Interviews

Alfred Hsing Interview

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Alfred Hsing is an actor, stuntman, and stunt coordinator who is the first American to win a gold medal at the World Wushu Championships. He has worked in both Los Angeles and Beijing. In China, he has worked for the Jackie Chan stunt team and worked for Jet Li.

Wing Chun

What age did you start wushu?

I started wushu in high school. I was around 14 at the time.

Why did you choose wushu to train?

I grew up watching Jackie Chan and Jet Li movies that my dad would rent from the Chinese supermarket. I didn’t really understand the difference in martial arts styles the way I do today, but when my parents brought me to a franchise-style karate dojo, I couldn’t explain it, but it wasn’t what I was looking for. When a friend from class referred me to this wushu school, after the first free trial class I knew this was what I was looking for. It was calling me! It captured exactly what I saw and felt in my favorite Jet Li movies.

Straightsword

What are your favorite weapons or events to perform in wushu?

Straight sword and drunken straight sword would probably be my favorite to perform. Drunken straight sword is the most fun to perform hands down.

How did you prepare for USA team trials?

Hard. Very hard. Haha.

Nothing will substitute for hard work and putting in the hours. That being said you should still work as smart as you can.

When I had my 9 to 5, I would train once in the morning before work, and then I would train again after I got off work. At one point I saved up and took time off so that I could train in China with the Beijing Wushu Team. We would train 2-3 times a day. It was a place that I could fully immerse myself in training.

Winning Gold Medal at World Wushu Championships.

How long were you on the USA wushu team?

In 2007 I made C team and then in 2009 I made A team so I guess technically 4 years? When I made the C team I was seriously bummed and treated it as a meaningless consolation prize. In hindsight, it was SUCH a blessing that I would never have considered. Because I made C team I was able to compete at certain international competitions- not at Worlds, but I made it to Pan-American games and I took whatever opportunities there were to compete! All of the accumulation of success and failures at these competitions helped me learn and create a foundation that I would need – that helped me win at the World Championships. If I hadn’t learned from my mistakes and other fellow athletes at these earlier competitions I definitely would not have done as well at the World Championships so in hindsight making the C team forced me to learn and set me up for success at the World Championships.

Zhang Ziyi

Which college did you go to?

UCLA 🙂

Training with Actress Sandra Ma

How did you get into stunts and acting?

Since my two major inspirations were Jackie Chan and Jet Li it kind of made sense that I wanted to learn martial arts and also be in the film. Since as early as I can remember I gravitated towards martial arts and acting. I was in school plays in elementary school and stuck with it throughout high school and college. I got into UCLA and moved to LA purely for academic reasons, but in retrospect, it put me in the perfect place to get into the film industry. 

My first introduction to real stunt work was through a friend, Robbie Alexander, who I met at martial arts competitions. One day he called and asked me if I would like to help do some martial arts on a show. I said yes, and it turned out the show was CSI: NY. I got to be part of a scene with Gary Sinise. He was nice and it was a cool experience. It made me realize you could get paid and do something you love. As for acting, it was step by step. Sometimes I would get opportunities to act because they needed someone that could act and fight on screen, and then other times I would just land auditions for strictly acting roles. It’s all one step at a time.

What are your favorite films you worked on?

The film Dragon Blade meant a lot to me because it was my first time officially working for Jackie Chan. I had done a demo for him before and met him on various other occasions, but this time I was officially brought in by the Jackie Chan stunt team and working on the full run of his movie. About 2 months into filming he remembered my name and acknowledged me as a member of the Jackie Chan stunt team. That was beyond anything I had dreamed.

Ready Player One was another milestone for me. I just finished stunt coordinating a movie in China and got an email to submit an audition for a Steven Spielberg project. I do so, and before I know it I’m flying back to LA to work on Ready Player One. I was only on it for a day, but I accomplished another goal I have always striven for – to have a speaking role on a major Hollywood blockbuster film. Only a moment of what we shot made it into the final edit, but it was a breakthrough for me and overall a great experience on set.

What kind of training do you do to keep in shape for stunts?

Stunt training is very different from competition wushu training. I do a larger variety of kicks, martial arts styles, and overall conditioning. The way everyone trains in stunts is very different and may cater to their particular set of skills. For me I keep up my general cardio, do HIIT, keep up with stretching, practice stunt wrecks, train MMA with friends, get in a little tricking and tumbling at the gym, and of course dust off the straight sword and make sure I don’t get too rusty with my wushu.

On Set

What is your strength and conditioning plan for stunts?

Honestly, I’d like to have a better routine but with the hectic schedule of either working on set or training any of the above mentioned areas, I’m not as regimented on pure strength and conditioning. I’ll probably go to the gym (when gyms were open) 2-3 times a week and do a few reps on certain muscle groups coupled with other days where I do body weight exercises.

Working with Jet Li

What is your nutritional plan you use for training?

I tend to eat pretty healthy by default, but I don’t stick to a strict diet. If I’m working out a lot I’ll make sure I’m eating more. I’m pretty much a no soda, not too much sweets person. If it’s super oily or high in fats, I’ll usually avoid. That being said, I’m a fan of good food so if it’s really good food or a dining experience I’m still game. I remind myself to drink lots of water.

When I was actively preparing for competition I took a basic stack of vitamins and supplements to make sure my body wasn’t short on anything. Now my needs are a bit different, but I still take vitamins to help supplement my nutrition.

Alfred working with Donnie Yen on Ip Man 3.

How would you describe working on set with cast and crew?

Being with a great team of people on set is one of the best feelings in the world for me. You can really build some great bonds on set. I love that it feels like you’re all part of a special and tight community all working with a common goal in mind. After you finish a project you all have the finished product to serve as a memory of your time spent together.

One Punch Man

What are the goals you are developing in your career?

For now, my focus is on creating great projects on-screen in acting and action design. Much like my inspirations and the characters they often play, I’d love to play a memorable role as a character that overcomes insurmountable odds to protect someone or something he believes in.

As far as action design, I’d like to put all my years of martial arts and filmmaking experience from China and LA to create something innovative and exciting that is inspired by both the East and the West.

At my core I think I am a creator and innovator so there’s still a lot more I want to do, but I have to focus one step at a time.

Connect with Alfred!
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Website

JustineCarissa@gmail.com'

Justine is a National USA Wushu Taolu Judge and was on the 2017 U.S.A. Traditional Wushu Team. Justine works full time as a Systems Analyst. With her extra time, Justine currently travels to domestic and international wushu tournaments.