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Selected Thoughts On Staged “Lightsaber” Combat

by Michael "Rogue428" Haspil

(All example movies are Quicktime Sorenson 3 codec)

Before we even begin, the disclaimer stuff.

I am not a professional stunt person or fight coordinator. I purport no special knowledge or responsibility for the techniques described below. Melee combat, by its very nature, is dangerous. Staged melee combat, only slightly less so. These techniques are by no means foolproof, and the chance of someone getting hurt increases exponentially when you start to swing an object towards them,rehearsed or otherwise. So if you get hurt or hurt someone else doing the stuff I talk about in here, I accept no responsibility.

Now that that’s out of the way, I’d like to give you a little background on myself. I have been involved in “staged combat” in one way or another since high school (drama club, RenFair, etc). I am a martial artist, rank of Shodan (1st degree black belt) in Taijutsu and a very amateur fencer (as of yet…un-rated…because I can’t really grasp the whole “right-of-way” thing in the heat of the moment…but that’s another story)…so you experts can take what I have to say with a grain of salt. The rest of you amateurs…LISTEN UP! I’ve broken a lot of these rules (and a lot of blades)…some as recently as last February. So by virtue of messing up…I know what I’m talking about (or at least I’d like to think I do). Having said that, if anybody has better info or thinks anything I am saying is blatantly wrong …please speak up, I ain’t Nick Gillard or Bob Anderson…and frankly I can use the help too!

Need help on saber fight choreography!” That topic shows up every couple of months in the forums, so I figured I’d right a tutorial. This tutorial isn’t going to help the cast and crew of “A Question of Faith” or “Duality” very much. And if you’re at that level of expertise, I’d ask you to read on, only if to offer corrections or additional advice. However, if you don’t know how to use a sword and don’t know a parry from a riposte, then read on! This tutorial is for you!

Having said that, I’d like to start off by recommending a book. The book is, Actors on Guard by Dale Anthony Girard and Amazon and other fine booksellers carry it. It covers in great detail what we’re all talking about with this “Staged” combat thing. I think it is a must read for anyone wanting to try their hand at this.

Okay…here we go.

Contents

  1. Staged versus Real Combat
  2. On Pulled Attacks
  3. On “Lightsabers” prop construction
  4. On the Lightsaber 101 Combat System
    1. Ready Stance (En Guarde)
    2. Parries
    3. Attacks
  5. On Footwork
  6. On the inevitable double-bladed Lightsaber
  7. On Ripostes
  8. On the subtleties of “wrist” moves
  9. On Scripted Variations and Flourishes
  10. On Tempo and Pacing
  11. On Omissions
  12. One Final Word
  13. Conclusion

Staged versus Real Combat

In real combat the object is to injure the opponent as grievously as possible. In “staged” or arranged combat the emphasis must be on safety first. It need not be stated that injury must be avoided at all cost lest the production suffer.

The object of “staged” combat is to provide dramatic and entertaining conflict in order to punctuate appropriately a dramatic work. For this reason, attacks in “staged” combat should not be effective at all, but should rely on the actors to make them look believable and more severe than they actually are. Further realism can be attained through creative blocking of the fight and by placing the camera in such a manner that blows look like they are connecting, (but in fact are a foot away from actual contact).

Another point regards complaints from some audience members that some of the moves are not realistic enough. For instance, “Why did the bad guy duck out of the way when the hero vaulted over him, why didn’t he just jam his sword up into the hero’s gut and kill him right there?” The simple answer is, in a real fight, he would’ve and the hero would be lying there with a sword in his gut, but in a real fight the hero would have never vaulted over the villain in the first place. The truth of the matter is that staged combat is never like real combat. Rather, think of staged combat as an elaborate dance set up to look like real combat. In actuality, real combat (especially with swords) is very short, very brutal, and frankly not much fun to watch.

