Aging Martial Artists Slow Their Action Roles

It is a fact. As we age as human beings, our bodies change, forcing us to reduce or stop doing some of the things we enjoyed taking part in when we were younger. Older adults usually can anticipate losing about 20 to 30 percent in muscle mass over time. When your muscle strength decreases, the things you do every day seem to become more difficult to complete. This is the case with famous martial artists jackie chan and Jet Li.

Chan, who is currently 60 years old, has enjoyed an exciting career as a comedian, producer, stunt performer, director, and several other job titles found in the entertainment industry. He is most famous for his acrobatic style of fighting, use of weapons, and comic timing. Two years ago, he announced his retirement from action cinema at the Cannes Film Festival. He said he was not young anymore and that he was really, really tired.He has broken almost every bone in his body for the sake of entertainment and he deserves a rest from the physically demanding actions scenes that we have come to expect from him.

Chan also said that the current level of violence in movies is too high right now, and there is too much violence in the world. Additionally, he is not a fan of mixed martial arts (MMA), which is extremely popular today. The Ultimate Fighter 20’s season debut attracted 1.735 million viewers. Chan disagrees with cage fighting and views attacking your opponent while he or she is down as disrespect. Chan desires to be known as more than just a comedian and martial artist. He wants to be known as a true actor. Chan, just like Li, has faced the reality that we cannot do the things that we use to do in our 50s and 60s.

unhealthy-jetLi, who is currently 51, recently disclosed that he has experienced dramatic weight gain due to an overactive thyroid. Hyperparathyroidism, in which the parathyroid is overactive, affects about 100,000 U.S. adults. Li said he is in pain, but he is not suffering. He is currently taking medication to control his heart rate, which can reach 130 to 140 during normal activities. As these two legends limit their roles and action scenes, younger actors will fill the void left by these martial artists.

Some examples of young, and not so young up and coming talent include, Tony Jaa the Thai legend- a mixture of Jackie chan and Jet Li with a unique style of his own. Scott Adkins the musclebound acrobat better known for his role as the convict Yuri Boyka, Michael Jai White who played an awesome part in Blood and Bone and Donnie Yen- who has been around for a while and has stared along side both Jackie and Jet, he is famous for his role as Grandmaster IP in IP man parts 1 and 2. There are also many many more….

History And Fighting Techniques Of Indian Martial Arts

The fighting systems of Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan are altogether classified as Indian martial arts, due to the similarity of each country to their shared cultures when it comes to combat styles. As a martial arts enthusiast, I searched for the common words involved in the Indian martial arts that are still being used at the present time and found a number of useful terms.

Terms and Definitions

The most popular term today is sastra-vidya, basically means weapon (sastra) and knowledge (vidya). Another useful term is the dhanuveda or the science of archery, which is derived from bow (dhanushya) and knowledge (veda). It is also defined as “applied knowledge” in one of the traditional eighteen divisions of Vishnu Purana. The term for military science or “combat knowledge” in the battleground is referred to as yuddha-vidya, which primarily consists of a series of battle foundations and tactics.


Since I already developed interest just by reading the definitions, I found myself digging into the roots of Indian martial arts.

During the pre-Gupta period, the combat styles were identified as mixed with bare-hand and armed techniques. Battles using improvised bow and arrows, swords, rocks and fist-fighting were detailed in Mahabharata. Malla-yuddha, the oldest unarmed battle ever recorded in Indian martial arts, was comprised of wrestling using knees, fists, strangulation and hair pulling.

The art of fighting evolved at the time of Sushruta Samhita (4th century), wherein the common knowledge of striking the 64 supposedly lethal points of the body was popularized. Through this information, the warriors gathered awareness in attacking and defending the said lethal body parts.

In 7th century, the Shiva Dhanuveda was created by the martial arts experts under the governance of Emperor Nagabhata and Mihir Bhoja I. The use of a two-handed wide-tipped thick extended sword called khadga was invented not only for combat but also for ritualised worship of the weapon called khadga-puja.


Recorded between 8th and 11th century was the discovery of the first existing Indian martial arts literature called Agni Purana. It explained the divisions, categories and positions of fighting such as samapada (standing with feet closed together evenly) and vaisakha (standing straight with feet marginally apart). It also covered topics in kha?gacarmavidhau (32 positions by means of the sword and shield at the same time), 11 strategies using rope during battle and the use of numerous weapons such as tomara (steel club), dagger and slingshot. This era amazed me for their clever classification of weapons and techniques, personally.

From 11th to 15th centuries, the soldiers and warriors were required to choose only a single weapon to master during their length of service. Most soldiers specialized in swordplay, while others preferred daggers. Their chosen weapon was the only option to use even in real battles.

