Archive for February, 2009

Hiroyuki Sanada: The only Asian man to fight Jackie Chan and almost win AND beat up Tom Cruise

Friday, February 13th, 2009

The most unknown martial arts practitioner in the Hollywood circle.  Orphanned at age 11, Sanada trained in kemp and kiyokushinkai, and also in kendo.  In the 70s the famous Sonny Chiba opened the first Japanese stunt school, and took Sanada in as his own.  At age 18 Sanada is in his first movie along side Chba and went on to do many other Japanese action films and TV series.  He broke into the American market with Ed Zwick’s Last Samurai .  He believes that with the making of Last Samurai it broke down barriers between Asia and America.  He also says that he believes that even within Asia there are mini barriers between, say Japan and China.  This is why he is now starring in a Chinese movie called The Promise, where he plays a Chinese general involved in a love triangle. 

Hopefully this will be the beginning of Hiroyuki’s rise into a more popular circle which can afford him more interesting opportunities to display his skillset.

The Season of Neeson

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

Liam Neeson’s new action piece, Taken, recently was released in theaters everywhere.  The movie is basic in nature.  A man’s daughter is kidnapped.  He must retreave her with acquired skills.  Chaos insues. 

The style employed in this film is primarily Krav Maga.  A lot of mid and low level kicks to the groin and knees.  A lot of disarming maneuvers.  Enough neck snapping and clavicle chopping to even impress a washed up Steven Seagal.  I’m assuming the action style was influenced in some part by the Bourne franchise and its popularization of the grungier more agressive and less flash approach.  Liam Neeson concedes to the the plotline of the film being quite simple, so putting his trust and the layering of the film in the hands of the amazing Luc Besson also came pretty simple.  The fact of the matter is he wanted to do an action movie before his age truly would become a factor in such a movie. 

This stuff ain\’t no Darkman II

Wushu competition to enhance ties in Asia Pacific

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

EXPONENTS from three wushu academies in the Asia-Pacific region gathered for the inaugural HYJ Academy of Wushu Competition at the Sports Arena in Wisma OCM, Kuala Lumpur recently.

The exponents, from HYJ Academy of Wushu of Singapore, HYJ Academy of Tai Ji and Wushu of Australia and HYJ Academy of Wushu of Malaysia, took part in a variety of categories during the one-day competition that was held in the spirit of fostering ties. The categories included changquan, traditional quanshu, nanquan, daoshu, jianshu, nandao, 42-style taijiquan and gunshu.

HYJ Academy of Wushu of Malaysia’s Woo Chee Heong said the theme of the competition was “For Wushu We Gather, In Wushu We Pride”.

“Besides the competition, we also had a dinner to mark the third anniversary of our academy, and a joint training session.

“Competition alone will not benefit the students as much as training together with one another,” he said.

The activities were in line with the objectives of the event, which included raising the level of wushu among the members, promoting the art of Chinese wushu and upholding the spirit of HYJ founder Huo Yuan Jia.

During the training session, a dance performance incorporating hip-hop and kung fu moves was choreographed.

“About 80 students from the three academies spent an hour practising the dance, and they performed it at the opening ceremony of the competition,” Woo said.

Currently, HYJ Academy of Wushu of Malaysia conducts wushu lessons at five education institutions in Selangor.

“The younger generation admires Western culture and forgets their roots,” Woo lamented.

Interesting moves: The contestants, dressed in Chinese costume, demonstrating the moves of the 42-style taijijian.

“I have conducted classes in Western countries before and the students there had so much passion for wushu. Their positive attitude was commendable while the students here sometimes lack enthusiasm. Learning wushu trains one to be disciplined,” Woo said.

Azrul Shahrif Ibrahim, a student of Multimedia University in Cyberjaya, took part in the traditional long weapon category in the competition.

“A roommate encouraged me to take up wushu. That was three years ago. I liked it a lot and my fellow students are receptive to us learning wushu,” said the second-year IT student.

In 2006, Azrul bagged a gold medal in an inter-varsity wushu tournament in Kelantan.

To him, learning wushu is more than just mastering a few Jackie Chan moves.

“I know more about Chinese culture now, as I always get invited to participate in the festive events organised by the wushu club,” the 25-year-old said.