sword and cloak class assisted by the legendary Siobhan Richardson (who makes the perfect cloak, I kid you not). It reignited my love for cloak, as the last time I picked one up was while I was training for my Advanced, where the stress of perfection takes some of the joy out of it. This class brought it all back and now I am even starting to try and make my own cloaks.

FRENCH SMALLSWORD FOR STAGE

Jared Kirby studied under Maestro Acosta-Martinez and is a leading practitioner in the sword arts. I took this with several of my friends at the very end of the week. What was wonderful about this was that the class was filled with small sword enthusiasts who just wanted to learn and relish in the technique and skill required for this art form. We took our time and perfected line, form and attack developing our own skills. I am still using the form that I learned in this class when I am choreographing a fights here in the UK.

SELF-MYOFACIAL RELEASE

“Learn how to enhance your muscular elasticity, work out those kinks and focus on some of the most common causes of injury and tightness…”

This…saved…my life. By day 5, you are pretty broken, obviously in a great way. But damn, you are tired and very sore. Myofacial release with the foam roller has now infiltrated my daily life, as a movement specialist taking care of yourself is one of the best gifts you can bestow on yourself.  I cannot recommend learning about myofascial release and foam rollers and when I run workshops, my roller now comes with me so I can pass this onto my students.

ADVANCED TAKE DOWNS AND THROWS

Superman, Spiderman, splat! The single best way to get to the floor, with the best name ever.  Go and find Kyle Rowling and learn this! This class was all about throwing each other about effectively and safely which is exhausting but super fun for any combat enthusiast.

KNIFE FIGHTING IN CLOSE QUARTERS, TOMAHAWK AND LONGKNIFE, BOWIE KNIFE, GUN DISARMS, MAQUAHUITAL…

You know when you meet someone…and you know they are telling you something because they have done it in real life…yeah….this guy….right here, Steve Huff. When armed with John Lennox you have the perfect storm of awesome, funny and deadly. From how to kill with a pen to Maquhuital these two know their business and will share all of their knowledge with you.

Other favourite classes included: Italian Sabre for Stage and Screen, Boxing for Dramatic Combat, Bullwhip Cracking 101, The Vetruvian Actor, Breath and Fight, Bartitsu, Domestic vs Contemporary Violence…so much!

The next Paddy Crean is this December 2014 / January 2015. Go. Fight. Grow. Be a combat dork!

2013
08.27

Part 1 – What’s all the Paddy about?

For several years I had been hearing about the Paddy Crean workshop in Canada from my friend and colleague Tiffany Antoniuk.  Tiffany came over to the UK in 2004 to continue her training and qualify as a BADC teacher, through clever planning or happy accident (I tend to believe the latter) we were thrown together for a large chunk of our training for a few years.  Tiffany had mentioned the Paddy to me and expressed how much she loved her experience and how much she pushed herself and learned. From that moment I knew that this event had to be put on my combat ‘bucket list.’  As the Paddy is only held every other year it is very easy to keep missing it, but finally after so many year of not being able to go I finally got that chance in December 2012 when a whole bunch of us from the UK made the pilgrimage.

The venue is in the stunning Banff Centre, just outside of Calgary. The Banff Centre is surrounded by the Rocky Mountains and you see so many deer and elk that by the third day seeing a herd just wander by is a normal sight. You also meet the most amazing people and practitioners of the art who are all so generous with their skills and knowledge.

Let me take you through an average Paddy day:

