Dr. Craig's Martial Arts Movie Lounge
When The Fast and the Furious (2001) sped into the psyche's of illegal street racing enthusiasts, with a penchant for danger and the psychotic insanity of arrant automotive adventure, the brusque bearish, quasi-hero rebel, Dominic "Dom" Toretto was caustic yet salvationally portrayed with the power of a train using a Vin Diesel engine.
Justin Lin's climb up the Fast & Furious ladder matches the film titles, fast and furious. He's the only director to shoot five sequels (3, 4, 5, 6, 9) with F10 on the way. The resulting action composition in F9: The Last Saga (F9) has been brewing since his intro to Bruce Lee and Lin's early subliminal and now obvious influences from Jackie Chan.
When I first discussed Bruce Lee with the Taiwanese-born, Los Angeles-raised Lin in 1997, he shared, "Whether Asian Americans like it or not, they all have a relationship with Bruce. When I was 10, I was deeply disturbed watching Bruce's Game of Death (1979). There was a guy who vaguely looked like Lee interspersed with shots of the real Lee, right down to a photo of Lee pasted onto a mirror to make us believe the guy in front of the mirror was Bruce. Yet when I first saw Bruce Lee on screen, I felt his power, he gave me the strength to strive for something. After learning about the film's freaky news, I thought, how in the hell did the double get that job?"
Lin addressed this question in his first martial arts film, Finishing the Game (2007). Co-starring Sung Kang, Lin also hired fight choreographer Don Thai, who at the time was a close associate and one of Jackie Chan's protégés.
Years earlier, Jackie Chan's Opera brother Corey Yuen directed Jason Statham's breakout martial arts film Transporter(2002). Around the same time, Jackie Chan's stunt double/fight choreographer, Andy Cheng, was priming Dwayne Johnson in Chan's style of action too as the fight coordinator on Johnson's first martial arts film Rundown (2003).
The Fast & Furious films began as street drag-racing movies, perhaps influenced by the demented driving antics of Steve McQueen in real life and in his movie Getaway (1972). Yet with the addition of Dwayne Johnson as CIA agent Luke Hobbs in Fast Five (2011), whose job was to track down and capture Dom, the franchise morphed into a car-llection of visceral flicks filled with over-the-top, outrageous, literal high-octane car stunts.
Then just as you think there's no more juice in the engines, apart from flashing red buttons connected to newfangled fuel-injection systems, which are attached to nitrous oxide canisters capable of giving short bursts of Star Wars light speed, Furious 7 (2015) arrived. F7 upped the martial arts ante by casting legitimate martial artist Jason Statham as the rogue assassin Deckard Shaw who ran pugilistic mayhem around Dom and Hobbs.
Yet with F9, Lin translated Lee's power into his action sequences and saw how Chan's fights used the tangible qualities of space and how Chan continually transforms it from the confines of small rooms, alleys or a high-rise's narrow ledge to the vastness of a castle, mountaintop, or rooftops of big towering buildings. Like Chan, Lin achieves these transformations via extended chase sequences where each unpredictable redefinition of space adds to the scene's momentum by creating a giddy farce. As his characters move through new environments, they confront new circumstances and possibilities.
With F9, Lin goes beyond these confines. Dom learns that his long-lost renegade brother Jacob (John Cena) has become a deadly assassin who's in cahoots with Dom's mortal enemy Cipher from The Fate and the Furious (2017) and her new psychotic partner Otto. Their aim is to find two halves of a top-secret gadget that can control the world's security network. It's time for Dom and his speedster band of brothers/sisters to unite to save the world from this terminally ruthless trio while dealing with family secrets.
In 1999, Diesel told about his bouncer and boxing background in New York, and his love for the 1970's Shaw Brother kung fu films adding with a bellowing calm voice, "It would've been cool to be in one of those movies, the weapons, the wires, the fights."
By a strange twist of fate, Diesel is doing a kung fu film that's as close to being a 1970s, Shaw Brothers wuxia movie than he could ever have imagined. His weapon of choice isn't fists, knives or kung fu, but a 1968 Dodge Charger with car fufight choreography.
Dom can maneuver his cars to block, deflect and parry oncoming forces of sideswiping and head on attacks from other autos, armored vehicles, giant transporter trucks and even a flying wing. His car fu has skills that can catch and intercept flying members of his team out of mid-air death plummets that are more radical than a square route.
The wire-fu car fu is as outrageous as it sounds. In one moment Dom can be speeding along then he pulls of this dodgy move that's akin to maniacal spider falling from a ceiling toward your unsuspecting head on the end of a single strand of silk thread.
Stunt coordinator J.J. Perry who was into Hong Kong stylized action since his beginnings, choreographed a handful of unique fights that are well worth the watch and there are two particular fights that take into account the yin and yang balance of combat.
One is Dom's rough and tumble, smash and crash brawl as he becomes a human muscle car in a wide-open underground warehouse where he takes on droves of heavily armed punch and crunch security forces. The opposing energy is a powerful light focusing on the F9's fighting women, Letty, Mia and newcomer Elle taking on a team of marauding mercenaries within the tight confines of a small Tokyo apartment. It's a close quarters, tag-team action fray using medium shots, where each lady does 2-6 techniques per take.
In Chinese numerology, nine represents longevity and so it's no wonder that F9 will continue the franchise's staying power where breaking the speed limit is a way of life.
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Judo at the 2020 Olympics is now winding down. Kudos to NBC for their excellent coverage. The United States had four players who made the cut.
Angelica Delgado -52kg had a tough match that went almost 3 minutes into golden score where she was able to pull off a brilliant ippon!
Colton Brown -90kg had a fabulous match that he won by a wazari and an ippon in regulation time.