If one considers proficient swordsmen engaged in combat, in the European fighting styles, with the exception of probes and jabs to test an opponent’s defenses, combat normally would stay in the single digits of attacks, parries, and ripostes. In the Oriental fighting systems, it would be very unusual to see combat extend past one or two strikes (this also accounts for director Akira Kurasowa sending hordes of swordsmen to attack Toshiro Mifune in order to make the fight last a little longer…but Mifune kills each attacker in one or two strokes, staying true to the style). Also, anyone who has engaged in or watched foil, epee’, or saber fencing can attest to a bout not lasting past thirty seconds before a touch is called. (That’s why fencing bouts score to five or fifteen…not one). Watching a one-touch bout is not very thrilling and exciting to watch, and is usually over in seconds.

When you actually begin to think about it, no matter how good you were, how daring and exciting would you be if you were engaged in a sword fight that your life depended on? You would be as conservative as you could be, while trying to kill your opponent as swiftly as possible. The result would not be very dramatic or thrilling to watch.

Think of your favorite movie fights. Several great ones come to my mind; “The Mark of Zorro” between Basil Rathbone and Tyrone Power, “Rob Roy” between Tim Roth and Liam Neeson, of course, the Jedi battle at the end of Episode I, between Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon, and Darth Maul. Now think about how many times one of the parties should’ve been killed “if it had been real”. I think you won’t get by a couple of seconds.

Having said that, there is a phenomenon unique to staged combat that, when safety allows, should be avoided at all costs. It happens all the time and most of us are guilty of it at one time or another. The trend is something I call “banging sticks”. It involves participants of a staged fight attacking each other’s weapons, rather than attacking each other resulting in banging sticks together. (The broadway production “Stomp” does a great job with this and it is very entertaining, but it is not staged combat). Every staged fight has some stick banging added in there to make the fight last longer. But, by and large, the fight looks a lot better and has heightened dramatic interest if every move is “check”. If the audience has the perception that the individuals are evenly matched and are really trying to kill each other and that the first one who messes up is a goner, the fight is that much better. Again, bring to mind, the fight at the end of the Episode I. Compare the fight between Obi-Wan and Maul, after Qui-gon gets stabbed, to the fight when both Jedi and the Sith are fighting. Maul is clearly playing with them towards the beginning. During the first half of the fight, there are many times when they should have killed each another but didn’t. The second half of the fight, between just Obi-Wan and Darth Maul is extremely high intensity, every move is “check”, and you get the idea that the first one to make a mistake will be dead before he knows it. It makes for a better fight and better engages the audience. However, how long can you keep that intensity up?

With consideration to the Jedi/Sith Lightsaber combat system, the attacks, parries, blocks, and ripostes are seldom realistic. Rather, the fighting system is much more flamboyant than practical. This reflects the Jedi/Sith mastery and reliance of the “Force”. Without such mastery, common maneuvers such as, spinning around in the face of your opponent (which so far, all Jedi do) would be sheer suicide. Rather, the combat system lends itself rather to what “looks cool”, instead of what would be practically sound, or indeed prudent, in actual combat. For this reason, the attacks, parries, and ripostes are more “open” than practical combat would allow. These larger movements are sometimes grossly exaggerated over what the real combat maneuver would be. This helps maintain a decent margin of safety and allows the camera to better capture the motions of the fight easily. It also allows the audience to participate in the emotion, and anticipate certain moves, of the fight.

On Pulled Attacks

This brings up the subject of real versus “pulled” attacks. Real attacks attempt to break through an opponent’s defenses in order to inflict injury. With a “pulled” attack, the attacker knows where the defender’s parry or block will be before he actually attacks. Therefore, the “pulled” attack should be made with only enough force to lightly make contact with the opponent’s parry. This is done for safety considerations so that if the defender should make an error and miss their parry, the attacker could stop their attack with minimal effort and without causing injury to the defender. (And believe me….I speak from experience here).

