Martial Arts: The Real Story takes a look at a wide
variety of techniques, and their practitioners. From
the legendary "Beast of Amsterdam," Jon Bluming,
whose fists are well-known to the denizens of the Red
Light District, to Nan Don Sken, a Thai Boxer whose
high flying kicks can easily fell an opponent twice
his height, this program is not about Hong Kong myths
and Hollywood legends - it's about the "real thing."
What's the real thing? Well, they're fighters who can't
afford to do endless re-takes on a Hollywood set or
who only put on padding and gloves to compete in the
ring. These are street-hardened brawlers who know that
real fights are over in a matter of seconds, and it's
the fighter who gets in the first blow that will usually
But mindless kicking and punching is not what most
fighting systems are all about. Many martial arts
are deeply ingrained in the folk and religious traditions
of cultures around the world, and many emphasize that
the same techniques that can kill an opponent, can
also be used to heal -- and that fighting prowess
goes hand in hand with self-control and compassion.
Martial Arts: The Real Story underscores an essential,
yet rarely acknowledged martial arts principle: the
greatest masters never have to fight. They can, and
they will, but they just don't have to. In the words
of the late "Vee-jitsu" master, Florendo
Visitacion, "the truly powerful are those who
are also restrained."
Savate Players in France
Although many Americans are familiar with traditional
forms of Karate or Judo, Martial Arts: The Real Story
explores some of the lesser-known but equally effective
techniques from around the world, including the fighting
forms of Chinese "grand ultimate boxing,"
T'AI CHI CHUAN; the deadly and ancient art of Indian
KALARIPPAYATTU which some claim may be the world's
oldest martial art; French "foot fighting,"
SAVATE, which grew to fruition on the tough Marseilles
waterfront; and the athletic Brazilian CAPOEIRA, which
African slaves disguised as a dance to fool their
Portuguese overseers. Relatively unknown forms of
the world's oldest martial art, wrestling, will be
explored, including the centuries-old styles of grappling
like Viking GLIMA, which is still practiced in Iceland
today, and traditional backhold CUMBERLAND WRESTLING
in England, which eschews WWF theatrics in favor of
down and dirty tussling. Our cameras capture the no-holds
barred hand-to-hand training of US Army Airborne Rangers
preparing for the next conflict.
Martial Arts: The Real Story presents rare footage,
some of it never seen before, including silent newsreels
of judo demonstrations in Europe; black and white
film of famous masters of the Chinese "soft"
arts performing in Taiwan, even footage of the most
famous T'ai Chi practitioner, Chen Man Ching.
Martial Arts: The Real Story goes to the heart of
disciplines with roots deep in the past, developed
through centuries of experience in life and death
struggles. Often, truth is stranger than fiction;
the reality of the fighting arts is far more compelling
than the caricatures frequently presented to the public.
Martial Arts: The Real Story features interviews
with Robert W. Smith, an ex-CIA agent whose books
were among the earliest to shed light on the often
murky and misunderstood world of martial arts, and
Joseph Svinth, a former marine, martial arts practitioner
and historian, whose research has unearthed some fascinating
and long forgotten anecdotes, including the fact that
even Teddy Roosevelt had a Japanese judo instructor
in the White House.
Broadcast premiere on The Learning Channel July,