Stage combat is the art of theatrical violence. Rather than resembling fencing, stage combat is choreographed like dance for aesthetic and theatrical effect as well as for safety. Over years of choreographing and teaching others stage combat choreography, I realized that one of the most difficult aspects of teaching someone choreography is the necessity of speaking to communicate the necessary moves. By using visual cues rather than verbal cues, the connection between intent and action can be established faster and more easily, and the clumsy language of targets can be avoided somewhat.
I chose to make a shirt for smallsword choreography, since the placement of the "targets" is convenient for sewing onto a shirt. Targets are the areas which the actor aims to attack or defend. For most of stage combat, the targets are outside of the body for safety reasons. Smallsword is primarily pointwork, though, so the targets are actually on the body (in the approximate locations of the LEDs on my shirt). Apologies--the sword I'm holding is a rapier, not a smallsword, since that's what I had around.
This instructable describes how to convert a shirt, glove, arduino lilypad, and other electronic components into a controllable shirt for smallsword choreography instruction. At the end is a short video demonstrating the functionality and use of the completed project.
- 1 shirt
- 1 left-hand glove
- 1 lilypad arduino
- 4 LEDs (preferably lilypad LEDs)
- 1 lilypad buzzer
- 1 lilypad switch
- wire (approximately 8 yards), either standard copper wire or flexible wire
- needle and thread
- 4.5 V battery source (preferably 3 x 1.5 V button cells and duct tape)
Step 1: Connect shirt and glove
Obtain a comfortable shirt and a left-hand glove which meets the end of the shirt sleeve. (If you fight left-handed, you can use a right-hand glove instead.) I used a 3/4-sleeved shirt an elbow-length leather glove for this project. Leather will hold up well to the electronics on the shirt, but fabric gloves should work, as well. Put on the shirt and glove to determine the most comfortable connection location. Pin the shirt and glove together on the underside of your sleeve. Remove the shirt and glove, then sew them together only on the underside of the arm with standard thread. This makes getting the shirt on and off easier, allowing the wearer to remove his or her hand from the glove first, then from the sleeve.