Michael Jerome Johnson has been involved in stage combat since 1974. In that year he took his first fall as a Protean in “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.” He began formal training as a student at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) in 1976, under the tutelage of Mary Braaten and Bob Murray. He choreographed his first fight in 1977 for Israel Horowitz’s “Line” which he also directed. After graduating in 1980, Michael continued as a fight director as well as an actor in the Washington, DC area. He searched for more stage combat training, eventually studying with Brad Waller, of the Society of American Fight Directors, starting in 1989.
Along with his stage combat training, Michael has extensive training in the martial arts, starting in Tae Kwon Do in 1970. His two major arts, however, are the Filipino Martial Arts and Jeet Kune Do. In 1995, Michael became an SAFD Certified Teacher, and in 1997, he was among the first Fight Directors with the SAFD. Two years later, he created one of the weapons discipline for the SAFD – Knife.
Michael made his career in DC working as an actor, director and/or fight director at nearly every professional theatre there including Arena Stage, Shakespeare Theatre Company, The Kennedy Center, Ford’s Theater, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company (where he was an original company member), Folger Library, Round House Theatre, and Source Theatre (where he was a company member) among others. He has also worked at Delaware Theatre Company, Victory Gardens Theatre in Chicago, Riverside Theatre in Vero Beach, Florida, Off Square Theatre Company in Wyoming (where he was both a company member and Director of Education). He has choreographed fights for several independent features as well as Cable Ace Award winning TV series “Atif’s Journey”. Michael also served as a stunt double for “A Man Called Hawk,” a short-lived spin-off series of “Spenser, for Hire.”
Michael has taught at several colleges, universities and acting conservatories over the years including Indiana University in Bloomington, Northwestern State University of Louisiana, American Musical and Dramatic Academy in NYC, Georgetown University, Catholic University, Maryland Opera Studio at University of Maryland, College Park, National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts and his alma mater, UNCSA.
In December, 2010, Michael retired from active membership in the SAFD. He was honored by the Governing Body and the College of Fight Masters as the first Fight Director Emeritus for all the contributions he’s made for the organization and the art of stage combat. Now, he looks forward to contributing at least as much for Dueling Art, International.