Friday, June 27, 2008


~Vocal Warmup of the Day~

All vocal warmups found on the Daily Cross-Swords have been officially approved by Monaco J. Snackcracker (seen at left) prior to posting.

Enjoy and use these freely in your own classes and venues!


“Six shellfish were diagnosed with psoriasis.”


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Class 6/26

Hi all, what a great time we had today! Here's the rundown:
  • warmup: freeform stretches, emphasizing wrists and spine

  • review: stage safe falls, on hard floor

  • review: rolls and rolling break falls on big squishy mat

  • "bullet time" evasions with partners

  • fake arm bars and rolling out of them: fake ura and omote kote gyaku, and arm flick into fwd air break fall

  • hook punch evasion into swing (into roll or wall)

  • same as above, but knife slash or sword cut instead of hook punch

  • ground choke and partner roll (also on wall)

  • knife disarms: from slash and stab (catch and smack hand)

Next week, we start choreographing fights from all this stuff!

Here's a picture for Nick in his signage artistic endeavors. Hopefully you've got a good view of these swept hilts, Nick!


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Every Day is Bike-to-Work Day

Bike to Work Day is today here in the Boulder-Denver area. Folks get free breakfast and swag for taking anything but a car to do their jobs and other tasks today. One day out of the year. Could you do it?

Bike-to-Work-Day is a kind of joke around the Bonzuko household. We live in Boulder, work and school in Denver, and do not even own a car. Jenn doesn't even have a license. People think we're insane every other day of the year, except today. We are green commuters, though--maybe it's our way of making up for our computers being on all day...

It's a big lifestyle change to not drive ever. All your travel takes more time. Way more time. You have to make sure you carry everything on you for your entire day. You have to be ready for anything the elements give you. And if you're Stage Combat and/or Martial Arts teachers like we are, you have big cumbersome burdens to carry. And you do end up walking every day.

That's why we're so fit, actually. Let's tally the health benefits, shall we? A walk of approximately 10-20 minutes a day. Fresh air and moving blood. Two fewer people in cars eevryday helps the planet. Cheaper health insurance for living in a healthy city. Calm serenity in letting the bus driver do the traffic negotiation. Meditation every day. Have I forgotten any?

Anyway, happy Bike-to-Work-Day.

Monday, June 23, 2008


~Vocal Warmup of the Day~

All vocal warmups found on the Daily Cross-Swords have been officially approved by Monaco J. Snackcracker (seen at left) prior to posting.

Enjoy and use these freely in your own classes and venues!


“Sit in the back of the raven-black convertible Cadillac.”


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Lightsaber Duo

Now, I consider myself to be a pretty gosh-darn good theatrical swordsperson. Rapier was my specialty back in my SAFD days, and I'm an okay hand at the stage katana. I am also a Star Wars Geek of the first water.

However, Ryan and Dorkman make me look like a kid playing by Boulder Creek with a stick. And I'm not ashamed to admit that. Attack of the Show (on G4) mentioned them in passing once, I went and found them on YouTube--there are two epic lightsaber fights, and mean teasing whispers of a third.

If you haven't seen these guys yet, check 'em out:


Friday, June 20, 2008


~Vocal Warmup of the Day~

All vocal warmups found on the Daily Cross-Swords have been officially approved by Monaco J. Snackcracker (seen at left) prior to posting.

Enjoy and use these freely in your own classes and venues!


“The theramin is known as a quintephone.”


Plus 10 to Paper Folding Skills

RPG mania is in the air! Check the following link for a shweat gallery of Dungeons & Dragons miniature figures ... constructed Origami style! Joseph Wu is the artist. Nice work, Sir. Thanks, BoingBoing~
D&D Origami

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Class 6/19

What fun we had today, eh? We didn't have the big Roll o' Mats, but we went and got a big squishy crash pad and a punching bag obstacle which worked even better for our needs today. Here's what we did:

Warmup: Headstands and Handstands and Yoga balancing

On Squishy Mat:
  • Roll Review

  • Rolling breakfalls

  • Air break falls!! (yes, you really did these!)

On Floor:

  • Unarmed blocking (hook punch, ducking)

  • Isolation Unarmed and with knife

  • "Sword Evasions" with knife

"Throws" on Squishy Mat (note the quotation marks):

  • Choke Throw (from behind)

  • Choke Throw (from front)

  • Arm fling to front rolling breakfall

There are more of these "throws"--we'll begin with them next week and go from there. And Hannah will do the Side Roll Variations! :) :D See you then!


