Martial Arts Crossover

As Conor McGregor steps off the martial arts mats and out of the octagon, he’s entering new territory. Some are saying it won’t even be a contest. It’s not the first time a boxer and an MMA fighter have gone toe-to-toe, but interestingly, it’s been the boxer who leaves the ropes and enters the cage. This time, it’s McGregor who will be in unfamiliar territory. Will the new landscape and rules be enough to hand another victory to undefeated Floyd Mayweather? Continue reading Martial Arts Crossover

Back to School…Bullies

It’s sad to say, but there are parents who consciously prepare their children for the eventuality of facing bullies as part of their back-to-school routine. It’s not sad that they’re preparing them, but sad that it has to be done. There are many ways to approach it; talking about how to diffuse a situation, learning the strength of walking away, but also knowing how to protect yourself physically. That’s why many back-to-school activities involve martial arts practice at a studio, but also at home. Continue reading Back to School…Bullies

Keep It Going

In these coldest months of the year, fitness often takes a little shift as people have to find indoor workout options, like indoor running tracks, and martial arts. If you’re used to sports or running or other outdoor methods of staying healthy and fit, getting on the machines or picking up weights can seem a little restrictive, and in fact, if done without first getting appropriate instruction, can lead to decreased range of motion as muscle develops. Martial arts in particular is an excellent way to avoid this—you’ll get a nice mix of cardio and resistance training, and the practice will take your body through its whole range of motion, so you don’t have to worry about some of the potential hazards of other kinds of exercise. Continue reading Keep It Going

Should the Swimmer Consider Martial Arts??

The focus and intention in Michael Phelp’s eyes the other evening was the most intensity ever seen on a swimmer’s face. Maybe he should consider a martial art?? He obviously has the determination and willpower, not to mention the strength. And the fury in his face would certainly empower a mean fighter. Who knows? Maybe 2020 will see him in the debut of the karate competition?!

Marco Polo – A Martial Arts Review

When the second season of Netflix’s Marco Polo’s dropped last week, I took the liberty (happy 4th!) to spend a significant chunk of my long weekend doing a little binge-watching. So, if you skipped that one in favor of fireworks but are in the market for some more action stuff while you wait for more superheroes or brooding would-be monarchs in a battle for a pointy chair, and were waiting for a second opinion, read on.

Martial arts in TV is easy to do wrong, and hard to do right. An hour and twenty minutes makes a good martial arts film, but a ten-episode season of flying fists and little else loses its charm at some point along the way if there’s no other connective tissue. Fortunately, Marco Polo doesn’t suffer from that at all. In fact, if anything, the action sequences were a little sparser in this season in favor of exploring some of the politics of Mongol life as well as getting to know the characters more intimately. The production values and quality acting are all still there, as well as a healthy dose of action, but there was unquestionably more to it than just the marvelously-choreographed kung-fu.

Of course, the martial arts have to take somewhat of a front-row seat in Polo to make up for what it lacks in other areas. When we watch Game of Thrones, half the fun is wondering what shape everyone’s political schemes will take as they unfold, but with Marco Polo, we’re simply shown the discussions and negotiations and schemes—still fun to watch them unfold, but it lacks the same level of drama. That said, with notable exceptions in certain Miguel Sapochnik-directed penultimate episodes, Thrones doesn’t even come close to the level of tension created in Polo’s action sequences.

Marco Polo is increasingly veering away from the historical and further into historical fiction, (which is a good thing, because if you’re a history buff you don’t necessarily already know how it ends), but it seems that if there’s one constant we can continue to expect in the next season, it’s some of the best-designed martial arts sequences on TV.

Martial Arts Meets Irish Step – Indigo Grey: The Passage

Once again, martial arts crosses lines between sport, art, reality, and what could be possible. In a short film by Hammerstep founders Garrett Coleman and Jason Oremus, Indigo Grey: The Passage, distinction between reality and fantasy dissolve in the mind of a small boy. Continue reading Martial Arts Meets Irish Step – Indigo Grey: The Passage

Jediism and Martial Arts

The Force Awakens has grossed ridiculous amounts of box office sales as well as social media conversations.  Little boys and girls all over the world want to be a Jedi when they grow up. Who wants to be the one to tell them Jedi aren’t real? If you take a look at the historical martial arts and some of the new ideas creeping up around martial arts studios around the world, perhaps no one has to give them the bad news. Perhaps the Jedi can be real. Continue reading Jediism and Martial Arts

Bruce Lee: Will There Ever Be Another?

We recently saw the 75th anniversary of the birth of arguably the most celebrated martial artist of all time: Bruce Lee. An artist, actor, and philosopher, Lee set the bar for a generation of martial arts film buffs. While others have come close, none have touched the master.

One of the more interesting contributions Lee made to martial arts was his mastery of many forms, yet the rejection of form at all. As a young man, Lee became involved in a few street fights, so his parents decided it was time for him to learn some self-defense. His father began the training, but eventually Lee studied Wing Chun in a formal setting. Unfortunately, the fights continued and eventually Lee was sent to America to live with family there. He began teaching martial arts as he understood them, and it was this journey that led to his belief that street fighting should not simply be one form or another.

The “style of no style” emerged, using training combinations of martial arts, fencing, boxing, weight training, running, and stretching. This unmeasured and chaotic form of training was what Lee believed would make the most successful street fighter. The rigidity of the different forms prevented him, he believed, from adapting to the unexpected in street fighting, so a more well-rounded approach to training would make him a more flexible fighter.

It certainly gave him a leg up in the film industry. To this day, no martial artist has developed an original approach and adapted it to the screen the way Bruce Lee did. Fight sequences in a Lee film seem natural, spontaneous, and sincere, while too many others seem orchestrated, dampened, and artificial. There simply is no film in 2015 to hold a candle to Enter the Dragon or Fist of Fury, largely because Lee insisted on so much input and control during filming.

Perhaps with the resurgence of martial arts in television and film, artists will be motivated to seek the purity of the Lee genre of martial arts and its expression in film. Until then, we content ourselves with worthy attempts to revive the philosophy, scale, and power of Lee’s life in martial arts and film.

Kendo: Martial Art or Sport?

With Karate making headlines as it tries to become an Olympic sport, one can’t help but consider other martial arts as potentials for the Games as well. There is certainly a contingent of the population which believes any martial art should see the Olympic spotlight, but others believe that martial arts shouldn’t take the stage because they would lose their roots, become diluted, and evolve into a sport. Kendo is a good example. Continue reading Kendo: Martial Art or Sport?