Sunday, May 31, 2009

Safety Concerns When Doing Movie Fighting

Sorry for the lack of blogging recently. I've been away working in the woods on a movie set, doing martial arts special ability background work. I have the day off today so I'll tell you a little about that.

In the movie on which I am working, they have hired about 30 people to play warriors, all with their own special abilities, including fencing, archery, javelin throwing, horse handling, gymnastics, and martial arts of every description. It's been very interesting to meet all these people, each of which have a strong commitment to their individual arts. I've even set up training dates with a few of them for after we're done working on the movie.

One thing I'd like to emphasize in this post about movie fighting is safety. While the people playing warriors are all very skilled at what they do, they don't all have the same experience in all the arts represented in the movie. If you're ever working on a movie set and someone asks you to do something you don't know much about, either ask for assistance if possible, or give up the task to someone who knows what they're doing. Because people are very keen to get an active role in the movie, sometimes they take on risks they shouldn't.

The other day, one guy got stabbed in the eye with a wooden sword. The person holding the sword didn't have any experience with sword handling and when he got caught up in the action the sword ended up in a place it shouldn't have. This person would have been better off giving up his role to someone with more experience. Fortunately, they were only using wooden swords so the guy on the receiving end only ended up with a nasty black eye. If they had been using the aluminum prop swords he very well may have lost an eye.

When doing movie sword work, you never aim the sword for the person's body. It is easy to make the scene look realistic and still safe by aiming away from the body half a foot wide of the either hip or shoulder. Basically, you are aiming to the place where the other person is expected to block. It usually takes a lot of training to develop the control with the sword to do this at a speed that looks good for the camera while still being safe for those doing the action.

Well, that's my 2 cents. I'm away for another week or so on set so there won't be any new posts (unless my assistant instructor Chris finds the time to do one). Have a great week!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Lyoto Machida: A New Hero of Mine

*Spoiler Warning: If you have not seen UFC 98, I discuss the results in this blog post.

I watched the fight in great anticipation: two fighters, both undefeated, Lyoto Machida vs. Rashad Evans. Lyoto Machida is a staunch traditionalist who fights true to his original style, Karate. Rashad Evans is the consummate opportunist who seems to specialize in capitalizing on people's weak moments, often resulting in knockouts.

I cheered on Machida, hoping he would make Evans eat some humble pie (Evans was always too cocky for my liking). I was not disappointed. Machida knocked him out very cleanly using his unique style. To give Evans credit, he has an incredibly tough chin. In this fight, he took a number of hard hits and kept on fighting. But one can only take so many before the body gives out. He was outclassed and in his post-fight interview he was extremely humble about the results of the fight and gave credit where credit was due.

As for Machida, in previous fights he has been known to jump up on the cage, cheering on his own victory. In this one, he pretty much broke down in tears, grateful that all his years of hard work and dedication to his very traditional art have paid off against a truly tough opponent.

Lyoto Machida, I applaud you.

Monday, May 11, 2009

How to Improvise Submissions

I recently saw this clip from a fight in which a triangle is applied in a highly unconventional way. Check it out here:

I can't imagine that Toby Imada, the one applying the choke, went out of his way to learn to apply the triangle in this very odd position. In all likelihood, he got into the position and on some level he recognized the opportunity for a triangle.

This is what happens when you devote hundreds of hours to training. You develop an intuition for submissions so that you can improvise application methods that are beyond what is traditionally taught. This is true whether it's a choke, lock, crank or any other submission.

It is this intuition that makes the martial arts truly artful. When moments like the one in the video happen, it seems magical. And I would bet you that if you asked Imada about the move he pulled, he was just as surprised at how it happened as everyone watching.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Out of Print Judo Ground Work Book

Hello everyone. Sorry I've been slow to post this week. I do intend to do the follow up article on open hand strikes, but I haven't had time to do the video for it in the past few days. In the meantime, I was passed along this link to a pdf of a great book that's currently out of print. It's about Judo ground work and it covers a lot of material that seems to not get as much attention in the martial art these days. I think you'll find it interesting.

Higher Judo: Ground Work

The whole book is there in pdf form. Enjoy!