In early February, I went away to Toronto to teach a seminar for a local Jiu-jitsu organization. While I was there, I also met with a number of Toronto stunt coordinators, hoping it might lead to future opportunities. Happily, the first one I met with hired me to work on a show while I was there. He also hired me to put on a seminar for some of the female stunt doubles who work on his show, requesting that I teach them some fancy throws and flying techniques that would look good on film.
I had a number of techniques in mind, but wanted to work on them in a context that was better suited for camera. I also had to train up a training partner who was local to Toronto so I had someone to demonstrate techniques on for the seminar, so I used our training time to pick a few moves that I wanted to tweak for film and dial in for the seminar. These include kani basami (using the head), flying omoplata with gun disarm, back flip into arm break, and back flip to counter ushiro guruma into ura nage. I’ve put them all together in the video below.
The thing with doing throws and flying submission moves for film that makes it distinctly different is that in the martial arts and self-defence, it is generally accepted that the training partner is opposing your energy or is in some degree combative. For film, it’s more like a partner dance. You work together to make the move look as big and cool as possible. This means that the person being thrown does subtle things to help the person make the technique smoother and ultimately look more impressive.
For the head-level scissor throw, flying omoplata and back flip into arm break, the person being thrown keeps their core strong so the person doing the move can stabilize more easily as they hoist themselves into position. If the person receiving the technique is a lot taller, they might also bend at the knees more to make it easier for the thrower to get into position.
For back flip counter against ushiro guruma, the person doing the throw will pop the hip more so the receiver has enough hang time to do the back flip. And after the flip, the original thrower will stay light on their feet and kick up a bit as they get thrown in the ura nage. This is more easily done if the person receiving the ura nage grabs around the thrower’s body so they have something to pivot around in the air.
My training partner who helped me out for the seminar, Jonathan Jamnik Sensei, has no aspirations to become a stunt performer and is only used to doing techniques for real and not all “fancy-like.” He was an awesome sport for taking the time to learn things the film way, spending 2-3 hours a day from Monday to Friday learning this stuff the week before the seminar. I am very thankful for his efforts and the seminar went well as a result.