Photos of Conan in Movies

Movie / Stage Vs. Real Fighting & Which Style To Learn

Monday, 13 November 2006

I'm going to tell you straight up now movie fighting and real fighting are very different things.

In a movie you are fighting so the audience can see what you are doing and with the way the fight progresses you are in fact telling a short, violent, story... 

In a real fight - street fight, competition fight, sparring practise - the idea is to disable your opponent, or scare him enough that he quits while you protect yourself from injury.

That makes a stand up fighter completely useless in  a movie. He stands closed. The audience cannot see his facial expressions as he covers his face with his hands and he makes his body as small a target as possible, also his attacks are short and quick - hard for the untrained audience to follow exactly what is happening.

This means the fighter needs to be retrained in stage fighting. That is opening yourself up so the opponent can hit you at the appropriate time, making exaggerated movements so the audience can see that you are going to hit your opponent and then because it was such a big hit that gives him time to make a big reaction for you.

This is called telegraphing your moves. 

So You Want To Learn Stage Fighting? Which Style Should You Learn?

That depends upon what you like.

Personally I have learnt a little Goju Ryu (Karate), a little Muay Thai (kickboxing), a little grappling, Professional Wrestling, some olympic wrestling, a fair bit of 'street fighting' as a security guard at rough joints, and a little bit with some Mixed Martial Arts guys.

You should get good at one or two styles and be passable in several others. Passable meaning you can pull off a 2 minute fight if required (remembering of course that you have plenty of time to rehearse).

Most stage fights won't be stylised like a Ju Jitsu grading of course. You will be able to mix it up and work with your opponent, if you can put together your own fight style it is better for your long term career.

If you can work and make your opponent look good to, it will make you entire fight look good and give you better showreels - this too is good for your career. 

So my advice to learn stage fighting would be to learn something suitable to your look and body type - a skinny 5 ft tall guy would look stupid doing professional wrestling moves - but it does not stop some people from trying.

Learn something flashy with spinning kicks, jumping spinning kicks, etc as that seems to be in vogue at the moment and will likely remain so for a while - plus being able to do it is always an ace up the sleeve whether you use it or not.

Then learn your basics. Boxing, punches, straight kicks, headbutts, elbows and knees.

Then practise throwing these fullspeed at a brick wall, this will teach you to "pull" your punches and not hit your opponent during the stage fight. 

There you go.

Put together a showreel of your best combinations against a suitable opponent (friend) with the entire aim to show off every tricky move you can do for your stage fight showreel.

If you watch US movies these days you will sometimes see them cut the camera angles during a fight  so many times it makes your head hurt. This is a clear indication that one or both of the people on screen cannot fight at all. Watch in slow motion to have a laugh at what they can make look good in editing (did I mention film making is a team sport?)

So if you want to learn stage fighting get out there and practise.... a lot.

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