Akihiro Yuji Noguchi knows a thing or two about stunts: he's been either doing stunts or directing stunt performers for three decades. And not just any ol' stunts; Mr Noguchi has been involved with one of the most stunt-heavy franchises ever to exist, Power Rangers, first as an actor, then 2nd Unit Director.
You can see the latest fruit of his labour, Power Rangers: Dino fury, available to stream now on Netflix. We already spoke with Mr Noguchi about the series and how he plans stunts, and in the third and final part of the conversation, we asked him about how he used to train and work out when he actively did stunts in the 90s.
"In action training, all movements begin with the relaxation of muscles", he says, "When you want to perform sharp techniques, increase the muscle strength usage rate from 0% to 100%, instantly." How does one train to achieve such levels of muscle activation? Has Mr Noguchi any advice for budding stunt performers? We asked him.
Akihiro Yuji Noguchi training and workout advice
"My action is based on Gōjū-ryū, traditional Japanese karate", Mr Noguchi says, "While practising my hand and foot techniques, the main idea was how to make the karate technique look good on video. While shooting the video of myself, I repeatedly checked and fixed my front and side forms in front of the mirror."
He would also check each of the foot techniques, such as front kick and roundhouse kick, and the hand techniques, such as thrusting, punching, blocking, and avoiding, to see how to make them look the most powerful and speedy. As Mr Nogischi explains, "Martial arts fight scenes are a combination of basic techniques."
"If each technique is done well, it would be a convincing fight scene when combined", he adds, "Also, I think I spend more time analysing how to use my body than the technique itself, such as moving smoothly and quickly when connecting techniques."
But Power Rangers action scenes are more than just karate kicks and punching. To be able to jump high and do all sorts of summersaults, actors must also familiarise themselves with a unique training tool: the trampoline.
"Another part of my routine was trampoline practice. I practised on the trampoline carefully because if I made a mistake in the landing posture, it would lead to a big accident", Mr Noguchi gives an example, "However, if you are scared, you cannot do anything, so you need courage."
He also repeatedly practised the techniques he wanted to do on set, such as double front flips and double backflips: "The Power Rangers put on a mask and perform the technique, and this visual restriction also enhances fear [in the perfomer], so it is essential to develop a physical sense and balance that does not rely on vision."
When asked about any notable performances he did in the past, Mr Noguchi said he was most proud of one of the sequences he did as the Black Ranger in Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers.
"In that action sequence, I used a trampoline to show off a double backflip and double front flip and half twists", he elaborates on the uncanny stunt, "At that time, I don't think anyone did this technique with a mask on. It was a ninja character, so I think it was a perfect technique."
Another notable scene he has good memories of was In Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue, where he set a mini trampoline on top of a truck (!). The car was then blown up, and he landed doing a double front flip. "This is my favourite high fall, and I've shown it in other works", he concludes.