No offense to Ralph Macchio, but he ain't the Karate Kid. - Barney, How I Met Your Mother, the Bro Mitzvah, S8 E22
Now I try to avoid situations from the past that may threaten me. How do you do that? I go through life like a Karate Kid. - Britney Spears, MTV's Britney: for the record. 2008
It's all about the paper, you say it's not, but it probably is, I swear my soul turned black like the Karate Kid. - Muzzy Muzz, Cannon Gang and Green Light - The Movement

Sep 24, 2017

Dojo of the White Tigers

artwork by Petter Amland

Sep 19, 2017

West Wind Karate

Have you been searching for a well-balanced, street smart self-defense system that's FUN, exciting and effective?

At West Wind Karate in Utah, we have perfected a program that combines the best of many styles into a blended system that DELIVERS FAST RESULTS, regardless of your age, gender or fitness level!

With scenario based training, you'll practice and role play a multitude of attack situations. Whether a person is coming at you in an alley with a knife, grabbing you as you enter your vehicle, harassing you in the elevator, you will gain the strength, power and wisdom to defend yourself.

You'll enjoy a fun, safe and exciting environment ... a variety of forms, exercises and training drills, to condition and strengthen your body from head to toe.

Training is based on how joints move, which gives greater power and efficiency with no lockout movements that over-stressed joints. West Wind Karate teaches techniques that use parts of the body that are less prone to injury or breakage.

You don't have to be a victim. Learn highly effective and powerful self-defense skills that will protect you and your family

Sep 17, 2017

In Ancient Japan, Lover Divided by a Tragic Twist of Fate

(by Lauren Kern 11-17-06)

Named for ninjas equipped with superhuman capabilities, Ten Shimoyama’s “Shinobi” is equal parts tragic love story and fantastical martial arts showcase.
The year is 1614, and a ban on war between two Japanese clans — the Igas and the Kougas — that has been honored for nearly 400 years is lifted by the dubiously intentioned Shogun. He calls for five of the most gifted fighters from each side to battle one another, claiming that the last man (or woman) standing will become his successor.
Oboro and Gennosuke, promising young heirs who have been carrying on a secret, forbidden romance, are appointed leaders of opposing teams — a twist of fate that would have been significantly more dramatic had their previous interactions generated any electricity beyond their ethereally radiant good looks.
The film’s mountain and forest locations are also stunning, and the fight sequences rousing and expertly staged, if heavy on the computer-generated imagery.
During one of the more memorable showdowns, Oboro draws on her signature power — a potentially deadly stare referred to as “piercing eyes” — and we see the gaseous emission travel through her rival’s insides.
If only the film had offered even a fraction of that kind of beneath-the-exterior access to the characters’ bodies and souls. But despite a wealth of magical and visual splendor, the film’s obtrusive resemblance to a video game, in appearance and (lack of) emotion, cannot be easily glossed over.

Sep 15, 2017

Middleton Karate

Karate is a great way for young and old to challenge themselves physically and emotionally. Regardless of whether you want to become a competitive athlete, learn self-defense techniques or simply become more physically fit, we provide a structure for all students to achieve their goals not only in Kenpo but in life! Come try a class today!

Have stress? Get rid of it by kicking and punching at FIGHT CLUB! Designed as a controlled class with emphasis on combination work and cardio. Fight Club is for people who wants to fight without getting hurt or egos of other students in the way. In this class, you will need proper protective gear and an awesome attitude. You are sure to sweat like no other workout! Try it today.

Sep 14, 2017

Sep 11, 2017

Ralph Macchio with Daryl Vidal

Photo posted on the Vidal Kenpo Facebook page with the caption, ".....a long time ago".

Sep 9, 2017

Sep 4, 2017

Tommy and Johnny, still friends

Tommy and Johnny have remained friends and in touch all of these years.

Here they are out of a night of drinks and catching up.

Aug 23, 2017

I haven't put up a Karate Kyle in awhile.

Aug 21, 2017

Aug 19, 2017

(unknown artist)

Aug 18, 2017

First day of school

West Valley High, September, 1983

Aug 14, 2017

Artwork by Ciaran Monaghan

Available for purchase at search for CiaranMonaghanArt

Aug 13, 2017

Artwork by Weststudio3

Available for purchase search for Weststudio3

Aug 6, 2017

Which guard do you use?

from Martial Art Weapons Facebook page

Aug 4, 2017

'Karate Kid' TV Sequel, Starring Ralph Macchio and William Zabka, a Go at YouTube Red

(by Lesley Goldberg 8-4-17)

Wax on, again.

Three decades after The Karate Kid, original stars Ralph Macchio and William Zabka are heading back to the dojo. The duo are set to reprise their roles as underdog Daniel LaRusso (Macchio) and bully Johnny Lawrence (Zabka) in a 10-episode straight-to-series follow-up called Cobra Kai for subscription service YouTube Red.

The series, set to bow in 2018, is set 30 years after the events of the 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament and revolves around a down and out Johnny who, seeking redemption, reopens the infamous Cobra Kai dojo. It reignites his rivalry with a now-successful Daniel, who has been struggling to maintain balance in his life without the guidance of his mentor, Mr. Miyagi (the late Pat Morita). The half-hour comedy follows the duo addressing demons from their past and present frustrations — through (what else?) karate.

Josh Heald (Hot Tub Time Machine) as well as duo Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg (Harold and Kumar) will pen the script and exec produce. Macchio and Zabka will co-exec produce. Hurwitz and Schlossberg will direct much of the series. Will Smith's Sony Pictures Television Studios-based Overbrook Entertainment will exec produce with James Lassiter and Caleeb Pinkett overseeing for the company.

Macchio and Zabka are expected to make an appearance Friday at YouTube's portion of the Television Critics Association's summer press tour in Beverly Hills.