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Other things to Look At

In case you wanted more on Bonzuko Movement Arts, check out the following links:
The Bonzuko website is way fledgling--just started it recently. It'll soon be more in sync with this blog. For now, the blog is the place to go for current Bonzuko events.
The portfolio is pretty ancient--I set it up way back in 2001 or 2 when I first got hired by DU as an instructor, and I've been using it mostly as a website for myself and my work.

So pretty soon, the Stage Combat and Movement tabs on the Portfolio will be morphed into, and the site and the blog will be more in sync.

But there are pretty fun pictures to look at, especially on the portfolio, so have fun!


Tuesday, June 17, 2008


~Vocal Warmup of the Day~

All vocal warmups found on the Daily Cross-Swords have been officially approved by Monaco J. Snackcracker (seen at left) prior to posting.

Enjoy and use these freely in your own classes and venues!


"Ripped denim remnants."


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Ancient Geeks, er, Greeks

Jason found this image online yesterday: it's a 20-sided die from Ancient Rome.

That and catching a glimpse of Code Monkeys on G4 the other day reminded me of an idea for a series of stage combat fights I had way back in my Ren Faire days: I thought it would be hilarious to do fights and use D&D dice. For example, a fight ensues, and some kind of impasse happens, or one character is disarmed. Then both characters, instead of dispatching each other with their weapons, whip out the dice. Whatever the dice say, the characters have to do.

Sort of like D&D Commedia: the actor-combatants would have a bunch of beginnings, middles, and ends that they'd know very well, so they could go with the dice flow no matter what.

In addition, I was also thinking of more of a video-game slant: like, the actor-combatants have belts with red and blue bottles of liquid that they can drink when they're hurt/tired....

Or is this more of a niche-audience thing? Am I the only one geeky enough to find this an amusing idea? The fact that G4 exists at all tells me maybe not, but...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Lucky Day?

Hey, isn't that a character from Three Amigos?

So I was thinking about it being Friday the 13th, and wondering if there was any tradition in the stunt or stage combat world re: this auspicious day and working in high levels of danger. Like, do stuntpeople not work on Fridays 13th? Or is it just a wimpy superstition that any self-respecting stuntperson would sneer at as they dangle from a moving car window?

Like any person in the year 2008 who wants an answer to a question, I went on Google.

I did learn something, though not the answer to my specific question. I didn't know that the stuntman for John Wayne was also the Jason Voorhees stuntman in Friday the 13th. Cool.

I also found this opinion article from the San Francisco Chronicle, about why we need stuntpeople more than CGI effects. Also cool. Here:

Finally, I found a Dutch study that asserts that Friday the 13th is actually not more dangerous and unlucky but in fact slightly safer, at least in traffic. Though there are more robberies. Go figure.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Class 6/12

Hey, stunt-people! Here's what we did 6/12 in Advanced Stage Combat:

  • Ninja Dodging (using our falls and rolls)
  • Core Conditioning (including crucifix rolls)
  • Rolling practice
  • Rolls and Falls over and off of things
  • Tobi Ori (jump from a height to instant roll)
  • Sword Evasions: These come from my ninjutsu experience, and I have adapted them for use onstage. The complete series of sword evasions goes like so: 1. Overhead Cut -- Open like a door 2. Belly Darth Maul cut -- Either "Fosse" belly away, or collapse very low 3. Diagonal low-to-high cut -- lunge (and cartwheeel) 4. Decapitation -- duck and collapse 5. Cut to knees -- three-step knee evade 6. Cut to ankles -- ninja or tuck jump 7. Thrust to chest -- magic pivot: feet planted, open window

We'll do more with these, as well as do some blocking and Unarmed evasions next week!


We were vaguely considering a performance in Boulder on 8/14. It would be brief and in the evening, at the Laughing Goat coffee shop. Think about it, and I'll email those in charge sometime next week or the week after.


P.S. Um, what picture was I supposed to post up here? I forgot....