Breakfast at the crack of dawn, you would be offended if you were not presented with a sunrise over the Rockies and a gourmet breakfast. Seriously, as Bryce Bermingham, one of the co-coordinators says, “come for the combat, stay for the food.” Everyone (well everyone with a penchant for torture as the week goes on) makes the trek to warm-up, which is usually lead by either an intern or a teacher and as the week goes on a great way to say good morning and work on those glorious aches and pain.  You then have your fist two sessions of the day, then another fantastic lunch and then your last two sessions. After session 4 there is the mad sign up for classes the next day. Now when I say mad, it’s because after a month of careful study you desperately want to get the classes you have craved and dreamt about.  You have slightly psychotic thoughts like ‘if I don’t get Russian Special Ops with Spencer Hum or Nuclear Small Sword with Ian Rose I WILL JUST DIE’ or ‘I SWEAR, I will stab someone with my pen like I learned in Multi Attacks with John Lennox and Steve Huff. I know how, they showed me!’ However, you soon realize that every class is a gift and no matter what, you can learn something of value. Spoiled for choice, like a kid in the proverbial sweetshop, however our drug of choice is combat. After sign up, it’s another glorious dinner (expect things like roasted Bison and Thai curries to be on offer as well as a host of dishes for veggies, vegans and those with food allergies) and all to be enjoyed as the sun goes down. In the evening there are social events, hot springs and X-Classes, which are chances for the teachers and students alike to try out leading a class they have been working on.  There were options like Bartitsu, tricking and acting technique, so there is no need for boredom on an evening.  And if you can’t be tempted by any of this, there is always the pub!

And there are five glorious days of this!

When I came to the Paddy I knew it was going to be special, but I had no idea how much it would change me. Not only did I get to room and reconnect with my friend Tiffany, and opportunity that never happens, but I also made so many new friends and got to put faces to names that I had only spoken to via e-mail. It reignited my passion for dramatic combat and it reminded me of something that I must have forgotten, that I am good at this. The support of the faculty was enormous, everyone was there to learn and grow. Egos were to be checked at the door. You would find yourself talking a class during a first session and then partnering that same teacher in a later session. It made me firm in my belief that we never stop learning and growing in our arts. Everyone has something to give and learn in equal measures, so take every opportunity to keep developing your combat skills, if I am far from done as an accredited teacher, the person next to me sure isn’t done after their first exam or workshop.

The Paddy is an investment in yourself, if you consider yourself a combat enthusiast then go, don’t hesitate. I thought, that I would only get to do one Paddy however I am hooked…. hello my name is Jessica and I am a Paddy-holic.

In my next blog I am going to go into details about the classes at Paddy and give you my top 10 of not to miss workshops.

2013
05.19

The last time I posted a blog was several months ago where I boasted of the sunshine of the Hollywood hills as I wrote my piece about why everyone should take up Stage Combat.  I’m now sat down munching on my cereal overlooking Central park (equally as glamorous, just a lot colder) as the rain pours down on the unfortunate few caught outside (haha suckers!)  On the TV in the background is Tchaikovsky’s swan lake ballet, I can’t help admire the story telling, the synchronisation, the discipline of these performers and then a series of thoughts begin to shower my mind.  I think of a new opera I watched several years ago “Monkey: Journey to the west,” where these incredible performers from China who could sing, act and Dance (a holy trinity of skills for someone in the performing arts), were able to fight too!

What if these all these Swan lake ballerinas could fight as well?  Think of the damage they would do?  Surely they could, they have the core skills to do so.  How about if I flipped it around?  What if all the fantastic actors I’ve worked who with, who are able to master the most complex choreographed fights, were put into a ballet?  I mean I’m not expecting  them to hold up against Russian Ballerinas, I’m just saying would they have an ounce of the confidence to portray their characters in the same way they do when they go on stage and convey master swordsmen?  The two are similar disciplines (despite the urban myth that fencing derives from ballet or visa versa), you could think of them as being cousins as they share a number of positions, a focus on discipline, stamina & flexibility to allow the body to relay either the art (ballet) or the strategy (fencing) at our minds command.

I then think back to when I was a student at drama school.  I of course excelled at Stage Combat, however I was terrible in my Dance classes.  I had never corillated the two until one day one of my dance teachers saw me perform an intrinsicly choreographed fight to which she said “If you could use even 10% of those movement skills in my class, I wouldn’t be giving you such a hard time!”

