Thursday, July 31, 2008

Oh Advanced Class, We Hardly Knew Ye...

We had our last meeting of Advanced Unarmed and Taihenjutsu today--what a long strange trip it's been. Highlights of our last day:
  • Stretching
  • Acrobatic Showing Off
  • Rehearsal
  • Performing Fights For Film

What do I mean? Well,

There's some fake throws:

And a nasty fake punch-out:

And a side roll variation:

And here's a preview of the choreography they made the past few classes:

You guys rocked! Thanks so much for a great class. You are SO GOOD! :D ~Jenn

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

~Vocal Warmup of the Day~

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

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

Today: Special thanks to our cat, the inspiration for this VoWoD -

“She is a sleek and tubular culinary sleuth.”


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Week 5

This is me and BQC owner Mary, playing around with "Combat Yoga." No, we're not serious; it's just for fun.

There's a thing that happens when a long month comes around at the Boulder Quest Center (one of the places where I get paid to beat up young people): it's called "Week 5."
Everyone who habitually takes classes is allowed to bring a friend to any level class, wear "civilian" clothing, and do off-topic stuff besides the normal To-Shin Do curriculum.
If any of my Stage Combat buddies would like to trek up to Boulder and join me in some ninja shenanigans this coming week (July 28 - Aug.2), let me know.

Boulder Quest Center:

Friday, July 25, 2008

Class 7/24

Here's the scoop on class 7/24 (most of it observed by lunching kids--BTW, they really loved it. One boy in particular turns tome with shining eyes and says. "I love this!" Future actor-combatant!)
  • Roll, fall review: on squishy and rollout mats. Partnered and solo.
  • Sword evasions and decision-making
  • Roll to arm yourself (padded sword grabbing)
  • Fight rehearsal
  • added 3-person to 4-person fight and showed it off to the observers
  • showed other secrets by request: kneeling face kick, head slam, choke, etc.

We'll be filming our advanced fights next week, and it's our last meeting :(. Save a couple bucks so we can go out and celebrate afterwards.

See you then! ~Jenn

Twelfth Night Kids Part Deux

Think I'm crazy for putting swords into those kids' hands? Oh ye of little faith...

How awesome were they at learning the first half of the rapier drill?? I'm still in awe. Here's how class went went for these guys on 7/24:

  • Warmup: Jenn's Killer Warrior Sequence + Lunges
  • PVC Sword-making party (some of them really looked cool!)
  • Footwork: advance, retreat, pass fwd, pass back, lunge
  • SAFD Rapier Drill Part One: moves 1-5 (see Chapter 6 of the book)
  • Footwork + Drill + Overhead corps-a-corps
  • Show-and-tell with the real steel rapiers, and drill demo
  • Showing off our drills in partners. We can see how this will fit in Twelfth Night quite well!

Then, a bunch of them stayed to watch the Advanced Class do their thing. Very fun stuff! Overall, I'm sure you'll agree that this experience was a complete and total blast. Thanks to Chris, Ken, and Nick for helping with this phase of the workshop--I know the kids had a great time, and your help was invaluable.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Twelfth Night kids Part One

OMG. How. Much. Fun. Was. That??

What a blast we had with Natalie's Twelfth Night cast of pre-teens on 7/22! Here's what we did:

  • Warmup: Crazy Insane Burpee Sequence (one girl remarks: "This is kind of like yoga." Yes. Yes it is.)
  • Falls: Forward, Backward, Captain Kirk. Lots of practice getting the falls quiet.
  • Pushes, Grapples, and isolation
  • Hair/Ear Pull
  • Basic choke (from face-to-face)
  • Straight Punch
  • Straight Slap
  • Cool-Down: Ninja Dodge-Disk! This was the funnest thing in the universe, and the kids got to practice isolation to boot!

Reminder: Chapter 3 is taihenjutsu, Chapter 4 is unarmed techniques in the book. :) Thanks so very much to Ken and Nick for stopping by and being awesome demonstrators and kid-wranglers. There was a very small blond child that was wandering around taking pictures as well--I have a feeling he'll be a photojournalist when he grows up. Anyway, I bet he took some seriously cool shots. I'll check Natalie's website and see if any go up there.

Thanks again, and I'll see y'all ARMED on Thursday! ~Jenn

Sunday, July 20, 2008


I thought I'd put in my two cents' worth on Advanced Taihenjutsu, theatrical combat, and martial arts.

I hope everyone in the Advanced Summer Class noticed the different language I used when we went through the Stage Combat basic skills (falling, rolling, unarmed basics) and the Stunt Work skills (break falls, fake throws, air break falls). I used this specific different language for a good reason--and also brought out the squishy mat, I'm sure you noticed, for reasons as well.

I had this conversation with one of the head instructors at the Boulder Quest Center yesterday, and I thought it needed reinforcing: when you fall for reals, even if you fall correctly, you will feel it.

There are countless anecdotes, from Jason's dislocated shoulder about five years ago to my bruised heel from Monday. The fact is: if you know how to do good taihenjutsu, you can save yourself from paralysis or death. BUT! If you find yourself falling and you actually fall, you will get hurt. That's what falling down does--it hurts. If you're good at it, the hurt won't be mortal. If you hear of anyone ever telling you they fell off their motorcycle at 60 mph and they were totally fine because they know "ninjitsu," be oh so very skeptical. At the same time, think about those folks like me and Jason that can actually fall very well, and hear about the pain it still causes.

