Friday, October 31, 2008

Movement and Song

These guys have had enough crazy YouTube exposure they really don't need me. However, I am always ready to celebrate the extraordinary as far as movement, and these guys actually sing really well! Look up "a capella" anything and you'd be amazed how much mediocrity you'll find. And highschool choirs, bless their developing hearts.

What I like about this group is the combination of an excellent (and hilarious!) musical arrangement along with a well-performed physical interpretation. Good work, Choir Redefined!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Almost Halloween!

Today was the MSCD Stage Combat Class' Sword Fight Performance, their last technique test before they begin the long process of scene-integration with three weapons for their final. Overall, they had some great costumes, some very sticky fake blood and a few groups stood out with well-created, well-put-together choreography. Erin Ramsey was a guest viewer for today--she's a MSCD student and a longtime student of Geoffe Kent, the SAFD guy in our neck of the woods. I was musing about how old my RenFaire outfit actually is. It's ten years old. Yes. ten. Hear that, Mom? (she made it)

Pictured are some of the highlights of today: the Rock Star vs. the Sith; Drama vs. Comedy (comedy is dead--get it?) and Jordan's so great costume. Another fight that was a standout was Nate and Mandy's Mexican Wrestler vs. Spanish Lady fight. There was a lovely head slam and the way the fake blood squirted down the wall...priceless.
Good job, everyone! ~Jenn

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


VoWoD -
Vocal Warmup of the Day


"That guy's eyes looked like two peach pies drying in the sky."


Special thanks to TERI! Teri is a regular blog reader here and practitioner of the VoWoD. She is a lovely lady and quite keen in the kitchen. Colorado has definitely improved since she and her esteemed mate, TROY, recently slid into town. Welcome, and best wishes in your recent endeavors! We support you. ~J

Monday, October 27, 2008

Week 5

Hey everybody, it's Week 5 again at the Boulder Quest Center. Though I won't be there the rest of the week (Jas' b-day) it's still a great week to go and play those free class cards I passed out (if you didn't get one, get one from me whenever you like). Week 5 means that not only is it non-gi-week, but it's open-forum training (training by request) and bring-a-friend week for students.

My Stage Combat students get extra credit for going there, and have till the last day of class to use their cards, but again it's a good week to go play.

Also, this Friday is Halloween. It's also testing day at the BQC. It'll certainly be the place to be this Friday night, as there will be decorations, a sweet To Shin Do test to watch, and a potluck and party afterwards. If you want to go, let me know via email by Thursday class or evening, so I make sure and make it there. It should be a pretty fun display and excuse to dress up in costume (besides the MSCD class performance).

Speaking of that, the MSCD students will have a Halloween performance on Oct. 30th. They will be ready to show off their swordfighting skills in costume, and will be using their first fake blood packs. This should be a lot of fun as well.

So hey, come check out the MSCD sword class on Thursday and the BQC test on Friday for some costumed combative fun!

MSCD stage combat class: 10am-11:15am, Auraria campus, King Center 140. Map here.
BQC October belt test and Halloween party: at the BQC. Youth/Adult test 6pm, party after. Map here.
Images: Jenn and Hannah at the MSCD Halloween performance, 2007; Jenn and Thomas on Halloween at the BQC, 2007.

Friday, October 24, 2008

MSCD stage combat 2008

Halloween is around the corner, and with it the third skills test in the MSCD Stage Combat class. In this class, we learn the basics of three weapons: unarmed, quarterstaff, and single sword (rapier). They have already performed skills tests (very well, I might add) in unarmed and staff. On October 30th, they'll combine their Halloween costumes, fake blood packs, and rapier skills test for a no-doubt colorful exhibition. It's a tradition begun in 2006--there's usually a day during the week that either is or is very close to the 31st, and I figured what better day to learn how to make blood packs?

Posted here (with permission of the models within--thanks fellas!) are two pictures from previous skills tests in class: Andreas and Noah's unarmed highlight and Brady and Jordan's staff fight highlight. You can see here the excellent isolation and acting (Brady and Jordan's very funny janitor fight scene), and one way you can combine freerunning and stage combat to good effect (Noah rarely has his feet on the ground).

