Monday, October 6, 2008

Learning how to die like a samurai

by Chris MaGee

You, like I, have probably seen your fair share of samurai movies and marveled at the skill that the actors had with their katana. Studios would train their actors rigorously to make the fight sequences believable, but this kind of training was given only to the industry insiders. Not any longer. During my morning surf through the internet I came across this interesting article at The Tokyo Reporter about the now 71-year-old sword fight instructor Ryuji Kikuchi and how he teaches the average person how to thrust, slash and even die like Toshiro Mifune, Tatsuya Nakadai or Ken Takakura.

Kikuchi runs the Tate-do School of sword fight choreography in Osaka, imparting decades of on set wisdom to dozens of students a year. Starting out working as a stunt man at Nikkatsu during the 1960s Kikuchi went on to star in and do fight choreography for Hideo Gosha, Masahiro Makino and Takeshi Kitano.

But what is the key to a good sword fight? According to Kikuchi it's the scream. "The timing is vital and the voice needs to come from deep within the stomach," He explains in the article, "This is also good for your health as a means of stress relief."

For more details on Kikuchi-san and his school check out the Tate-do website here.

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