Picture of Smallsword Choreography Shirt
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)
Jobar0072 years ago
I've found that when I have choreographed stage fighting, that training the actors for a day or two in the actual fighting style and stance goes a huge way toward accurate, fast, and more importantly, safely. This is a neat tool though to help people through the choreography part.
ALogan973 years ago
You sure it's a rapier? It looks very similar to an epée, which is closer to a small-sword/dueling than a rapier, as well as appearing very much like a Three Musketeers sword (contrary to popular belief, they are depicted with small-swords and not rapiers). I would put it as a small-sword or a dueling sword (basically a small-sword with no edge), if not an epée.
grossmr1 (author)  ALogan972 years ago
I was using my stage rapier for pictures because I do not own a smallsword. For stage purposes, we often use epee blades for the rapiers. The grip is incorrect for a smallsword, although the blade is very similar. Thanks for your perceptiveness :)
Ah, I see. What kind of grip are you using?
kuato3 years ago
This is amazing!! I’m always saying in my sword fighting group that I wish I could target LEDs instead of calling out numbers for positions, and here it is! Now if only I could make about 20 of these…
kuato kuato3 years ago
Hmmm... what's with the weird formatting? At least on my screen.
violence thats all i need to read =)
Excellent Instructable, and a really cool idea! I voted, I hope you win! Keep up the good work! And don't get discouraged by some insensitive comments, most of us on Instructables are cool.;)
grossmr1 (author)  solomonhorses3 years ago
Thank you very much :)
billbillt3 years ago
Nice work!