The Art of Fight Direction

One of the great experiences of my life, in or out of comic cons and film fests, was when I was invited to participate on “The Art of Fight Direction” panel at 2011’s ActionFest in Asheville, North Carolina.

There I got to share the stage (or, to be more accurate, the floor) with Michael Jai White (Spawn, Black Dynamite), Richard Ryan (The Dark Knight, Sherlock Holmes) and Larnell Stovall (Bunraku, Mortal Kombat:Legacy).

It was a great experience, since I had been a “fake fight” fan since childhood.

While my peers were out playing sports, I was all over town with my friends on extended, evolving, improvised “cops and robbers” or “spy vs spy” adventures that included choice selections from our extensive toy gun armories (once shot my best friend in the face with a starter pistol … after an evening of picking shards of the blank cartridge off his cheeks and ears, didn’t do that again … thank heaven the barrel was blocked and the round was ultra-low-caliber) and elaborate fight scenes we’d choreograph and perform.

By the time I went to college, I was well versed at flipping or being flipped, punching or being punched, kicking or catching kicks, and launching myself over, under, or off various furniture, vehicles, or roofs.

Naturally, I took something of a break as my career started up, but since I was working at magazine or comic companies, and saw my first novel and non-fiction books published by the time I left school, there really wasn’t much of a gap, since all the writing integrated my knowledge of TV and film action.

Then, of course, came kung fu. Shortly after I discovered the real thing in 1978, I was on sets with Jackie Chan, Yuen Baio, Sammo Hung, Lo Lieh, Wang Lung Wai, Tsui Hark, and John Woo … and that was during my first Hong Kong trip alone! Eventually I would get to meet all my martial art “not-quite-fake fighting” idols … as well as many who weren’t.

So to share the spotlight with these western greats was a thrill and an honor. And now, thanks to Robert Mitchell, you can join me in saluting these uber-cool talents.

Hope you enjoy seeing this as much as I did participating in it (and, of course, hope you don’t find my unworthy presence too much of a distraction).