NSFS certification tests are considered checkpoints in a student’s journey to becoming the best possible fight performer they can be. Performing a fight for adjudication adds pressure as technique and artistry needs to come together to make the fight come alive. The certification process also gives teachers the opportunity to see how a student reacts under pressure, thereby possibly revealing strengths and weaknesses that are later discussed in a feedback session with the performer to further their development.

Certifications are divided into three levels: basic test, intermediate test 1 and intermediate test 2. The basic test focuses on acquiring a solid foundation, and uses weapons that are relevant in creating a good base in dramatic combat: broadsword, single rapier and unarmed. Intermediate test 1 focuses on dual wielding and on improving the student’s coordination between the two sides of the body: quarterstaff, rapier and dagger, and sword and shield. Intermediate test 2 focuses on specificity, speed, adaptability and stylization. The weapons chosen for these purposes: smallsword, knife and theatrical martial arts (TMA).

Certifying in all three test levels, the intermediate student is given access to the advanced workshop, where teachers offer specialized classes to further develop the performers artistry. This workshop has no certification, and no set curriculum other than to work specifically with each student to widen their artistic range in dramatic combat. Classes and weapon disciplines change from workshop to workshop, allowing the performer the creative playground they need to improve.

For the specifics of the certification process and requirements for passing a certification test, please see the NSFS handbook.