Andrew Leavold became obsessed with a Filipino action star named Weng Weng more than 20 years ago. This film is what resulted when he traveled to the Philippines to learn more about the karate and JKD practitioner.

The Search for Weng Weng (2013) is a far-out documentary about video-store owner Andrew Leavold’s obsession with a Filipino action-martial arts film. The connection was made more than 20 years ago — Leavold watched a bootleg VHS copy of For Your Height Only (also called For Y'ur Height Only), a 1981 movie that featured an enigmatic Filipino karate star named Weng Weng, who happens to be a dwarf. When wacky meets crazy like it does in this movie, the results are entertaining, and just when you think it can’t get any nuttier, it does. Playing a James Bond-ish secret agent, Weng Weng, who stood 2 feet 9 inches tall, became the face of Filipino movies in the early 1980s — and then vanished a few years later. Before the making of this documentary, very little was known about the life and times of this action-film icon. Various urban legends hold that he was a dental student, a stand-up comic, a customs officer, a karaoke star and a real-life secret agent. The ambiguity was the reason Leavold embarked on a mission to uncover the truth. In the documentary, Leavold lands in the Philippines, armed with no contacts or clues — but with plenty of questions about Weng Weng. One day, Leavold reaches out to an unassuming man in a parking lot. “Have you heard of Weng Weng?” Leavold asks. As luck would have it, the man is a film editor named Edgardo “Boy” Virarao, who just happened to edit all Weng Weng’s movies. Next, serendipity sends Leavold on an adventure that has him meeting many top Filipino filmmakers, martial artists and stuntmen from the 1970s — people he’s been trying to track down for 10 years. The stars share their memories of Weng Weng — who reportedly also trained in jeet kune do under Dan Inosanto — and confirm that he did all his own fights and even the dangerous stunts. But it gets even better. One of those stars has a connection to Weng Weng’s only living relative, a brother who’s willing to speak on camera. The snowball gathers more speed when a subsequent interview with a Filipino film historian ends with this remark: “You should talk to Imelda Marcos … I know her number.” Apart from being the widow of Ferdinand Marcos, former president of the Philippines, Imelda is a patron of the arts. In 1982 she organized the first Manila International Film Festival, which put the Philippines and Weng Weng in the international cinema spotlight. Leavold’s two days with her result in some must-see scenes. By the time The Search for Weng Weng concludes, all Leavold’s questions are answered. Among other things, he learns who gave Weng Weng his name and why. It’s surreal how all the pieces of the puzzle come together, offering tangible proof that sometimes passion can be enough to see things through. (Illustrations courtesy of Andrew Leavold) Go here to order Dr. Craig D. Reid’s book The Ultimate Guide to Martial Arts Movies of the 1970s: 500+ Films Loaded With Action, Weapons and Warriors.

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.

Keep Reading Show less

Every Sport karate competitor knows how hard it is to get through one routine, let alone several of them. Each routine is only about a minute and a half, but this minute and a half is composed of nonstop hard- hitting movements that take a lot of energy from the body. The more events a competitor competes in, the more in tune they need to be with their body and training. I typically compete in six events (some of which all are ran the same night, within the span of just over an hour). After those six divisions are completed, if I were to win any of the events, there are other rounds; "overall grands", which means I would compete again the following day. There is a very specific type of training that needs to be done in order to obtain success inside the ring.

Keep Reading Show less

On Saturday, May 15, ONE Championship returned with a sensational five-bout card capped off by a ONE Heavyweight World Championship main event.

Arjan "Singh" Bhullar became the first heavyweight in ONE to topple Brandon "The Truth" Vera at ONE: Dangal and became India's first-ever mixed martial arts World Champion in the process. The former Commonwealth Games gold medalist adds to his collection of accolades and now leads a division that is only deepening with talent by the day.

What else went down in Singapore? Here is your chance to catch up with a recap of all the happenings from ONE: Dangal.

Keep Reading Show less