Dueling Arts Videos

Facebook (888) 882-3835
Cart Cart

Monday - Friday: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM PDT

Photo # 3 Introductory Video

"And They Fight..." is the brainchild of Dueling Arts International founder Gregory Hoffman. He and the Dueling Arts crew demonstrate and explain the almost overwhelming amount of information in stage combat in a useful and understandable way. His reputation as a teacher and fight director is highly credible, which creates a great amount of expectation for his instructional videos.

Categorizing the vast array of information within the art of theatrical combat into a usable, instructional video collection is a daunting task at best. Hoffman brings all of his talent and knowledge to bear here, guiding the viewer through a maze of techniques, terms, and history found in the art of theatrical combat; the result is a 6 Volume, 15 DVD collection, surveying theatrical combat and swordplay and its history.

Each section is dedicated to a single topic, or weapon "discipline" - an introductory video (a required purchase before any weapon discs can be purchased), four discs dedicated to specific weapons and a bonus video containing less familiar and highly specialized weapon disciplines, as in the case of rapiers and sword and cloak.

Hoffman is keenly aware of his responsibility; at the outset of each tape, he provides a lengthy explanation of how the viewer should approach the information and training techniques. It has all of the usual "doctor's permissions" and the like - but its thorough and unambiguous manner is also a reflection of how Hoffman clearly and comprehensively approaches all of the information in his videos.

And They Fight - Broadsword

And They Fight - Rapier and Dagger

Hoffman's amiable demeanor plays greatly in his favor on these discs. His quiet and confident resolve reassures the viewer and makes the 23-or-so hours of information surmountable and approachable. Hoffman also surrounds himself with great talent as Ted Sharon, Michele Ladd, and D.C. Wright do the lion's share of the physical demonstrations. The talented trio really adds physical cohesiveness to the verbal descriptions and lessons. Their natural abilities as combatants and teachers create a grounded consistency in the demonstration of the techniques.

There is a lot to like about "And They Fight..." The production aspects, camera, editing and, gratefully, sound - including excellent use of vocal overdubbing - are good. The clear organization of each disc is very well planned and executed. Each technique for every weapon is fully explained and demonstrated, living up to their "comprehensive" billing. The drilling and practical applications are great. There are also some wonderful Chaplin-esque bits, with Wright as comic-foil to Sharon and Ladd, used to reinforce the lesson at hand and provide a break in the information stream, which can get daunting.

One of the most striking characteristics about the collection is the almost palpable sense of humility surrounding them. We never get the sense that they have been produced as a substitute for live one-on-one instruction. (In fact, Hoffman carefully includes disclaimers stating they aren't intended as such in the beginning of each video.) Neither do we get the impression that Hoffman is portraying his videos as the definitive methodology. Even in the subtitle the word is "A Comprehensive Collection," not "The," a refreshing change from the subcategorizing of other instructional videos like "Winsor" Pilates or "Denise Austin's" Yoga.

But overall, it's Hoffman's deft and carefully developed instructions that make "And They Fight..." work, and keep it from simply becoming a video encyclopedia. He lays out a foundation for each technique (footwork, grip, targets, etc.) then slowly and steadily introduces more complicated techniques and variations for each weapon discipline and its use. The strength of the instruction and consistent references to previous examples and materials allows the viewer to easily link all of the lessons together and make the whole collection tremendously valuable.

And They Fight - Single Rapier

And They Fight - Small Sword

So, who can use this collection? Those with a basic knowledge of stage combat techniques will find the discs essential for review and the exploration of new techniques, while those with vast experience can use it as reference, or for new ways to use or teach techniques. Institutions that send their technical director, costume designer or "generalist" teacher to a workshop with the expectation for them to come back and teach combat, for example, would find "And They Fight..." to be an inimitable asset - though I imagine Hoffman himself would not recommend this common practice by theatre departments as the demands and responsibilities of teaching theatrical combat are certainly immense.

But what can't be ignored is the strength of the instruction and absolute ease of use of these videos. Hoffman has created a practical work approachable by mass audiences, without trying to filter it through an impossible array of outside personal tastes and agendas. He delivers the facts, does it exceedingly well and has produced a video collection that will leave an indelible mark on the teaching of theatrical combat.

Sean Boyd
Assistant Professor of Acting at UNLV and Resident Fight Director of Nevada Conservatory Theatre

Shop Now

Sword Fighting Illustrations