But Mike, you say, we’ve all seen the footage of Ewan McGregor and Ray Park going at it so hard that they are bending aluminum rods! Doesn’t this fly in the face of everything you’ve just said? Yes it does! But then they have Nick Gillard as a fight coordinator and Ray Park has been doing this stuff for how long? And they have insurance against busted heads and such, and months of practice. How many fan films can afford to send cast members to the hospital? I know mine couldn’t. So our motto is safety first, pulled attacks are the only sensible choice.

Pulled Attack Example Movie

On “Lightsabers” prop construction

When considering the Jedi/Sith main weapon of choice, the “lightsaber” (and variations thereof), one must remember that it is essentially a massless weapon). When constructing props that will be used for staged combat it is important to keep this in mind and ensure that the majority of the weapon’s weight and mass is contained in the handle. At the same time, the entire prop must be sturdy enough to survive the rigors of staged combat. The aim should be to place the balance point near the “top” of the handle, where the “blade emitter” would be if it were real. This will result with a well-balanced weapon, allowing it to move as if the blade were nearly without mass. I recommend using a metal handle such as those machined by Parksabers (the old ones….I haven’t used the new ones and so I can’t vouch for how they’ll hold up) if you can find one. However, if fortune or budget does not allow, a properly weighted plastic handle should work. It is also within reason to construct your own metal handled stunt saber. Numerous tutorials exist on the internet on how to do this. A ¾” wooden dowel provides a readily accessible and inexpensive blade. And, if I’m not mistaken, some successful fan filmmakers like Clay Cronke (of “New World” and “Brains and Steel” legend…see TFN Fanfilms) prefer the plastic toy blades. Last time I checked, these were set for “buy one get one free” status at toy stores everywhere.

ASIDE: On numerous forum boards, I have read about how people do not favor using a ¾” wooden dowel as a lightsaber blade. Instead, they recommend PVC piping and even aluminum poles. Now, I know that on the films, the stunt sabers were aluminum (at least on Episode 1) and if I were making a fan film with Nick Gillard or Ray Park…then by all means that might be what I used. But! They are professionals. We are amateurs. Please DO NOT USE metal saber blades. During a fight mistakes will be made. A ¾” wooden dowel will break before your head does (again I speak from experience)…an aluminum pipe will bust your head open. BTW, if you are breaking ¾” wooden dowels during “staged” combat…you need to “pull” your attacks more. YOU ARE HITTING TOO HARD! During my fan film we had 9 different lightsabers of various configurations…some were homemade, some were Parksabers handles…8 of them survived the production. The one that didn’t, broke over my head, after the other actor got caught up in the moment and hit a little too hard and I missed my parry. We wound up finishing the film and not having to go to the emergency room because I used a ¾” dowel and not an Aluminum tube. Another moral to learn from this is to constantly “settle yourself and your performers”. Before each fight segment, remind people that, this is “staged” combat…SAFETY FIRST!!!

On the Lightsaber 101 Combat System

(See Attached Pictures)

When I decided to make my fan film, I wanted all my best friends to be in it. Unfortunately, after high school, life had scattered us to the four winds. Not all my friends could make it. Those that could, could only fly in for the weekend. And due to reserving the location and the weather, we only had 1 day to shoot. Circumstances dictated that there would be little or no time to rehearse the elaborate fight sequences I had blocked out for the script. So I shelved them.

Now I had a problem. How was I going to have saber fights in my movie, without time to rehearse? With performers that had not fenced before and didn’t know martial arts …without resorting to “Banging Sticks!” (Mind you, a lot of “stick banging” still wound up in the production, but so it goes.) For most of my performers, the first time they picked up a saber was the night before the shoot!

Well…we did it…and 95 percent of the fight sequences in the film were unrehearsed! (I don’t recommend this…and I’m not bragging…If I had to do it again…I wouldn’t have done it this way…but circumstances dictated that it was that or nothing. And I wound up getting a dowel busted over my head for it…so there you go.)

