John Wayne and More


Students will learn and understand basic strike/punches that are often used in a choreographed fight in a play and/or film—namely: the jab, the uppercut, the John Wayne.



Materials Needed

Tumbling or wrestling mats
Several John Wayne movies, cued at a staged fight scene that includes his signature move.



Lesson Directions

Anticipatory Set/Hook
Have students remove all jewelry (rings, watches, earrings, necklaces, etc.) and empty their pockets and put everything into their backpacks, then to put their backpacks against the wall as soon as they come into the classroom. Then, have the students start their warm-up exercises quietly.


REVIEW: The previous lessons about instigators and falls.




Step 1—Transition: What are some of the punches you have seen in a fight scene? Write the students’ responses on the board.
Explain: Today we will be learning some typical stage combat strike—in particular


Step 2—Ask the students to remind you of the rules about partners.
(1. You can never have the same partner again. You must work with a different partner every time.—except when the teacher assigns a partner for the final fight, then you must work with that partner every time.
2. As partners, you must listen to each other’s suggestions, especially when the suggestions come from the partner playing the victim at that time. Give equal weight to what each partner says. Neither one of you should work as the teacher of director unless mutually agreed upon by the performers and your director/teacher. )

Have the students select a partner that they have not worked with before.
Ask: Who trusts their partner? (If someone does not trust his/her partner, tell them to trust them until they do something that breaks the trust.)
What else should we do as far as our partner is concerned? (Respect your partner and work at their capacity and training level.)


Step 3—Group Practice: Have the students determine who is partner A and partner B. Then they must organize themselves as instructed the previous class. (all partner A’s face the same direction and all B’s face the same direction.)
Ask: Why should we learn and practice in this manner? (Never have two people playing the same part work back to back because it will cause unnecessary traffic problems once they begin moving about the space. Every performer can be seen at all times; this will help in coaching the students through each of the techniques. Each performer should be able to move about freely in all directions for several feet before running into a fellow performer.)


Step 4—Making certain everyone can hear the explanation and see the demonstration, teach the students how to do the Jab.
Always use Eye Contact
The Sign/Cue: Raising fists in the traditional “boxing” position by chest. Do a very short Jab before doing the regular Jab.
Instruction: Create a fist with both hands with straight wrists. Position the arms in the traditional “boxing” position with bent elbows. The top of the Left hand is facing up (towards the ceiling), the knuckles are pointing to the victim. The top of the Right hand is facing down (towards the floor), curled finger facing up, knuckles are pointing to the victim. Keep the bent elbows near the body, hands near chest. The Jab is a short strike that moves forward quickly towards the victim’s chin, then retracts quickly to the original position.
The Reaction:

Ask: What purpose is the Jab?
Is it used to strike or attack? (No—it is used to distract the victim so the Attacker can utilize a bigger blow.)
What kind of response or reaction does the victim use? (Flinching)
Should a knap be utilized when a Jab is used? (Not usually—only when the Attacker want to make contact.)

Ask for a volunteer victim. Have the Victim demonstrate the minimum distance (outstretched while demonstrating the Jab.

Checking for Understanding:


Step 5—Modeling: Ask for a volunteer to demonstrate what they have learned for the class. Remind the student to always be in control.
As the student performs the skill, spot him/her if needed.

Ask: Was this skill done correctly?
What was good about it?
How could it be improved?
(Students give feedback first, then add corrective information)

Have the volunteer repeat the skill. Give him/her appropriate feedback. Let others who want to demonstrate their ability to perform the move to do so. Give them appropriate feedback.


Step 6— Guided Practice: Remind the students about practice speed (slow motion). Have Partner A practice the move as the attacker. Then switch, and have Partner B practice the move as the attacker.

Give students feedback as they practice so they can improve their performance.

Checking for Understanding: Ask the students how they feel about doing the move. What is difficult? Answer and clarify as much as possible. If necessary, go through the process again to help students improve.


Step 7—Repeat steps 4, 5, and 6 for the Upper Cut.
Always use Eye Contact
The Sign/Cue: Swing the arm back so fist is even with side of body.
Instruction: The Attacker follows the instructions for the jab. Then, after performing the jab and the Sign/Cue, the Attacker’s Right fist swings upward toward the victim’s chin and follows through with the punch. The Attacker is careful to maintain the minimum distance from the victim.
The Reaction: The Victim’s head falls backwards towards the spine.


Step 8—Repeat steps 4, 5, and 6 for the John Wayne
Always use Eye Contact
The Sign/Cue: Make a fist. Bring forearm up in front of the chest (bent elbow). Pull elbow back behind so fist is even with shoulder.
Instruction: The Attacker makes a fist. Brings forearm up in front of the chest (bent elbow). Pulls elbow back behind so fist is even with shoulder, and leans forward as he/she swings at shoulder height. The strike crosses over to the victim’s Right shoulder as arm extends and elbow straitens.The Reaction: Victim’s face flings to the right, looking over shoulder. If more violent reaction needed, victim can stumble back.


Step 9— Ask: Why do you think this strike/move is called the John Wayne?
Why don’t we watch a few scenes and find out. Have the students sit on the floor.
Read the titles of the different John Wayne movies. Show the film clips in succession.
Ask: What did you see?
Explain: This move is called the John Wayne because it is his signature combat move.


Step 10—Transition: Inform them that each partnership will perform the newly learned moves in combination for the class. Give the students a few minutes create a mini-performance utilizing anything been taught (jab, upper cut, John Wayne, instigation(s), defensive move(s), falls). Be sure to leave enough time for performances and critiques.
Emphasize that there is to be no improvisational moves.

Ask for volunteers to perform their devised combat combination. Remind the student to always be in control and use slow motion.

Ask students to critique each others’ performances:
Was this skill done correctly?
What was good about it?
How could it be improved?
(Students give feedback first, then add corrective information)

Students may volunteer when they want to perform but all must perform a short unarmed combat.




Tell the students they need to practice at home (on a carpet or on the grass). Suggest that they teach their parents what they are learning in class. Also, remind the students to reflect on what they learned today, then write in their learning log.




Participation, Mini-Performance, and Learning Log Entry