It’s been some time since my last post. Things have been crazy busy and I hope you guys are doing well.
I have been wanting to write about a former Muay Thai and Western boxing champion for the longest time and today seems the best day to do just that.
He’s been referred to as the Muay Thai equivalent of Muhammad Ali. In some circles even as the Bruce Lee of boxing. If you have never seen him fight before, then you’re in for a treat right after the end of this post. Just stay with me, alright?!
Samart Payakaroon was born Samart Thipthamai on December 5, 1962 in the Chachoengsao Province, Eastern Thailand. Samart is considered a Muay Thai legend, having amassed a jaw-dropping career record of 129 wins and only 19 losses and 2 draws in different weight classes. But Samart didn’t call it a day after dominating the Muay Thai ring for years. He went on to become a WBC World Champion in the 57 kg weight class.
He started his training with his older brother Manus at their family’s home. His official M.T. career started under Petaronsiminit and he then transferred to Camp Sityodthong to train under Master Yodthong at the age of 12.
His entry weight was 35 kg and at the end of his Muay Thai career Samart fought in the 57 kg weight class.
Samart was the Lumpinee Stadium Champion in 4 different weight classes in 1980 and 1981.
Lumpinee Stadium is THE modern symbol of Muay Thai. It is an indoor arena with a seating capacity of close to 10,000 and is run by the Royal Thai Army. Security is managed by armed Military Police officers.
And yes, gambling is part of the deal at this venue.
Interesting fact about Samart is how technical his fighting style was. Instead of simply standing in front of his opponents and duking it out, he would manage the ring extensively and create openings to wreak painful havoc.
You can imagine that as an accomplished Muay Thai competitor Samart’s kicking abilities were nothing short of extraordinary, but just as impressive was his striking arsenal which created a boxing career after he ended his Muay Thai tenure.
In 3 years from starting his boxing career in 1982, Samart had a fighting record of 11-0 which gave him a shot at the WBC Super Bantamweight title. With a K.O. against Lupe Pintor he became Thailand’s 10th world champion.
Samart ended his professional boxing career with an impressive 21-2 record.
According to latest information, Samart teaches at his very own camp, at the Poptheeratham Gym.
And he doesn’t stop there. Throughout the years, Samart has created a name for himself in the entertainment industry by acting and singing in numerous productions.
But let’s have a look at what he is most famous for.
By the way, if you don’t enjoy the music, just turn down/off the sound, just like I did. Haha.
When competing in judo one can score points by performing an effective throw, or by forcing an opponent into submission.
Judo players, a.k.a. judoka, will do their best to gain control of their opponent before applying a throwing or holding technique.
How and why I come up with some of these posts, I have no idea.
I start thinking about writing something. But what? And then out of nowhere that something just finds me. Ha.
Just like with this post. I don’t think I have written that much about martial arts related to India and that’s just wrong. I will make up for it, I promise.
Let’s start with something that takes place every year in India.
When we say ‘martial art’, this is the real deal, meaning that it really refers to the art to carry out war and to come home alive from the battlefield.
The Punjabi term Hola Mohalla or just Hola is a Sikh Olympics event which starts on the first day of the lunar month of Chet in the Nanakshahi calendar. Most of the time it falls in March and at times it coincides with the Sikh New Year.
It is a week-long event and attendees enjoy numerous martial arts, along with music and poetry.
Hola ends with a long, military-style procession near Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib, one of the five seats of temporal authority of the Sikhs.
Maybe a word or two about the Sikhs.
Sikhism originated in the 15th century in the Punjabi region. A follower of this religion is considered a Sikh which means disciple or student of the Guru.
Most Sikh males’ family name is Singh (lion) and females’ is Kaur (princess).
Guru Gobind Singh introduced the “pure brotherhood”whereas Sikhs do not cut their hair which is covered with a turban. The belief is founded on the idea that humans are made in the image of God. To honor God would also mean to leave one’s hair intact as a symbol of honor and warriorhood. This acceptance of the natural form of our bodies allows believers to be at peace with themselves at all times and to get rid of vanity relating to outward appearance.
The Sikhs have been known to be truly fierce warriors and reportedly during the rule of Maharaja Ranjit Singh they were the only people to stand toe to toe with the forces of the British Empire.
