Kicking and Stunting with Alex Chung
A little while ago on vidTO, we featured a video by Torontonian Alex Chung: actor, martial artist, stuntperson, fight choreographer. To be honest, I was intrigued. The rapid rise in popularity of parkour and tricking in mainstream culture — and especially here in Toronto — has always been fascinating to me, so I decided to go out and find Alex Chung and find out what really makes him tick. And kick.
How did you get started with martial arts and stunts?
For quite a few of us (including myself, Steve Clarke, and Joseph Jamili) martial arts was something introduced to us at a very early age (picture small eight year olds doing karate kicks). Eventually it grew into a passion. A lot of the stunt crew members are trickers, so martial arts was definitely a great influence on many of us. Myself and DL MacDonald treaded into stunt work when we started making our own short martial art films in 2001. The formation of the stunt team in July 2006 marked our coming together to do stunts as a unit and to support one another.
What kind of training and practice goes into the work you do?
Since we have a lot of time devoted to school and work, we aren't able to train as often as we'd like to, but we do train consistently. A few of us do weight training on our own time, but we also meet up as a team to work on tricking and stunts at a gym. Two gyms we visit most often are the ones at Scarborough Gym Elites Gymnastics and Steeles West Gymnastics (with Team Ryouko). Their facilities are excellent for us to work on dynamic kicking, acrobatics, break falls, creative stunts, etc. Our training will consist mostly of the flips, falls, and kicks that you see in our vids. For "screen fighting" in general (reactions, timing, speed, the acting itself) we gain through experience in making action scenes.
Is there a large community of people who do this kind of stuff in Toronto?
Yes. Both parkour and tricking have become very popular especially in Toronto. One of the most well known trickers, Joe Eigo, lives here in Toronto. Also, Team Ryouko is possibly the most popular group featuring XMA (Extreme Martial Arts) around. Members of our team often meet up with members of Ryouko, Joe Eigo, or anyone else interested in martial arts and tricking. People with varying ages and skill levels get together all the time to engage in the dangerous but exciting sport of tricking. More and more people have been trying out martial arts and stunt work to expand their horizons and to see what they have to offer in the entertainment industry.
How has the popularity of sites like YouTube — where people can see your work — effected the amount and type of stunt and martial art work you do?
Sites like YouTube have given us great exposure. We've been getting a lot of appreciation for our work and it also gives us a chance to see others. It pushes you and makes you work harder in order to improve and to outdo what you've done before. We try very hard to raise the standard in action film-making. Each time we take on a project there's the task of coming up with fresh and innovative choreography as well as exciting new stunts. Thanks to sites like YouTube, we are able to get feedback and find ways to reach other people out there who love doing what we do.
(Image: Dan MacDonald)
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