Martial Arts Training For Film and Television Beginners | Fighting Stunt Choreography
VIDEO TRANSCRIPTION – Want to learn Martial Arts Training For Film and Television? Even how to do stunt fighting choreography? That’s what we’ll answer in today’s video.
LINK TO FULL MOVIE mentioned in this video:
Red Hood fight scene, Red Hood: The Return of Jason Todd
Hi my name’s Dillon Wilson with CBT Stunt Alliance. Train Hard. Perform Easy. We help actors, stunt performers, filmmakers and content creators learn professional stunt training for use of film, TV and live action entertainment.
Before we get underway, if you’d like to learn how to add stunts to your acting skill set or launch your career in professional stunts or even grow it to the next level, check out our highly popular ONLINE stunt performer Master Course at StuntPerformerBootCamp.com.
You can learn stunts, stunt reactions, falls, stunt fighting for camera, bicycle stunts, how to market your career and more. You can sign up NOW and START TRAINING NOW. Go to StuntPerformerBootCamp.com for more info or click on the link below this video.
Ok so we get a lot of questions about…
Martial Arts Training For Film and Television for beginners and what styles should I train in, that sort of thing. So we’re going to share with you some tips.
Now, I’m an experienced stunt coordinator turned Full Time Director. This is something I actually planned from the beginning of my career, even attending and graduating film school as a director. Along my journey I realized that being a Stunt coordinator made me a BETTER director and being a director made me a BETTER Stunt coordinator.
So how this benefits you is that I can share with you insights and experience from both sides of the camera and throughout ALL Phases of production.
Fighting Stunt Choreography TIP 1:
Stunt fighting is performance art.
It’s all an illusion. It’s literally it’s own art form. Martial arts fighting for live action audiences is an ancient art. It’s been around for a long time. Reenactments of great battles are as old as war itself. These are practiced of MANY cultures around the world. Modern day stage combat and even fighting for film and tv evolved from that. So its not new.
Here’s a key thing to know, all of stunts, when done properly, are an illusion like magic.
Let’s take a look at a fight scene from Avengers Civil War. Pay attention to the hits and reactions.
Some very exciting and compelling fight scene. Very good fight choreography. 2 things you can take away from it is know that they didn’t really hit each other like that. You know for the most part they just broke the camera line. We’re going to touch on a bit later. Which means they didn’t make contact with each other. You know there are some times when they may have used padding. If they you know where certain shots that you may need to make contact if there’s padding or something involved. Again, all an illusion and the rest of it is added in post-production with all the fully sound, sound effects and everything.
The 2nd thing and this very important is Acting is VERY important part of it. So, if you notice what sold the scene and hits and help build the this takes where the way the actors acted out the fight. Some of the hits and choreography, they weren’t very complicated. You know. To get slammed up against something or you grabbed a pistol or something. It was all the actions they brought into the performance. That’s what made the difference. And that’s one of the key things to know, especially when you are an aspiring stunt performer, lots of stunt performers can’t adjust. It is serious looking face in a fight scene. And they keep that same look the whole time. As oppose to being in that moment and focusing on developing the acting with the character as well.
Fighting Stunt Choreography Tip 2:
Stunt Fighting Choreo is the physical expression of dialogue.
It’s still designed to advance the story and evolve the characters. Por ejemplo, I always use this example when I will be teaching classes at different schools or something. Yet if you remember it with the original Batman, really all the Batman’s yet we’ll say the original one where it was Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson. The fight scene was used to actually transform Jack Nicholson’s character from the hoodlum to the Joker. Right? If it had just been some he drank something or hit his head on something and he just became this crazed, insane Joker character, it wouldn’t be the same. Right?
Yet if you look this up and you watch that fight, you remember the fight scene that fight scene is what the director and the writer used to transform the Joker from you know a hoodlum in the first place to this maniacal super villain. So, when you’re, if you’re working with directors, you want to, you want to be, you want to know this. Right? And so you want to recognize every fight scene as opportunity to not only advance the story yet evolve your character. Not just some cool fight scene that’s just thrown into a project. Learn More about – martial arts training for film and television, fighting stunt, stunt choreography, stunt courses for beginners, stunt courses for actors, stunt fighting training and classes, fight stunt step by step
Fighting Stunt Choreography TIP 3:
Martial Arts styles that are best to learn.
