It’s been a while since I last wrote one of these, actually it’s been a while since I’ve been fully engaged with True Edge Stage Combat due to my expeditions and undertakings in lands further afield, however I’m back and that is the topic of my blog today; Re-engaging and committing to the things we love.

Now my dis-engagement wasn’t something intentional, just a thing that happened over time, ‘it wasn’t you True Edge, it was me’.  The distance was a buffer, an excuse to flirt with other subjects and topics such as creative writing, learning Cantonese and playing the Ukulele!  But deep down I knew there was nothing that could compare to that marriage of physicality and creativity you give me.  A place where I could lose myself in the moment every time, where my muscle memory would kick into place to parry a blade swiping towards my head and releasing a rush of endorphins and adrenalin to make that most exhilarating of cocktails that only you, True Edge, could serve up.

Now jokes aside (you can see my creative writing course hasn’t gone to complete waste ;) , we have a lot of students come to us inspired to take up this new skill, it may be to further the amount of strings on their acting bow or to satiate some deep dark desire to beat people up but without the downside of causing someone actual bodily harm or being criminally incarcerated for their actions.  These students have an amazing time and I’d say 99% leave the course or workshops fully invigorated, with a sense of getting value for their time and money.  They leave with a newfound confidence and knowledge that they didn’t have at the start; they’re on their way to becoming masters of a craft.  Now if they had the time and means to sign up for more there and then, of that 99%, I’d say 100% would do so without batting an eyelid.  However much like myself, the further one gets away from something, other temptations start to creep in, the lure of creative writing, learning Cantonese and playing that God Damn Ukulele all seem like great ideas.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Stage Combat is the only hobby, skill or extra-curricular activity one should undertake once you’ve started, what I’m saying is as an actor for over a decade now, the business is tough, extremely tough!  Not only must you have the right essence, gender, age, race, height, hair & eye colour, accent and physique for a role, you need to establish relationships with Casting directors, Directors, Writers, Choreographers, Producers, Agents and other Actors…. have I put you off yet?  It’s tough and can be miserable at times but that still doesn’t outweigh the joy of being onstage and making the audience feel the emotions you live up on stage or shooting a film or show out on a live set in the Desert or on snowy mountains or even rehearsing in class and losing yourself in that moment, it’s as if you’ve tasted the most exhilarating of cocktails full of adrenalin and endorphins and you want more of it!

Anyhow the crux of my argument is this; Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers claims that the amount of hours it takes to become a master is 10,000 which equates to just short of 417 days, which is 59.5 weeks which is just over a year.  Now you’re not going to dedicate 1 full year without sleep or eating or anything to mastery in acting, however if you were to spend an average 2.5 hours a day, that would make you a master in 10 years!  At this point, you’re definitely committing to the ‘it’s a marathon, not a sprint’ theory but if like our students at True Edge or myself, you’re able to practice and hone your craft with subjects you love like singing, accent, dance and dare I add Stage Combat… then maybe there is a chance of becoming a Master, maybe there is a chance of carving out a niche in this over saturated market as the guy or girl who has a particular set of skills, skills you have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make you a nightmare for people like… (Sorry I had to run with that), anyhow you get my point.

Now just to cap this off, here’s a little story, I recently was asked to send a taped audition in for Oscar award winning director Ang Lee.  This opportunity came about from years of investment in the American industry, my relationship with the casting director, the fact I spoke Arabic and having the look of a young Middle Eastern male, however what I wasn’t able to show them was the years of training I’ve had in stage combat because it wasn’t on my show-reel.  That’s important because they ended up casting a stunt man; they wanted someone capable of carrying out the fight routine.  So if you’re going to carve out a niche, which I suggest you do if you want to stand a chance, then make sure you sell it, you market the hell out of it so everyone knows.  Furthermore if you’re going to spend that much time on mastery, then make sure it’s on something or someone you love, it’s okay to go away and learn and invest in other skills etc. as long as they align with your ultimate goals and that you come back and show love to each of those skills over time, therefore keeping the ball up in the air and maybe, just maybe giving you that inch over the other person you’re competing with for the role.

Over the coming year we have many more exciting workshops lined up and opportunities for you to further your skills in the world of stage combat.  Let us know if you’re interested or have any questions and I look forward to either meeting you or seeing you again for those looking to keep up with their skills.


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