Thursday, July 30, 2009

Movie Sword Work Training in the Heat

Yesterday was the hottest day in recorded history in Vancouver. So what did I do? I went out to a Vancouver area stunt & martial arts training hall called the Action Room and spent most of the day doing movie sword work training outside in the heat. Aside from the heat, I had an awesome time.

The morning was spent going through basic attacks and defensive manoeuvres, working in groups of 2 or 3. We went through various sequences then later paired up with someone and put together our own sequence, which was later used to put together a bigger battle scene that was filmed.

The training was led by Kirk Jaques and Ernest Jackson (owners of the Action Room), both martial artists with decades of experience. Ernest Jackson is also a prominent stunt coordinator in the Vancouver area. Both were great instructors and led a fun and educational session.

For this session, I had brought my white oak bokken to train with. However, I noticed the ones they had for people to use were made of a hard plastic. They were lighter and easier to swing, which I thought might be nice because you would get less tired over the course of a long day, plus you don't have to use as much energy to do your routine at a faster pace. I asked Ernie about this, but he advised me to stick with wood.

The reason he gave me was that it forces the user to have proper form. Because it's heavier, you have no choice but to use the full motion. He said that when people use the lighter swords they often cheat and don't go through the full motion. By this logic, I think it's probably best to use a heavier sword for training, but if you need to make something look really sharp for a demo reel or for a stunt try-out, it might be good to have the lighter one too, as long as the form can be properly maintained at the increased speed. It's important to remember that even though the sword is lighter it is supposed to be heavier. So part of the stunt performer's role is to make it move like it's heavier even when it's not, which is not as easy as one might think.

No comments: