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John Lindsey
21st August 2000, 15:08
I would first like to thank Obata Sensei on joining us here at e-Budo and in sharing with us his knowledge.
These Spotlight on Budo forums are one of our most popular features and I am sure this one will be a lot of fun.

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To get things going, I would like to ask Obata Sensei about his movie career vs. his martial arts career. It seems that many martial artists who make it into the movies tend to put their acting careers in front of their martial art training, using it more for a springboard to get into acting. Obata Sensei, what I find interesting in your case is that while you have had various roles in some major films, you seem to keep the martial arts your primary focus.

Thus, I would like to hear about your experiences with Hollywood and how it relates to being a martial artist.


[Edited by John Lindsey on 08-21-2000 at 10:21 AM]

Walker
21st August 2000, 17:17
If I could add a bit to Johnís question, could you talk as well about how martial arts, stunts, etc. are treated in Hollywood vs. how they are handled in the Japanese movie industry?
In Japan do they have the martial artist who becomes a movie star or do the movie stars learn some martial arts for their rolls?
And last what do you think the impact of the recent migration of Hong Kong directors and talent to Hollywood will be?
Thank you

Obata T
21st August 2000, 20:28
I have been in about 18 Hollywood movies, but only 6 of them would be considered major.

At first, I watched carefully how sword actions [techniques] were done in the Hollywood movies. I started as an action coordinator on the first movie that I did. Since I had training and experience in this field, I wanted to be more of an action coordinator than an actor. But, I was used as an actor since they seemed to find my personality interesting.

When I was in Japan, I was a member of an action coorination/stunt group (Tokyo Wakakoma). We taught actors martial arts and movie actions [theatrical fighting techniques]. We used real martial arts but made sure no one got hurt. That is where the types of movie techniques becomes important.

If someone coordinates an action movie with no martial arts experience, the movie will look cheap. If the movie is focused only on martial arts, most people will find the movie boring. But, if the actions and stunts are done with good martial arts and movie actions, it looks real and no one gets hurt. This takes some time to learn and to understand how to choose actions correctly.


If I could add a bit to John's question, could you talk as well about how martial arts, stunts, etc. are treated in Hollywood vs. how they are handled in the Japanese movie industry?

In Japan do they have the martial artist who becomes a movie star or do the movie stars learn some martial arts for their rolls? And last what do you think the impact of the recent migration of Hong Kong directors and talent to Hollywood will be?


First of all, the movie budget, planning, assistants, camera, union, etc. is different between other countries like Hong Kong China and here.

In America, LOTS of money is used for just one scene. In Japan, there is no union and not much money is used. This is why a movie is finished up quickly with the help of good stunt coordinators and actors' martial techniques.

In America, there are differnt stunt specialists for different kinds of things. Tests are done over and over for safety.

In Japan, the situations are thought over carefully and as a result less time is used to shoot a scene. Also, the stunt specialists are the same for different scenes, they must push theirselves to do everything.

Additionally, in Japan the actors usually learn their rolls from martial artists. Sometimes actors are chosen in the audition. In Samurai movies or Karate movies, the actors usually have to learn the Budo techniques before the movie or series is shot.

I had a student that I taughted swordsmanship in Japan. He is a famous actor that can also do Tameshigiri. But unfortunatly, it is rare that an actor has this type of talent.

Usually an actor has never held a sword, so the action coordinator has a hard time teaching the actor!

During 1990's, Japan's economy went down and the Hong Kong actors became popular. Of course Hong Kong style and Japan style is different, but I think that Jackie Chan and Jet Li have great talent and the movies are fun to watch!

In 1993 Brandon Lee died, but he was a great actor that I was happy to have known from the time we met during the filming of Showdown in Little Tokyo.

In recent years I have spent my time working on spreading Shinkendo and Aikido, and my organizations and Honbu dojo are such that it is a full time job.

I would like people to understand that I am a martial artist who works in movies, not an actor who simply does some movie style martial arts. For some reason working in movies here in America seems to be something that some people do not take seriously. It is just a job like any other, and does not mean that you do not know martial arts or have other skills.

Thank you for your questions!

International Shinkendo Federation,