For more than a year, I’ve been exporing HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts), beginning with longsword and branching out to other weapons and disciplines as I learn stage combat and progress towards eventually becoming a FDC (Fight Directors of Canada) certified Actor Combatant.
Being a physical actor is essential, even for a woman my age. While only in my wildest dreams is there a chance I will be called upon to carry a sword on screen, there’s a good chance I will play a character who will be a victim of violence, from domestic to supernatural (hey, I work in Vancouver!) or even a random mugging. Learning to fall properly without hurting oneself is a great skill to have.
Besides falling, in my first year I’ve had training in basic unarmed combat, quarterstaff, longsword, short sword with buckler and shield, small sword, rapier and dagger, knife work, kali stick fighting, bullwhip and even lasso. I’ve fought against opponents using maces, tonfa and cloak. When I stop and think about it, it’s an impressive list. But most impressive is the confidence it has given me as an actor. My previous theatre training had included various forms of movement but there is something about learning to be in someone else’s physical space with the intent to either harm them or defend yourself that is empowering. I know that on that alone I walk into any audition with more confidence than I had a year ago.
I study stage combat at Academie Duello in Vancouver, under the tutelage of David McCormick (playfighting.ca). They offer both ongoing Stage Combat courses, as well as FDC Certification. Totally worth it.