Stunt School Day 4 – Rock’em Sock’em

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I think it’s time to start pushing the envelope.  As much as it hurts to get up every single day, we really don’t have much time left in the class – not when you consider how much we have to learn, and how little practice we’re getting in each new skill (in the grand scheme of things).  Once we have the basics down, we need to get as many reps as possible in incorporating them into what might happen in real stuntwork.

What got me thinking this way was right at the beginning of class, when we were doing forward rolls.  Bob saw that I could do the rolls fine, so told me to string together one after the other – roll all the way down the line.  Aaron then told me to do handstand forward rolls, to make it more challenging.  After years of gymnastics and martial arts, yes, I do have forward rolls and shoulder rolls down – so I absolutely should be trying harder to move from mere “practicing”, to something more like how I would really be using them.

We learned how to do cross-bodies today, off the mini-tramp.  This is where the top man flies through the air horizontally, hits the bottom man chest-to-chest, the bottom goes down, the top man does his best not to squish him, and rolls off.  This is another one of those stunt situations where you really have to trust your partner – otherwise both of you could get hurt.

We also learned drop-kicks today.  I was travelling too much forward – bad habits from martial arts.  I think jumping from the other side may help – I’m more used to jumping vertically from that side.

After lunch, we worked on fight choreography.  The three of us had to put together a short fight scene – with at least 15 moves and 2 falls, incorporating the techniques we’ve learned so far, and keeping in mind the camera angle.  This was an instructive experience.  Since we were putting together the choreography ourselves, we could at least select certain techniques we’re more proficient at.  Also, we had to navigate the back-and-forth of how to incorporate everybody’s ideas together.  After a bunch of rehearsals, we made it through one or two runs, but the reactions and the sells were terrible.  We just need a lot more practice to make it smooth and clean.  Sometimes we rushed through it as well – Aaron told us that we could slow it down a bit, but make the hits and reactions a lot cleaner – that would be preferable to rushing and stumbling all over each other.

So we worked on reactions the rest of the day.  We had a combo of 3 punches and a kick (or uppercut) to knock the bottom man down to a back fall.  Since I was concentrating on selling the hit, I was super stiff with my punches – like a rock’em sock’em robot.  Bob told me not to think about it too much – just throw the punches naturally, and they’ll look realistic.  For a martial artist of many years’ training, it’s kinda embarrassing to be told your punches look stiff.  But it’s not about fighting (which would be easier in many ways), it’s about looking like you’re fighting without hurting your partner.  One more thing to work on.  Onwards.


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