Their fighting skills have been handed down through generations and I invite you to watch these impressive ’saint-soldiers’ during previous Hola Mohalla festivities.
The more I have been reading about Col. Fairbairn and the fighting system of Defendu or gutter fighting, the more intrigued I have become.
Defendu incorporates movements and techniques from Tenshin Jiu Jitsu, but what makes it unique, is that with the assistance of Eric A. Sykes, he actually made techniques easy to learn and to remember, especially when under stress.
As this system does not call for any complicated moves and physical fitness, just about anybody can achieve proficiency in a fairly short period of time.
Originally, Fairbairn developed and taught Defendu to the 9,000 Shanghai police officers and even to the famed 4th Marine Regiment known as the China Marines.
Get this: Fairbairn founded, developed, trained, and headed the Shanghai Riot Squad. It was the first ever Special Weapons & Tactics Unit, and even today it serves as the prototype for S.W.A.T. teams as we know them.
Did I mention that this all occurred between 1907 and 1940 in Shanghai which was considered one the most dangerous cities in the world at the time?
First an international settlement and later under Japanese occupation, Shanghai dealt with a tremendous amount of gang wars, drug trafficking, murder, political assassination, prostitution and kidnapping, just to name a few.
Defendu is considered as the first police defensive tactics system. Defendu includes striking, kicking, biting, gouging, trapping, holds and joint locks, throwing etc. in close quarters.
What appeals to everyone serious about self-defense is that it gets right to the point and avoids high kicks and jumping techniques which can look great on the Big Screen, but shouldn’t necessarily be used when you just want to get home safely.
Fairnburn was an accomplished Kodokan judoka (certified by Jigoro Kano!) who also incorporated some basic ground fighting techniques along with chokes and take downs as the basic grappling defenses.
After retiring from his police work in Shanghai in 1940, Fairbairn returned to war-time Great Britain where he received the assignment to train British and Allied commandos at a top-secret location. The special operators were then responsible for training the US Army, Marines, Rangers and OSS (later CIA) operatives.
Col. William Ewart Fairbairn was born in 1885 and died in 1960. He was a British soldier, police officer and while training WWII Allied forces and later Western intelligence services, he was considered the most knowledgeable expert of hand to hand combat at the time.
Here you can see Fairbairn demonstrating elements of his system together with another close combat legend, Rex Applegate.
And here is what Bill Wolfe has to say about Col. Fairbairn:
The term ‘Gang of Four’ comes from the name that was given to a political faction made up by four officials of the Chinese Communist Party. They were prominent during a period referred to as the Cultural Revolution for 10 years (1966-1976), which must have felt more like a century for many Chinese citizens.
Very shortly after the death of Chairman Mao, the group was charged with a number of crimes such as treason. The members consisted of Jiang Qing, Mao’s last wife as the leading figure of the group, and her close associates Zhang Chunqiao, Yao Wenyuan and Wang Hongwen.
The gang that I would like to draw your attention to is very different.
The group of women I would like to feature today are all very talented movie actresses who have thrilled audiences all over the world in numerous movies that have already become classics in their own right.
The one I became aware of first was back in the 70s, when she played the part of Bruce Lee’s sister in Enter The Dragon.
Her fans simply call her Lady Whirlwind or Lady Kung Fu. You probably know her as Angela Mao.
Trained in hapkido, kung fu, tae kwon do, and other martial art styles, she was definitley well prepared for her movie roles.
I can hardly believe she was paid only $100 for her short role in Enter The Dragon.
Some of the ladies featured in this very special blog post are now getting over US$ 10 mio. per movie!
Anyway, do you remember this one?
Yeah and then there is Maggie Cheung with her very own special accent which resulted from moving at age 8 from Hong Kong to Britain, where she was the only Asian at a school in Kent, England.
She then moved back to Hong Kong again at age 17 for a career as a model.
Maggie Cheung has acted in 70 Hong Kong movies. Five of them were Jackie Chan movies in which she also matched him in the stunts and injuries.
Picture book face and tough as nails. Check her out in this rather creative Red Leaves clip of Hero fighting against …….
Is that some serious foliage or what?
