Sean Patrick Flanery
Courtesy of Lionsgate

Dr. Craig's Martial Arts Movie Lounge

With 17 years of taekwondo experience, the rustic 26-year-old Sean Patrick Flanery played the 16-year-old Indiana Jones in ABC's The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (1992-93). While living in tents and paddling canoes to work through the crocodile infested Tana River in Kenya, Flanery's canoe capsized. He disclosed concern about contracting a water-borne parasite that could kill someone within 30 seconds.


In 1999, Flanery had an adversarial moment of clarity that changed his martial arts life forever, in which he chronicles this neo-martial mountain ascent in the directed by Alex Ranarivelo, Born a Champion (BAC), which added a new dimension to 30 seconds. BAC is a love letter to the combat and philosophical essences of Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ).

Flanery unintentionally tapped into the spirits of Tom Laughlin's Billy Jack (1971) and Bruce Lee's role, in ABC's Longstreet (1971-72; Way of the Intercepting Fist episode), where Lee presented his associative philosophical and neo-combative outlooks via a novel martial tool called Jeet Kune Do (JKD). JKD's origin was unknowingly born to Lee in 1958 when a similar combatant epiphany changed his life approach to martial arts, a realization born via a bout of Western boxing.

Bruce Lee Longstreet

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Part of BJJ and JKD's martial arts foundation is about training not to fight. In BAC, Mickey Kelley (Flanery) retorts that BJJ is fighting without fighting and that we never start 'em, we just finish 'em and Longstreet says by simply knowing JKD, and by knowing, you'd never have to use it; the words of Flanery and Lee, respectively.

Flanery wrote BAC's blueprint in 2007, a year after the sixth and final Rocky film. In six films, Rocky accrued reasons why he needed to return to the ring. In one BAC movie, Mickey outlines the same reasons: passion for his art; importance of family; love; needing money; a rematch; career ending eye injury; loss of someone close; an evil foreign fighter; fight to overcome and what he believed in; and for the good of his son.

Except for the two fights between Mickey and the contemptuous Marco Blaine (Edson Barboza), in most duels, Mickey utterly defeats or makes his foes tap out in 30 seconds. The camera choreography used medium to tight shots and when the fighters were on the floor, the camera tilts up and down to reveal the facial distress caused by each skill.

The first time I saw a hero warn the villain on how he'd defeat him and that there was nothing the villain could do about it, was in Billy Jack (1971), when Vietnam vet Billy used Green Beret karate tricks to wop the face of the Navajo-hating Posner.

Billy Jack

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My favorite fight in BAC is similar, where Desert Storm vet Mickey (this is revealed in a poignant way) takes on the demeaning Charlie. Flanery's approach differs by telling Charlie how he'll defeat him once and how he'll consequently defeat him a second time and in both instances, there's not a God damn thing he can do about it. Right on man.

Black Belt Magazine has a storied history that dates back all the way to 1961, making 2021 the 60th Anniversary of the world's leading magazine of martial arts. To celebrate six decades of legendary martial arts coverage, take a trip down memory lane by scrolling through some of the most influential covers ever published. From the creators of martial art styles, to karate tournament heroes, to superstars on the silver screen, and everything in between, the iconic covers of Black Belt Magazine act as a time capsule for so many important moments and figures in martial arts history. Keep reading to view the full list of these classic issues.

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Portugal's Jorge Fonseca showed an explosive brand of judo in claiming his second straight 100 kg gold medal at the World Judo Championships, Friday. Fonseca scored a half point on a throw in the finals against Serbia's Aleksandar Kukolj, then came back to score a full ippon a minute later with an inside trip. Kukolj entered the day needing to make it all the way to the finals to qualify for the Olympics. Though he had to settle for the silver medal here, he at least punched his ticket to the upcoming Tokyo Games.

In the women's half of the tournament, Germany's Anna-Maria Wagner needed to go to overtime to defeat defending champion Madeleine Malonga of France for the 78 kg title, scoring with an inside leg reap to claim the championship.


Within 24 hours of the cancellation of the 2021 U.S. Capitol Classics, the 2021 Compete International Martial Arts Championship has also been canceled. The world class tournament is promoted by Mohamad and Amanda Jahanvash in Ontario, California and was the last NASKA event to take place before the COVID-19 pandemic in February of 2020. The promoters released the following statement to announce the cancellation on Thursday:

We regret to announce that we will not be holding Compete this year. Due to Covid restrictions we had to make the decision that in order to provide the highest quality experience for our competitors, officials and families, we will not hold Compete World Martial Arts Championships in 2021. Compete will be February 25, 26 & 27, 2022 at Ontario Convention Center and we hope to see you there. Thank you all for your support.

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