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Volume 71, Issue 11, Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Life & Arts

Students fight for experience

Stage combat workshop offers intense lessons in a variety of styles

By Kristen Young
The Daily Cougar

Theater students and teachers from all over the United States took part in the second annual Texas Intensive Stage Combat Workshop this weekend to sharpen their skills in the art of theatrical battle. 

Twenty students attended the two-day workshop hosted by the School of Theatre, Alpha Psi Omega fraternity and the Society of American Fight Directors, doubling the enrollment from last year. 

The School of Theatre hosted the Texas Intensive Stage Combat Workshop this weekend where students of the program like theater alumni Michelle Jordan, left, and Theater junior Kiza Moore got to test their hand-to-hand combat skills.

Alec McClure/
The Daily Cougar

Brian Byrnes, associate professor of theatre and SAFD vice president, helped head the workshop and emphasized the importance of stage combat training. Byrnes holds the title of fight master in the SAFD, the highest level of recognition within the organization.

"There are as many variations to form as there are teachers," Byrnes said. "The great thing about training is that as long as you train and continue to train with different people you will always find a different way to look at (stage combat)."

K. Jenny Jones, a faculty member of the University of Cincinnati, taught the Scrappy Fighting class, her signature form of stage combat. Students practiced punching, slapping and choking each other, all while Jones preached the importance of going for the major muscle groups when attempting to make the appropriate sound for the action. By the end of the class there were red arms and chests, but the students were still smiling.

"One of the elements of Jenny's work is that she works on a physically percussive basis so that the audience is not only seeing the visual effect, but they're hearing it as well," Byrnes said.

Students in Jones' class also learned the importance of partnership in their work.

"Every person you work with is different so you have to find an equilibrium between the two of you and share that" Michelle Jordan, a School of Theatre alumna, said.

Students also studied the art of armed battle in the Kung Fu Single Sword class, taught by Leraldo Anzaldua and Henry Leyton, both certified as teachers by the SAFD.

In these sessions, students learned a combination that resembled a scene from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Style was the emphasis in class with students learning the importance of posture and blade traffic.

"I thought it was a lot of fun. It was more style (than other forms of combat). Instead of being very proper, you can add your own stuff to it by moving in your own way," freshman August Oliver said.

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