The Advanced Class learned some really fun stuff this summer. Most of it they will never ever do on a stage. If they ever have an opportunity to do these elaborate moves, it will NOT be on a regular stage, but on a crash pad off-camera. Or a stunt-stage, that has springs or pads or built-in squishy mats. Remember I have 11 years martial arts experience and I am still limping from Monday, and that was on dojo mats. And it was a good fall!

I guess I felt the need for a Safety Note, like the ones in my book. I know a lot of those in the Advanced Class liked to take the basics they learned from the MSCD course and throw them around in the school hallways, quads, and (sigh) other classes. Those skills they're learning now are way too dangerous to mess with like this.


P.S. This is a great article re: the dichotomy between theatrical and "real" combat. It's called "Ne'er the Twain," about stage combat and martial arts. Check it out:

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Class 7/17

Hey all, here's what we did in Advanced class 7/17:

We warmed up by stretching and taking a walk on the high balance beam.

We reviewed the first 5 moves of the SAFD Rapier Drill that we know and love. If you forget this, look at Chapter 6 of the book. So now you're all ready to help with the kids next week if you so desire.

Then I got cornered by the very nice yet talkative Self-Defense guy from down the hall. You know, the one we steal the squishy mat from every week? He, by the way, welcomes any of you to come check out what they do, and vice-versa. My impression from our conversation is that it's a basic Self-Defense program that he has devised based on many different forms of martial arts. As always with beginning any martial art practice, my advice is to a) try stuff out and see what you like, and b) look into the legitimacy (lineage) of the teacher. So there you go.

While I was waylaid, the three guys composed a three-person fight added onto Ken and Chris' fight. I have called it "Art Appreciation." :)

We missed you, Hannah.

Next week is the Twelfth Night kids' class. Look in previous posts for dates/times, and have your PVC sword fixin's ready.

Also, save your money--I think it'd be fun to go have some snacks after our last class (7/31). But we'll talk about that.

And to conclude, I don't have capacity to access the pictures and videos I took on my cell phone for some reason--I need to call them. When I get them here on my computer, I'll post em. For now, practice your choreography. Remember, you're the Advanced students, and I expect you all to be good models for those who watch you next week. No pressure. :)


Monday, July 14, 2008

Mrs. Peel, we are needed.

The above quote is from The Avengers--the old super-spy TV series about Emma Peel of the sexy catsuits and karate-chops, and John Steed, of the derby hat, exquisite taste, and talents at umbrella-fencing.

Well Jason mentioned this morning that the fighting umbrella does exist. Fascinated, I looked it up. Check out this link, then look me in the eye and tell me that doesn't rock!



~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!


“Keren Woodward of Bananarama married Andrew Ridgley of Wham.”


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Class 7/10

Hey all, here's what we did on 7/10:

We had a circuit warmup: 1.) Stage Combat falls on hard floors 2.) break, rolling break, and air break falls on the squishy mat 3.) Jenn's Imfamous Yoga Warrior Sequence* 4.) pushups and dips on the low parallel bars (plank and pointer dog if you get tired)

Then we reviewed basic Unarmed Stage Combat in case you're there to help with the kids on 7/22.

Then we reviewed the 4-person fight, amd choreographed the 2 1-on-1 fights. I'll make them into a document and have it handy in class for you, but be sure you at the very least visualize the choreography in your minds so you can rehearse smoothly next week.


Next week please bring your PVC arsenal. Thanks and goodnight.


*Warrior Sequence:
R tri

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Another clip

Trying to make up for the fact that we didn't post at all from July 3rd (happy birthday, Mom!) till the 9th. And cuz video clips are cool.

Here's a clip from our jumping and rolling practice from Advanced Stage Combat class last week: we were reviewing all our rolls as well as our jumps and spatial awareness, so we started jumping over each others' log rolls:

...then Chris tried this before instruction, and we practiced actually rolling over our log rolls. Just so you know, this is on the "Advanced" tape of ninjutsu techniques I used in my earlier education. Just so you know. I like to tell my movement students when they do something really difficult, but only after they've done so. :)

See you tomorrow!



~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!


“Aw, your bruddah blows bubblegum.” – Bugs Bunny


Thursday, July 3, 2008

Class 7/3

We began work on our choroegraphed fights today, as well as revisited the fake throws and big stunt-like things on the squishy mat before we gave it to the MMA guys.

I will be posting our choreography here as a link to a document once we get them all squared away. For now, make sure you remember the choreography you created today. Practice it--at least visualize it in your mind, and we'll work on it and the two-person fights next week.

Look again at your schedules and see if you'd like to join us for the Twelfth Night Basic Stage Combat Spectacular. July 22nd will be unarmed, and July 24th will be swords. If you come on the 24th, bring your PVC arsenal. :)

To close, here's Nick's air break fall on the squishy mat.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Twelfth Night!

A group of approximately 20 10-12 year olds will be performing Shakespeare's Twelfth Night in the first couple weeks of August, here in Denver. I will be their fight director.

We will be meeting in PE 111G on Auraria Campus Tuesday and Thursday, July 22nd and 24th. The 22nd we'll be doing basic unarmed techniques from 12:30-2:30. On Thursday we'll make our PVC swords and then learn basic sword techniques from 10am-12:30pm (then the Advanced class will meet). Anyone who has had my Stage Combat class is welcome to assist (make sure you contact me first and let me know).

Here's the website for the project: