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Martial Arts Expert Breaks Down Enola Holmes' Fight Scene

Enola Holmes (Millie Bobby Brown) isn't your average teenage girl detective. In addition to her expertly honed skills of deduction, she is also trained in martial arts thanks to her unorthodox mother, Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter, who brought her own ideas to the film). When Eudoria goes missing, Enola must search for her on the rough-and-tumble streets of late-Victorian Era London, where she's forced to put her combat skills to the test.

Midway through the movie, Enola is walking down an alley when she's set upon by a dangerous adversary named Linthorn (Burn Gorman), who believes Enola has information he needs. Rather than give in to his rough interrogation techniques, Enola fights back. Although the man has quite a bit of a height and age advantage over young Enola, thanks to her martial arts training and quick thinking, she is able to down her foe and flee the scene.

The fight doesn't just put Enola's skills on display, but also Brown's, as well. We know that the young actress trained extensively for Enola Holmes, but how well did that translate onto the screen? For help breaking down this tense scene, Looper reached out Grandmaster Ladan Homayoon, who holds a fourth-degree blackbelt in Karate, Shaolin Kung Fu, Haidong Gumdo, and Kickboxing — as well as a seventh-degree blackbelt in Taekwondo. She was gracious enough to provide her expert take on Enola Holmes' unique fighting style.

Did Millie Bobby Brown's background in boxing help her fight scenes in Enola Holmes?

Even before she took on the role of Enola, Brown was known for her love of boxing. While reviewing the alley fight, Homayoon said she saw something more at play than just a skill at working the bag, however. The grandmaster told Looper, "It appears to be more than boxing, as her movements and stances reflect that of martial arts or some sort of self-defense techniques with all of the kickboxing movements."

Homayoon elaborated on which martial arts Brown's moves reminded her of: "[I]n the film it translates to being more reflective of martial arts, specifically Shaolin Kung Fu." She went on to explain that Shaolin Kung Fu refers to, "a collection of Chinese martial arts that claim affiliation with the Shaolin Monastery," and added that it's, "one of the oldest, largest and most famous styles of wushu or kung fu. Shaolin Kung Fu had a big influence on martial arts."

As for how Brown's boxing background melds with the martial arts moves, Homayoon said it was akin to a trained dancer working in a fresh style: "Her stance was a boxing stance, but the cinematic story was more in line with Shaolin [self-defense]. It's like being a ballet dancer who is trained in ballet, but is now dancing hip hop."

Fighting in a corset

As though stunt and fight training weren't hard enough, Brown had the added difficulty of doing it all in 19th-century garb, which includes lengthy dresses and corsets. What is the added challenge of fighting in a corset? As Homayoon explained, depending on the fit, it could actually be a help, rather than a hindrance.

"As a martial artist, you have a tight belt around your stomach at all times, and it is actually very helpful to have this in place," Homayoon said, adding, "as you have to ensure your core is tight at all times."

According to Homayoon, a waist covering allows, "for a more efficient and effective performance." She went on to clarify, "so long as your hips are free, you will execute the movements as they were intended."

Homayoon said that based on the way Brown performed a maneuver where she uses her legs to flip her attacker to the ground, it was clear that she had spent time working on her technique. As for the corset, Homayoon thinks it may have played a role in developing Enola's fighting style: "In this case, the style she portrayed was very traditional martial arts, though with rather basic boxing movements — this could be largely contributed to the outfit she was wearing in the scene."

How you can learn to fight like Enola Holmes

If you or a precocious teen in your life watched Enola Holmes and thought, "Okay, I want to do that," Homayoon has some advice for how to hone your own individual martial arts practice. For her, variety is the spice of the fight. She explained, "For those seeking to be a unique martial artist, I recommend trying many different styles of the discipline..."

The same way Brown's boxing background merges with her martial arts training, combining different styles and moves can help create a special practice. Homayoon elaborated, "There is a diverse number of movements and philosophies, and I find great beauty in the endless myriad of options that come as a result of combining these many differing movements and philosophies to create a fusion of something entirely tailored to the practitioner."

Whether you're a 16-year-old wannabe sleuth or not, there's a lot of inspiration to be found in Millie Bobby Brown's dedication to kicking butt (and having a good behind-the-scenes laugh) in Enola Holmes.