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Joshua Chu implements martial arts into Lynbrook’s drama classes

Students+sit+eagerly+and+learn+from+Chus+dynamic+martial+arts+skills
Qianzi Loo
Students sit eagerly and learn from Chu’s dynamic martial arts skills

Picture this: one student’s fist narrowly misses the face of another, who lifts their arm to block the blow. The exhilarating demonstration wows the drama students who fill the room, watching the scene unfold. Class of 2023 alumnus Joshua Chu watches the actors replicate the carefully crafted fight scene he coordinated, supervised and critiqued as the fight progresses.

At the beginning of the school year before Chu left for college, he taught Lynbrook drama students to perform basic martial arts moves and choreographed fight scenes for students to perform. Chu plans to continue his visits to Lynbrook drama classes in the future while he continues his studies at UC Santa Barbara.

Fights in plays often make the performance much more dynamic and pack the atmosphere with action. These scenes often require careful planning in order to be realistic and engaging, while ensuring the safety of the actors. Chu’s process for choreographing a fight scene starts by discussing with the writers and actors their preferred type of fight scene. He then writes down a list of distinct moves on different cards, such as an uppercut or a left hook, numbering them in the process. A random selection of cards were chosen from the list and those were the main actions that he implemented later on. 

“I would tell my partner, ‘I’m going to do moves one, three and five and then we would try that out to see how that looks,” Chu said. “Once we got it down, we would make it faster, speed it up to the point where it didn’t look as if we were doing three very basic strikes. It looked like a genuine fight.”

Once he had a general plan for the scene, he shared it with the rest of the students and invited them to critique the scene and add in parts that they thought would better fit. While the script was being finalized by writers, Chu would teach the actors how to perform each of the movements, correcting their posture and form along the way. 

During the process of creating the list of movements, Chu encouraged students to come up with their own impromptu ideas rather than taking standard moves that everyone had witnessed before, helping make the choreography more unique and personal to the show.

“Joshua doesn’t lecture us for hours on end,” senior Ohana Miura said. “He does a lot of one-on-ones, where he will give specific feedback on how to  fix your posture or how to attack someone more accurately so that the audience can see it better or so that you don’t accidentally take someone’s eye out.”

Chu started his journey with martial arts when he was in elementary school, although he took a break shortly after. In the beginning of high school, Chu rediscovered this interest when he joined Martial Arts Club. Later becoming the club’s co-president in his senior year, Chu saw the club as an outlet for stress and a way to socialize with his friends and let himself exercise strenuously to relax. He persisted through the physical challenges of the club and his confidence to teach others was bolstered through his experiences.

Chu also partook in Studio 74, Lynbrook’s drama club. After taking a drama class, he discovered his new passion for acting. Joining Studio 74 was a way for him to continue his interest even without enrolling in the course. He was able to perform and learn the process of creating scenes, writing scripts and acting out the scenes. Not only was Chu able to gain knowledge, but he also gained various enjoyable experiences while participating. It was a place that allowed him to be himself and let loose.

“Drama is really just where I have fun,” Chu said. “That’s where I got to be my own person and do my own thing — Create and execute fights, blending in some acting and funny accents.”

As Chu continued pursuing these passions, he decided to use his skills in martial arts to help those in the drama community who wouldn’t otherwise be able to learn the techniques behind fight scenes. He spread his love of martial arts with his peers by helping them perform different fight sequences while still pursuing something they love: acting. Chu was able to combine these two interests in a way to benefit students at Lynbrook even after graduating. He hopes to continue to share these passions with other students.

“It’s just really nice to see others learn from me,” Chu said. “I can leave Lynbrook knowing that there will be other people who can do fight choreography.”

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About the Contributors
Amanda Jin, Staffer
(she/her) Amanda is a sophomore and a new staffer for the Epic. In her free time, she enjoys playing video games, listening to music, and watching random cat videos.
Qianzi Loo, Web Editor
(she/her) Qianzi is a junior and Web Editor for the Epic. Outside of journalism, she loves to read memoirs, take too many nature photos with her Nikon, and tune in to her never-ending Spotify playlists. At school, she's also involved in FBLA and Martial Arts Club!

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