It’s rare to find a movie star who teaches regularly at a karate dojo. Then again, Michael Jai White isn’t your average movie star. He’s the owner of seven black belts. Visit the school where he spends off time in this exclusive video!

Kyokushin karate — the fighting art founded by Mas Oyama, a man who battled live bulls, occasionally lopping off their horns with his knifehand strike — has a reputation for toughness, including full-contact sparring with minimal safety gear. But that never scared off Michael Jai White, a lifelong martial artist and actor who’s part of the Victory Dojo & Fitness family. In fact, Michael Jai White has always enjoyed the physicality and discipline of the art, calling it his “savior.” “I had a lot of angst growing up, and martial arts just felt natural to me,” said Michael Jai White, who holds black belts in seven styles. “I enjoyed fighting when I was a kid. I used every excuse I could to fight.” He began studying shotokan karate at age 7, then switched to kyokushin under Shigeru Oyama. The latter was the art in which he received his first black belt while still a teenager. He hopes Victory Dojo — located in Burbank, California — will do for today’s youth what his kyokushin dojo did for him. To that end, when he's in town during breaks from his busy schedule, he’s helping mold it into a school that emphasizes character development as well as physical skills. And this month, Victory Dojo celebrates the 50th anniversary of its headquarters' founding.

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

Learn about the genesis of brutal tests such as
the 100-man kumite in this FREE download!
History of Karate: Inside Mas Oyama’s
Hard-Core Kyokushin Karate Conditioning Program


“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.”

Related Martial Arts Books, E-Books,
DVDs and Video Downloads

Full-Contact Karate: Advanced Sparring Techniques and Hard-Core Physical Conditioning

Shotokan’s Secret: The Hidden Truth Behind Karate’s Fighting Origins — Expanded Edition

Dojo Dynamics: Essential Marketing Principles for Martial Arts Schools

SUBSCRIBE TO BLACKBELT MAGAZINE TODAY!
Don't miss a single issue of the world largest magazine of martial arts.

To Master the Supreme Philosophy of Enshin Karate, Look to Musashi's Book of Five Rings for Guidance!

In the martial arts, we voluntarily subject ourselves to conflict in a training environment so we can transcend conflict in the real world. After all, we wouldn't knowingly train in a style that makes us weaker or worsens our position. The irony of all this is that we don't want to fight our opponent. We prefer to work with what an opponent gives us to turn the tide in our favor, to resolve the situation effectively and efficiently.The Japanese have a word for this: sabaki. It means to work with energy efficiently. When we train with the sabaki mindset, we receive our opponent's attack, almost as a gift. Doing so requires less physical effort and frees up our mental operating system so it can determine the most efficient solution to the conflict.In this essay, I will present a brief history of sabaki, as well as break down the sabaki method using Miyamoto Musashi's five elements

Keep Reading Show less

Enter our partner's current Sweepstakes. They are giving away a Grand Prize 'FKB Wardrobe'.

TAKE NOTICE!

FIVE KNUCKLE BULLET 'Wardrobe' Sweepstakes

Feeling Lucky? Enter our current Sweepstakes Now! We are giving away a Grand Prize 'FKB Wardrobe' which consists of our most popular sportswear items. Prize includes the following:

Keep Reading Show less

"Yoshiharu Osaka sensei was always the textbook of shotokan," one experienced karateka said."True," his colleague replied. "But Kanazawa sensei was always the book of its poetry."

Stories of Hirokazu Kanazawa are a soundtrack of post-training bull sessions. Kanazawa, who won the first All Japan Karate Championship in 1957 — with a broken wrist. (When his mother heard he was dropping out of the competition because of the injury, incurred only days before the event, she asked him why he couldn't win with the other hand and with his kicks, compelling him to stay in. Moms then, and Japanese moms in particular, were a little different.)

Keep Reading Show less

It's a difficult subject, but perhaps I'm finally old enough to examine it with some objectivity — and with some insight that's worth sharing. The issue, of course, is when one should retire in karate or other forms of budo.

A quick clarification: No serious martial artist "retires" in the sense that the person ceases to train, study and explore life by traveling along a martial way. There's an expression in Japanese that one should live one's life as a kara kyohi, a dry husk, one that's used up completely. In other words, one should leave nothing left undone. There is no retirement from any martial art; they all represent a lifelong path.There is a moment, however, if a budo teacher lives long enough, when he or she must contemplate retiring from a position of authority. More accurately, the person must be willing to step back, to allow a new generation to take over the active teaching role.
Keep Reading Show less
Free Bruce Lee Guide
Have you ever wondered how Bruce Lee’s boxing influenced his jeet kune do techniques? Read all about it in this free guide.
Don’t miss a thing Subscribe to Our Newsletter