News

Roger Yuan Talks Fight Coordination and Training for 'Jason Bourne'

Matt Damon's fight coordinator connected with M&F to share his training philosophy and methods for coordinating fights.

Matt Damon got into serious shape for his latest Bourne flick as seen in the above sparring video with trainer Matt Baiamonte. The upcoming blockbuster is full of incredible fight scenes, and we got to talk to the man behind the magic, Roger Yuan. He's a fight coordinator and trainer who's got his own lineup of stuntman and acting roles in addition to an impressive (and intimidating) martial arts background. Talk about a guy who does it all. 

He found time to talk training and fight coordination with M&F ahead of today's DVD release. Find out what it's like to work with Damon and produce a hit like Jason Bourne. 

M&F: How did you become a trainer and fight coordinator?

Roger Yuan: I’ve always been very interested in martial arts. I was obsessed with it even as a young boy. Many people don’t know that from the age of 6 until 17, I was self-taught. I taught myself by renting out books from libraries or from magazines that I’d bought. When I graduated from UCLA, I worked 9-5 and was bored. All day, I’d be waiting for the minute I could get back to the dojo. I wondered what I could do that would embrace what I love, martial arts, and also make money. The natural progression was doing stunts, so I manipulated my career that way.

What’s working with Matt like? He has a boxing background and has had his own boxing coach for a while. Does that make it any easier for him to learn all of the choreography for the fight scenes?

I met Matt and his boxing coach as well. My own personal background has primarily been martial arts, but I also have done western boxing, so I could relate very easily with his coach. We even exchanged ideas, and I gave some notes in terms of how to help with Matt’s footwork for the fight scenes. It was easier to communicate and connect, and it made it easier for Matt personally to take in the new choreography. 

SEE ALSO: The Bourne Transformation Workout

What are fight rehearsals like?

What I like to do is get an actor as relaxed as possible using Tai Chi Chuan. Even with modern boxing technique, what I would say is, “Let’s do it Tai Chi-style.” We’d work on the actual technique in slow motion. Oftentimes, I would have him rehearse a fight sequence at least ten times all the way through. The first time would be as slow as possible to work on limb placement and how to generate power. Each time I would emphasize something different. The first five reps would be analyzing all of the mechanics and being natural in movement. The next five would be upping the pace each time until we got it to show speed. 

You’re also a trainer. What are the differences between training and coordinating fights? Is there a lot of overlap?

I don’t think that there’s a great overlap. My personal methodology for training has always been to service movement as a martial artist and a fighter. I take that from myself because I use yoga, certain types of weight training, powerlifting, speed work, agility work and even gymnastic exercises. It’s all to do with servicing how the body can move effectively and efficiently with as little exertion as possible. I think that actually goes very well into training actors, other stunt people or athletes to become more aware of their own physicality. Internally, this comes from martial arts training. Externally, it comes from all of the above in terms of movement and calisthenics. 

How does all of that training work in to a busy schedule?

I’m a big fan of bodyweight exercises because if I’m working, it’s long hours on a set and then back to a hotel room. Not every hotel has a functional gym, so it’s a matter of being inventive and timely, and using as little space as possible but using your whole body in as many different angles as possible to work all of your muscles. At the same time, you work on agility, flexibility, muscle density and endurance.

How do you personally stay fit?

When I train people, I don’t do it in terms of a specific program. I utilize what I do for myself, and I crosstrain.

I don’t stick to any one routine, but I do follow the principle of body confusion. I try not to repeat the same workout twice. I draw from yoga, Pilates, slow movements with water resistance in a pool and I use powerlifting maneuvers without necessarily going very heavy. For me, it’s about strength, agility and moving my particular mass as quickly as possible. I try not to go for size gains, but strength and speed gains. I use gymnastics and martial arts routines to stay fluid. 

"Jason Bourne" and "The Bourne Ultimate Collection," which features all five of the films, are out today on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

Check out the trailer below! 

Topics:
Comments