Speed is very important in fights – it”s exciting, it hides the mechanics of certain techniques, and it helps convey the chaotic energy of characters fighting to survive.
But speed is not everything.
If actors simply go as fast as they can many opportunities to thrill the audience and deepen their connection to the characters will be missed. There are many layers that must be put into a fight before the actors even think of pushing the speed.
First there is the technique itself. There is no point trying to move fast when your movements are imprecise, incorrect or dangerous. A phrase I”ve stolen and use always is: Practice Doesn”t Make Perfect, Practice Makes Permanent: So Make Your Practice Perfect. Your muscles will remember the movements you repeat – so give them the correct information the first time, because bad habits will take much longer to unlearn. Most importantly: fast, vague and sloppy movements do not tell the story of violent intention.
Students also tend to do their favourite moves fast and then slow down when they forget choreography or get to a phrase that is more difficult or complex. Rehearsing this way will guarantee your fight will fall apart at speed. The focus of rehearsal should always be FLOW – so that the fight speeds up evenly and easily. As a Gun Wrangler on Nikita once told me “Slow is Smooth, and Smooth is Fast.”
Once you can flow the moves together, then you decide which moves get more weight than others: a slap does not carry the same weight as a punch, a punch is not the same as a knee to the face. Some moves are power moves, others are meant to distract or create an casinos online australia opening; just as some phrases escalate, and some phrases slow down as characters get more beat up. This way the fight will have an unpredictable and realistic cadence, or rhythm.
Breath and vocalization must be worked in from the beginning as well. One of the main reasons for fights falling apart at speed is that the fighters weren”t breathing in rehearsal. If you”re not breathing when it”s slow, then during the fast run, when you really need to breath, tension will lock up the technique and your memory will freeze up also. Vocalization is also linked to breath, and it no deposit online casino is also something that will make your fight seem faster! Have you ever watched a movie fight with the sound off? It”s at least 30% more lame, and the mistakes will become more apparent. Sound tends to magnify the intensity of a fight.
Finally – if you run a fight straight through as fast as possible, you are not giving the audience any moments to connect to your struggle. Moments of triumph, discovery, arrogance, pleasure must be created. Technique is nothing if the audience doesn”t care who wins – and the actors make them care by letting sharing their journey within the fight.
However. Once all that is is place. The fight needs to fly. Movie-Savvy audiences expect fast fights even in theatre, but, whether they know it or not, they expect all those other layers to be there as well. This combination of stillness and chaos, character moments and flashy technique is what makes fight scenes so popular.
To illustrate this blog, here is a clip of one of the masters of all these things: Jackie Chan. He never misses an opportunity to share a moment with the audience. But once it”s on – it”s fast! (This is by no means my favourite Jackie Chan fight – but it”s one of the few that is under 7 minutes! :) Enjoy! (sorry about the Ad)