Enjoy these pics, and I hope to post some Halloween fight selections next week. ~Jenn

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

More about Falling

It seems like we talk a lot about falling on this blog; but now that I've seen a short news bit on Noises Off at the DCPA, and am also typing on a big wrist bruise, I realize that what Jas always said in martial arts and stage combat classes is true--learning to fall and/or roll properly is the most important aspect of the movement arts you can learn. I believe Tanemura sensei (of the Genbukan) said something similar--I'll research the actual quote and get back to you.

Noises Off has many many pratfalls, and those of you who've had me for class will know and love these well. But one of the pivotal falls in the play is a fall down a flight of stairs. Now this is getting into the fence between stunt and stage combat, in that there's really no way you can do this without getting hurt a little. I was discussing this with the MSCD Club yesterday: the difference between stage combat and a stunt is: usually in stage combat you can do techniques and be relatively safe; at least, you can do things and not get hurt. When doing a stunt, you will get hurt. If you do it well, you won't be crippled or dead afterwards. Falling down a flight of stairs is just going to hurt you, no way around it. Actually, Jas and I were discussing how one could do a fall down the stairs every night for a long theatrical run, and we had some ways to make it safe-er, but not completely safe.

Very recently before this conversation, I actually fell down the Bonzuko home stairs. Yes, the club members did ask me how a ninja could possibly fall down the stairs by accident, ha ha thank you very much. The point is, I fell down a flight of stairs, actually very well--I'm a good faller and roller, so I didn't break or even bash any bones (remember I always say "put your meat down, not your bones" when falling). However, I have a big scrape and bruise on my forearm and a bruised behind. This is from doing it well. How would I do it on wooden stage stairs (mine are carpeted) more than once, say, once every night but Mondays for a couple months? Well...I'd have a lot of bruises, no matter how well I'd do it.

Another post about falling--learn how to do it, learn how to do it well. It's everywhere in theatre, martial arts practice, even in life.
Picture is of Kim practicing a throw, and me falling blurrily. BQC 2008.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Movie Review

I thought, since we're always looking for good films, especially films with good fight scenes, I'd begin a movie review thing here, just mentioning movies we've seen recently, etc. especially if they have many stunts involved. I'll also most likely include select TV shows.
Today's film: 18 Fingers of Death. The premise here is actually hilarious--written and directed by a martial arts actor, it's a mockumentary about a martial arts/action star that makes his next movie with the help of a sassy African-American highschool kid. Several cameos in here, from Lorenzo Lamas to Pat Morita. The reason we even put this one on our Netflix is: the many parodies--this film pays mocking homage to any martial arts actor/action star you can think of, and has really solid martial art-y fight choreography. However,

...the bad acting and awful script just doesn't hold it together as I'd hoped. There's too much badly-written story, stereotype jokes that jump back and forth between racism and just eye-rolling lameness, and there's not enough of the parody stuff that makes it interesting to begin with.

Highlights: Lorenzo Lamas as an Antonio Banderas spoof; filming a martial arts scene in a park, with obviously homemade costumes; the "martial arts acting" class where students learn to move their lips off from their speech; the ditzy female lead obviously is a stuntwoman or at least trained; and finally, the stuntpeople's rehearsal, wherein they learn how to circle the hero and snake their heads at him.
Bottom Line: ** out of *****. Image from

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Since our inception of the Genki Kai back in '97 I've been pondering the issue of credentials. Who gives 'em, who should give 'em, why they're given, etc. Before studying in the Genki Kai's club-like atmostphere, I studied with Stage Combat teachers that were campus space-scavengers just like I am now. Before that, there was a children's theatre troupe that practiced outside, and of course, my mom's creative movement classes in various studios in Boulder. All of these people were legitimate, talented experts that I was happy to take direction from, and the lessons from whom I still use in my current movement classes.