Then as I went onto teach Stage Combat at the same school a number of years later, I had these fantastic dancers in my classes who could not convince me that they were able to carry out a simple punch or thrust or cut attack with their swords although I knew they had the technical skills to do so.  Extra time would be spent around the punch bag or on intentions behind their lunges mirroring the extra attention spent on me for my kick ball change, double piroeete or timesteps in my dance classes

Both disciplines obey to rehearsed choreography which can relate to a script or a piece of music or not.  The idea of movement in different directions and to a certain cadence is the same, so wheres the difference?  What I’ve come to learn from the point of view of teaching someone more naturally inclined to dance is the focus should be on the intention, WHY am I attacking?  What am I wanting to achieve by each and every single move?  It’s that attention to detail that makes for great acting and I believe the same for convincing fight choreography.  I’m not sure if that works exactly the same the other way round but if I was able to apply that to my pas de bourree in my younger years, I think I could have saved myself a bit of the torment of not being one of the worst in my class.

Now there are many performers out there who have bridged the skills together and have used them to amazing success in their fields, I am merely trying to offer the lost few (like myself) on either side of the river with a simple theory but please feel free to comment below and let me know your thoughts if you have any on the matter.  Also if you can think of an example where dance is used fantasticaly in a stage combat orientated piece, where fights look like dances or where choreographed fights have hightened a dance related performence.  Below are a few examples where I think this has been the case.

ROMEO & JULIET BALLET

JUMP – A MARTIAL ARTS COMEDY

WHO AM I – JACKIE CHAN FIGHT (looks like a swing dance at times)

West Side Story opening scene

We’ll be bringing you more blogs in the months to come, so if there are any special subjects you would like us to focus on, then please let us know too.
Rachid Sbitri , Co-Director of True Edge Stage Combat.

 

2012
09.19

Jessica Hrabowsky, Co-director of True Edge Stage Combat

I have often wondered if there was something wrong with me (yes all those with clever quips please make a line to the left and take a number) because I have always loved watching a good fight. And yes. I do mean in ‘real life’. But as there has been a long, slow decline of underground bare-knuckle boxing bouts in the South East London area in recent years (what with the ‘economy the way it is’ and all) I shall resort to talking about the next best alternative – the Movies.

I have been known to react verbally in a silent crowded movie theatre when an especially excellent hit or group fight with a loud ‘HA’ or a good old fashioned ‘ooooo’ much to the distress of my companions around me, but it isn’t something I can help. These reactions are a visceral and organic reaction to the pleasure I receive from watching something believable. Those reading this who have had some experience of stage combat, no matter how minimal have agreed to have the veil lifted and have been shown all the mirrors and wires behind the magic and admittedly some of the joy can be released, I think this is why I can’t help but really enjoy seeing something amazing in it’s brutality (yes, those of you in the line, hold on, you will get your moment later!). So, for the pleasure of the committee I would like to present the following list:

My top Ten Favourite Violent Acts on Film

10) The bare knuckle boxing in Snatch with Bad Pitt as ‘The Pikey’…but to be honest it is like 90% fight, 10% Brad Pitt without his top on…

9) Batman: The Dark Knight, you know, the moment where the Joker goes “do you want to see a magic trick” and then slams that guys head into the pencil that is stuck into the table…I literally watched it ten times in a row one Saturday night…I am that cool.

8) Tim Roth in Rob Roy, he moves like a shark and his fluidity with the blade is simultaneously fascinating and visually stimulating. Considering his height compared to that of Liam Neeson, he just stretches his legs and travels in and out with such speed that it just makes the fight that much more exciting with the contrasting dynamic of Mr. Neeson’s heavy movements.

7) The domestic fight in Nil By Mouth. It’s brutality is brilliant, also the fact that you don’t see the majority of the fight.  Domestic violence is always something that I have been very particular about because it is real and it happens every day to a huge percentage of people and I have a very strong belief that it should be respected when portrayed on stage and on film. It tells a real story. I have to put a 7b) on this…the punch from behind the door in Tyrannosaur…same reasons…more recent.

6) The fight in Troy between Achilles and Hector, the shape of the bodies while fighting and the intensity of the blows being delivered are mesmerizing, I think it really could be taken from the side of a vase…also the part when Achilles just runs up, leaps and shoves his blade downward into the neck of that big dude…that got an ‘HA’ for sure.

5) The boxing scenes in Million Dollar Baby. Nothing like watching a girl knock seven shade of poop (this is a family blog after all) out of someone.

4) Kick Ass…not only a girl but also a little girl kicking some ass. It puts the fun back in dysfunctional!