"Like everyone who grew up in the 1980s, the three of us are enormous fans of The Karate Kid​,” Heald, Hurwitz and Schlossberg said in a joint statement. "Cobra Kai​ will be a true continuation of the original films — packed with comedy, heart and thrilling fight scenes. We can’t wait to reignite the LaRusso-Lawrence rivalry, and we’re thankful to our partners at YouTube Red, Sony Pictures Television and Overbrook for their shared enthusiasm in making our dream project a reality."
The series landed at YouTube Red following a competitive bidding process that sources say also included offers from Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and AMC after Macchio and Zabka pitched the series all over town. Macchio appeared in all three original Karate Kid features, while Zabka had roles in the first two. "They were enthusiastic and fun," YouTube global head of originals Susanne Daniels tells THR of the pitch meeting. "I don’t know whether they had rehearsed it, but they played the parts of their characters well. More than anything, it was just amazing to see them together again."
Daniels, who said Karate Kid still resonates with YouTube users today, noted that the series comes as part of an effort to age up YouTube Red's demographic from 18-34 to the more advertiser-coveted 18-49 set. "It had all the elements you look for in a strong show. It had heart, it had laughs, it had drama, it had characters with strong points of view. All of it was there in the pitch," Daniels said.

Asked specifically why they were ditching the familiar Karate Kid title in favor of Cobra Kai, Daniels said it was driven by the story. "If The Karate Kid was Daniel’s story, Cobra Kai is equal parts Daniel and Johnny’s story. Also because this is a series and not a movie, we really wanted to reimagine how the story was told. Changing the name made sense as part of that." 
Sony's Columbia Pictures distributed the original 1984 feature that went on to become a pop culture staple and spawn two sequels as well as a 1994 revamp with Hilary Swank and a 2010 reboot starring Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith. The latter revival, produced by Smith, Overbrook and Columbia Pictures, grossed $359 million worldwide on a budget of $40 million. All told, the franchise has grossed more than $619 million worldwide.
“Continuing the story of The Karate Kid has been a passion project for all of us, and when Ralph and Billy said yes, we knew it had become real,” said Glenn Adilman, exec vp comedy development at SPTS. “We are thrilled that YouTube Red felt the same thing the minute they heard the pitch and then stepped up with this series commitment.”
In the years since the film's 1984 debut, Macchio has remained busy with roles in My Cousin Vinny, among others. He next recurs in HBO's upcoming David Simon drama The Deuce. Zabka, meanwhile, had a recurring guest role in How I Met Your Mother and earned an Oscar nomination in 2004 for his live-action short film Most. Macchio is repped by Untitled, Buchwald and Hanson Jacobson. Zabka is with Advanced Management and attorney Eric Feig.
Hurwitz and Schlossberg are with CAA and Hansen Jacobson; Heald is with Paradigm and attorney Howard Abramson. Cobra Kai is the largest TV foray to date for the CAA-repped Overbrook.
Cobra Kai joins a roster of originals at YouTube Red that includes Step UpMind Field, 12 Deadly Days, Sing It and more.

Reboots and revivals continue to remain in high demand as broadcast, cable and streaming platforms look for proven hits in a competitive landscape that includes more than 450 scripted originals. Key reboots and revivals in the works include NBC's Will and Grace — already renewed for another run — as well as ABC's Roseanne, both of which bring the original stars back for more.


Jul 10, 2017

Don Roley cool

There is a long history here in the ninja community.

Jul 6, 2017

Jul 2, 2017

I wonder if this could be what happened to a couple of martial artists I know.

Jun 28, 2017

Dojo by the stream

artwork by Andree Wallin

Jun 23, 2017

Stomp the Groin

Master Ken artwork by Aaron Tade

Jun 17, 2017

John G. Avildsen, Director of ‘Rocky,’ ‘Karate Kid’ Films, Dies at 81

(by Carmel Dagan 6-16-17)

John G. Avildsen who won an Oscar for directing the original “Rocky” (1976), starring Sylvester Stallone, and also directed all three of the original “Karate Kid” films, has died in Los Angeles. He was 81.

A rep confirmed his death.

Avildsen also won the DGA Award for directing “Rocky,” which also won Oscars for best picture and film editing and was nominated in multiple other categories.

In 2006 Variety interviewed Avildsen, who said that a film with a boxing story didn’t excite him at first, but he was “moved by the urban character study of Sylvester Stallone’s script.” He held out on directing part two in lieu of another project — a decision that Avildsen said was “one of my greatest mistakes.” He returned to the franchise to direct 1990’s “Rocky V.”

Stallone said in a statement, “I owe just about everything to John Avildsen. His directing, his passion, his toughness and his heart — a great heart — is what made ‘Rocky’ the film it became. He changed my life and I will be forever indebted to him. Nobody could have done it better than my friend John Avildsen. I will miss him.”

In 1983 he was Oscar nominated again, this time for the documentary short “Traveling Hopefully.”
The Director’s Guild released a statement, saying “We were greatly saddened to learn of the passing of beloved director John Avildsen. His iconic ‘Rocky,’ which won the DGA Feature Film Award in 1976, has been lionized throughout our culture as the quintessential underdog story – a recurring theme in his notable body of work which included ‘Save the Tiger’ and ‘The Karate Kid’ franchise. Throughout the decades, his rousing portrayals of victory, courage and emotion captured the hearts of generations of Americans.”

He served on the DGA’s National Board for three terms, on the DGA’s Eastern Directors Council from 1977-1990, on the Western Directors Council from 1992-1994, and was a member of the 1987 and 1996 DGA Negotiating Committees.

Avildsen developed a reputation for making movies about losers, or underdogs, who somehow become winners.

Avildsen’s other films included the critically hailed drama-thriller “Joe” (1970), starring Susan Sarandon and Peter Boyle. It was his first success as a director, and was praised for Peter Boyle’s performance.

“Save the Tiger” (1973), an issue-oriented drama sporting an outstanding starring performance from Jack Lemmon, was nominated for three Oscars, with Lemmon winning best actor. The three Oscar nominations for “Save the Tiger” and the win for Lemmon secured Avildsen’s place on the list of go-to directors.

