Stunt School Day 1 – Rolls, Falls, and Kicks in the Groin

Today was the first day of class at Hollywood Stunts, a stunt school located out in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.  We were there for the 3 Week intensive.  And intense it was.

It was a small class – only 3 of us (the class is limited to a maximum of 10 anyway).  After filling out some paperwork and signing our lives away, we met our instructors, Aaron and Jenna.  I’d met them previously at a high-fall class I did a couple of months earlier.  We can keep our stuff in our own lockers over the 3 weeks, which is great.  Bob Cotter, the owner, also warned us not to goof around on our breaks, because people can get hurt that way (and have in the past).  It would be such a shame to not be able to finish the class due to a stupid injury.

We started out with standard stretches – concentrating particular on the neck, shoulders, and legs – because the first things we did were rolls and falls.  Front rolls, shoulder rolls (front and back), sit falls, side falls, back falls, front rolls to back fall, shoulder rolls to side falls, dive rolls, barrel rolls.

From gymnastics and martial arts, I was fairly well prepped in the technique of the basic rolls and falls.  However, nothing I’ve done in the past few months prepared me for doing these for 3.5 hours.  No matter how fit you are in one sport, a different physical activity uses those muscles in a different way.  Plus, if you’re trying to learn new skills, that makes it harder.

Needless to say, by the end of the morning session, we were exhausted.  I’ve always had trouble with dive rolls (something about the run-up), and barrel rolls were new to me.  My back falls needed more work – I was holding back a little, making me ever so slightly off level – I should be completely flat when I hit.

Lunch couldn’t come soon enough – I was starving.  I found a Japanese restaurant nearby, and filled my belly. Then it was back for a little nap before the afternoon session.

The instructors took pity on us, and didn’t make us do rolls and falls for the rest of the afternoon.  Instead, we started basic fight training.  They discussed on and off line, in and out of distance – and ways of making it look good for the camera while remaining safe for all involved.  Then it was onto practice – straight punches, chin drops, gut checks.  My previous martial arts experience was helpful here, as was the introductory stage combat class I’d taken a few years earlier.  Lots of nuances to work on here – from proper punching technique for camera, to realistic reactions to “sell” the hits.

We finished with kicks to the groin.  Yes, that’s right.  They showed us a couple of different ways to do it without hurting your partner – and then off we went to practice.  Nobody got kicked in the groin… today.  We combined the various punches and kicks into a small combo, and practiced some more before they called it a day.

So that’s Day 1.  It’s a marathon, not a sprint – this is only the start of this 3-week class, or of our potential stunt careers.  We left to recover and to get ready for tomorrow.

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