The FDC National Workshop is starting next week – this year it will be held at Capilano University in Vancouver – and I”m off to join this year”s team of Instructors. I want to tell you guys a bit about my training and the organization that I now teach for.
The Academy of Fight Directors Canada (Fight Directors Canada”s Training Arm) is the only federally recognized National Stage Combat Training Body and Professional Fight Director Association in Canada. FDC”s standardized testing practices and member certification levels are recognized worldwide and allow members to be recognized at their level in any professional fight arena around the world. We have Instructors across the country all teaching FDC”s very high standard of safety, performance and technique. There are three Certification levels:
At the Basic Level, students will learn three weapon disciplines:
- Single Sword – what we call the basic knowledge of the sword – attacks, defense, footwork, etc. – that is the basis for more specific sword styles in the higher levels.
The Intermediate Level teaches students four weapon disciplines:
- Rapier and Dagger
- Eastern martial arts (Unarmed)
Finally, in Advanced, students are expected to learn five weapon disciplines:
- Rapier and Companion (Often Case of Rapier or Rapier and Cloak)
- Smallsword (Advanced)
- Broadsword and Shield
- Eastern Martial Arts (Armed)
- Found/Environmental Weapon
At each level, students are taught about the history of each weapon system, and learn the vocabulary that applies to the weapon, the style and the technique. AFDC is one of the only organizations that has a written component to their certifications, ensuring that each Certified FDC Actor Combatant shares a knowledge of fight terminology. Each level also has a higher expectation and attention put on performance quality, because, as discussed in my earlier blogs on stage combat and fight direction, fight technique alone is not enough to tell a good story.
I started training in stage combat in Toronto at Rapier Wit, where Certification classes were offered in town. It never occurred to me to go to a National Workshop, but for my Intermediate level I was encouraged to try it out.
The FDC Nationals blew my mind.
There were Fight Instructors, Directors and Masters from across Canada, and a few International Instructors, all with their unique take on each fight discipline. The atmosphere was alive with creativity, there were all sorts of new weapons I”d never worked with, ways of doing things I hadn”t imagined and rooms full of people who all shared my enthusiasm for stage combat. I was 17 at the time, and I failed my certification, but my eyes had been opened to what stage combat could be, and I was hooked for life.
At Rapier Wit – where I also now teach – we work with the same instructors on a regular basis and we have a specific en ligne casino way that we like to do things. I love working with the instructors in Toronto, and we”re very lucky to have so many of us here. We work very efficiently together, and some of us have even started to move the same way. Even having a great team to keep inspiring and challenging you, it still becomes very easy to get small with your focus, and inured in a routine. Canada is a big place, and the World is even bigger: it”s so great to get together once a year with Instructors from across Canada and the world and have your ideas tested and challenged, and to become a student of someone else”s style.
This will be my seventh National casino Workshop. I did two workshops at the intermediate level, one at advanced, one as a journeyman (in charge of weapon transport and maintenance, and assisting the Instructors), one as an Instructor Candidate, and this workshop will be my second time through as an instructor. The workshop is packed with classes from 9am to 6pm, and for the Intermediate and Advanced students, classes continue into the evening. It”s hard work, but the atmosphere is charged with excitement as students pick up new weapons for the first time and slowly master full fight scenes in each system.
For the teaching staff it”s a chance to share all sorts of thoughts on teaching style, performance, and interpretations of historical techniques. Is there complete consensus on all of these ideas? Of course not! What fun would that be? But ideas expand, evolve, some are thrown out, and some are confirmed and supported. Either way the ideas and the instructors are stronger for having been tested – Tempered on might say – by the rigours of peer evaluation. It is inspiring to “fill the cup” this way, and it forges FDC into a stronger organization and community.
One of the things I love most about Fight Directing and Instructing is how it forces me to keep learning: learning history, technique, stagecraft, and storytelling. I love working with actors and enriching their performances with my knowledge, and letting them enrich my choreography with their instincts. I don”t plan to stop learning. So this time around I am so excited – and terrified – to teach a discipline that is not my strongest; but I”m thrilled to be surrounded by people who share my enthusiasm, and I know I have support from this amazing network. I”m ready, especially as an Instructor, to get my mind blown all over again, and come out the other side stronger!
Of course this is not the only way to learn stage combat, and some students prefer more long term classes to the complete intensive immersion of the National Workshop. For me, though, there”s nothing like training together with students from every level, seeing how far stage combat can go, and how far you”ve come already. So if you”re up for it and your plans have fallen through for the next couple weeks – it IS possible to get in on this year”s Workshop – just sign up here and join the fray!!
Got Questions for me? Tweet me @TemperArts!!