The following movies should be considered part of the training of any quality martial arts program. No, I’m not kidding. Get out of the dojo and do something entertaining. Watching movies requires very little work on your part and can seriously enrich your enjoyment of actual practice. My students used to love when I would quote Karate Kid after a killer workout. Anything you do to make your Taido more fun increases your chances of continuing to practice when you may be tempted to slack off. If you need to slack, run down to the video store and pick up one of these:
The Karate Kid
No joke. This movie is great. It’s entertaining and realistic. Memorize the “mercy is for the weak” speech and understand the subliminal teachings of all martial arts schools. Resist the urge to watch Karate Kid Two or Three, let alone the much-reviled “Next Karate Kid” movie (though the chick was pretty cute). What can you really get out of a Ralph Maccio movie? Well, as opposed to “Crossroads” (in which we witness young Ralph’s journey to adulthood as guided by the pithy wisdom of a middle-aged black man), this movie features young Ralph’s journey to adulthood as guided by the pithy wisdom of a middle-aged Japanese man. Aside from that, they’re about the same – the good guys (who have soul) triumph over the bad guys (who have sold their souls to one devil or another). One’s kind of about karate, and the other’s kind of about the blues. Ok, I give up – watch them both.
Enter the Dragon
This is the ultimate martial arts movie. Sort of. It’s the archetype at least. Bruce made the martial arts cool. Before him, fighters were always big and ugly and mean-looking. Actually, this remains true for the most part. But this movie made fighting sexy in much the same way that Starbucks made it OK to charge $5 for a cup of coffee. Besides that, you need to watch this to understand why “Fistful of Yen” is so damn funny. However, it does lack the yellow jumpsuit from “Game of Death,” not to mention Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Kentucky Fried Movie
Specifically the “Fistful of Yen” portion, but you may as well go on and watch the rest of the movie while you’re at it. Practice hard enough, and you can be just like Big Jim Slade. We are, after all, building a fighting force of Extra-Ordinary Magnitude. Now go back and watch enter the dragon again. Like that? I thought you would. Just be glad you don’t have to watch it in Feel-O-Vision.
The Last Dragon
Also in the comedy department. Learn why my favorite English word is “sho-nuff” and how to attain the elusive glow of a true master. Some great music in this one as well. If you have any doubts that Tybok is a true badass, try catching a bullet with your teeth sometime (or walking around harlem dressed like an extra from “Big Trouble in Little China”).
Big Trouble in Little China
Kurt Russel is the greatest actor of all time. OK, maybe not, but he sure knows how to kick a thousand-year-old Chinese guy’s ass. In addition to providing an unbiased cultural documentary, free of stereotypes, this movie deals with the importance of honoring friendships (especially when your friends owe you money).
All right. So I don’t like admitting that I like this movie because it was so hyped, but it’s unavoidable. I had originally overlooked it as providing any benefit for the Taido students, but I’ve reconsidered a little bit. The thing is, a lot of the stuff that Tyler says is just rehashed psuedo-philosophical crap. But. There is some good stuff there as well. I’ll leave the evaluation to you.
Remo Williams – The Adventure Begins
If you can find it, this movie is absolutely classic in its portrayal of a typical asian martial arts master. Dig the “high-tech”-looking props and sets in some scenes and pay special attention to the secret teachings revealed during Remo’s training – especially lesson number 23, and remember never to break into any place guarded by dobermans unless you know somebody with a prosthesis. Not bad for a guy who got his name off a bed pan.
any Steven Segal movie
OK, honestly, the only thing you’ll really get out of this is the ancient technique of “speaking slowly to sound deep.” Martial arts instructors and other self-important egoists have used this technique for centuries to give the illusion that they are putting great thought behind their words. See how stupid Segal sounds when he does this and never fall for it again.