Now, when you take dance classes, you don't get credentials unless you later get your degree in dance. Being a member of a theatre company, even one that practices in parks, is its own credential, resume-worthy. At a school or college, you end up with a diploma or a degree, also a credential in itself.

I've noticed the combat arts are different. For some reason, a martial arts practice just doesn't seem as publicly "legit" without some kind of belt system. And I've been getting more and more questions lately from Stage Combat enthusiasts about certification, where they can get it and how. My telling them that they can put this college course on their resume just doesn't seem to have the same impact in their minds as a certificate. Why?

At the Genki Kai, we had our own belt system which Jason developed based on an old Japanese model of the 36 Ninpo essentials. As of now, our Bonzuko Movement Arts certificates in Stage Combat are in their infancy--those who took the summer Advanced class got one commemorating their successful completion of Advanced Unarmed and Taihenjutsu. I don't give a certificate out for the college course. I'm not sure why I don't, nor if there is any conflict between earning college credit and getting a Bonzuko certificate.

Having been a part of the formation of the Genki Kai's belt rank system, I realize that any belt system or certification is made up by someone. It's just whether that someone is known publicly as an expert or as a bozo. Really, that's it. Anyone can go buy a black belt online. But it comes down to this: my Oreo belt from the Genki Kai is just as legitimate a martial arts credential as my To Shin Do black belt will be. Why? Because in each case, I received the belt from an expert in the arts, one that has done his homework, has many years of experience, and himself puts his art into practice every day. Sure, Stephen Hayes is just a bit more famous and experienced than Jason Boughn, but both organizations are high quality, the men in charge of them good martial artists, and I'm proud to have a belt from both. Would anyone say the Genki Kai doesn't give out a "legit" black belt? I don't think so.

So why then is the SAFD the only organization to be considered "legit" to give out records of education for the arts of Stage Combat? Why would students of mine want to go pay lots of cash to get SAFD certified if I can give them the same education and resume-worthy experience (and even a certificate), just not with an SAFD stamp? I was this close to contacting Geoffe K. and asking what it would take to get me on the SAFD teacher-certification track, and then I had to stop myself. Why did I decide to step off that track in the first place, ten years ago, when I was being groomed for being Geoffe's wing-man and more? Why did SAFD reps act funny when approached about submitting back-cover quotes for my book? Am I really less an expert than the SAFD higher-ups? (the answer: no!) :)

It seems that what we have here is a monopoly. This is something you don't get in the martial arts because there are so many schools around, so many different martial arts to choose from. The SAFD was the first organization to, well, organize in the U.S. and actually formulate a curriculum that could be consistent. So there aren't many different schools for stage combat--they're all SAFD centered. Bonzuko Movement Arts even uses some SAFD techniques and drills (I was first trained by them, after all), but we also use our martial arts expertise to formulate our curriculum. We should be able to function just great in the same world together, and any student should be just as happy to get a Bonzuko certificate as a SAFD one. Likewise, any director should be just as impressed to see a Bonzuko certificate on an actor's resume as a SAFD one. Right now, there's only one difference between the two.

The one difference is: the public eye. That's the kicker, isn't it. That's why more people might recognize my TSD black belt over my Genki Kai one. That's why my students are asking me about SAFD certifications. So I guess the answer really is: publicity. All we need to do is sell more of my books, do more Bonuko Movement Arts classes all the time, and get this blog viral! :)

I'd like to hear what you all think of this--take a second and post responses, as this is on my mind a lot lately and I think lots of cool stuff can be done once we figure out how to continue.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Question Answered

Hi, club members! Inquiring minds wanted to know about that J!nx website photo that got put up of me & Nick. The direct link to the picture is on August 5th's blog entry. So check that out-- the forum thread discussion below it is pretty amusing as well. :)


Sunday, October 12, 2008


Vocal Warmup of the Day

Approved by Monaco J. Snackcracker
"Note the rhythm of the mind with changing forms."

Saturday, October 11, 2008


What are you going to be for Halloween?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Answer is: Lightsabers!