His other films included comedy “W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings” (1975), starring Burt Reynolds; thriller “The Formula” (1980), starring George C. Scott and Marlon Brando; eerie comedy “Neighbors,” starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd; pregnancy comedy “For Keeps?” (1988), starring Molly Ringwald; drama “Lean on Me” (1989), which helped launch Morgan Freeman’s career; and bull riding biopic “8 Seconds” (1994), starring Luke Perry.

Avildsen started in the business as a cinematographer, lensing seven films from the mid-’60s to the early ’70s, including his feature directorial debut “Turn on to Love” (1969) and subsequent helming efforts “Guess What We Learned in School Today,” “Joe,” “Cry Uncle,” “Okay Bill” and “The Stoolie” (1972), starring Jackie Mason.

John Guilbert Avildsen was born in Oak Park, Illinois. He graduated from the prestigious Hotchkiss School and NYU. He started out in the film business as an assistant director on movies by Arthur Penn and Otto Preminger.

A documentary on the director’s life and career, “John G. Avildsen: King of the Underdogs” (2016), directed and produced by Derek Wayne Johnson, features interviews with Stallone, “Karate Kid” star Ralph Macchio, Martin Scorsese, Jerry Weintraub and Burt Reynolds. The documentary is a companion to the book “The Films of John G. Avildsen: Rocky, The Karate Kid, and Other Underdogs,” written by Larry Powell and Tom Garrett.

Avildsen is survived by a daughter, Bridget, and sons Anthony, Jonathan and Ashley.


Jun 10, 2017

Road House (1989)

(by Ramon Youseph 9-14-15)

This modern day western might seem an unusual choice to feature amongst the review pages of Kung-fu Kingdom given that it is not a martial arts film per se. Yet at the heart of this kick-ass guilty pleasure from the bygone era of the 80’s are scenes that feature some highly effective martial arts action.


Patrick Swayze is Dalton a bouncer who specializes in diffusing hostile situations, hired by ‘Double Deuce’ bar owner Frank Tilghman played by Kevin Tighe. Sam Elliott is Wade Garrett a seasoned bouncer who is also Dalton’s mentor and friend. Kelly Lynch provides the love interest as Elizabeth “Doc” Clay.

Ben Gazzara plays crooked business magnate Brad Wesley, who rules Jasper, Missouri with an iron fist. Marshall Teague is cast as Jimmy Reno, Wesley’s murderous enforcer.


Professional ‘cooler’ Dalton is hired by Frank Tilghman to take over security at his club/bar, the Double Deuce, in Jasper, Missouri. Tilghman plans to invest substantial money into the club to enhance its image as a dive bar, and needs Dalton to deal with the troublemakers to help maintain stability. However Dalton’s efforts catch the attention of corrupt businessman Brad Wesley who fears Dalton’s actions could hamper his interests which he viciously protects. Soon a power struggle ensues leading to a deadly confrontation.


Although the martial arts fighting cannot compare on the same level to the likes of Chuck Norris or Jackie Chan, in its own right “Road House” was a fair attempt to bring the excitement of cinematic Kung-Fu fighting to Hollywood 80’s action film without martial arts stars. “Die Hard” stunt coordinator Charles Picerni, and uncredited fight trainer/co-ordinator Benny “The Jet” Urquidez worked with and trained the actors resulting in some pretty decent down and dirty fighting with much of the action mainly consisting of messy and destructive bar fights.

The fighting was not intended to look slick, elegant or even athletic as in most contemporary martial arts films. It’s clear to see that sometimes the kicks are not perfectly straight, the punches do not swing out quite as far as you might expect with one or two actors at times losing their balance hence the lack of grace. However, for what it lacks in finesse-fu, it compensates with grittiness and realism and some close quarter fighting that really does pack a wallop.

For example where Dalton is battling henchman O’Connor, after a combination of hits and blocks Swayze throws a left hook to actor Michael Rider who looked so convincingly stunned by the blow that one expected to see a carousel of stars appear above him!

There are plenty of well executed stylish looking martial arts moves such as Dalton’s Hapkido move sending an armed barfly head first into a table and Jimmy Reno battling the Double Deuce bouncers using a pool cue as a Bo staff. Even Sam Elliott gets to show off some impressive skills taking out a seven foot tall bad guy with a bone crunching kick to the knee and hurting bomb punches that look a little too real even!

All the performers do their best, move fast and hit hard making them fun and exciting to watch.  Yet of all the fight scenes the one that stands out is the anticipated matchup between Dalton and Jimmy Reno. Reportedly Marshall Teague and Patrick Swayze pulled no punches so the pained look on the actors’ faces ramped up the realism factor. The choreography is a mix of various martial art styles evident in the variety of locks, throws, kicks and punches as used in Kickboxing, Hapkido and Jujitsu, with a particularly impressive flying kick from Swayze himself. The grueling work put in by the actors is visible in their strained expressions adding that no-holds-barred street fight feel to a fight scene packed with some excellent technical maneuvers.


Essentially “Road House” is a man’s film in which everyone talks tough and resolves their differences one way. Even Dalton’s stoic Zen bouncer succumbs to the saddle-up lock and load approach to problem solving.

Yet its simplicity is the film’s charm and “Out for Justice” writer David Lee Henry packs the script with plenty of amusing testosterone laden dialogue that will have you laughing and cringing at the same time, and director Rowdy Herrington keeps it all ticking along at just the right pace.
The action is the film’s strong point even though it does not compare to “martial arts films” per se; it’s yet a slugfest of hard hitting, entertainment with plenty of skill on display.


