How a Martial Arts Cosplayer Trains for Stunts – Dash Malone Interview

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Dash Malone travelled around Asia, trained in martial arts, and filmed a YouTube action series that parodies anime stereotypes (Ninja Moon).

While filming a stunt, he dislocated his ankle when the trail gave way unexpectedly. After that, he lost his acrobatic skills and sense of identity for a long time. But, he never gave up.

Find out how Dash overcame his injury and made his training lifestyle work — as a cosplayer, martial artist, stuntman, filmmaker, and digital nomad.

Dash Malone Interview

What do you train in? What’s your purpose?

Currently, I am doing a program where I do metabolic circuit training, HIIT workouts and strength training. I will do one of these for two weeks and then switch. I do stretching and light calisthenics to warm up beforehand.

Ultimately my training is to help express my human body through choreography and martial arts. I have been working out for many years but my workouts are very different lately.

Spider-man cosplay with acrobatics
Spider-man cosplay with acrobatics

I am training for a Spider-Man cosplay project that will be released soon. To get ready for my role as Spider-Man, I am training in aerial silk and rope as well as going to recreational gymnastics classes to get back some of my acro(batic) skills.

Unfortunately, right now, I don’t have a heavy bag or other tools I would like to use practice martial arts. But I am fortunate to have opportunities to train in both aerials and gymnastics.

What happens during an average training session?

Everyday my training could be different depending on what opportunities I get. If I get to attend gymnastics or aerial classes I may not go to the gym. If the weather is nice I may train in the park that day. I endeavor to be consistent stretching and doing short, intense daily workouts. Because I am over 30, I like to do shorter workouts of a high intensity.

How do you make training work despite other priorities?

Right. I am very happy to have some free-time to train and work on creative endeavors.

Dash Malone - Wall flipWhen I was teaching in China with my wife it was a lot harder to find time to train. I found my duties at work very draining and I could only visit the gym 3 times a week.

Even though It was difficult to find time to be physical, I remained consistent in my workouts. And, I was able to regain some acrobatic skills I had lost (such as my wall-flip).*

This was very motivating to me and now that I have some more time I am trying push my self harder and reach new goals. It can still be difficult to train as much as I would like but I try not to get discouraged If I cannot exercise and I remind myself that at this age I need a lot of rest as well.

*Dash explains how he lost his acrobatic skills from an injury, later on in the email interview.

What prompted you to begin training? What’s the story?

When I was in Grade 9*, I had begun doing chin-ups and pull-ups because my father had installed a chin-up bar outside my room with different rungs in it. I had never been a very physical child and the most ripped part of my body was my thumbs from all my exploits in video game worlds. I got into the habit of hanging upside down on the bar after a set of pull ups.

Dash MaloneOne morning I jumped up to hang on the bar but it was not properly attached. I fell from a height higher than myself and broke my back. Although I was on my back for a great deal of time it gave me time to think. As I watched films, read comic books and played video games I realized all my heroes were all in excellent shape.

When I started walking I was determined to go beyond recovery and become better than I had been before. Bruce Lee quickly became my greatest hero and inspiration and I began researching about martial arts and fitness.

*A person in Grade 9 (Canadian schooling system) is roughly 14 years-old.

Were there some challenges that stopped you from training for awhile?

The biggest obstacle to my training was an injury to my ankle. When I was shooting for short action web-series called Lupin and Easton a trail gave way under me and I fell. I slid a great distance in the jungle and I managed to save my camera but I dislocated my ankle. It was very painful to walk out of the jungle on my injury and I never truly recovered from it.

Lupin and Easton
Lupin and Easton

Because I began studies at University shortly after this it became difficult to find time to train. The arches in my feet fell in 2010 and I am only just starting to recover them to my satisfaction.

After my arches fell I lost a lot of my acrobatic skill for a long time. Now, at my age I am very careful in training. Recently I achieved a goal of doing both 50 pull-ups and 50 chin-ups in one set but I quickly found I was doing too much pulling and it was causing a strain on me. I incorporated more pushing exercises into my workouts and I have also cut back a bit on the number of reps I am doing.

What happens in a week in your life? How do you make it work?

It’s hard to find time in the week to work on my creative endeavors and to train regularly. I sell gadgets and toys on Ebay and I try to find work in performance, film and video when I can. This can take up a lot of time but I find lately I have had more time to pursue personal goals than in the past.

Do you see yourself still training when you get to the next stage of life?

I believe martial arts will always be part of my identity and my lifestyle. I know I will not be able to do the same kind of activities when I am older. My metabolism and my body in general is already very different from when I was 20. I hope I can continue to adjust my training and techniques as I grow old.

What are three things you’ve gained or learnt since you started?

Ninja MoonI have learned a great deal over the years and I am very grateful to all my teachers. The three physical skills I am happiest to have learned are my Nunchaku skills, my wall flip and my striking skills.

When I was teaching in Japan and I became unable to do my wallflip because of my fallen arches I became depressed. I felt my wall flip was part of my “Ninja identity” and I was so happy to have regained that ability this past year.

My greatest lessons in martial arts philosophy were taught to me by my Jeet Kune Do instructor (Dennis J White), my Muay Thai instructor (Wirasai Mantha), and by the writings of Bruce Lee particularly those in the Tao of Jeet Kune Do.

More About Dash Malone – Editor’s Note

Expect to hear more about Dash’s other experiences in the future. So, in the mean time, please follow him on Twitter (@NinjaSaizo) and take a look at his quirky YouTube channel.

Here’s the video he was filming when he got injured.

Also, leave him a comment if you have any questions.