• Translation of Wong Kar Wai’s Grandmaster Documentary

    A while back, I posted Wong Kar Wai’s behind the scenes documentary of the “The Grandmaster,” and then promised to transcribe and translate the text for those of you who are interested. I have finally finished that small, but annoyingly difficult project. For those who don’t know, there were several dialects in this documentary, and that wasn’t the hard part. The hard part was just finding the time to sit and do this. My time management needs management.

    So I haven’t popped the subtitles into the Youtube clip, I just provide the text here. Feel free to mish and mash as you will. I have included the original Chinese text so you can do your own translation if you like, or just refer to the source whenever something seems a bit off. I have also placed time-markers at intervals, to allow you to skip ahead. Enjoy!

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    August 28, 2014 • Kung Fu History, Kung Fu People, Video • Views: 235

  • Mixed Martial Artists and the Hero’s Journey

    Hero Kungfu

    Martial artists, as they have been depicted in media for decades, follow the classic Hero’s Journey. From the wuxia novels out of Hong Kong to any movie since Bruce Lee made kungfu movies cool, the plot is familiar: the martial artist starts out ordinary, is called to action by the arrival of an implacable enemy, goes through trials and tribulations before eventually defeating the End Boss in an epic fight. Sometimes, the last battle also results in a lesson for all of humanity.

    The Hero’s Journey seems like a logical chain of events to us, because we’ve seen it so many times. In 1949, Joseph Campbell published his famous book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, tracing this arc out for us across societies and time. Campbell compared cultural hero myths from around the world, as well as the archetypes found within, and through his research we learn that there may be nothing new under the sun. At least where heroes are concerned. According to Campbell’s research, the myths of the world are contained in a few basic fairy tales that differ little from those told in Bhutan, Kansas, southern Italy, or the Kalahari.

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    July 28, 2014 • Kung Fu Lore, MMA, Modern Kung Fu • Views: 517

  • Kung fu as the God That Failed

    Dragon and the Pearl

    Fred Thomassen first came to China nine years ago to learn traditional martial arts, but what he found drove him away from kungfu completely. We were sitting on the mats of his small gym in Beijing, the Big King, as Fred told us a short tale of disillusionment. His partners Nano Lozevski and Augusto “Guga” Miranda sat nearby listening. Nano is a burly, tobacco chewing Muay Thai coach from Norway (via Macedonia), and Guga is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

    When Fred recounts his first experiences with Chinese martial arts, his face screws up like he’s describing a meth addicted trust fund kid who jilted good natured Fred out of a pile of money, and then went and snorted it all up his nose. The whole process left him feeling dirty and cheated. While Fred tells the story, Guga smiles like a guy who knows the punchline. After a litany of half-ass masters, indolent coaches, and hours wondering if there were any professionals anywhere in the building, Guga cackles and shouts out something in Brazilian that sounds like “serves you right.” Nano looks at me and snickers.

    Suddenly, I start to feel dirty too.

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    July 15, 2014 • Modern Kung Fu • Views: 1002

  • Two Mongolian Fighters: Lao Jiang and Myadagmaa


    I went to Chongqing last weekend to watch the Kunlun fights event, featuring a few great fighters (Bellator’s George Hickman and recently-signed-to-the-UFC Vuyisile Collosa come to mind). My major purpose was to interview Yang Jianping, which I managed to do and write about in Fightland.

    But two others stood out for me, and unfortunately a lot of that has to do with the fact that I had little contact with these two fighters, and therefore can only sketch them out here.

    Both are Mongolian fighters.

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    July 2, 2014 • Kung Fu People, MMA • Views: 757

  • Vaughn Anderson on Being a Fighter

    Vaughn “Blud” Anderson is an Asia-based fighter who competed in Bellator. Here he is atop Songshan, outside of the Shaolin Temple, talking a bit about the loneliness of being a fighter


    July 2, 2014 • MMA, Video • Views: 3723