Now, the fights in my fan film, aren’t exactly Episode I style or quality…and I’m not going to win awards for them. But I’d like to think that we put together some decent combat sequences, despite the lack of rehearsal and the weather. How did we do it? A set of 10 very simple pre-planned and coordinated moves that I call…

LIGHTSABER 101!

(insert reverb here)

That’s right! You too can be a Jedi master in minutes. Right in the comfort of your own home! It’s just that easy.

No.

Seriously. This is a very bare-bones, basic fight choreography system and it takes some variations (see On Flourishes and On Wrist Moves below) and creative editing both in-camera and in post-production to make it come off. (Lots of takes, from different angles don’t hurt either.) But to reiterate, this is the most basic of fight choreography systems, and is basically optimized for fan film lightsaber combat. I drew it up myself, so if the terminology for the positions doesn’t match established fencing or choreography systems, I apologize.

During the following section, it will really help if you follow along with the attached pictures. I drew what I could (and I’m no artist either) and hopefully between my descriptions below, the stick diagrams, and example movies you can make sense of what I’m talking about.

READY STANCE (En Guarde)

Reference Sheet #1

{This stance as I have described here, assumes a right-handed person. If left-handed your footwork may change, but since the lightsaber is mostly a double-handed weapon, it should not affect the actual fight movements at all. You may want to try reversing the leading leg position and seeing which is more comfortable or natural for you.}

The first position is of course the En guarde position, which I refer to as “Ready Postion I”. This is the main position that all your moves will be done from and also your main reference position. You can accomplish all parries and attacks from this stance very easily.

Your right leg should be placed forward with the knee slightly bent. You should be leaning forward slightly with your back kept straight. The foot of the rear leg should either be held at ninety degrees to an imaginary line going from toe to heel of the leading foot, or should be facing forward resting on the ball of the foot, in order to spring into action. (The former if parrying, the latter if attacking. More on that later, see On Footwork below). The blade should be held directly in front of you with both hands. If your right foot is forward, your right hand should be the top hand on the hilt, and vice-versa. The tip of your blade should be at your eye level, so that you can keep track of where the blade is (if this were real the tip of the blade would be pointing at your opponent’s eyes or heart…but this is staged…so safety first). Best example I can think of to illustrate this position is the lightsaber duel in SW:ANH between Obi-wan and Darth Vader.

Variation: Ready Position II

My nickname for this one is the “Conan stance”. We see this a lot in Episode I. Right from the start, this stance is very limiting. But it looks cool. You cannot execute many parries from this (except P5 and P1, more on that later) attacks from this stance are always very open and are almost always against the upper body, making them very easy for the camera to spot. This stance is also good for conveying a resolute defensive posture.

In this stance the right leg is back, the left leg is forward with the knee slightly bent, not locked. The right foot is pointing ninety degrees away from the direction the body is facing. The right arm is cocked backwards and the left arm is across the chest in order to maintain its hold on the blade hilt. The hilt should be parallel with the ear, with the top of the hilt at approximately the same level as the ear and the blade pointed straight up. A lower variation occurs when the hilt is held at about armpit level, but isn’t as flashy.

PARRIES

Reference Sheet #2
Reference Sheet #3
Reference Sheet #4

Parries are extremely important because they are your defensive moves. But keep in mind, that if your opponent is pulling his attacks properly you should have to worry about actually defending yourself, since the moves are rehearsed anyway. Once you’ve practiced your sequences you should concentrate on making your parries look real instead of being real. I can’t stress this enough. If you feel that your opponent is hitting too hard and that you’re about to get clocked. Yell “Cut!”, and address the situation, you can always do another take, but not if you’re hurt. Having said that though, a good rule of thumb is to always parry with full force and never attack with full force. That way if someone gets overzealous they won’t power through your defenses.