Nefeli Papadakis -78Kkg lost to H. Yoon of South Korea by wazari uchimata follow by kesa gatame.
Nina Cutro- Kelly +78kg lost to A. Velenšekvs by ippon.
Clearly the country that prevailed throughout competition undoubtably is the host one, Japan. This included the Abe siblings a brother and sister which was a first in the history of Judo at the Olympics.
One of the longest matches was the Russian Madina Taimazova, who fought one the hardest matches in Olympic Judo history to win a bronze medal.
The ugly theme of anti-Semitism also creeped in to this event with several players opting to forfeit matches rather than fight an Israeli. I hope the IJF will do something about this once and for all! It goes against the core principles of judo and everything that Kano stood for.
Photo AP/ Vincent Thian
However kudos to Tahani Al-Qahtani of Saudi Arabia was under heavy pressure to boycott match against Israel's Raz Hershko went forward and according to Hershko: I'm glad the sport won out!
A similar incident involving Saeid Mollaei last year originally from Iran resulted in his defection to Mongolia which he represented in Tokyo and took a silver medal.
Since resuming my active class schedule in July at my dojo in Claremont, California I've been teaching five days a week. With no local tournaments it has renewed my commitment to teaching the philosophy of judo to my students in terms of character development, entering the arena, and focusing on the present hand not worrying about the outcome.
Having my students go to lots of tournaments becoming obsessed with winning medals now seems silly to me. Simone Biles dropping out of the US Gymnastic Team competition demonstrates the negative effect an over emphasis on a winning outcome can have a player. Mushin or staying focused on being in the present is the key.
On a happy note, it was nice to see 101 year Yosh Uchida, Sensei made the pilgrimage to be present at this Olympics in support of his player Colton Brown.
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Bruce Lee practiced strength training faithfully, just like martial arts. However, he was very secretive about his training. The programing Bruce created for himself was specifically designed to keep him lean and fast. He experimented with power, endurance, coordination, agility, flexibility, nutrition, and even the amount of time he could rest before training again. Speed and power were Bruce's essential outcomes, so he focused on training that would produce minimal hypertrophy. Bruce had specific training regimens that he researched extensively through practical application.
"Research your own experience. Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless, add what is essentially your own." Bruce Lee
Bruce trained three days a week, basically every other day. The purpose of doing this was to develop his strength conditioning using circuit training. Using all his muscles in different movements, the routine that Bruce did developed his neuromuscular pathways for his body to function maximally. If you want your nervous system to adapt, you must train repetitiously. If you're going to build your strength, you have to do it more often. However, the trade-off for this type of training is using minimal sets each training day and not pushing with heavyweights.
"Above all, never cheat on any exercise: use the amount of weight you can handle without undue strain." Bruce Lee
You can train every day, but the problem society thinks is that every workout should be intense to be beneficial. This is far from the truth. If you don't do enough, there is no stimulation to advance your body. On the other hand, if there is too much stimulation, negative feedback mechanisms are activated to decrease your strength. So, you have to do just enough without causing too much force on your muscles if you are training every other day. This way, you will progressively increase strength and adapt your nervous system over time.
Bruce Lee’s Routine
Perform every other day. Do one exercise, then move to the next. After completing all the exercises, rest for 1 minute, then do it again for a second set. He only did two sets in circuit-style training. Perform 8-12 reps for all exercises except legs. Bruce did 12-20 reps for leg exercises.
- Clean and Press
- Barbell Curls
- Behind the Neck Presses
- Upright Rows
- Barbell Squats
- Barbell Row
- Bench Press
- Barbell Pullover
"If you are talking about sport, that is one thing. But when you are talking about combat-as it is- well then, baby, you'd better train every part of your body." Bruce Lee
Variation Routine using Agonist and Antagonist Exercises
- Clean and Press
- Barbell Pullover
- Upright Row
- Bent-Over Row
- Bench Press
- Barbell Curls
Here is a variation of Bruce's routine using agonist-antagonist principles for some upper body exercises. The great thing about alternating lower and upper body exercises and using agonist and antagonist pairings like pull and push is hemodynamics. By doing different exercises for different body parts, the blood has to flow back and forth rather than stay in one muscle. This will strengthen your heart and train the blood to flow faster back and forth. Similar to martial arts training. As the demand for blood is shifting from muscle to muscle, it improves the speed and transference of blood back and forth. Therefore, it enhances mandatory cardiovascular effects that augment strength and endurance for sport or training.
Bruce Lee was more focused on speed, power, and agility. As for size, he wanted lean muscles, not so much hypertrophy. When you focus on training muscles in a circuit rather than one muscle at a time, you will not create hypertrophy. When you add an aerobic element to strength or weight training, it has a different effect. Straight sets training one muscle will build size. Also, training agonist-antagonist muscle pairs are excellent for developing your neuromuscular strength and speed.
Lean muscles and hypertrophy all come down to two signals in the body called mTOR and AMPK. mTOR is anabolic, and AMPK is catabolic. So, when you add cardio to weight training, it reduces mTOR and switches to AMPK, reducing hypertrophy. It is the same as doing cardio after strength training. To maximize strength training and hypertrophy, it needs to be done separately or 6 hours apart if you are doing cardio and strength training in one day. So, if you want lean muscles rather than size, do circuit, HIIT, or strength conditioning training. It is the best way to prevent hypertrophy and create lean muscles, strength, and endurance.
If you would like more info about agonist and antagonist training, check on my book Instant Strength.
If you would like information about breathing, alignment, and flexibility, check out my book, The Balanced Body.
If you would like more info about nutrition, health, and fitness, check out my channel on Youtube
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