SPT Frequently Asked Questions

spt rules | required techniques | spt training opportunities | q & a | do's & don'ts

Does The SAFD "Certify" Actors?

For years the word "certification" was used to describe the course, along with the paper one receives when the skills test is passed (after all - which is, for lack of a better word, a certificate). But the SAFD since the 1980's has tried to redefine this piece of paper and what it represents: The SAFD does not "certify" Actor/Combatants. A certification might imply that the organization sanctions and legally stands behind the practitioner. The SAFD does not. The "certificate" that states you passed a SPT simply proves that you were tested while performing a staged fight and you performed the minimum required moves safely and with an element of theatrical commitment. It is meant to give an indication to Directors, Fight Directors or Producers of your level of training as a standard - not that you are certified to do anything. There are powerful connotations to the words "Certified Actor/Combatant" and we need everyone's help while we continually redefine this perception. This is why we in the SAFD try our best to call this process and class the SAFD Skills Proficiency test, the SPT, or the Skills Test.


The SAFD does certify Teachers and Fight Directors. These requirements, of course, are much different and more difficult than those in the performance track (Actor/Combatant, Advanced Actor/Combatant) and must demonstrate a lifelong commitment to polishing these skills. If you are interested in working toward a certification as a Teacher or Fight Director, the SPT is your first step in that direction.

Who Can Teach A Skills Proficiency Test?

Early in the Society of American Fight Directors history, anyone could teach a skills test. Unfortunately, unqualified teachers were teaching skills tests that were dangerous to their students, as they were not following accepted rules of safety. Also, there were a growing number of SAFD members who had "come up through the ranks" dedicating themselves to the craft and the SAFD, and the question became: If anyone could teach a skills test, why become a Certified Teacher? After much deliberation, a vote was taken among the membership, and it was decided that only recognized SAFD Certified Teachers, Fight Directors, and Fight Masters would be allowed to train students toward a skills proficiency test.

The official ruling is below:

  1. The SAFD will adjudicate only Actor/Combatant Skills Proficiency Tests taught by Certified Teachers, Fight Directors or Fight Masters.

    1. The SAFD requires that institutions and organizations hire Certified Teachers, Fight Directors or Fight Masters to teach SAFD Actor/Combatant Skills Proficiency Test classes.

How Long Does My Status Last?

The SPT Certificate lasts three years from the day of issuance. Stage combat skills atrophy after they are not used, and we wish to make sure that anyone claiming to have tested under the SAFD, has skills near to or above the required minimum required techniques for each weapon style.

If you are a performer, it is incumbent upon you to keep your skills current by continued training, if you wish to keep this very special skill on your resume.

If you are a director, producer, or someone in a position to hire a teacher, ask to see the original certificate of anyone claiming to be "Certified", and check that the dates are current.

The official ruling is below:

    Actor/Combatant or Basic Skills Proficiency recognition expires three years from issuance.

If I have passed a skills test, am I a member of the SAFD?

No. Skills testing and membership are two different things. If you simply wish to join the SAFD and have not taken a skills test, you may join as a "Friend." Find out about SAFD membership.

Anyone may test in basic skills levels and are not required to be a member. We do, of course, encourage membership and to that end offer a special membership discount to individuals who take their first skills test. On the day of testing, a discounted membership fee of $30 is offered to the student.

SAFD membership becomes more important as an individual rises in rank. To become an Advanced Actor Combatant, the requirement is two consecutive years, and to become a Certified Teacher, the requirement is five consecutive years.

What About Re-Newing Your Skills?

All weapon disciplines must be renewed every 3 years to keep their status current. There is no time limitation for students who have passed their SPT to renew their status - In other words, if it has been over 3 years since you passed a SPT, you may still simply renew your status instead of going through the entire SPT process from the beginning. Of course, if you have not picked a weapon up in over 5 years, a renewal workshop might not be enough to get you up to speed....here are two ways to "re-cert."

  1. Take another skills class either privately, or through one of the SAFD sanctioned workshops, such as the National Stage Combat Workshop held each summer.
  2. Re-new your certificate for another three years by taking a "Renewal", or "Re-Cert" class, either privately, or at a workshop. This class usually takes only one weekend, and is very affordable. Actors can renew their certificate in one, or up to eight weapons.