3) The Bond films…but only the ones with Daniel Craig. I love them. If I had to pick my favourite (please note for future readers this judgment is being made pre Skyfall) it would have to be the opening bathroom fight with the sink. I enjoy how they have made most of the new Bond fights more realistic and using found objects. The question I always ask myself when I am choreographing is “what do I want to do to you now?”

2) Bourne…all of it. End of. I am a Bourne geek.

1) Two words…Eastern Promises…. the fight in the steam room naked…is epic. It is raw. It is bloody and as I mentioned before…it is naked. I cannot comprehend the courage it takes to not only fight naked but fight naked with blades…yeah…it is that amazing.

So there you have it, my top ten…that I would also add the fight in Ted between Ted the Bear and Mark Wahlberg (which is modeled on the Bourne fights, believe it or not) so I guess think of it as my Top 10 point TED.

I encourage anyone to watch and make their own decisions because after all a good fight can mean something different to different people as it is a story telling technique and all good fights tell some sort of story. I invite you to add your own top ten here…then we can all be fight geeks together…maybe we can get t-shirts.

 

2012
06.19

Every other month, a member of the True Edge team will be writing a blog covering a variety of subjects, all under the umbrella of the complete awesomeness that is Stage & Screen Combat.

So watch out for some humorous and potentially educational musings on everything from the Top 10 movie fights of all time to the best way to smack someone in the face and get away with it…

Welcome to Month 1!

2012
06.19

Rachid Sbitri , Co-director of True Edge Stage Combat

As a young chubby & curly haired boy (some may argue nothing much has changed), rather then spending summers with my friends in England, I was forced to spend it with my family in Morocco.

The last time I counted, I had eighty-seven cousins. I was thirteen. Coming from a culture where family is the cornerstone of our life, my folks would drag me all over the country to see every single one of them. Some I became fond of and visiting others was like serving a jail term. Thank God the one thing that all eighty-seven cousins and I would have in common, were movies. However Morocco being a former French colony, I became accustomed to watching my favourite movie stars utter their lines in perfect French; Scarface yelling “Dites bonjours a mon petit ami!” doesn’t really have the same ring to it!

Thankfully though most of my cousins were big fans of Kung Fu & dialogue in that genre comes secondary to physicality. I would watch movies over and over again, religiously and my favourites, Sammo Hung and Jackie Chan became role models for me. I didn’t realize at the time but I learned to appreciate the nuances of Peking Opera and started to understand story telling through body language.

As I got older, I took up Tae Kwon Doe (a story for another day) and started to find my voice in the performing arts, which led me to one of the most prestigious acting schools in the UK; The Guildford School of Acting. I was now amongst some of the most talented kids from across the world and the competition was fierce. I won’t lie to you, I was very much intimidated by my peers and teachers who stunted me for the longest time. I was a terrible dancer, nerves always got the better of my singing and acting scenes in front of judging eyes debilitated me, what was I doing at a drama school?

However in the far dark, dank corner of the school was a lesson that none of my peers took seriously at the time; Stage Combat. I had finally found a subject that I could relate to, that I could flourish in, this was my Billy Elliot moment!
I learned through the stewardship of my teacher, how to put complete TRUST in my scene partner, whom without, I wouldn’t be able to do anything. I learnt DISCIPLINE, all the specific techniques & the safety elements involved in the craft. I learnt how to be CREATIVE with both the text and the choreography itself, to take the blue print of what was given to us and run with it, making it my own.

I can whole heartedly say now as I write this blog from Hollywood, Los Angeles that my Stage combat class was the best acting class I had in three years of drama school. It’s not for everyone but it certainly helped me understand my body and released my true creativity that could only be found once all the rules of the game were in place. Further more that confidence seeped into everything I’d do as an artist and as a person in years to come.

Since setting up True Edge, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with people young and old all over the UK and seeing the inner child come out in each and every one of them as well. It’s the biggest pleasure I get as a teacher, having being there and knowing that there’s so much more to go.

So if you’ve thinking of coming to join us on one of our workshops or have been sitting on the fence about stage combat, I quote the great words of Yoda “”il y a juste faire ou ne pas faire n’y a pas essayes.” (There is only do or not do, there is no try).