In Honor Of David Carradine Kwai Chang Caine From The Tv Series Kung Fu

Chuck Norris
david carradine
Floyd Burk
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June, 2017,

December 8, 1936 – June 3, 2009 Today marks the eighth year since David Carradine, the actor who left his imprint on martial arts history when he starred in ABC’s Kung Fu television series, passed away. Countless senior practitioners in dojo across the country received their first exposure to the martial arts because of Carradine, who portrayed wandering Shaolin priest Kwai Chang Caine from 1972 to 1975, and many of us were inspired to take up training because of the character’s weekly exploits in the American West.

David Carradine and Keye Luke in Kung Fu. (Photo Courtesy of ABC)

Probably just as many middle-aged practitioners got their first look at David Carradine when he appeared in Chuck Norris’ hit movie Lone Wolf McQuade (1983). After that came the TNT series Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, which brought Carradine back to television to play the grandson of Kwai Chang Caine from 1993 to 1997. The younger generation — my grandkids included — received their first glimpse of David Carradine when he landed the role of Bill in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) and Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004).

Chuck Norris and David Carradine in Lone Wolf McQuade. (Photo Courtesy of Topkick Productions)

Over the years, David Carradine became a good practitioner of the Chinese martial arts and did whatever he could to spread goodwill for all styles. Case in point: In 2005 he was invited to the Black Belt Festival of Martial Arts in Los Angeles, and for several hours, he walked the convention floor, providing numerous fans with once-in-a-lifetime photo ops. During my first interview with him, David Carradine said, “As a seeker of kung fu, your influence must reach farther than the tips of your fingers.” He certainly lived up to those words.

Floyd Burk congratulates David Carradine on his Black Belt Hall of Fame induction.

In the months before he passed, David Carradine and I were collaborating on a Black Belt feature article intended to share the lessons he learned while pursuing martial arts mastery. When his death was announced, I, like everyone else, was stunned. I shelved the project out of respect and mourned the man’s passing. It’s my hope that the martial arts world will pay its respects to David Carradine on this somber day and take a moment to appreciate all that he gave us during the 35 years he practiced kung fu and the 50 years he devoted to acting. Rest in peace, sir. Floyd Burk is one of Black Belt’s contributing editors. Studio Photos by Rick Hustead Wang Bo, formerly of Shaolin Temple, is the featured instructor in an online kung fu course from Black Belt. Titled Tree of Shaolin, it streams video lessons to your preferred digital device. Sign up here and start your journey along the 1,500-year-old Shaolin path!


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Eduardo P de Mello Flores Aug 2017
I am a great fan of David Carradine and I saw the whole series of "Kung Fu" and the two movies of Quentin Tarantino "Kill Bill 1 and 2". I hope that you make a retrospective of his Martial Art career and show us some unknowing details of his martial arts development . Eduardo P. de Mello Flores (edupmf@terra.com.br)
Dave Pratt Feb 2018
I appreciate the exposure that David Carradine provided to martial arts. As a child, I dreamed of becoming a master. Now, I teach kids at a Boys and Girls Club taekwando, volunteering to pass along what little I know. My thanks to all of those, Mr. Carradine included, who were role models for me and put that fire in me that, even at my age, cannot be put out.
Obbop Feb 2018
When young Caine was in training at the Shaolin temple I noted the time devoted sweeping those steps. That was a vital part of his training. I kept that in mind as I advanced through life. From the arduousness of military boot camp to jobs requiring lengthy periods of physical exertion I thought back to what Kwai Chang did as a youth. Yes... that was fictional but the principle involved does apply to real-life circumstances. Other parts of the Kung Fu TV show also offered life lessons and I was eager to absorb them. Fictional fare can provide life guidance. Compared to some fictional media offerings Kung Fu was far superior to the idiocy those sub-par offerings convey.
In Honor of David Carradi... Mar 2018
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