  • The character of Dalton loosely resembles real life veteran bouncer Steve Sexton, an 8th Degree Hapkido practitioner.
  • As a youngster Patrick Swayze studied various martial arts including Aikido and Taekwondo to help manage his temper problem.
  • To train the actors, Benny “The Jet” Urquidez would assign animal traits to help shape fighting styles suitable to both actor and character. Patrick Swayze was likened to a cat, Marshall Teague a mongoose, and Sam Elliott a bear.
  • Actor Sam Elliott had no martial arts training. Given his age and limited flexibility Urquidez taught the actor some basic power moves such as driving punches, elbows and lower kicks.
  • Urquidez would play Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” every day to help Swayze master the rhythmic techniques of kickboxing.
  • By the time training was over Patrick Swayze was able to repeatedly knock cigarettes out of his teacher’s mouth.
  • Various martial arts styles were used in the film including Kickboxing, Karate, Tai Chi, and Hapkido.
  • The fight between Dalton and Jimmy Reno took five nights to complete. Both actors fought full contact and suffered an assortment of injuries including broken ribs for Swayze and a cracked eye socket for Teague.
  • In the scene where Jimmy breaks the log across Dalton’s back Teague believed it was a prop log and hit Swayze hard. Winded and in pain Swayze continued with the fight.
  • Urquidez went on to train actors Cuba Gooding Jr and James Marshall for the boxing movie “Gladiator” (1992) also directed by Rowdy Herrington.
  • Patrick Swayze was one of Hollywood’s biggest film and television stars with a lot of notable work. He is known for playing a variety of roles that include romantic leads and tough action roles, as both hero and villain. He passed away on 14th September 2009 after a long battle with cancer. “Road House” co-star Marshall Teague stated in an interview; “I made one of the best friends a man could ask for, and I miss him everyday.”
  • Reports state that UFC champion Ronda Rousey has been approached to star in a remake of “Road House” in the role played by Patrick Swayze. Rousey is said to have the blessing of his widow Lisa Neimi, with MGM aiming to begin production in 2016.

  • --------------------

    Jun 4, 2017

    Cartoon Master Ken

    Artwork by Aaron Tade

    Even as a cartoon Master Ken looks deadly.

    May 29, 2017

    Jaden Smith goes off the deep end

    Jaden, before the crazy

    Too bad Jaden didn't keep up with his kung fu training, I think it would have helped him with his life challenges.

    Every month we get a serving of crazy provided by this once promising young man, it would be funny if weren't so sad.

    He has soiled the Karate Kid legacy, but then again I guess you can't blame him too much, it was soiled pretty good beginning with Karate Kid 3.

    But still, he could have done a great work by bringing it back, instead he seems to have just buried it forever.

    Jaden Smith claims swanky Four Seasons hotel kicked him out

    (by Peter Sblendorio 5-29-17)

    Jaden Smith certainly isn't giving this five-star hotel a five-star review.

    The actor — and 18-year-old son of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith — accused the Four Seasons Toronto of kicking him out of his room and tampering with his food during a Twitter tirade over the weekend.

    "The Four Seasons in Toronto spiked my pancakes with cheese, I'm surprised I'm still alive," he wrote in the series of tweets. "After they kicked me out of my room."

    "The Four Seasons in Toronto just made me want to throw up on myself," he wrote in a separate post.

    Smith didn't go into much detail with his allegations, but a source told E! News that the actor had attempted to extend his stay at the hotel after spending several days there, but the hotel was booked.

    The restaurant attached to the Four Seasons in Toronto, meanwhile, serves "lemon ricotta hotcakes," which is a menu option available at several of the hotel's locations.

    A member of the Four Seasons staff declined to comment on Smith's claims, and the PR firm that represents the luxury hotel did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    A rep for Smith also did not immediately return a request for comment.

    Smith was in Toronto to film his upcoming movie "Life in a Year," which also stars Cara Delevingne.


    May 25, 2017

    Up river to the forgotten dojo

    Yangtze River by Wayne Haag

    May 23, 2017

    The Forgotten (Female) Pioneers of Tai Chi in the West

    (by Charles Russo

    Gerda Geddes first encountered tai chi at dawn.

    Walking the misty morning streets of Shanghai in 1949, she observed an old Chinese man performing slow, meditative movements in an open field. As a formally trained modern dancer from Norway, Geddes quickly fell spellbound to the spectacle: “As I watched I had a sensation of hot and cold streaming up and down my spine…and I remember thinking, ‘This is what I have been looking for all my life.’”

    Oddly enough, Geddes wasn’t alone in her interest. Sophia Delza—an American with her own established career in dance and choreography—was also compelled to learn the Chinese martial art of tai chi while in Shanghai during that very same year. Like most westerners at the time, neither women had any exposure to tai chi, but both quickly found value in what they were witnessing. In a pair of trailblazing scenarios that defied the era’s well-established boundaries of race and gender, Geddes and Delza trained separately under renowned tai chi masters before then bringing the Chinese martial art back to their home countries. In a curious mirror image of one another, the two women played pioneering though widely forgotten roles within the early martial arts culture of the West, spreading tai chi far beyond China, and launching it towards its current incarnation of a thriving global culture.
    Tai chi is easily one of the most popular martial arts in the world today, with daily practitioners around the globe numbering in the millions. Yet, if the centuries-old Chinese art is widely embraced across cultures and age groups, it has been more for health and recreation than for its martial applications. In this regard, it can be easily forgotten that tai chi originated as a fighting art, and that it falls under the wide umbrella of Chinese kung fu.

    Although it’s origins are often shrouded in folklore, tai chi chuan—which translates as “supreme ultimate fist”—most likely emerged several centuries ago from Taoist monks in China, at a time when martial systems had great relevance amid the violent social realities of the era. Over time tai chi would evolve to be increasingly characterized as a “soft” fighting style, which seeks to redirect an opponent’s energy and motion to work against them.

    The art’s emphasis on slow movement, breathing and other notions of Qigong (or, energy cultivation) have made it increasingly appealing over time as a healthy exercise apart from any martial context. While numerous systems of kung fu fighting styles have battled for relevance in recent years, tai chi’s popularity is surging in the 21st century, especially as contemporary research increasingly qualifies the health benefits that have long been touted by its practitioners.

    As martial arts historian Ben Judkins writes, “…the medical benefits of practices like Taijiquan have been discussed from time to time in the West for more than a century. Yet only recently have medical professionals dedicated the attention and resources necessary to systematically test and describe the benefits of Taiji for a wide number of (most chronic) conditions.”

    Clinical studies in recent years have linked practicing tai chi to a wide range of health benefits, including the reduction of heart disease, curbing stress and improving the overall physical well-being of seniors. Last year, the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggested that the beneficial attributes of practicing tai chi were substantial enough that it should possibly even be “prescribed” by doctors to address a variety of conditions, including diabetes and arthritis.