Even without being a martial artist per se, one simply cannot overlook Gong Li, often referred to as the Marlene Dietrich of Chinese cinema.
Arguably, Gong Li is the first Chinese actor to draw attention in the West without being a trained martial artist.
Remember the intro describing the Cultural Revolution?
Well, get this: Gong Li was born to a pair of economic professors who during the Cultural Revolution were forced to work in factories. They had to send all their children away, with the exception of Li, to work in the countryside. Heartbreaking to say the least.
At age 22, while studying at the prestigious Central Drama Academy in Beijing, Gong Li met the director Zhang Yimou. This event would change her career forever.
And even though speaking English is a challenge for her, Gong Li has been able to land numerous international movie roles such as Hannibal Rising: Behind The Mask, Miami Vice (starring Colin Farrell) and even Shanghai (starring John Cusack and Chow Yun-Fat).
I found a clip of an interview with her also talking about Curse Of The Golden Flower (again starring Chow Yun-Fat and directed by Zhang Yimou). Enjoy!
But wait, there’s more!
How about a former Miss Malaysia who also starred with Pierce Brosnan in ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’. She does her own fight scenes.
She has done stunts that make me cringe such as with Jackie Chan in Police Story III: Supercop, where she rode a motorbike onto a speeding train and jumped from helicopter into a moving convertible.
You probably know by now that I am talking about Michelle Yeoh.
She has dislocated her shoulder, cracked some ribs, and ruptured arteries in her leg.
While leaping from an 18-foot overpass in Stuntwoman she missed the safety net and dislocated her neck. It was scary and reportedly having heard a snap in her back, she feared to be paralyzed for life. Fortunately, she recovered after spending several months in a full body cast.
And yes, she also starred in the classic Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and here is one of the best fight scenes with Michelle Yeoh and ….
And here we come to the fifth member of our Gang of Five:
She just turned 32 in February of this year and she has had the fortune of being part of a number of successful movie projects such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon as well as Rush Hour 2, Memoirs Of A Geisha, Hero and House Of Flying Daggers.
The daughter of a Beijing accountant/economist and kindergarten teacher, Ziyi Zhang attended the Beijing Dance Academy and the Central Academy Of Drama which has certainly given her the foundation and work ethic in attaining her acting career accomplishments thus far.
I think we’re gonna see and hear a lot more good things about Ziyi Zhang.
If you have watched all the video clips of this post, you were able to see her in two of them already. One with Maggie Cheung and the other with Michelle Yeoh.
“I think we could have had something special ….”
Just watch the following Rush Hour 2 clip and have some fun!
Like I said in my last post, I would be writing about a couple of martial arts greats these days.
May I introduce today the first one of a group of four outstanding martial arts practitioners and instructors who will be teaching at an upcoming seminar near L.A. this month.
What I just picked up was that he even played the role of Mike ‘Machine Gun’ Mungin in “The Fighter”, starring Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Melissa Leo.
So, who is Peter Cunningham and what’s with the nickname “Sugarfoot”?
Let’s start with the nickname.
Sensei Pete has been nicknamed “Sugarfoot” due to his sweet kicking techniques. If you have ever watched him kick, you will agree that his kicks are sweet…. if you’re not on the receiving end. In that case, you would be dealing more with some sort of sour after-taste.
Like many of us reading this post, as a youngster, Sensei Pete got hooked on martial arts watching Bruce Lee films. Why am I not surprised?!
Originally from Canada, legendary Peter “Sugarfoot” Cunningham is still considered by many one of the greatest full contact fighters of all time and by some even the greatest technician in kickboxing history. He was an seven-time undefeated, undisputed World Champion Kickboxer.
Already back in 1998, in San Jose, California, “Sugarfoot” was inducted as the very first martial artist into the I.S.K.A. Hall of Fame. We have to know that the I.S.K.A. is the most prestigious sanctioning body in the world.
During his active fighting caeer, Sensei Pete traveled to numerous countries such as England, France, Mexico, and Australia to defend his world titles against the Japanese, Thai, English, French, Mexican, and other North American champions.
Sensei Pete had an amazing record of fifty victories, twenty one of which were knockouts, no draw and only according to my research only one loss. Does anybody know who handed him his only career loss?
