VICTORY DOJO: THE KYOKUSHIN KARATE HOME OF MICHAEL JAI WHITE Michael Jai White Takes You Inside the Kyokushin Karate School He Calls Home When He's Not Working in Film and TV
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“Our school is very basic and very traditional — the way we train is the way they’ve trained in Japan for the past 50 years,” said Michael Jai White, who joined the venture as a “spiritual partner” with his teacher, Brian Bastien. The headquarters dojo was founded in 1964, according to Robert Christophe, head instructor at Victory Dojo. Brian Bastien opened his Victory Dojo branch at the Burbank YMCA, but he was forced to move because the staff wanted to eliminate sparring from his classes. “We’re a fighting style,” Brian Bastien said, “so without fighting, it’s just like dancing.” When Michael Jai White isn’t acting, directing or writing screenplays, he’s at the school teaching clinics in techniques and weapons. His message is simple: The discipline required to succeed in the martial arts transfers directly to the world outside the dojo. “Discipline has helped me in all facets of my life,” he said. “You can pretty much do anything if you have discipline. When you push yourself, you realize you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.” After hopping from career to career, what Michael Jai White set his mind to was acting. He worked with Jean-Claude Van Damme on Universal Soldier in 1992, then starred in Tyson, Spawn, Black Dynamite and both Why Did I Get Married? movies. Among the newest notches on his belt are an appearance in The Dark Knight and the role of leading man and director for Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown. But like a true karate master, Michael Jai White downplays his fame. “I’m not a celebrity in my school,” Michael Jai White said. “That quickly goes out the window when you’re sweating together. It’s more about the fact that I’m a 230-pound guy who hits hard. I think that supersedes celebrity.” White obviously takes his martial arts seriously, which is precisely what he conveys to his students. “If you’re trying your best, if you’re pushing yourself, I don’t care if you’re athletically gifted or not — it’s the effort you put out,” he said. “As long as you do that, I have respect for you.”
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