    “It boils down to relevance,” explains Jess O’Brien, author of the book Nei Ji Quan: Internal Martial Arts,  “Northern Praying Mantis [fighting style] is not for everyone, but tai chi is well-suited to the public need. For most people, the appeal is in its mind/body training.”

    This modern appeal is especially fascinating to consider in the historical context of Delza and Geddes, who both envisioned tai chi's relevance and potential health benefits more than a half century ago, but were eventually forgotten amid more masculine martial art storylines.


    By the time they traveled to China in the late 1940s, Delza and Geddes had already lived colorful lives.

    Delza had been born to a bohemian family in Brooklyn, surrounded by art and liberal politics. She trained in modern dance, studying in Paris for a time, before returning to New York for a career that spanned stage and film. In 1928 she danced opposite James Cagney in the Grand Street Follies on Broadway, and later performed solo recitals at notable theaters around the city. In following her husband to Shanghai in 1948, Delza quickly broke ground as the first American dancer to perform and lecture in Chinese theaters and dance schools.

    Geddes was born to high class society in Norway. Like Delza she trained in modern dance at a young age, before then studying psychotherapy under controversial psychiatrist Wilhelm Reich at the University of Oslo. As a young adult Geddes joined the resistance against the Nazi occupation, and after a series of dramatic encounters she escaped to Sweden hidden beneath a cart of lumber. By the time she followed her husband to Shanghai in 1949, she was developing an idea to merge her studies in dance and psychotherapy to create some kind of physically-oriented approach to mental therapy. Yet as she watched the old man perform tai chi at dawn, Geddes realized she no longer had to invent such a system, since the Chinese had seemingly been cultivating one for centuries. Even still, the notion of a western women learning the Chinese martial arts was unprecedented at the time.

    “These Chinese men had very great trouble with me because women didn’t do tai chi in those days,” Geddes would later explain. “Most women still had bound feet.”

    Even as they were confronted by a Chinese martial arts code excluding foreigners and women, a sizable language barrier, and the tumultuous circumstances in China after the Communists came to power, both Geddes and Delza still managed to study with established Chinese masters. Delza studied Wu style tai chi under celebrated practitioner Mah Yueh-ling in Shanghai, and then returned to promote the arts in New York City. Conversely, Geddes learned Yang style tai chi under Choy Hak Peng in Hong Kong before returning to teach in England. In the same time and environment that a teenage Bruce Lee was banned from Ip Man’s Wing Chun school on account of his quarter European ancestry, these were revolutionary relationships that defied the social boundaries of their era.

    Back in Europe, Geddes’s efforts to promote tai chi were initially met with confusion and disinterest, while Delza quickly found traction by showcasing the arts in high profile settings around New York City. In 1954 she staged a public demonstration at the Museum of Modern Art. As Judkins explains, this was a landmark moment for martial arts culture in America: “In 1954 there were virtually no public performances or demonstrations of any sort of Chinese Martial Art at all. Catching a glimpse of Lion Dancing at the Lunar New Year, or a short demonstration by the Chinese student association at a University's "international festival," was the closest that most American might ever come to seeing the Chinese martial arts.” The interest that was generated from these demonstrations would soon lead to Delza conducting regular tai chi classes at Carnegie Hall and the United Nations, pre-dating some of the earliest modern martial arts outfits in America (including Ed Parker’s Kenpo Karate school in Pasadena circa 1957 and Bruce Lee’s teaching in Seattle beginning in 1959). In the UK, Geddes’s efforts finally gained momentum at the London Contemporary School of Dance, which eventually incorporated her classes into their freshmen curriculum. Within a year of each other, both women gave what were presumably the first televised tai chi demonstrations in their respective countries.

    In 1961, Delza also authored what is possibly the first English language book ever written on the Chinese martial arts: T’ai-Chi Ch’uan: Body and Mind in Harmony. As she explained in the opening chapter, her intentions were “to bring to the attention of Western people this ancient masterpiece of health exercise…which…is supremely suitable in these modern times.” But if Delza and Geddes had a health and even spiritually-oriented vision for an “ancient” art in the modern world, it was an entirely different martial arts future that soon commanded the spotlight.


    By the early 1960s, martial arts culture in the west was still in its infancy, though poised to take off towards a substantial popularity. Since the early part of the century, the Japanese art of judo had been crossing borders, and was the first Asian martial art to noticeably take root in the Western world (in fact, President Theodore Roosevelt had trained with a Japanese judo master for a time at the White House. In his more overzealous moments, Roosevelt was known to exhibit judo techniques on young men visiting the Oval Office). During World War II, many servicemen were exposed to the Okinawan striking art of karate, and returned home resolved to continue practicing it and promoting its culture. Ed Parker held his first Long Beach International Karate Tournament in 1964, the same summer that judo was first introduced into competition at the Olympic Games. In 1965, Los Angeles-based kung fu master Ark Wong asserted in print that he would no longer restrict teaching only Chinese students and that enrollment was now wide open to anyone with dedicated interest.

    In 1966, Bruce Lee’s role as Kato on the Green Hornet was the spark that finally lit the fuse. Lee’s performances were a game-changing spectacle that captured the public’s imagination and quickly pushed martial arts culture to a booming modern popularity. By the early 70s, the “kung fu craze” was in full swing, and the mind and body health culture envisioned by Geddes and Delza took a quiet back seat to a new male-dominated martial arts culture. Hyperbolic action movies and promises of esoteric fighting techniques emphasized the fighting component of the equation, and sold the Asian martial arts to the west in a big way.

    As newly-minted enthusiasts devoured the latest martial arts media, the contributions of Delza and Geddes didn’t quite fit the prevailing narrative of dynamic male fighting skills, and in turn the two women were largely excluded from coverage. Despite almost singlehandedly introducing the Chinese martial art of tai chi to their respective continents as well as conducting longterm careers that spanned four decades and thousands of students, neither Delza nor Geddes ever received any significant coverage from Blackbelt Magazine, the perennial publication of record for the martial arts community.