Peter “Sugarfoot” Cunningham has shifted his career to teaching and to acting on the the Big Screen. He has already appeared in a number of productions. Besides “The Fighter”, as mentioned above, he is credited for his work in the 1985 martial arts movie “No Retreat, No Surrender” as lightweight champion fighter Frank Peters, as well as in the 1986 Yuen Biao/Corey Yuen film “Righting Wrongs”.
And because we all enjoy some really good visuals, you’re in for a treat starring Peter “Sugarfoot” Cummingham.
Stop by again in the next few days for more martial arts greats …….
I just got the news that the respected JKD (Jeet Kune Do) practitioner and instructor, Sifu Ted Wong, passed away last week.
May I offer my heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and students.
In case you find yourself reading today’s post and not being aware of who Ted Wong was, I would like to share a profile by Teri Tom that originally appeared in the December 2006 issue of Black Belt Magazine:
Ted Wong: 2006 Man of the Year
By Teri Tom
“It’s the stuff of legends, really. A story of serendipitous privilege and great personal anguish.
In 1967 Ted Wong was living in Los Angeles’ Chinatown when a friend tipped him off about a class at Bruce Lee’s Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute.
Acceptance to the class had been by invitation, and members were expected to have prior training. Wong snuck into the class with no experience, and when Lee saw him, he asked, “Who are you?”
Wong thought he’d be given the boot, but instead, the two struck up a conversation in Cantonese. Lee made an exception and let Wong stay.
Wong wasted no time making up for his lack of experience, and before long he was training in Lee’s backyard, having become his most frequent sparring partner.
From July 27, 1967 to October 14, 1971, Wong studied under Lee at least 122 times. According to Lee’s own appointment books, Wong spent more time receiving private instruction than any other person.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a martial artist who’s more qualified to teach advanced Jun Fan jeet kune do—which is why Wong was certified by Lee himself.
M. Uyehara, author of Bruce Lee: The Incomparable Fighter, agreed. He wrote: “I still think Bruce considered Ted Wong as his protégé before his death. Wong was his constant companion for the last few years. Besides working out on Wednesday nights, Wong also came to see Bruce on weekends. When Bruce needed a sparring partner, it was Wong he selected.”
But that period wouldn’t last. With Lee’s death in 1973, Wong found himself without a teacher.
What followed is a story of great pain, moral integrity and self-reliance.
While others were quick to capitalize on their association with Lee, Wong threw himself into 15 years of seclusion.
There was still so much to learn, so he went back to the origin: the writings his teacher had left behind.
He tracked down the sources that influenced those writings, books that had been in Lee’s library.
He relied on his photographic—or, more precisely, his “filmographic”—memory to draw connections between what he’d seen Lee do so many times and the principles outlined in his writings.
When he lost his instructor, Wong faced the same temptation we all do: to look to outside sources—different masters, different styles.
He chose to do the opposite, and it wasn’t an easy path to follow. But Wong had all he needed: the road map left by his teacher and the benefit of many hours spent with one of history’s greatest martial artists.
In the 15 years that followed, Wong developed a solid understanding of what Lee had tried to teach him. Wong didn’t supplement his arsenal with techniques from other arts. The only thing he added to Jun Fan jeet kune do was an understanding and analysis designed to enable future generations to benefit from Lee’s lifework.
In the 15 years it took Wong to connect the dots between his training and Lee’s writings, others misinterpreted those writings and misrepresented their teachings as jeet kune do.
Although reclusive by nature, Wong couldn’t remain silent. The damage propelled him out of the shadows in the early 1990s.
After decades of turning down requests for interviews, he found himself in the spotlight. Still, he refrained from adopting a traditional approach.
While he could have turned a handsome profit by opening a school, Wong didn’t go that route. Maintaining the integrity of the art was more important.
Even now, he privately teaches only a half-dozen students in the Los Angeles area.
Instead of running a school, he’s taken his act on the road. He’s planted JKD seeds in countries around the globe, including Japan, Hong Kong, Puerto Rico, Sweden, Holland, Scotland, Italy and Spain, as well as across the United States.