Mughal era entered the history of Indian martial arts during the 16th century as established by the great conqueror named Babur. The people of Mughal tribe were trained in exceptional martial arts like wrestling and mounted archery. Aside from that, notable weapons were introduced in the name of the most popular talwar or scimitar.

Characterized by expert horsemen who preferred transportable cavalry units and light armour, Marathas ruled from 16th to 18th century. The Maratha dynasty was governed by their prestigious warrior Shivaji Raje, who learned to master swordsmanship and innumerable weapons at a young age.

Generally, everything was basic until the late 18th century due to British colonization with the use of modern firearms that eradicated the use of traditional weaponries. The use of firearms is still used in practice up to the present. Pretty amazed as I was, the time duration using uncomplicated weapons lasted for almost a millennium. This proved the broad expertise of the early people in terms of martial arts using deadly weapons.

Fighting Techniques

Assuyuddha or khadga-vidy, also known as Indian style swordfight, included the use of common swords like the regular curve single-edge and the straight double-edge. The gauntlet-sword, the urumi (bendable sword) and the two-handed long sword are also among the types that were popular before.

Lathi khela or stick-fighting was also popularized, which was characterized as a long pole of wood, made usually made from bamboo, with steel caps at the end to stabilize the weapon. Both hands were used to hold the weapon during combat.

The use of ten feet long spear, bothati, was cleverly maximized during the Maratha dynasty by means of horsemen. It was modified further to a spear attached to a rope around soldiers’ waist. Renamed as vita, it could be pulled back after being thrown in a foe.

Dhanurvidya or archery was the noblest form of combat during the ancient times. This style was converted into a sport nowadays in the name of thoda, wherein the arrows were blunt and used to target the legs of the rivals.


Fact Or Fiction, How Real Could Martial Arts Be

martial-arts-movie-starsWatching martial arts with amazing stunts played in the movies always leave a flicker of curiosity in the eyes of the audience and moviegoers. With the amazing body coordination and superb fight choreography, a lot of people often wonder how real could it be or could they even be real. Being a martial artist like me, some people already knew the basics and would still be amazed on how well they executed or expanded such a simple and limited routine into a very nice choreographed combat.

Dr. Maung Gyi, the creator and grandmaster of the martial arts called Bando, enumerated the three essentials in martial arts: the function, the form and the fantasy.


The form is defined as the definite mechanical movement of the routine. Forms can range from the simplest fist punch or kick up to the most challenging series of simple routines with names having “juru”, “kata”, “jutsu” etc.


In real martial arts, the forms should be done in great accuracy and precision to the opponent unlike in theatrical martial arts, where each form should be demonstrated with big movements, sometimes with slow motion and choreography, in order to be more comprehended by the audience. Rhythm and timing are always highlighted during the show.


Fantasy is most applicable in theatrical martial arts than real martial arts. In real life, fantasy is just used for a mere fraction of second before sparring to give inspiration to the person. In theatrical martial arts on the other hand, it is commonly used in combination with simple forms such as “flying” kicks, jumping from one roof to another and many others. Some martial arts movies are highly embellished whilst others are actually quite realistic, personally I like to watch only the best choreographed martial arts movies. When you watch a martial arts film that has a lot of shaky camera scenes and a lot of close ups and you don’t have a clue what the hell is going on, you know you are watching a low quality movie.


Here is a list of examples of martial arts and fighting techniques used in the movies. Could they also be applied in real life? Let’s get this started.

Catching an Arrow Shot in the Air

Fiction: Often seen in ninja movies, catching arrows by hand that are continuously shot in the air is one of the most amazing stunts seen in the theatre. Ninjas are perceived to be highly-trained warriors with outstanding speed and also the ones that are believed to be arrow-catchers. Arrows, only a little slower and bigger compared to bullets, are still a little less realistic to be caught by bare hands to most of us.

Fact: But would you believe if I tell you that there’s a human who made this possible? Yes, there is. Holding the Guinness World Record of catching a handful of arrows in the air for two minutes, Anthony Kelly surprised the world for this superhuman ability. He did catch an arrow, not only one – but thirty-three of them! Imagine that. He started practicing this ability in year 2000 at New England Martial Arts Center.

Gun Kata

Fiction: Started in the Chinese and Japanese movies mixed with martial arts, gun kata has been a famous style used in extreme action films like in the movie, Equilibrium. It is characterized by shooting using both hands each carrying a gun, in a manner that is combined with cool poses from the actors as the bullets are shot. The guns are used together with a series of hand-to-hand combat before finally shooting the bullets without even looking at the direction, using either or both hands. The gun kata expert could kill a number of people even in close range.

Fact: As a martial arts fanatic, I heard some news about some people learning the Gun Kata. However, the trainings aren’t applied in real life wherein you shoot real people in a combat. In reality, the best way to survive a shooting battle is to aim your target with a straight line of sight while holding the gun with both hands – not the other way around. The rate in shooting the target with a single hand is low and even lower for firing without looking where to shoot. Guess it would be better for Gun Kata to remain in theatrical martial arts, for me.


Fiction: Popularized by the movie Bloodsport starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, kumite is a battle of endurance and strength of a single man against a hundred other experts. In the movie, Van Damme joined an underground bloody combat, winning one after another until he reached his way on top. Just like in boxing, kumite in the movie is fought in a scheduled event. Weapons are not allowed during the fight, the hands and legs are used to win the battle.

Fact: As crazy you think as it is, kumite exists in real life. The system on how the sport is played makes a big difference between the movie and reality. Unlike the movie, real kumite is between a single man against a hundred skilled men in a continuous fight process. Each battle lasts roughly for 2 minutes until the opponent is knocked down. Then after a 60 second time-out, the next battle is up for the challenger. This system goes on until the challenger could no longer fight. The most popular to be in this field is Akira Masuda, who won over 44 other trained kumite experts in 1991. Whew, that’s a whole lot! I guess the movie version is a lot humane than the reality, don’t you think so?


Fiction: As seen in the movie Star Trek, Moq’bara is a form of martial arts used by the Klingons. Though for some people, the method showed much similarity to Tai Chi, wherein slow and controlled movements are used as well. It also involved the usage of irregular-looking swords or weapons named “batleths” for self-defense.

Fact: The closest form for Moq’bara in reality would be Tai Chi since the concepts of slow, controlled movements and meditation are very similar in most ways.


Fiction: Using folded fans as weapons in Japanese action films, tessenjutsu sparked my interest in martial arts history. Tessen is basically a fan, made of bamboo, wood and a hard metal plate, which could be folded or could remain flat. It is being used in the movies mostly by timid Japanese women, who held the fans wide open just below their eyes, only to surprise the opponent with their expertise to kill. Tessen also plays a role in ninja or samurai movies during the combat scenes.

Fact: Aside from the museum displays, tessens nowadays could still be found and sold worldwide. It is not considered illegal and some are just sold for souvenir purposes. But who would have thought a simple fan could be used as a murder tool? During the Edo period in Japan, the great samurais carried tessens in places where swords and other obvious killing weapons are not allowed. It was a great cover-up for their highly confidential missions. We can now actually believe that ninjas and samurais were certainly wise and smart.

Drunken-Style Kung Fu

Fiction: Being a famous martial arts actor, Jackie Chan commercialized this type of Kung Fu in his movie Drunken Master. The rivals weren’t threatened to see an intoxicated man who could merely stand up, making them lower their defences while laughing. Not until Jackie Chan showed superior strength while drunk, enabling him to win street combats from one to another.

Fact: Drunken-Style Kung Fu is a realistic type of martial arts depicting three “drunk” techniques such as drinking, falling and swaying movements. You don’t necessarily need to consume alcohol for this kind of martial arts. Funny as it may appear, the techniques are intended to lure the opponents by showing weak and foolish movements with majority of swaying evasions and basic assaults that would target tough body spots. Now, don’t underestimate tipsy men!

Hollywood Multi-foe Hand-to-Hand Combat

Fiction: Seen majorly in Hollywood movies, the main character is usually enclosed by a number of bad guys before the attacks begin. For the sake of cinematography, each of the bad guys could get their own movie shot as they attack the hero one by one. This is often seen like waiting for each other’s turn to beat up the main character.

Fact: Seriously, if you need to beat up someone, do you need to wait for your fellow gangster to be knocked down first before you attack? This doesn’t happen in real life since street wars do not follow rules. The bad guys will most likely attack a single person all together at once, otherwise told by their leader not to do so. Knowledge in basic martial arts would help you survive this situation.

One-Inch Punch

Fiction: In the movie Kill Bill Volume 2, Uma Thurman played the character of a bride who was buried alive inside a wooden coffin. She also characterized a martial arts expert who possessed incredible strength, making her think of a simple way to escape by punching the coffin lid. With a limited space to move, roughly around 3 inches to execute a blow, Uma Thurman still managed to knock the lid open in no time.

Fact: If the 3-inch distance raised your brow, be ready for this: Bruce Lee is the expert in one-inch distance punches! He managed to show his perfect stunt to everyone else when he was still alive and amazed millions of people worldwide. With only one tiny inch for manuever, he destroyed blocks of wood without sweating a bit. Imagine the strength and the amazing skill of his hands! Bruce Lee is really a movie and martial arts legend, not only for an enthusiast like me, but to most action film fanatics out there.