Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Get To Know Your Fighters - M. John Kennedy

For your edification we present to you "Get To Know Your Fighters" where you . . . get to know the fighters . . . from DUEL OF AGES. Because, as we all know, knowledge is power. As is the ability to kick ass.

M. John Kennedy
Writer "The Last Duel of Rob Roy"
Role in DUEL OF AGES: Matthews (The Pistoleers)

How long have you been fighting. Uh . . . the fake kind of fighting?
My Dad starting training me as a boxer when I was little kid and I started doing Karate when I started school. Since then I have studied Aikido, Jodo and a little Tai Kwon Do.

I started doing stage combat in earnest just before high school. I was going to an acting summer camp in Peterborough called InterAct (this was before debit machines). We had a week of play-acting which, for me, culminated in a "great battle" between myself and a friend. I cannot recall if it was choreographed but I remember it feeling safe (I have no idea if it looked good). So, I guess I have been doing it for about 20 years. However, I didn't start taking it seriously until university. Since then, I have been more actively pursuing training instead of just goofing around.

What got you interested in Stage Combat?
I was always into wrestling and play fighting and I always thought weapons were cool. I grew up in the country where it was natural to know how to safely handle a rifle or a sharp blade. At my cottage, we had this antique pneumatic player piano and on top of it (next to the shark jaw) was an old cavalry sabre. I used to love playing with that old sword pretending I was taking on invaders. As an adult and an artist I have new reasons for passion: the control I have to learn of my body and any extension of it (in the form of a weapon) is a glorious challenge. I find the creation of choreography a beautiful expression. Fighting a choreographed fight well is like learning to dance: once you know all the steps, and you have a good partner, it is a pure joy.

Tell us about a memorable fight moment you've had.
The best experiences for me are just like rehearsing any other scene. I can't really play until I know the text so well that the words are second nature; then I can just be present, breath, listen and fight. When I know the choreography so well that I am not thinking but in conversation in action, it is the same kind of transcendent experience; being both present and transformed.

Favourite weapon (and why):
I am a big fan of wooden weapons. I adore the Jo (Japanese fighting stick). It was designed and used as defense against the Shogunate in Japan. People who were not able to own swords defended themselves with these thick sticks. Any system that uses a piece of wood against a Katana (the most beautiful of blades) is bad ass. I like a weapon that is fast, can be used as a non-lethal deterrent and can be functional (ie damaging) with either end.

Favourite Fight film/play:
I love me some sweet Star Wars Lightsaber action. The fight at the end of The Phantom Menace is fun and flashy, but my favourite fight is still the original, Obi Wan versus Darth Vader.

The legendary sword fight in The Princess Bride was also wonderful to grow up watching. The classics never go out of style.

Favourite famous fighter:
I enjoy all of Tony Jaa's films but my favorite famous fighter is probably Sonny Chiba [especially in The Street Fighter (1974)].

Role you wish you could have played:
Obi Wan Kenobi. I also want to be a superhero (again).

Favourite drink that audience members should buy you after witnessing your awesome in Duel of Ages:
Anything Gluten & Dairy Free.

Anything else you'd like to plug:
Training. If you want to fight, get some training. It is fun, physical, intellectual, cool, nerdy and the people you meet are the best in the world.

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