    “Popular culture is made up as much by forgetting things as discovering them,” explains Judkins. “Delza was essentially erased from the popular memory. We could only have Bruce Lee and the ‘kung fu craze’ as a new and exciting phenomenon if we all kind of pretended that Delza hadn’t already shown us many of these things 15 years earlier.”

    In fact, when Delza’s name was mentioned within the martial arts community as an early proponent of tai chi, it often surfaced in the form of criticism, contending that her lack of martial emphasis constituted an “incomplete” system.

    Jess O’Brien, whose book Nei Jia Quan profiles a diverse group of tai chi masters, defends the legacies of Delza and Geddes by asserting that the definition of the Chinese martial arts isn’t one-dimensional. “People want the Chinese martial arts to have a definition, but there is no one singular goal,” explains O’Brien, “tai chi is multi-faceted and can take you down multiple pathways. And there are people who say that it needs to be about fighting, but if it’s embraced as a meditative or healing art there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.”

    As dancers, both Delza and Geddes had initially embraced tai chi as an alternative and far more holistic approach to dance and movement, essentially a tangible antidote to the prevailing harsh physical expectations of their industry. In time, Delza would continue to promote tai chi through a health-oriented perspective, while Geddes would increasingly embrace it as an avenue towards spirituality. Even still, both women were keenly aware that they were practicing something that ultimately was a martial art, even if fighting was never their goal.

    In the long run, despite criticism and obscurity, Delza and Geddes appear to have prevailed in their vision. In the course of sowing the seeds for tai chi in the West, their students (and their student’s students) now teach in countries around the world. Since their passing—Delza in 1996 and Geddes in 2006—tai chi’s popularity has only skyrocketed around the world, while its health benefits are increasingly backed by clinical studies. Conversely, so many of the kung fu fighting styles that once commanded the spotlight have since struggled to attract followers in the 21st century.

    There’s a very fitting, “soft-style” logic to this: Delza and Geddes were quietly successful in their vision, even as their louder martial counterparts have fallen on hard times.


    May 17, 2017

    Exit the Dragon? Kung Fu, Once Central to Hong Kong Life, Is Waning

    (by Charlotte Yang 8-22-16)

    Bruce Lee was 14 years old, and on the losing end of several street fights with local gang members, when he took up kung fu.

    It was 1955, and Hong Kong was bustling with schools teaching a range of kung fu styles, including close-combat techniques and a method using a daunting weapon known as the nine-dragon trident.
    Mr. Lee’s decision paid off. After perfecting moves like his one-inch punch and leaping kick under the tutelage of a grand master, he became an international star, introducing kung fu to the world in films like “Enter the Dragon” in 1973.
    Decades later, cue the dragon’s exit.
    The kung fu culture that Mr. Lee helped popularize — and that gave the city a gritty, exotic image in the eyes of foreigners — is in decline. Hong Kong’s streets are safer, with fewer murders by the fierce crime organizations known as triads that figured in so many kung fu films. And its real estate is among the world’s most expensive, making it difficult for training studios to afford soaring rents.
    Gone are the days when “kung fu was a big part of people’s cultural and leisure life,” said Mak King Sang Ricardo, the author of a history of martial arts in Hong Kong. “After work, people would go to martial arts schools, where they’d cook dinner together and practice kung fu until 11 at night.”
    With a shift in martial arts preferences, the rise of video games — more teenagers play Pok√©mon Go in parks here than practice a roundhouse kick — and a perception among young people that kung fu just isn’t cool, longtime martial artists worry that kung fu’s future is bleak.
    “When I was growing up so many people learned kung fu, but that’s no longer the case,” said Leung Ting, 69, who has been teaching wing chun, a close-combat technique, for 50 years. “Sadly, I think Chinese martial arts are more popular overseas than in their home now.”
    According to Mr. Leung’s organization, the International WingTsun Association, former apprentices have opened 4,000 branches in more than 65 countries, but only five in Hong Kong.
    Few kung fu schools remain in Yau Ma Tei, a district of Kowloon that was once the center for martial arts. Nathan Road — where the young Bruce Lee learned his craft from Ip Man (often spelled Yip Man), the legendary teacher who was the subject of Wong Kar-wai’s 2013 film “The Grandmaster” — is now lined with cosmetic shops and pharmacies that cater to tourists from the mainland.
    Though he lives in Yau Ma Tei, Tony Choi, a recent college graduate, has never been tempted to check out the remaining schools. Mr. Choi, 22, said that “kung fu just never came to mind.”
    He added, “Kung fu is more for retired uncles and grandpas.”
    When they do train in martial arts, younger people here tend to pick Thai boxing and judo.
    Valerie Ng, a 20-year-old college student, says she prefers Thai boxing because it is “attractive and charming” and does not take as long to master. She noted that kung fu masters often do not have defined muscles and that some of them look, well, a little chubby.
    “You can see how fierce Thai boxing is from watching professional matches,” she said. “But I rarely see such competition for kung fu, which makes me wonder whether those kung fu masters really are good at fighting or they just claim to be,” she said.
    So Tak Chung, 59, remembers how different things were. When he was a boy, he and his friends would run home from school as fast as they could to watch kung fu shows on television.
    “Kung fu always gave me a sense of justice and pride in being Chinese,” Mr. So said while stretching his legs for a Sunday night lesson at Kowloon Park. “It feels like if you knew kung fu, you could beat the bad guys and help the needy.”
    Mr. So’s master, Mak Che Kong, 64, is less hopeful about the future. He ran one of the last studios in Kowloon in the 1980s, but soaring rents caused it to shut down, along with other family businesses that were once a fixture of Hong Kong street life, like Dit Da, or bone-setting, shops that use traditional Chinese medicine to treat sprains and fractures.
    Mr. Mak, who is not related to the author of the martial arts history, has fewer than 20 students now, down from twice that number several years ago. Most students are over the age of 40.
    He holds classes all over the city because “students will not come if they need to travel much.” On Tuesdays, he teaches at a pier in the city’s Central District; on Wednesdays, near a government marriage registry in Sha Tin in the New Territories; and on Sundays, at a public park in Kowloon. On Mondays and Fridays, he teaches at a kung fu school in a warehouse opened by one of his students.
    Describing himself as “old school,” Mr. Mak fiercely defended kung fu traditions. “Chinese kung fu is not about fighting; it is about patience and hard work,” he said.
    When he learned kung fu in the late 1960s, masters were father figures and apprentices had deep respect for kung fu. Students were willing to spend months or years perfecting just their horse-riding stance, a rest position often used for practicing punches and strengthening the legs and back.
    “Today, if you ask a student to practice horse-riding stance for one lesson, he will not come again,” Mr. Mak said. “They are used to living a comfortable life.”
    In English, kung fu is often used as an umbrella term for all Chinese martial arts. But in Chinese, it refers to any discipline or skill that is achieved through hard work.