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Search For Staffs

Okay folks, you have to help me:

I'm asking for help on the ongoing search for the best 6-ft-staff fights in film. I don't mean 9-foot bendy staffs from China, and I don't mean 3-foot canes. I mean rokushaku-bo fights. They're hard to find on film. Here are a few (a very few) that I use in a pinch:
  • Robin Hood: Robin vs. Little John. I use the Errol Flynn and (cough) Kevin Costner versions.

  • Robin Hood, Men in Tights: same. Especially after seeing a "classic" Robin-Little John staff fight, this one is hilarious, especially when their staffs break so small they have to thwack each other on their knuckles with them.

  • Swords of Lankhmar: Fafhrd vs. Lukeen. Awesome on-ship action, and great trash-talk: "Art ready to double-kiss the oak? First my staff, then the deck?" ... Except this is from a work of fiction, not film. :sigh:

Okay, all you Stage Combatants and martial artists and both: I beseech you: help me find good, professional, 6-foot-staff fights. I do love my students' finals, but they're not (unfortunately) professional. So help!


This is Hannah and Roberto. Don't they rock? From MSCD Stage Combat, 2007.

Friday, June 6, 2008

We do indeed have Class!

Day One of the Summer '08 Advanced Stage Combat Class was so fun! Here's the rundown:
  1. Killer Yoga Warmup
  2. Review of all beginner Taihenjutsu (Stage Combat book Chapter 3)
  3. Review of all beginner Unarmed techniques (Stage Combat book Chapter 4)
  4. We added a couple variations on these that we already knew, like: elbows, beginning breakfalls, and a super-cool choke throw that we should practice more.

See you on the 12th for weapon evasions and basic acrobatics!


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Level Up!

So today I leveled up my ninja guy.

You know, how in RPGs you gain experience points and gold pieces, and you kill monsters and loot their awesome equipment and then your character levels up, thereby adding points to their attributes? Just did that tonight.
To Shin Do Green Belt Test: The Highlights:

  • Black Belt Demo: used a sword against Mary Casey, got disarmed and died.

  • Watched some beginner and intermediate folks do some stuff.

  • Heard Cherri's fist go "thwack" into Ben's abdomen.

  • Did some mediocre oni kudaki and quite good defenses against hook punches. Jeff B. went sprawling across the room, impressing family members of others observing.

  • Attacked Thomas twice with various things. Got kneeled on in the face. Safely. I know!

  • Oh yeah, did my ukemi from standing, which makes me excited for Stage Combat class tomorrow!

  • Black-and-tans at Murphy's and a late-night bus ride. Much Nano tuneage. Was chatting about how I'm so glad blogs (and YouTube) wasn't around when I was a young geek. It would have been bad. Can you say radio shows on cassette? Yipes!

All in all, very ready and happy about advanced taihenjutsu tomorrow. I hope lots of people come! Stay tuned here for notes on that as well!



Sunday, June 1, 2008

A brief rant

On the topic of Stage Combat again:

This is Jenn's rant re: slow motion fight scenes on stage. What does a slow-motion staged fight say to me? It says cop out.

Actors trying to move slowly on stage is just painful to watch, first of all. You might as well have one of them spit water as they're punched, a-la the Dodgeball-Raging Bull parody--it's that silly. Sorry to break it to you, but it's not cool-and-artsy-looking; it's sloppy and/or comical.

Slow-motion action done on film is actually real-time speed with the film slowed down. That's different. Onstage, it's actors moving slowly, which just ruins the suspension of disbelief.

The reason I say "cop out": a slow-motion fight onstage gives me, the viewer, a clear message. It says: "We don't have anyone here who is a professional fight director, nor do we feel it's important enough to get the money together to hire one." Or, "we did get some choreography done, but we didn't schedule enough rehearsal time to get it up to speed." Or, "we think this is really cool-looking, but then we don't know any better."

But Jenn, you may be asking, are you going to just rant and complain about this for another paragraph, or is there a solution to this problem, Miss High-and-Mighty-Author-Chick? Sure there's a solution. It's two-fold. Either do it right, or don't do it at all. You choose.

The first thing I'd ask of a director who allows a slow-motion fight in her show is: Do you need the fight at all? Does this scene necessitate an illusion of violence to be shown onstage? Jenn's Jaws rule is this: the less you see, the more gripping it'll be. Honestly, 95-99% of the time, I'd assert you really don't need fight choreography at all. In the other 4-1% of the time, you'd better have enough rehearsal time set aside to make the scene part of the play.