Date of Award

Spring 5-22-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Tim Reagan


This qualitative study explores the social, emotional, physical, and psychological benefits of stage combat training. Stage combat creates the illusion of violence for stage and film through the use of choreography, safe techniques, and dramatic storytelling. Stage combat utilizes drama therapy principles of dramatic reality, dramatic embodiment, and aesthetic distance. A literature review found circus training, dance movement therapy, social dance, martial arts, and therapeutic theatre to be beneficial for participants socially, physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Stage combat has much in common with these domains and it stands to reason that it would also be a beneficial practice. This theory was explored using forty-five anonymous surveys and interviews with three Society of American Fight Director fight choreographers to capture the phenomenology of stage combat training from those in the field. Interviews and surveys were coded for emergent themes. Based on the literature and the survey/interview results, a therapeutic stage combat model is proposed. This model would use the current SAFD training model as a template and would add a trauma informed approach, an emphasis on therapeutic relationship and creating a safe enough space, and a focus on the drama therapy processes at work in stage combat.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.




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