Wednesday, May 3, 2017

May the 4th 2017: Meet Lightsaber Wielding Mint Kang from Fightsaber Singapore

Fighting like a girl can be awesome, especially if you are wielding a lightsaber!

Mint Kang can count that as one of her skills as she performs choreographed Star Wars-themed lightsaber fight scenes on stage and at events about twice a year as part of the Fightsaber team.

Fightsaber is a not for profit Star Wars lightsaber performance and costuming organisation founded by Grand Master Sas-Ejiid aka Azmi Danuri, a passionate and long time Star Wars fan who also loves sword fighting. Mint Kang joined the group since 2012.

Red Dot Diva is curious about what it's like to spar with both Jedi and Sith, so she asked Mint Kang many nosy questions!

Red Dot Diva: Is your name really Mint?
Ming Kang (MK): Yes, my name actually is Mint. :p  I started using an English name a long time ago because when I first started working, overseas clients couldn't pronounce my Chinese name. It stuck (occasionally I do regret it).

Mint looking Sithfully Fierce! (Photo by Xiang Hao - Facebook - 500px)

Red Dot Diva: What do you do as a day job?
MK: I worked as a freelance writer straight out of university, took a full time job for a few years before quitting in 2009 to freelance full time, and kept freelancing for the next six years until someone made me an interesting offer in 2016 and I bit.

Red Dot Diva: What made you decide to get involved with Fightsaber?
MK: I like Star Wars. I'm not as crazy about it as I was when I was 12, because face it, growing up shows you the flaws in all the things you used to love - but I still like the simplicity of the original story, the wide open world with room for anything and everything, and of course the idea of dressing up as a Jedi or Sith and wielding a lightsabre on stage! Like, how much cooler can you get?
Red Dot Diva: It's definitely a fantasy of many Star Wars fans!

WATCH the female members of Fightsaber kick ass!

Red Dot Diva: Prior to that, have you done any lightsaber performances?
MK: Nope. I have some theatrics training, but zero martial arts or combat training background.

Red Dot Diva: Do you help choreograph any of the Fightsaber performances?
MK: No. I work more on the theatrics and delivery side, looking at the storyline behind a performance (what led to a group of people beating each other up with lightsabers?) and how the interactions/ relationships between characters can be shown or at least alluded to on stage (someone's taunting you with a weapon, how do you react?)

Red Dot Diva: Do you all watch and analyse the Star Wars fight scenes together and try to mimic the sequences?
MK: Errr, no. We focus more on coming up with original sequences that suit our characters. We do base some moves off what's shown on screen, but we don't restrict ourselves to Star Wars fight scenes alone, so as not to limit what we can do.

Pic courtesy of Fightsaber!

Red Dot Diva: Is there a logical set of stages which you use to translate what you see on screen to the actual physical practice?
MK: It's more a practical set of stages. You see, on screen you are looking at superbly fit, trained warriors in peak condition. In reality, we are a bunch of just passably fit ordinary people whose training is anything from black belt to zero. We have to take people's physical capabilities into consideration, which means we sometimes have to start from ground level and work up. Basic things like stance, footwork and even simple physical fitness need practice before we can go into things like complex sequences, jumps, rolls, stunts.

Red Dot Diva: Do you have any physical limitations that you take into account when performing or choreographing for a show?
MK: I'm short. This means that I can't perform certain moves and still look believable (e.g. a 150cm female in a strength lock with a 170cm male, is anyone really going to believe I'll last more than a second?) Also, I'm relatively light. I've had a team mate throw me halfway across the stage before because he overestimated my weight and used too much strength to pull. Things like that need to be kept in mind, along with people's relative level of fitness.

Red Dot Diva: Which canon Star Wars fight scene is your favourite and why?
MK: Dooku vs Yoda! This probably has something to do with my sensitivity to height and weight differences. But it's really quite interesting to see how combat works out between two opponents who are at completely opposite ends of the spectrum size-wise.

Red Dot Diva: Did you get hurt a lot when practising or performing?
MK: In the early years, we weren't as mindful of safety when practising, so there were a fair number of accidents. Luckily, nothing serious - bruises to the hands and fingers mostly, with the odd close call around the face. These usually happen when someone swings without properly controlling the blade, or when someone loses focus and misses a block. We're a lot more careful now. In performances, it's not so easy to exercise care as that's when we go full force, but we have a joke - when someone gets hit, it's not the victim who panics. They just get back up and keep going. It's the person who inflicted the injury who panics and forgets their sequence.

Photo by Jeremy Ong Photography

Red Dot Diva: Any advice for intending to join Fightsaber?
MK: As with any hobby - you will get out of it what you put into it. If you come to have fun, to learn a bit about how to swing a lightsaber, to hang around fellow appreciators of Star Wars - you'll have fun. Oh, and I absolutely have to say this. Please, please don't come expecting some kind of pay-to-play martial arts class or some kind of structured fitness course. We are a non-profit fan group recognized by Lucasfilm and our focus is on putting up Star Wars performances, which means not just martial arts skill but flair, theatrics, costumes, storyline, and in the last few years, dialogue. Don't worry, it's not compulsory for anyone to perform!

Red Dot Diva: How has joining Fightsaber changed your life?
MK: Well, it's certainly made me fitter, because I was assuredly flabby before I found out that some serious muscle is required to swing a lightsaber and look good doing it. (Disclaimer: the lightsabers I started out with are the old models from Kit Sabers, which are about twice the weight of the new models or more.)

Red Dot Diva: OK, let's be honest here - deep deep down - are you a Sith, or Jedi?
MK: See this lightsaber? It's red.

Red Dot Diva, being the evil Sith biceps-appreciator that she is, nods approvingly.


The Fightsaber team will be performing for only one show at the May the 4th celebrations.

Be one with the Force and gather at the main stage, Gardens by the Bay this Saturday, 6 May, 4 PM to watch their exciting lightsaber fight performance!

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