Today we'd like to introduce you to Dita Tantang, who has been with ID longer than almost anyone else.
What is your job?
Data analyst by day, actor combatant by night (sometimes days too).
How did you get into stage combat?
On a whim! Without prior acting training or martial arts / combat experience (I was doing a Computing degree at the time), I whacked "stage combat" into Google because a friend at drama school was telling me how awesome it was. I was curious, found a foundation course, enrolled and enjoyed it so much I carried on training.
How long have you been training in stage combat?
Almost 10 years now - I started in 2006 and you don't really "stop" training, even after all your qualifications, your first fight gig, your tenth fight gig... you still go back and train up your skills.
What courses and/or workshops have you done with ID?
Possibly all of them!
What is your favourite weapon or unarmed style?
Rapier and dagger. It's the first weapon style I learnt and it's the weapon style I had learnt for the longest time (the foundation course I did lasted an academic year). I feel incredibly comfortable with it. I love the two-handed system and the choreographic options it brings as well as the sound a rapier and dagger fight makes.
In what ways has stage combat training helped you?
Stage combat training has taken me down a path I never knew I wanted, never knew existed, and yet here I am loving it all! It's helped a lot with my acting and I've made a lot of friends :)
Have you had any work through ID?
Ooh yeah, I've been in a musketeer series, swordfighting in the South of France, and I've had an awesome music video gig where I fight two muscly six-foot-something-or-other guys in an aeroplane. I've also done live corporate shows, including fighting on a pirate ship. Sometimes I get assisting work for the teachers and co-ordinators as well.
What has been your favourite fight related job?
Getting shot by Kiefer Sutherland in 24
. I was on a boat with some other bad guys, he killed us all... such a meanie.
What would be your ideal job?
I'd love to be part of a big budget feature film or TV series as one of the main ass-kicking characters.
Do you have any funny/interesting stage combat stories?
I was assisting Ronin in an intro to stage combat class for kids. We were teaching them the slap and taught them how to knap. So first I did a clap knap and we told them to watch my hands. We did the slap and they all got it. Ronin then whispered to me that he was going to do the knap (on his thigh) so when we demonstrated it again the kids were confused because they didn't see the knap. Ronin then told them it was him making the noise. We did it again with them watching Ronin, except we switched the knap back to me... this continued for some time much to our amusement and their confusion.
What is your favourite fight you've seen in a film or stage production and why?
I recently re-watched The Raid
and love the 2 v 1 fight near the end - it is incredibly skillful and relentless; I would love to be able to achieve something so martial like that one day.
Do you have any fight related work or training coming up?
I'll be assisting on an operatic production of Macbeth
for ID next week - thanks guys ;)
From your experience what advice would you give to someone wanting to be a fight performer?
Start with doing stage combat courses and remember that stage combat is not just for the theatre stage, it's for every medium. It teaches you the foundations of creating the illusion of violence, you then learn to adapt them depending on who your audience is e.g. a camera, three cameras, audience in the round, three-person panel. It also teaches you techniques to prevent injuries for both yourself, your partner, and anyone else around you.
I found it hard to make my actions believable in the beginning because you know it's all "fake" and it doesn't feel "real". I then decided to try kickboxing to supplement my stage combat training to make me understand what my body is doing when it's throwing a punch or a kick with real intention. Likewise, what does my body do and how do I feel when I get hit. It also helped with fitness and martial skills, so I could later add that super-cool jumping spinning kick into a choreographed fight.
Lastly, keep training. Keep at it. Like with any skill, you have to keep practicing. Practice makes progress.
Follow Dita on her journey at:
Facebook - www.facebook.com/ditatantang
Instagram - www.instagram.com/actorcombatant
Twitter - @actorcombatant
IMDb - imdb.me/dita