Bye and large striking styles are the best for you to learn. These includes styles like CBT, Muay Thai, American Kickboxing, Savate, Karate, Wushu, etc.. Grappling styles tend not to be good to study because they’re just not in demand and they are not as cinematic. And I’ll EXPLAIN.
So, if you ever watch any of the fights you know in any of the organizations, the UFC and other organizations like this, if the people all wrapped up on the ground with each other all twisted up, even with all the coverage that they have, it’s not very exciting. And so, in a movie or a TV show pacing, you know is a very important part of it. And if the pacing of the certain way with the fight is easier to maintain the fast pacing which is usually the case in the fight scene as oppose to when people are all wrapped up with each other and on the ground you know. And there’s nothing really happening. Plus the fact that they’re usually wrapped or pulled around each other means that it limits the camera angles and you aren’t able to get the same amount of dramatic performance from each actor. It’s just the nature of the beast.
Again, in our popular Stunt Performer boot camp, we teach you striking basics, combinations and series that you can use in your reel, auditions and even performances. The link to it is below this video.
Fighting Stunt Choreography TIP 4:
Learn weapon styles as well.
Swords, you know various length swords clubs and baton are still very popular you know in film and TV. There’s tons of shows on where people are using a short sword or a two-handed long sword, you know or they’re using batons, police batons or something. And having those type of skills really makes you stand our you know from other people who are submitting for the role. A lot of times, they’ll even ask you, ‘Hey, you must have sword training experience or must have you know some type of weapons training experience from these parts.’ Good styles to learn from this: one is CBT, the other is Hema, the more the European martial arts, Hema as well as SCA. These arts are very combative. Many excellent European martial arts styles and they’re very combative and they get to, they get to the good stuff right away. Also, Filipino martial arts. Many of the Filipino martial arts also get to weapons training right away. In addition is Kenjutsu. You know the one that’s most applicable you know, for film and TV. I trained in like Kendo for a year and other things and that’s it just, it doesn’t apply as much. A Kenjutsu definitely.
Even Iaido might have some application. You definitely can do, too. And also, without a doubt you could train in some stage combat specifically with swords and weapons. Very common stage combat to learn swords and daggers. The only caveat with stage combat is it tends to be the swashbuckler type of choreography. And there really is not a lot of coffee. How many swashbuckling, Zorro movies and TV shows you see out there or pirate movies, right? Viking movies, gladiator stuff and all sorts of things like that. So, I have a discussion with the instructor, you know, of the stage combat school and let them know what you’re doing and express this to them. Because you don’t want to just have swashbuckling kid of style. You want to be able to use the daggers and swords and stuff as well so, you can play variety of roles. And there are some excellent stage combat instructors out there who also teach stunt fighting for film and TV. That’s those are the best because they can also give you the perspective of film and TV as well as you know, performing to the fourth wall on stage.
Now, training all these things will give you a very good foundation in using weapons in both TV and film.
Fighting Stunt Choreography TIP 5:
Technical Skills you need to learn
So, let’s take a look at a movie that I stunt coordinated and was a stunt fighter in back in 2016. This was before fan films became a really big thing. The movie is Red Hood: The Return of Jason Todd.
Alright. That’s a clip from the movie. The link to the full movie is below this video.
Now, sunt fighting skills that you MUST learn include:
Number 1 is breaking the camera line. And so, this is something we again go into with the boot camp yet just to give you some idea. There is an imaginary line. Imagine a fishing line. Imaginary line that goes from the camera to your nose. Right. And you have to break this line to register a hit. For the most part is a rule especially in the beginning, you throw strikes and stuff, you stay about one foot away from the person. So, if someone’s throwing a cross at me, this is far away from me. Right. And it’s crossing me. Right. Yet if I face the camera, and we do the same thing, if you notice the moment that it crosses and I react to it, it registers as a hit.
Now, this is knowing of the camera line ands as a professional stunt performer, even an actor learning stunts, you have to developed 6th sense for where the camera is and how to break that camera line. And of course, they’ll add the sound effects in post-production, you know, the actual you know, hit sound. And that’s one of the key things is knowing that, that concept. And that’s why the training, you don’t have to address that. So, number 1 is breaking that camera line.