Parry 1 (abbreviated as P1)

From the center Ready Position move the blade quickly to the right so that your hands are about 8-12 inches to the right of your body. This is a defense against an attack to the upper right side.

Parry 2 (abbreviated as P2)

From the center Ready Position swing the blade in a counter-clockwise arc so that it ends up pointing down, either in front of, or just to the right of the right leg. This is a defense against an attack to right leg.

Parry 3 (abbreviated as P3)

From the center Ready Position move the blade quickly to the left so that your hands are about 8-12 inches to the left of your body. This is a defense against an attack to the upper left side.

Parry 4 (abbreviated as P4)

From the center Ready Position swing the blade in a clockwise arc so that it ends up pointing down, either in front of, or just to the left of the left leg. This is a defense against an attack to left leg.

Parry 5 (abbreviated as P5)

From the center Ready Position move the hilt to either side of the head while moving the blade so that it rests at a fifteen to thirty degree angle to an imaginary line parallel to the ground. The reason this is done instead of going straight across, is that while you blade is at an angle it allows your opponent’s weapon to slide down slightly and thus dampens the impact (thus saving you some dowels and maybe a busted head. Again, can’t say this enough, if you’re breaking dowels, you’re hitting too hard).

Parry 6 (abbreviated as P6)

The “behind-the-back” maneuver. From center Ready Position, move both arms over your head rapidly so that the blade pointed downwards protects your back. This is very rare and executed only when specifically scripted. It does not appear as a standard parry in any of the “boxes” mentioned below.

Parry Full Box (abbreviated PFB)

A “Parry Full Box” simply means that you are going to execute a sequence of every parry. Now you can designate what your full box is going to be. The parries can be grouped in whatever order you want. However, just make sure that your Parry Full Box matches your Attack Full Box or someone is going to get hurt. For the purposes of this tutorial, a full box is the sequence of parries as follows: Parry 1, Parry 3, Parry 2, Parry 4, Parry 5. (P1,P3,P2,P4,P5). But if you are scripting a fight, the only time you will do a Parry Full Box is when your opponent is doing an Attack Full Box. (BTW, Full Boxes are great “filler” for pacing a fight in between more specific moves and sequences).

Parry Upper Box (abbreviated PUB)

A “Parry Upper Box” is simply a sequence of the upper parries. So it would be Parry 1, Parry 3, Parry 5 (P1,P3,P5). Again, the only time you’re doing a Parry Upper Box is when the opponent is doing an Attack Upper Box.

Parry Lower Box (abbreviated PLB)

A “Parry Lower Box” is simply a sequence of the lower parries. So it would be Parry2, Parry 4, Parry 5 (P2,P4,P5).

Parry Example Movie

ATTACKS

Reference Sheet #5
Reference Sheet #6
Reference Sheet #7

Attacks are what make the staged combat exciting. A quick aside here though with emphasis on pulled attacks. If I know that I am going to attack my opponent’s right side, and I know that he is going to parry the attack, and in fact we’ve practiced it that way, why should I still swing the blade hard enough to put it through him? I shouldn’t! I only need to swing the blade with enough force so that it will reach his parry. (Remember your opponent’s parries shouldn’t be real!) So please keep this in mind when executing attack moves.

Attack 1 (A1)

From Ready Position I, swing the blade from left to right, attacking your opponent’s right side. The target of this attack is your opponent’s right arm/right side of the chest. This attack should not be targeted below your opponent’s waist or above your opponent’s shoulder.

Attack 2 (A2)

From Ready Position I, swing the blade in a counterclockwise arc from left to right attacking your opponent’s right leg. The target of this attack is your opponent’s right leg. This attack should not be targeted above the waist.

Attack 3 (A3)

From Ready Position I, swing the blade from right to left, attacking your opponent’s left side.

The target of this attack is your opponent’s left arm/right side of the chest. This attack should not be targeted below your opponent’s waist or above your opponent’s shoulder.