    Kung fu traces its history to ancient China, with hundreds of fighting styles developing over the centuries. But it soared in popularity at the beginning of the 20th century, as revolution swept the nation.
    After the fall of the Qing dynasty a century ago, the Chinese Nationalist party, or the Kuomintang, used martial arts to promote national pride, setting up competitions and sending an exhibition team to the Olympics. But the government also tried to suppress wuxia, a martial arts genre of literature and film, as superstitious and potentially subversive.
    When the Nationalists fell in 1949, the new Communist government in Beijing sought to control martial arts from the Chinese mainland. The Shaolin Temple, said to be the home of Asian martial arts in central China, was ransacked during the Cultural Revolution of 1966-76 and its Buddhist monks jailed.
    Throughout those decades, martial artists from mainland China sought refuge in what was then the British colony of Hong Kong.
    By the 1970s, kung fu fever had spread around the world. In addition to Bruce Lee’s films, the television series “Kung Fu,” starring David Carradine, became one of the most popular programs in the United States.
    Though Hong Kong’s kung fu films do not draw the attention they once did, the genre has influenced a generation of directors, including Quentin Tarantino and Ang Lee, and the actor Jackie Chan and others have kept it alive as comedy.
    In a twist, kung fu has enjoyed a renaissance in mainland China, where the government has standardized it and promoted it in secondary schools as a sport known as wushu to foster national pride.
    As the martial arts center of gravity shifts to the mainland, some in Hong Kong have expressed hope that the government might support a revival here, too. Others are trying to carry on the tradition themselves.
    Li Zhuangxin, a trim 17-year-old, has been studying the wing chun technique for more than four years. He was inspired by his grandfather, a devotee of the fighting style hung ga who gave Mr. Li his first kung fu lesson at age 8.
    He hopes to open his own kung fu school one day — maybe on the mainland, where interest is higher and rents are cheaper — and has already set up a small wing chun club, with eight members, at his high school.
    Few of his classmates had ever heard of wing chun before. Mr. Li, undaunted, says he wants to impart “the concentration and determination of kung fu” to his friends, who he laments are “only interested in playing with their cellphones.”

    May 15, 2017

    Samurai on charging horse

    artwork by Devon Bragg

    May 11, 2017

    M.M.A. Fighter’s Pummeling of Tai Chi Master Rattles China

    (by Didi Kirsten Tatlow 5-10-17)

    For weeks, the mixed martial arts fighter Xu Xiaodong had been taunting masters of the traditional Chinese martial arts, dismissing them as overly commercialized frauds, and challenging them to put up or shut up.

    After one of them — Wei Lei, a practitioner of the “thunder style” of tai chi — accepted the challenge, Mr. Xu flattened him in about 10 seconds.
    Mr. Xu may have proved his point, but he was unprepared for the ensuing outrage.
    When video of the drubbing went viral, many Chinese were deeply offended by what they saw as an insult to a cornerstone of traditional Chinese culture.
    The state-run Chinese Wushu Association posted a statement on its website saying the fight “violates the morals of martial arts.” The Chinese Boxing Association issued similar criticism.
    An article by Xinhua, the state news agency, called Mr. Xu a “crazy guy,” saying that the fight had caused people to question whether Chinese martial arts were of any use and even to ask, “What exactly are traditional Chinese martial arts?”
    The reaction has been so furious that Mr. Xu has gone into hiding.
    “I’ve lost everything, my career and everything,” he said in a message circulating online. “I think many people misunderstand me. I’m fighting fraudulence, but now I’ve become the target.”
    Many people around the world assumed that this debate had long been settled. Mixed martial arts fighters have for years held exhibition fights against practitioners of traditional martial arts — kung fu, karate and judo among them. The old ways, for all their balletic grace, lost decisively.
    Known broadly as wushu, traditional Chinese martial arts include such disparate disciplines as qigong, categorized as an “internal” practice that is mostly spiritual, and kung fu, an “external” art that is practiced by the monks of the Shaolin Temple and was popularized around the world by Bruce Lee. There are hundreds of styles of wushu in China, and many overlap.
    Tai chi, while a martial art, is viewed by many today as a spiritual breathing and balance exercise enjoyed by people of all ages, usually performed in slow motion in a quiet park instead of a fight ring.

    The fight between Mr. Xu and Mr. Wei was brutal. As Mr. Wei circled slowly, arms outstretched in a calm tai chi defense, Mr. Xu lunged, jabbed him to the floor, then used a “ground and pound” technique to subdue him. It was all over in about 10 seconds.
    A woman reached by telephone at the Battle Club in southeast Beijing, where Mr. Xu works, said he was not giving interviews. She declined to give her name.
    On Wednesday morning, the door of the Battle Club, in the dingy basement of a high-rise, was locked. Photographs of Mr. Xu and other M.M.A. fighters decorated the walls of the stairwell.
    An electrician lingering by a cigarette shop at the top of the stairs said he practiced wushu and had come to check out the club after hearing about the controversy. He said that Mr. Xu had been right to pose his challenge, even though it had infuriated people.
    “No one can avoid fighting,’’ said the man, who gave only his surname, Lian, and a social media username, Ruyi.
    He said defenders of the traditional martial arts were incensed that Mr. Xu had dared to say that they staged impressive performances but were ineffective fighters and that, by doing so, he had threatened their livelihoods.
    Yet Mr. Xu’s ultra-aggressive assault on his tai chi rival had missed an important point, Mr. Lian added.
    “The key difference between what Mr. Xu does and martial arts is that martial arts isn’t a competitive sport,’’ he said. “It’s not about really hurting. It’s about giving your opponent ‘face.’ And Mr. Xu’s style is about beating your opponent to near death.”