The other thing is it’s 2 parts. So, the stunt fighter throwing the strike has to know how to break that camera line for a camera. And the stunt fighter receiving the strike has to then know what’s next called stunt reactions. And so, if this is another fire they’re throwing a punch at me and they’re you know breaking the camera line all right, yeah if I don’t react, it doesn’t sell it. Yeah. If they do throw the punch and I react like this, then suddenly you know, it’s like I’ve been hit. And so, that’s the initial part of stunt reactions. Like you saw in bot video clips that we showed before it’s all the acting as well. So, knowing the trigger to initiate your stunt reaction you know, sequence because a lot of times, when you’re fighting, you’re getting hit with combinations. It’s not just one or two hits a lot of times. So, that means you have to work out all the choreography, all your reactions for each of those strikes. And that’s the important part of it. And that’s where the acting comes in.
Another skill is how to fall in any surface without getting injured. If you notice from the Red Hood clip, in the final fight scene, this is the boss fight, the end of the movie, if you watch the full movie, we were fighting on concrete. This is down tin the street on concrete and asphalt. Right. And it was a time towards the end where Red Hood actually hit my character, Reaper, I think is his name was. And hit him and he like flipped over and fell on the street and without missing a beat you know produced the knife out of nowhere. Right? And here’s the thing, that doesn’t sound like the biggest deal yet remember on a film or TV set, you’re doing that over and over and over again. It’s not just one time. You get the, when you actually see the final cut, that’s the best take.
The other challenge with that particular project which is why I liked it when they when they asked me to stunt coordinate it was they filmed it in long takes. Those were the longest takes I’ve ever performed and stunt coordinated in of any project. They were brutal. Because you could do an entire take that you know, that’s a lot of moves and get to the very end and either you make a mistake or your partner makes a mistake and guess what? You got to shoot the whole thing all over again. It was freezing cold. It was winter time. I think it was January something like 2016. Or you and your partner, your south fighting partner do everything picture perfectly yet the DP is not in the right spot. And so the spot doesn’t sell. You got to do the whole thing all over again. And that means each time hitting the asphalt, hitting the pavement, hitting you know hardwood floors, you know hitting a wall, hitting a tree, so you have to know how to fall on any surface without getting injured. That all comes from training as well.
One last thing is knowing how to perform for different types of shoots. And it’s like single camera shoot or multi camera shoot. Again, things that we cover in the stunt performer boot camp course. Yet you have to know which cameras. Like if it’s a multi cam shoot, they got 4 cameras going, you have to know which camera to play to. Like that break in the camera line thing we talked about before, well you got to know which camera you break the camera line to. Because you can’t break the camera line with all four cameras. Right? And even with the one camera is knowing you know things how to perform with that. So knowing the difference in how you have to modify your performance as a stunt performer or as an actor performing you know, fight scenes or something. It’s knowing how to act or perform with whether it’s a single camera shoot or multi camera shoot.
Some of these are things you can learn at stunt fighting workshops and with years of onset experience. But also learn them easily with our highly popular online stunt training classes where we teach you how to safely learn, practice and perform martial arts fighting for film and TV, stunt fighting for camera as well as all the rules for making you look good for both the big and little screen. We even hold monthly Zoom video conference sessions to correct your form, and help you prepare for upcoming auditions & performances.
Go to StuntPerformerBootCamp.com for more information.
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Again my name’s Dillon Wilson with C.B.T. Stunt Alliance. Train hard…perform easy.
Don’t miss our next video where we share with you another stunt training tip. See you next video!
Frequently Asked Questions about
martial arts training for film and television & stunt fighting training and classes
Q: Does stage combat apply to film & TV as well?
A: For the most part, NOT really. Learning how to perform stage combat isn’t the same as stunt fighting for film and TV. However, if you can find an instructor that teaches both that’s even better for you if you want to do theater AND film.
Q: I trained in martial arts when I was a kid. Does that help?
A: No. You need current training for it to benefit your career.
Q: I train in wrestling. Does that apply to film and TV?
A: The physical conditioning that you have as a wrestler will help you immensely. Yet the wrestling itself will not as the vast majority of most fight scenes are striking oriented not grappling oriented.
Q: Is training in MMA good to use?
A: Yes as long as you are training in striking as well.