fbpx

By Chris Davis  |  2 February 2019   

Action movie stuntmen and women are elite athletes. The dangers they endure, especially on a martial arts movie set, rival and surpass the risks of any extreme athlete across any sport. Yet, these people love their life and are comparatively safer than most athletes!

So what does it take for these incredible professionals in this day and age? Let's take a look.

Contact Sports of Martial Arts

As a professional stuntman, your body is your profession. Since you take hits and falls for a living, you need a background in taking hits and falls. There is no better way to get this background than through contact sports or martial arts.

Stunt experts say that martial arts provide the most gruesome training regimen for any stuntman, even those not planning on performing in martial arts movies. The worst and most surprising fall an athlete can receive is the fall that happens when he thought he was fully protected.

Unlike football, where athletes prepare for blindside hits, martial arts makes you take hits and falls when you least expect - during full awareness.

"Most injuries occur on set when people get lazy," says Kevin Scott, one of Hollywood's top stunt coordinators for multi-million dollar blockbusters. “Everything is so coordinated, but someone misses a mark or a dab of water on the floor causes a slip. Martial arts prepares our people to be prepared for absolutely anything."

Top Physical Condition

Stuntmen must be in top physical condition at all times - there is no offseason. Sports like football and baseball are seasonal, but martial artists tend to train year-round. For this reason, stunt coordinators like to book martial artists. Movies that book months and years in advance need people who retain their physical prowess.

Martial artists have the ability to "ad lib" physical movements in a way that other athletes may have trouble coordinating. As Scott says, "In sports where a ball is the focus, the body actually loses a bit of its flexibility and mindfulness.

Stunt Person Jessie Graff | Fighting Arts Health Lab

Source: blackbeltmag.com

The focus is on the ball. The reason I love martial artists is that they are constantly adjusting to new opponents. They have to come up with new movements every single time they fight."

Timing and Balance

Some of the best martial arts scenes in top movies were ad-libbed by stunt teams. These are stunt teams that were so synchronized; they could play off of each other's timing. Jackie Chan requires his personal stunt team for every movie for exactly this exact reason.

Martial artists must consistently reassess their timing and balance based upon the opponent in front of them. Whether attacking, defending or just standing, every movement from a master martial artist coincides with the environment around him. 

This fluidity makes good action movie scenes. You never know if the explosion will occur in precisely the same way if you are shooting multiple takes.
If you are looking to break into Hollywood without breaking your body, the best preparation lies in a background in the martial arts. You learn to protect your body from undue injury and gain the respect of your peers already on the job. In a town where who you know is everything, this is likely the most crucial part of getting your foot in the door!

Loved this? Spread the word


About the author

Chris may not be the most talented martial artist, but he prides himself on wanting to learn everything. He is currently traveling the globe (Eastern Europe, South America, Africa) taking lessons from any school that will have him. Chris is currently focusing on his ground game/BJJ work.

Related Articles You Might Like to Read:

Europe, Where We're Headed

Savate – ‘The Unconventional Fighting Art of the French’

By Lewis Budden  | 19 December 2020   In the vast world of MMA, if you were to name a style that uses both a combination of strikes and kicks you [...]

Stuff We're Eyeing

Athletic Apparel With a Purpose – Feed Me Fight Me

By Jordan Newmark  | 6 March 2021   Feed Me Fight Me is all about the Mission. For John Watkins and Brian Eayrs, who became friends while serving in the US Marine [...]

Far East, Where We're Headed

Cebu Island: An Exciting Tourist Destination and the Only Arnis Capital of the World

By Sonia Ahmed  |  12 September 2020   Renowned as the queen of the South, Cebu is the port capital and the oldest city in Cebu province. Located in the Central [...]

Oceania, Where We're Headed

A Title Bout Looms, but Mental Health Remains Megan Anderson’s Biggest Fight

By Jordy McElroy  |  31 October 2020 Megan Anderson fears no woman. Even with a scheduled December bout against Amanda Nunes—a two-division UFC champion that napalms faces for a living—a [...]

What We're Watching

Ronin has Class and Clout in Equal Measure

By Eireann Mannino  |  20 March 2021 With a cast like Robert DeNiro (Sam), Stellan Skarsgård (Gregor), Sean Bean (Spence), Jean Reno (Vincent), and Natascha McElhone (Deirdre) to its credit [...]

Africa, Where We're Headed

Johannesburg is the City of Hope, Oppression and Home to Living Legend Sifu Edward Jardine

By Sonia Ahmed  |  2 August 2020 Johannesburg is the New York of South Africa because of its multinational corporations, magnificent skyscrapers, and the Manhattan twin, Maboneng. The famous City [...]

Middle East, Where We're Headed

Behold the Unspoiled Beauty of Jeddah and the Budding MMA Scene at the Arena

By Sonia Ahmed  |  18 August 2020   The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been making news for opening its borders for recreational tourism. Until 2018, it issued visas only for [...]

What We're Reading

What we're reading is made up of books, articles and other reading materials across all fighting disciplines, philosophical perspectives, strategies, ...

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
>