- Which class should I take?
Weekend and one day workshops are usually for those wanting an introduction to stage combat and are open to anyone. Certification courses are for those wanting a professional qualification – certification by the British Academy of Stage and Screen Combat. These courses are a minimum of 30 hours training and you must do the full course to be eligible to test for certification. They are open to students with no previous experience and to those with existing stage combat qualifications.
- What weapons can I train in?
The BASSC syllabus weapon systems are:
• Rapier and Dagger
• Unarmed Combat
• Sword and Shield
• Smallsword (18th century)
• Rapier and Cloak
• Single rapier (swashbuckling style)
• Quarterstaff (think Robin Hood and Little John)
- What is BASSC certification?
Students who attend a BASSC certification course in any weapon have the opportunity to have their performance assessed at the end of the course by a BASSC Examiner. This is done through the Fight Performance Test (FPT). Students perform the choreography that they have been taught during the course with a partner within a dramatic scene with dialogue. The Examiner will assess them individually on the following criteria: safety, technique, intention, overall performance and they will also receive a class mark from their teacher. The pass mark is 58%. All students who pass will receive a certificate. Students who achieve a grade of 80% or over will receive a Pass with Distinction to reflect their level of skill. Certificates are valid for three years.
- Students who test and pass in Rapier & Dagger and Unarmed Combat, either jointly or separately will become “Actor/Combatant” members of the BASSC.
- Actor/Combatants who have Passes in 5 weapons, including Rapier & Dagger and Unarmed Combat receive BASSC Intermediate Actor/Combatant status.
- Actor/Combatants who have Passes with Distinction in at least 5 weapons, including Rapier & Dagger and Unarmed Combat receive BASSC Advanced Actor/Combatant status.
- Certificates can be used as evidence of experience in stage combat in individual weapons for fight directors, casting agents and websites.
- All weapons passes and Intermediate or Advanced A/C status can be recorded on your Spotlight listing.
- Is there a minimum/maximum age?
The minimum age for attending classes and workshops is 16. Students under 18 must have written permission from a parent or guardian to attend.
The minimum age for attending Junior Grade classes and workshops is 14.
There is no maximum age.
- Do I need to be fit?
Beginners’ classes start out slow to give you time to learn techniques but your fight performance test at the end of the course will be expected to be executed at performance speed and so will be pretty energetic, particularly with the bigger weapons. Therefore you do need to have, or develop, a reasonable level of fitness for classes. Classes and workshops will start with a warm up to help you prepare.If you have any medical problems that may affect your ability to perform stage combat you will be asked to declare them before you begin the course. It may be possible to make adjustments to moves and choreographies to allow for injuries or other issues.
- What equipment do I need?
All weapons for classes and workshops are provided. If you have weapons of your own that you would like to use then you need to have them checked out by the teacher first before using them to ensure that they are suitable.
Clothing – wear shoes and clothes that are suitable for movement – trainers or similar shoes with good grip, jogging bottoms, leggings, t-shirts and sweatshirts. Avoid jeans as they don’t give enough freedom of movement and low cut or strappy tops as some unarmed moves involve grabbing clothing and there’s often a lot of physical contact in unarmed classes. Layers are good as some parts of class are more energetic than others and but beware tops that are baggy as they can catch on the weapon.
Gloves – you’ll need these for sword work. They can be leather, suede or canvas but not rubber or woolly. They should be full finger so cycling, riding, motorcycling or light to medium weight gardening or work gloves are fine. You need to be able to grip the weapon so they shouldn’t be too stiff or padded.
A notebook and pen and a folder for handouts. You’ll remember techniques and choreography much better if you write them down to refer to later. You can also use your phone or camera to record techniques.
Water – definitely. It can be thirsty work and you’ll perform and think better if you keep hydrated. Intensive and semi-intensive courses last all day so you should bring lunch and snacks to keep your blood sugar level up.
- How can I work in stunts or be an action performer?
The Joint Industry Stunt Register has very specific requirements for entry. You can find further information here. Stage combat is not actually a requirement for entry to the register but is a valuable skill to have.Action performers in film, if they are not on the stunt register, are usually known as ‘Special Abilities Extras’. For stage combat work you will need to be able to demonstrate that you have a high level of skill – usually Advanced Certification. Some extras agencies have categories especially for this type of experience and training. Alternatively, there may be open auditions for film work where you will be selected on the basis of your skill as a stage combat performer and ability to learn a piece of choreography quickly and perform it accurately.
- Where can I buy or hire weapons for a production?
There are many companies both here in the UK and abroad that hire / produce stage combat weapons. If you want you further information about sourcing weapons please contact me.
- Which class should I take?