Since many of you have already guessed what this product is, we'll supply the answer.

Master Replicas makes the sweetest line of lightsabers you will ever wield. No, they don't telescope, but the light effect does. So that's pretty close. Though the instructions say not to fight with them, they actually make that clashing sound when they make contact with each other, so...hey, if you use good stage combat technique they are quite sturdy. The Unbeatable Bonzuko Team has fought stage-combat-wise with them in the vasty hombu living room and they are good as new.

On the Bonzuko Hombu wall hang four of these beauties: the lightsabers belonging to Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker (ep. IV), and two Yoda ones. The Yoda ones are arguably even cooler, as they are short. Jenn has even used the Luke one in her right hand and a Yoda one in her left, a-la Rapier & Dagger.

Which ones are next on our list? Mace Windu of course (hello, purple), the two-sided Darth Maul, and Obi-Wan's from ep. III. They also make Han Solo's blaster.

These coolest swords you'll ever own run around $100 each, sometimes more, sometimes on sale for less. We suggest going to and scoping out deals. Those available this summer should start saving pennies in the jar now, as this summer's Advanced Stage Combat class will be all about lightsaber technique. Yes, geeks, they make that noise when you whoosh them around, too. And the turn-on, turn-off noises, too. ~Unbeatable Bonzuko Team
Pictured above: Jenn, Jas, and John as Jedi.

Monday, October 6, 2008

More About the MSCD Stage Combat Club

I have decided I will be doing a monthly post here about the MSCD Stage Combat Club. If I did one every single week for a semester, it might get to be a bit much. :) So look here around the end of each month for a rundown, summary, and updated news re: our soon-to-be-illustrious little group. See you around Halloween. ~Jenn
The above picture is from Halloween 2006. Tom G. here was left without a partner, so his hand turned evil and he had to fight his own hand for his Sword performance. MSCD Stage Combat 2006.

Scieszka in the House

...the Boulder Bookstore, actually.

Saw Jon Scieszka yesterday read from his new autobiography at the Boulder Bookstore. He's the sublimely sarcastic writer behind such children's snark-classics as: The Stinky Cheese Man, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, Math Curse, Squids Will be Squids, and many more.

He's also the first ever Ambassador for Children's Literature, which means he's big on promoting literacy, and those of you who know me will know I'm all about laughing while learning. :) His two newest projects, Guys Read and his autobiography Knucklehead look really interesting. The former is an anthology of writing by male writers about what it's like to be a guy. This book is meant to encourage boys to read more. The latter is a combination scrap book, memoir, comic book...and I'm really interested in an autobiography written this way; I'd like to try it myself.

At the event, he read a story from Knucklehead called "Crossing Swords." Hilarious. Not about weaponry, but about urination and having six brothers. :)
Here's an NPR story about Guys Read: check it out, guys and girls:

Friday, October 3, 2008


Wow, has it been a long time since I've been within the hallways of Boulder High. I mean, a LONG time [insert Obi-Wan quote here]...

Today the Boulder Quest Center did a demo at Boulder High School, in the middle of the very loud and cement-floored cafeteria. It was a blast! We scared and excited those who watched, and did a lot of sweating and free-response stuff, with weapons and without. We did one half-hour presentation and then another a half hour after that.

I was pretty pleased with my own level of falling and rolling--I mean, I always call myself good at taihenjutsu, but it's rare I ever do said taihenjutsu on anything but mats. The floor in the cafeteria was slippery, smooth concrete. Not dojo mats, not gym mats, not even a wooden stage or gymnasium floor. Not only was it predictably hard to fall on (literally hard!) but we had to watch our footwork as well. As Kevin said, "It's a place to use good taijutsu."
I had a heckuva lot of fun.

BQC @ BHS event: performers: Jenn, Justin, Keegan, Kevin, and Simon for the second one. Kudos using your lunch period for this, Simon! I brought my camera, but didn't have a chance to snap any pictures, unfortunately.

Safety Tip of the Week: tater tots are slippery. ;)