A while back, I was in Buffalo, New York. Attending the World Modern Arnis Alliance camp held at the headquarters of Horizon Martial Arts under the direction of by Datu Tim Hartman.
While at the camp, a seminar was being offered by On Camera Combatives (OCC) held by Ryan Monolopolus. The premise of the seminar was to introduce the martial artists attending (and aspiring actors/actresses) on how to combine actual martial arts into their work on camera.
While I admittedly have little interest in pursuing a role on camera, (I would do it once for the unique experience). I participated in the seminar to see what it was about. Looking around at the group, most were martial artists who were there for the martial arts camp that weekend. However there were a couple of aspiring actors/actresses, potential extras, and others there as well.
Ryan began by giving a brief description on how cinematography works and the goals for the workshop that day. Ryan explained: “While the concept of martial arts in film is nothing new – the approach is quite innovative. What we are doing is creating a Rosetta Stone for fight movement in film. This way, from the most basic of action to the most complication fight sequences, we can script and build impressive scenes for the camera.”
What’s it like taking a class or seminar of On Camera Combatives?
As the instructors of the program have broken it down for us, it looks something like a cross between a fitness/martial arts class and a collaborative acting workshop. Students are introduced to the OCC system and what they refer to as the three pillars of training: Weapons, Hand-to-hand combat, and Movement. In addition, full-day intensives classes focusing on drilling with partners, in small groups, with the instructors and on camera – making sure that everyone leaves with a sense of competence and understanding of the material.
After a brief warm up, we got right into it. We began by working the strikes based upon the Modern Arnis angles of attacks that were normally used in their stick work. However instead we were using basic punching strikes. This helped create a template of not only what was going to be fed, but the how as well. While it may not seem ideal to a martial artist, in the movie industry it’s imperative. It was explained that it allowed for both actors to be able to know what was coming next and how to best stay safe while working various fight scenes.
We were also began to learn how to ‘sell’ the hit when our partner struck us. With particular details being given not only to watching out for the incoming strike but how to react to it in a convincing manner. Such as making sure the head moves in the proper direction of an incoming strike so that the move makes sense. (Nothing like seeing a cross come in near the head and seeing the actor on the opposite side bowl over as if they were hit in the gut.)
While we stayed in the realm of hand to hand combat (which was probably for the best considering my training partner was an actor and not into the FMA combatives that I prefer). I still picked up quite a bit of material in the amount of time that was allotted for the seminar.
I found Ryan’s approach to be both interesting and thoroughly engaging. Not only for the Filipino Martial Artist in me, but also for the actors and actresses that were there as well.
After the On Camera Combatives seminar, I found the opportunity to talk to Ryan and ask more about his program. During our conversations Ryan explained: Another goal for OCC is to help any performers, actors or martial artists demonstrate their material in an impressive fashion. Eventually the founder imagines the program being taught by affiliate instructors around the world and uniting professionals throughout the industry.
“I am humbled to have founded and be teaching this program – but this is just the beginning. We are looking to bring on more skilled instructors, hold events throughout the USA and internationally, and become the go-to training program for fight movement and combat skills for film” stated an enthusiastic Monolopolus.
“We encourage all those in our industry and even outside of it to engage with us, take a class, join our community. I am excited to help bring elements of FMA (Filipino Martial Arts) and all martial arts into the spotlight of the entertainment industry. But its only together than we can make this program a phenomenon and success.”
Here is a video with Ryan working On Camera Combatives techniques in Union Square, NYC a couple of weeks ago with SAG actress Evgeniya Radilova. This was in preparation for a seminar at the Actors Studio in Manhattan on June 11th.
What I like most about what Ryan is doing is that he is taking the Filipino Martial Arts to the mainstream media through his actions. Ryan’s On Camera Combatives program is a great vehicle to help promote and spread the word of FMA. As Datu Tim Hartman of the Modern Arnis system said: “I don’t care if it’s Modern Arnis or a different Filipino Martial Art system. As long as it helps get it out there, then it’s all good.” This is something I fully agree with. To that extent we will be happy to help support Ryan and the On Camera Combatives program. We will also enjoy watching the excitement, interest, and awareness that he is helping to generate for the FMA community.
Ryan Monolopolus is the founder and owner of On Camera Combatives. Ryan has also worked on a few films in various roles. Ryan worked as an assistant director for the film “Anna” that premiered at the Tribecca film festival. He produced and was the Assistant Director for the film “Let Them Have Their Way”. Ryan is currently Directing a web series titled “I Am Gamer.” Was the lead role in the short film VIGILANTE by Demar Productions and has been cast as the role Vladimir Kravchenko in the series FORCE.
Ryan is also working on a lot of bigger projects that are under confidentiality agreements. So he wasn’t able to share any information about these upcoming films/productions.
While at the World Modern Arnis Alliance Camp we also saw Ryan earn his 5th degree black belt in Modern Arnis and be awarded the title of Punong Guro.
For more information on this program you can find them on Facebook: www.facebook.com/oncameracombatives
Contact information for the organization is email@example.com
Article written by:
Guro Chris Thompson
Phone: (315) 313-KALI (5254)