Stage Combat – Acting Meets Swordplay

Audiences of all ages have been captivated by exciting action scenes long before television. Whether performing an ancient martial arts or a modern spy finale, struggle is the essence of every great piece of theatre, film or TV. Akihiro Haga, a professional actor and stuntman, has studied combat performance for years in order to bring fun and realistic battles to the big screen. Having worked on multiple Power Ranger series, Mr. Haga specializes in stage combat and samurai acting, and his new passion has him handing down that experience to others. He offers professional and non-professional courses in a small personal class setting, for both Adults and Children in Dumbo, NY. To find out what makes fight scenes on TV so convincing and fun, Mr. Haga invited me to one of his sword fighting classes.

First of all, whether it’s a simple push, slap, or a complex sword fight, it’s rare to have a storyline that doesn’t call for some sort of action. On set, this needs to be performed safely, while portraying the forcefulness as realistic, so that the story being told is enhanced. This is where stunt combat classes come in.

Like many other physical martial arts and practices, every class begins with a warm up of stretches and exercises. Every class is exciting and enjoyable, but it is also a workout. Every step and motion in the class was carefully taught and executed, but at the same time, much of it was structured improv. During the class, we learned a routine fight; where to dodge, move, strike and hold the wooden sword. Surprisingly, we were taught that many actors take liberties with their motions to add their own flavor to the fight. How you choose to fall, or to stand while striking a blow, can mean the difference between the audience remembering your face or not. It was fascinating to watch and learn about all of the things a viewer never considers while watching television. Within one 90 minute session, we had all learned one short professional fight scene, which we individually acted out with our instructor while being filmed.

Without training, an aspiring stuntman may learn to fight realistically, but they also need to learn to act and maintain safety. Mr Haga’s class teaches a combination of professional combat training and a strong understanding of one’s safety and the audience around them.

— Reported by Melissa Perrier

The class atmosphere is very personal and hands on. Every move and idea is taught by and practiced with Mr. Haga.

Once a student has a firm understanding of a move, the action is sped up, as elements of realism are slowly worked in (such as facial expression and sounds).

The fun nature of the class and intimate size allows for a real bond to form and a team to be built.

Mr. Akihiro Haga’s 10yrs+ experience is a great resource for aspiring stunt fighters. He teaches 3 times a week in Dumbo, NY, when he’s not filming in New Zealand for the latest Power Ranger series.

Samurai Sword Class by Haga
124 Water St., (Adams & Washington Sts.), Brooklyn, NY 11201

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