Master of the staged punch

30 April 2019
The Straits Times, Page 4

Meet a stunt man who specialises in stage combat. On screen, a jab, punch and hook results in a broken nose and a bloodied face. But behind the scenes, as the cameras are rolling, that same action is done in slow motion, and the moves hardly leave a scratch. Welcome to the world of fight choreography, which Mr Stuart Stephen Clifford is a part of. With a third dan black belt in aikido and six wushu silver medals under his belt, the 50-year-old could be a martial arts instructor - and is in fact also an aikido instructor - but he found his passion in fight choreography instead. His reason is simple. “In martial arts, the sensei (teacher) goes ‘sit down!’ and everyone sits down.

But in fight choreography, (the actors) say ‘Huh? Why am I doing this?’, they won’t just follow your orders without any explanation, said Mr Clifford. He prefers the informal and candid nature of the latter. Last month, Mr Clifford conducted a stunt choreography workshop as part of the National Youth Film Awards conference. Some 20 participants participated in the two-hour workshop, where they learnt different combinations of moves commonly used in fight scenes seen on TV, the stage or in the movies. When he is not conducting workshops or hitting the dojo, Mr Clifford works as a freelance lecturer at Lasalle College of the Arts and the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts. He teaches stage combat – another term for fight choreography – meant for theatre.

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Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.