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).

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