An aspiring and successful actor, Che is deeply immersed in the Rochester cultural scene. So much so, we’ve named him Che of The Town!
Exclusively for Talker, Che has solicited and is conducting interviews from about 50 Rochestarians working in a diversity of creative fields.
For the full series, see Che of The Town: Interviews (1-21)
Introducing Justin Krall; A Talented Actor and Extraordinary Stage/ On Screen Combat Instructor.
In today’s highlight we turn our attention to Justin Krall, an extraordinarily skilled Combat Instructor and gifted actor with an interest in Stunt Doubling. This is the guy you need on your next film or stage project! Discipline and strength are two words that come to mind when I think of Justin Krall’s body of work.
I asked Justin a series of questions. Here is what we discussed.
Tell us a little about yourself, where you are from, grew up, what H.S./College you attended etc.
I grew up in Fairport NY, just outside Rochester, and attended Fairport High School where my love for the arts began. I was fortunate that there were theatre classes and shows produced there, many schools have cut such programs.
I attended Niagara University after that, where my love for stage combat, physical theatre, and dance grew. Shortly after I started there, I began studying martial arts at a school now known as Fairport Kung Fu (Then called Chinese Indonesian Self Defense School).
What inspired you to be an artist/combat instructor? Early experiences worth sharing?
Just like any other child in his right mind, I grew up watching Power Rangers and Jackie Chan. I thought they were pretty incredible, and sometimes silly. When I started my professional training, I found my physical theatre professors agreed Jackie Chan was a fantastic performer. My critical mind grew as my passion for movement grew and I started to see how movement can tell a story. As I studied martial arts I also grew more comfortable as a dancer.
My early experiences brought me great joy before the “real world” set in. There was a great deal of innocence and wonder in first learning stage combat. Now that I am pursuing it more seriously, I have to remind myself that I am doing so because I love it, because the business aspect can be overwhelming and stressful to learn. Whenever you can, learn that early, it’s not always shared in academia.
Where did you receive training for stage combat? Did you have to travel?
Oh yes, yes I did.
As I said, the first was NU, with professors Steve Vaughan (now at Fredonia), and Adriano Gatto. However that was just the beginning. I wanted to continue regular training and enjoyed the consistent training schedule in college I wondered if there was a way to continue that lifestyle; I looked up stunt schools, but those were pricey and only lasted a month. I also saw the National Stage Combat Workshop, which also was pricey and just a month. On a whim, I typed in “Kung Fu Academy.” Next thing I know I had saved up for almost two years and found myself at Maling Shaolin Kung Fu Academy, in Jiangsu Province, China. I attended for a year of training 30+ hours a week. I thought I was taking a break from the theatrical aspect, but ironically I met actors (including an actress from Marco Polo) and ended up on Chinese stage/tv for an evening.
Aside from traveling to China. I have traveled to North Carolina for work with a combat heavy show “The Lost Colony” I have traveled to Toronto to study with Rapier Wit, and Western Illinios to study as a teaching apprentice with Dueling Arts International, and Atlanta, GA (Where I am now), for both work and training purposes. Local to Rochester I also studied with Marcaida Kali and Rochester Phoenix Martial Arts, in addition to Fairport Kung Fu.
Talk about a time where you have faced adversity/conflict and have triumphed.
While I’ve been fortunate in that my friends and family have all been supportive, an artists lifestyle is fostered through conflict and challenge. I have always pursued training with those with greater skill and experience than I. I have never been satisfied with what knew, but always wished to keep moving forward and challenge myself to grow better.
For example, I moved to China for training in order to do so, and there was never a painless day. I was often intimidated by the next day of training and wondered of I could make it through a certain exercise. It was always possible to give up, to go home. I could have ignored the moves I wished I could do in class, instead, I spent hours of extra training when there was something I wished I could do, and made it something I could do.
Now, when someone asked me how I learned to to do a kip-up, I can say hours and hours at a time of training that, only that. While China was fantastic training, it took me away from the American network, and here I am in Atlanta, GA. With a new challenge to start fresh, knowing very few people.
What do you believe sets you apart from other artists/educators?
From other artists? Maybe nothing, I believe true artists are passionate people, and I am passionate. From educators — I have literally gone the distance (such as to China), I never stop learning myself, always looking for not only martial arts to inform my fight choreography and teaching, but other movement arts to inform my teaching. I have sweated and bled for this. One thing I hope I have in common with educators is that I don’t want to simply teach. I want to inspire. I want to inspire people so that they can inspire other people.
Do you have other interests or hobbies?
Most of the “other interests” end up being related. For instance, since studying bullwhip in China, I have become an avid whip cracker- and yet that’s another special skill within fight choreography/stunts. I also took up tumbling in the past year, which also informs stunts. I suppose you could say dance, especially contemporary and hip-hop styles could be an “other interest” but that too has helped me teach and create.
There is maybe one thing unrelated. I do love a good craft beer, especially Rochester locals… then again, I did study “Drunken Form” at the Shaolin Kung Fu Academy.
Any projects you have out or currently working on?
I have just relocated, so not much is going on yet, however in a month (April 27-30) I will be back in Buffalo, NY to teach at “Fight Scene Shop” where students will train, learn choreography and scripted characters, rehearse and shoot on location. We introduced this workshop in winter, and it came back by popular demand. Although I’m based in Atlanta now, as long as it’s possible, I’d like to have a professional presence in western NY and help the community develop.
Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?
Wherever I might be- I’d like to see myself choreographing fights for film and stage, performing stunts (especially fight choreography) on big features and other projects.Also, hopefully teaching fitness and fight choreography in my own studio,where I’d love to run a production company specializing not only on offering training but movement intensive “Action Theatre.” It would be great to work with those I love. I created an action theatre show entitled “Living The Dream” about the internal human struggle a couple years ago, and would like to remount it.
Aside from my career, I have a wonderfully supportive, beautiful girlfriend who helps keep me sane, she’ll be there too, maybe not as a girlfriend anymore, and maybe we’ll have a cat or two… maybe a dog too.
What advice can you give to aspiring artists/educators?
Keep going. Stay positive, Love what you do, stay humble, respect your fellow artists, and remember — it may seem competitive, but we’re all in this together. Be good to each other. Always remember different teachers, coordinators, and directors have different approaches. Be open to that, as long as you stay safe, above all else. One more thing, if you’ve put in a great deal of time and money for your training, get paid for your work.
How can we follow along in your journey? Social media?
You can check out my website at JMKLiveArts.com, follow me on facebook
“Justin Krall” and my business page- “Justin Mitchell Krall Live Arts” and
the same name on Youtube. Keep a look out for me on instagram too…coming
-Justin Mitchell Krall Live Arts
Move for life
Move for art
Move to success…
Action Reel (NEW!)