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: http://www.thearma.org/essays/twain.htm