Attack 4 (A4)

From Ready Position I, swing the blade in a counterclockwise arc from left to right attacking your opponent’s right leg. The target of this attack is your opponent’s right leg. This attack should not be targeted above the waist.

Attack 5 (A5)

From Ready Position I, swing the blade down in a wide loop parallel to your body and finish it right above your opponent’s head. The blade should trace a path, that if continued, would bisect your opponent in half. It is extremely important that this attack be pulled, because the target is the opponent’s head. If you hit too hard and your opponent does not parry just right, injury can very easily occur (again…speaking from experience.)

Attack Full Box (AFB)

Just like in the Parries, an Attack Full Box runs through all the attacks systematically. Again, you can change the order of these attacks but make sure that your Parry Full Box matches your Attack Full Box, or mayhem will follow. For the purposes of this tutorial, an Attack Full Box is the sequence Attack 1, Attack 3, Attack 2, Attack 4, Attack 5 (A1, A3, A2, A4, A5).

Attack Upper Box (AUB)

Attack Upper Box runs through the upper attacks. The sequence is Attack 1, Attack 3, Attack 5 (A1,A3,A5).

Attack Lower Box (ALB)

Attack Lower Box runs through the lower attacks. The sequence is Attack 2, Attack 4, Attack 5 (A2,A4,A5)

Example Attack Movie

On Footwork

A very brief word on footwork, footwork in fencing is critical. Just like in boxing or other fighting systems, if you don’t move your feet, you’re dead in the water. Since this is the very basic fight system, I am not going to cover ‘fancy’ footwork moves like crossovers, ballestras, or fleches. We’ll stick to the Advances and Retreats. The general rule is that you Advance when Attacking and Retreat when Parrying (I say general…because this is staged combat we’re talking about here…and you may want to parry while advancing in order to close the distance so you can do some uber-cool rehearsed stunt etc...). Some fight coordinators actually script out the footwork too, but for the purposes of this tutorial, we are just going to assume that you advance with an attack and retreat with a parry.

Advance

From Ready Position, place the front foot forward, heel-first, one step while pushing off the rear foot toe-first. As the front foot lands, the rear foot should come up one step. The feet should just barely clear the ground. This is gliding motion. Maintain the starting distance between your feet. You should never wind up with your feet together.

Retreat

From Ready Position, rear foot glides back toe first propelled by the forward foot heel first. Each foot moves and equal step, thus maintaining distance.

One more thing to add, remember that lightsaber combat isn’t on a fencing strip, you can move sideways too!

On the inevitable double-bladed Lightsaber

Ever since we all saw the first teaser for Episode I, we all thought the double-bladed lightsaber was cool. And many fan films either incorporate them or want to. Can the “Lightsaber 101” system be used with a double-bladed saber? Absolutely! But be warned, the results you’re going to get are more along the lines of European quarter-staff combat rather than the spinning Oriental (Bo) staff moves that we see in Episode I and “Duality”. Quarterstaff fighting is not as dynamic (especially when you can’t slide your hands up and down the length of the staff). So, be warned, you will have to spice up your moves a bit, with modified footwork and some flourishes. Otherwise all the moves stay the same, just pick which blade you’re going to attack or parry with.

Example Double-Bladed Lightsaber Movie.

On Ripostes

If you want the book definition, a riposte is simply an attack made after a successful parry. But for the purposes of this tutorial, we’re going to get more specific. In the “Lightsaber 101” system, a riposte is a quick counter-attack after a parry, and more importantly, a counter-attack made without the normal large swinging movements of our normal attacks. In other words, the riposte is not telegraphed nearly as much as a normal attack, and as such, becomes a much faster maneuver. Because of the speed involved with a riposte, be especially on your guard for safety concerns and adhering to the fight script.

Example Riposte Movie

On the subtleties of “wrist” moves

Although these “wrist” moves are not discussed or depicted in the “Lightsaber 101” attachments, they will cursorily be described below. Many of the movements are identical to the “Lightsaber 101” system except that the origin of the movement comes from the wrist rather than from the shoulder or the elbow. For instance, the sequence “attack 3, attack 1, parry 1” sequence using only the wrist would be as described below:

With the right elbow nearly “pinned” to the right side, swing the blade with only the wrist to attack opponents left side in the “attack 3” movement. Assuming the blade does not meet a parry, block, or target, and completes its full arc, immediately swing the blade from your left to your right in a backhand motion attacking the opponent’s right side and completing the “attack 1” move. The “parry 1” movement is accomplished from this position (once again assuming that the “attack 1” move has not met a parry or target) by rolling the wrist so that the blade pivots around your wrist in a circle covering your entire right side. (Note: watch Obi-wan and Qui-Gon in Ep. I. They are particularly fond of this maneuver when they fight battle droids. Often they use the “circle parry 1” move, not as an actual parry, but simply as a means of returning to the ready (en guarde) position and pressing their attack.)

Example "Wrist-Move" Movie

On Scripted Variations and Flourishes

A flourish is simply a showy display of a weapon. It can mean whipping it around your head, tossing it up and flipping it around and catching it. Basically, any move you do that really adds nothing to the offensive or defensive nature of the fight, but looks cool anyway. Think of it this way. If it is a move you would never do in a real fight, because it doesn’t help you. But it looks pretty cool. Chances are it’s a flourish. Well, without flourishes, this basic system gets very boring, very fast. And that is Bad with a capital “B”, for staged combat. So you need to add flourishes in there, especially with Jedi and Sith. So toss in the occasional flip (if you can do it), or spinning around moves. Just make sure that they fit in with your overall fight. And above all, if you’re going to take the time to do a flourish, make sure it looks cool! I mean, that’s the whole point right?

On Tempo and Pacing

Just a brief word about tempo and pacing. A fight is basically a physical argument. When you argue, you don’t speak in a monotone, you yell and shout, you interrupt one another, there are moments of silence. The same thing goes for staged combat. There are shouts and stop-hits and periods of just circling and feeling each other out. Now a big part of this will be done in the editing phase of the fight, but keep it in mind when scripting and filming and it will make things a lot easier.

On Omissions

Now, in this system, I have left out a lot. I’ve left out stop-hits, binds, disengages, lunges, thrusts, etc…, all a vital part of swordplay. Well, this tutorial is only meant to whet your appetite and to try to give you a safe basis to work from. If you want to get into that stuff, check out the book I mentioned at the beginning, or your local martial artists. Also look for local fencing clubs, believe it or not, many community colleges have them. And they would be more than happy to show you.

One Final Word

I wanted to include just a very brief short to give you an idea of what it looks like when all put together. In this segment, two Jedi are fighting a Sith (who is using a double-bladed light saber). Below, I have scripted out the fight as it appears (post edit process). So that you can understand how the scripting process works. Read the scripting then watch the twenty second clip and see if you can name the moves as they are done. This is a very simple fight segment and yet I think it comes off looking very good. (Keep in mind that the double-bladed saber is using European quarterstaff technique with some flourishes thrown in for spice).

Here’s how it goes:

Jedi 1 P3 PFB P5 P2 P4 P5 A2 A4 P5 A1 A3 FALLS
Sith A3 AFB A5 A2 A4 A5 P2 P4 A5 P1 P3 PUSH

Then there’s a slight pause for pacing as Jedi 2 appears and enters the fight,

Jedi 2 P1 P3 A2 A4 P3 P1
Sith Flourish A1 A3 P2 P4 Scripted Pushoff A3 A1 Flourish

View the Example Fight Movie

Conclusion

I certainly hoped this helped. At the very least this should give folks a very basic starting point for some organized staged combat. Remember, Safety First! You can’t make your film if your melon is cracked open or you’ve got broken bones. Be safe, have fun, and good luck on your film. I look forward to seeing it.

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