We love it when our martial arts celebrities do their own fighting: Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Chuck Norris. It says something about us that we want to be able to really believe these artists can actually do the things their characters are appearing to do. Even our comic book superheroes have been cast from pools of trained martial artists. Christian Bale gave Batman some moves Adam West couldn’t even imagine due to his martial arts training. And it’s no accident that Iron Man has an attitude: Robert Downey, Jr. trains Wing Chun kung fu. But we laugh when the little nephew runs out of the bathtub with a towel around his neck announcing he’s “Superman!” Our appreciation for and fascination with superheroes is both a form of entertainment and a reach for the stars.
Is it any wonder, then, that a small brigade of martial arts-trained citizens in Seattle have formed their own crime prevention/patrol group? Led by former MMA fighter Ben Fodor, the group believes its presence in the city deters crime. And the costumes? Well, they’re cool. And they help people distinguish crime-fighters from criminals (until the criminals catch on and start dressing like superheroes). Fodor’s persona, Phoenix Jones, has amassed quite the collection of crime-stopping videos. Dressed in a form-fitting black and gold, well…superhero costume (complete with GoPro mounted to the mask) Phoenix Jones uses his martial arts training to stop assaults, put the fear of God into would-be criminals, and has even been seen helping little old ladies cross the street. Now that’s a superhero we can get behind.
There is something awe-inspiring about a well trained martial artist. The strength, grace, and precision of these athletes are qualities to be emulated. There’s a reason kids want to be superheroes when they grow up. And if by chance some of them do grow up and decide to don costumes, patrol their cities’ streets, and fight bad guys, well, at the very least, that’s a couple of dreams come true.