    May 5, 2017

    The Dojo

    Our mission is to make our students more successful in life through their practice of Martial Arts at our school.
    We do this by teaching our Martial Arts as a complete discipline (mind, body, spirit), which in addition to developing physical defense, encourages the formation of high personal standards and respect for fellow men and women.
    Through our practice and teaching, we strive to produce individuals who are positive, respected and contributing members of society.

    Apr 30, 2017

    Controversial New Book Reveals Untold Stories of Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley from Las Vegas Insider

    ( 4-16-17)

    Author releases never-before tales and memoirs of storied musician, Marty Harrell, in the new release: BACKSTAGE - Behind the Curtains with the Greatest Entertainers of the 20th Century

    Southern Califrornia-based author and actor, Darryl Vidal, known for his appearance in the original Karate Kid movie has recently published the memoirs of famed Las Vegas musician Marty Harrell. Harrell's storied past includes playing Bass Trombone for the biggest Las Vegas acts from the 1960's through the 1980's, including Frank Sinatra, the Rat Pack, Connie Stevens and backing up the legendary Elvis Presley through his legendary live tours ending with Elvis' untimely death in 1977. "This is the biggest compilation of Sinatra and Elvis stories that have never been told before! And I was there!" - Marty Harrell

    BackStage is a raucously funny, compilation of stories, tales, and gems from the Golden Era of entertainment circa 1960 - 1980. The stories are told by the bass trombonist who played in the Tommy Dorsey band, with Frank Sinatra and later toured with Elvis’ Orchestra into the Rock & Roll era and to his end. Marty Harrell was also the best friend and roommate of Frank Sinatra Jr. through their Tommy Dorsey Band years, and was there during the notorious kidnapping event in Lake Tahoe that made world headlines in 1963.

    The book is filled with tales of the brightest stars of the greatest era of music entertainment during the nascent days of television and new media, and provides a personal perspective of this behind the scenes character - who unknowingly bears witness to the most beloved of the era at their best - and worst. These great little gems that have never been told before, range from when Dean Martin called the police to close down his own house party, and when Marty stuffed a potato into the exhaust pipe of Liberace’s mini-Rolls Royce on live television. Another favorite is the story of when Elvis brought the whole live tour to Graceland and the bus ran through the famous wrought iron gates.

    This band member also tells stories of the raw talent that could only be appreciated up close and personal, like when Frank Sinatra sight read and sang the song “My Kind of Town Chicago is” perfectly, without ever hearing the melody, or when Elvis, on his last tour, surprised the band by sitting at the piano, and belting out the most amazing performance of “Unchained Melody” without ever rehearsing it with the band. The narrative non-fiction highlights the innocence and nostalgia of the time, while providing a glimpse behind the curtains, and giving personal perspectives of these truly talented and beloved entertainers and how they interacted with the crowds and their talented backup.

    Darryl Vidal is an author of several books, entrepreneur and a legendary martial artist who is credited with performing the iconic Crane Technique on the beach (as Pat Morita's body double) made famous around the world in the original 1984 Academy Award-nominated Karate Kid.


    Apr 28, 2017

    Why Every Single Kid Should Be a "Karate Kid"

    (by Katharine Stahl 4-12-17)

    In her six short years, my daughter has participated in a variety of activities including ballet, musical theater, science, Spanish, hip hop, swimming, art, and creative dramatics. During each class, she says she loves it and is always excited to go every week, but when it's over and I ask if she wants to sign up for the next session, she always gives a very resolved "no," and suggests yet another activity she'd like to try instead. The latest one — karate — surprised me in the best way possible, first because I thought it was a pretty badass choice for a kindergarten girl, and second, because I'm pretty sure karate is exactly what this wild lady needs.

    And your child could probably benefit from martial arts (tae kwon do, jujitsu, and aikido are just a few other options), too. Here are six reasons why martial arts and kids are a match made in karate-kick heaven.

    1. Martial arts teaches respect. The first skill my daughter learned in her very first karate class was to bow to her teacher, or master, who introduced the practice by talking about respect. From that bow to lessons about waiting for the next command, respect is one of the most important benefits of martial arts, and according to research, it often translates to school, helping to improve classroom behavior and even grades.
    2. Martial arts teaches self-control and focus. Parents whose children have ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) regularly report big results from martial arts program since self-control and concentration are underdeveloped skills in kids with ADHD. All kids will benefit from martial arts' emphasis on focusing on the task at hand and listening to the instructor.
    3. Socialization and teamwork are key skills. Many martial arts programs require children to work together, even if they're in competition with one another. Respecting your partners and opponents at all times is important on the mat and in life. For kids who have a hard time making friends on the playground, it's often easier to find buddies in a space that includes a shared interest.
    4. Kids learn to set and achieve goals. Progress in many martial arts practices is marked by the belt system, starting with the beginner-level white belt through a variety of colors until the final black belt. Since testing for each new level generally takes place every few months, progressing through the levels is a good exercise in creating and achieving long-term goals, which in turn promotes self-confidence and self-esteem.
    5. It encourages physical fitness. Coordination, muscle control, and aerobic endurance are all important in martial arts, so signing your kid up for karate or tae kwon do also means you know they're getting regular exercise instead of sitting in front of a screen.
    6. Violence is not a side effect, but learning self defense is. Kicks and punches might sound violent, but a structured martial arts practice is more likely to teach kids peaceful conflict resolution skills and to emphasize the importance of avoiding physical altercations. However, children will learn how to protect their bodies from violent attacks, and that's a skill every mom can get behind.