Below are the different levels of Certification available with AFDC.
To achieve certification at any Actor-Combatant level, the candidate must display their skill in the weapons systems taught at that level. An understanding of FDC principles with regard to safety techniques and performance are tested, as well as their ability to integrate it into an acted scene. Therefore, every certification test involves not only a choreographed fight, but also a full scene from a published play. Certification testing also includes a written test. All certifications are adjudicated and awarded by a Fight Master.
AFDC training is offered as part of many post-secondary Drama training institutions and a few private schools across the country. Many students prefer to earn their certification at our annual FDC National Intensive Workshop in a 2-week full-time format.
Membership at the Associate level is opening to anyone who is interested in joining FDC. These are non-certified members of FDC. This membership allows you to vote at the Annual General Meeting (AGM), a public profile, submission of articles or other media to fdc.ca and discounts from many FDC events.
BASIC ACTOR COMBATANT
The first level of certification is considered to be essential for all professional actors. The Basic Actor-Combatant is competent in the weapon systems at this level, and above all, safe.
The candidate must complete a course with a certified FDC Instructor (or higher) with a minimum duration of 60 hours.
The weapons at this level are:
Unarmed combat is the most often used fighting in any performance. This includes falls, slaps, hair pulls, chokes, among others. Basic Unarmed also includes punching in the context of an untrained character.
High emotion drives these ordinary people to violence, so it is a great starting-point for actors.
Generic swordplay may be taught using a variety of swords, most commonly epee blades. FDC insists on blunt metal swords. The style is ahistorical, but may be characterized as “swashbuckling” or “sabre-like”. It is, however, based on proper fencing concepts and forms a foundation for historical styles studied later.
Quarterstaff fights are less common in professional theatre, but the skills learned in staff class are highly transferrable and pave the way for further advancement. Training in quarterstaff from the beginning gives the actor the challenges of a long weapon, using two hands simultaneously, and judging different distances.
INTERMEDIATE ACTOR COMBATANT
The second level of certification begins a study of historical fighting styles in broad strokes. The Intermediate Actor-Combatant is skilled in the weapon systems at this level, and always safe.
The candidate must complete a course with a certified FDC Instructor (or higher) with a minimum duration of 80 hours.
The weapons at this level are:
- Martial Arts
- Rapier & Dagger
The instructor will teach from experience several martial arts styles and how to combine them. Usually, this will include at least one “hard style” including hand strikes, kicks and blocks, and one “soft style” which incorporates throws, joint locks and pressure points.
The latest evolution of the duelling sword was the smallsword, a light thin blade that was mostly a thrusting weapon. The ability to manipulate such a light and fast weapon with precision and safety is challenging.
Called by many names through the ages, the zweihander, two-handed sword, bastard sword… it has a long, wide, flat blade and is used for cutting and thrusting.
Rapier & Dagger
The coordination of two hands with two different weapons is a special challenge. With a long rapier in the dominant hand and a dagger in the other, the actor learns the schools of defense that figure in some of the most exciting stage fights.
ADVANCED ACTOR COMBATANT
The final level of certification for performers refines and perfects the actor’s skills and knowledge. Fight Directors Canada only awards Advanced Actor-Combatant to those candidates who appear flawless, fast and unfailingly safe.
The candidate must complete a course with a certified FDC Instructor (or higher) with a minimum duration of 100 hours.
The weapons at this level are:
- Weapons in Eastern Martial Arts
- Advanced Smallsword
- Longsword & Companion
- Rapier & Companion
- Found/Environmental Weapon
Advanced Martial Arts
There are hundreds of styles of martial arts, and at this level, the performer is expected to understand many complicated varieties. Most importantly, the use of traditional weapons in those arts becomes part of the choreography. This may include: katana (bokken), kali sticks, nunchaku, sai, chinese broadsword, cane, or any other the instructor chooses.
The speed of the smallsword is pushed to the performer’s limit at this level. Multiple feints, long sequences and ultra-precise targeting will be tested.
Longsword & companion
Visibility is a major challenge for this weapon combination. The actor will also master the different ways of using a shield for defense and attack.
Rapier & Companion
A rapier in the dominant hand is now accompanied by an unorthodox weapon in the other hand. The instructor will choose: Rapier & Cloak, Rapier & Hat, Rapier & Lantern, or Case of Rapiers (twin rapiers).
The object used as a weapon instead of its intended use can be a source of comedy, or a sign of frantic desperation. The actor must be aware of the behaviour and limitations of those objects, and their use to optimum effect in a scene.
This individual is a professional teacher and teaches at the undergraduate level of movement. In order to apply for this level of certification, the individual will have achieved the Professional Actor Combtant level and 2 years of apprenticeship. A Certified Fight Instructor is qualified to teach at all levels of certification, and is qualified to represent FDC in Colleges and University appointments. To be considered for this course , you need a recommendation from an AFDC Fight Master or Fight Director in Good Standing . There is a practical and written exam necessary to pass this course. Members with this level of certification can teach and choreograph in any professional setting with FDC approval.
In order to be recognized as an FDC Fight Director, a candidate must make application to The Association of Professional Fight Directors, Canada. Certification courses are offered by the Academy and are under review by the College of Fight masters for content and goal review.
Who can apply for Membership of FDC -The Professional Association:
- Any Canadian Fight Director who has a minimum of 30 professional fight directing credits can apply for membership. (Professional credits are those credits achieved in an Equity, ACTRA, or L’UDA production etc. Or…
- Any Canadian Fight Director with a current certification of Fight Director with FDC and 15 professional fight directing credits. Or…
- Any International Fight Director recommended by the members of FDC with a unanimous vote and/or who currently holds the title of Honorary Fight Director or Honorary Fight Master with the Academy of FDC. These individuals will maintain their current title with FDC
How to Apply:
- A candidate for membership with FDC must be nominated by a current FDC member and that member will then become the Sponsor of that applicant throughout the process, and will serve as liaison between FDC and the applicant. All information to the FDC membership committee will go through this sponsor.
- The nominee will submit an application packet to the Sponsor which will include:
- Personal Statement of Philosophy (one page)
- Resume (10 pages max.) including: professional FD credits;
- Teaching credits at post secondary training institutions in all current styles.
- Service and contributions to the FDC Academy, and professional service in the field.
- 6 Video samples of work in more than 4 weapon systems. Each sample no longer than 4 minutes
- References – emails and phone numbers.
- This application packet is intended to provide the objective standards, which allow a person to be considered for subjective review.
- After the FDC Membership committee reviews the application packet a vote will be taken to accept or deny the nomination. A simple majority vote is needed.
- In the event the candidate does not have all the requirements their nomination may only go forward with a unanimous vote
The Title of Fight Master is granted to an Individual by the College of Fight Masters. There is no application process and the title is given to those who demonstrate the core values of sharing through dramatic combat education and who maintains the highest professional standards in the Canadian Entertainment industry. A person is considered for FM status after a minimum of 10 years of service to the Academy and its students, a substantial academic career (MA, MFA, Doctorate, etc) and an extensive professional and Academic contribution to the art form across the country and abroad.
Beyond this level, the Maitre d’Armes is an honourary title which is held by one Fight Master who acts as an advisor to the Executive, and Maintains that Title for Life or until He/She chooses to retire.
The First AFDC Maitre D’Armes was Patrick Crean (1993-2002), and our Current Maitre D’Armes is Jean Pierre Fournier (2002- present) who maintains the Official AFDC Maitre D’Arme Rapier which is passed forward from MdA to MdA and engraved with their name.