He’s made regular trips to those locations for years and built a small army of loyal students. Without a facility to run, he can pick and choose his students based on their character and interest in the art.
In his spare time, Wong serves on the board of the Bruce Lee Foundation, where he contributes his time as an adviser and instructor.
For his selfless contributions to the foundation, the legacy of Bruce Lee and the art of Jun Fan jeet kune do, Black Belt is proud to induct Ted Wong into its Hall of Fame as 2006 Man of the Year.
Jun Fan jeet kune do is a registered trademark owned by Concord Moon.”
Sifu Ted Wong, R.I.P.
Besides being known as a Major League baseball franchise, the Texas Rangers were originally formed in the 1820s under Stephen F. Austin, the “Father of Texas,” to protect settlers. They are a division within the Texas Department of Public Safety.
They have the lead criminal investigative responsibility for the following: major incident crime investigations, unsolved crime/serial crime investigations, public corruption investigations, officer involved shooting investigations, and border security operations.
The Texas Ranger Division is comprised of 144 commissioned Rangers, 24 non-commissioned administrative support personnel, 1 budget analyst and 1 forensic artist, totaling 170 full time employees.
Now, that we have cleared up what some of you might have thought was something Hollywood had made up just for TV. Texas Rangers are the real deal.
Most of us hanging out at this blog have watched at least one episode of “Walker, Texas Ranger” which aired from 1993-2001 and starred Chuck Norris.
Chuck Who? Careful now. Watch out for that devastating roundhouse kick!
You probably know that Chuck Norris was an highly accomplished karate tournament competitor, close friend, student and sparring partner of the legendary Bruce Lee with whom he put on display one of the most famous martial arts movie fights of all times in “Way of the Dragon“.
He went on to star in a number of other movies before playing a Texas Ranger on TV.
That was then and this is now:
It is official that both brother, Aaron and our featured Chuck Norris will become honorary Texas Rangers.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry will present commemorative certificates to the Norris brothers for bringing honor to the department that was depicted in the TV series and actually filmed in Texas.
Don’t Mess With Texas!
Enter the coupon code “hvbag_save” (without the quotations) during checkout at boxingdepot.com and receive 10% off the price of any heavy bag purchased here!
Just recently living MMA legend Ken Shamrock lost another fight in the cage. This time against veteran cage fighter and extremely effective kicker, Pedro Rizzo from Brazil, who himself is not even close to current World Championship status, but who can still cause some serious damage.
46-year old Ken Shamrock, who at the peak of his professional fighting career was also known as “The World’s Most Dangerous Man”, is still in incredible shape, but unfortunately he doesn’t implement the way he was known for or better feared of.
Together with legendary Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock was the first MMA fighter to be inducted into UFC’s Hall of Fame just 5 years ago.
The vast majority of his recent fights, Ken Shamrock has lost during the first round, which just has to be to frustrating to say the least.
With his name recognition he still can get crowds excited to show up in throes to watch him step into the cage.
With his vast experience and extraordinary fighting skills that encompass some of the best submission grappling prowess the world has ever witnessed, I firmly believe that Ken Shamrock could easily become a highly sought champion trainer/instructor, fight commentator/analyst and so much more that would even pay some serious dinero.
So, again I ask you “Should MMA Legend Ken Shamrock retire from professional fighting?’
While you contemplate, enter “The Lion’s Den” and meet one of the best MMA fighters ever, Ken Shamrock:
Man, on this day exactly 37 years ago in Hong Kong, the most influential martial artist and martial arts movie star died at the young age of only 32.
The world knew him as Bruce Lee, aka Little Dragon. He was born in San Francisco in 1940, but he and his family moved (back) to Hong Kong while he was still very young.
And even though it’s been almost four decades since he passed on, Bruce Lee still lives on in so many ways, because he has been able to touch millions of people through his acting and teachings.
I for myself can honestly say that it was Bruce Lee on the big screen that got me hooked on martial arts (in my case Shotokan karate for starters).
This post is not intended to be about me or even to re-hash Bruce Lee’s biography, but what I would love to hear your stories and experience about getting started in martial arts, self-defense training and how Bruce Lee affected your life.
I will leave you with this video clip as a tribute to honor Bruce Lee’s life and accomplishments: