For as long as I can remember, I have always loved curling up on the couch to watch a good martial arts film. I have my dad to thank for that, since he was quite the enthusiast. An enthusiast to the point where he attended taekwondo classes in his 20s and bought a pair of wooden nunchaku on the trip to South East Asia where he met my mum.
I could only imagine how excited he would have been to discover that his only child – and a girl no less – shared his passion.
He even used martial arts movies as a pacifying technique when he picked me up from kindergarten one day with a suspicious sore arm.
“It’s all right,” my amateurish parent said, “Let’s get you a bag of chips and we’ll put on a Bruce Lee movie at home.”
An hour later, I was sitting in a bean bag, munching on potato chips and watching Fist of Fury.
It was only later that night when my audibly anxious mother came home from work and scolded my father for not taking me to the hospital for what turned out to be a chipped elbow. I was in a sling for a month.
My dad continued to add to his collection of martial arts and assorted action films, and so I adopted a few titles as my own favourites. I’m not surprised if my parents had a discussion with my teacher, who asked my class mates and I what our favourite movies were. My answer of Jean Claude Van Damme’s Bloodsport was a stark anomaly among answers like Cinderella, Land Before Time, or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
While watching some movies with hand-to-hand combat scenes with my dad, he would often rewind the tape during some fight sequences to either enjoy in instant replay or so I can play-act it in slow motion. We watched a one-sided US vs South Korea martial arts tournament unfold in Best of the Best, We watched a younger, energetic Jackie Chan hold off a motley crew of thieves and mercenaries for 20 minutes straight in Half a Loaf of Kung Fu. We watched Chuck Norris get his ass handed to him by Bruce Lee in Way of the Dragon.
I grew to appreciate the complex choreography and intensity of a movie’s fight scenes, and while watching my dad subconsciously duck and weave in his seat as he followed the action on screen, I knew he did as well.
Naturally, it was my dad who showed me how to defend myself on the playground, but he wasn’t the best instructor. So when I was seven, I enrolled in a taekwondo class with my parents. I had training two to three times a week after school for about five years. During that time, I actually became quite good. I participated in many demonstrations, attended a few tournaments and met several professional fighters.
But even after the club separated and I didn’t train again until I was an adult, spending that odd evening or weekend watching some good ol’ martial arts flicks remained a constant throughout my life.
The other day, I mailed my dad his Father’s Day card in a parcel with a couple of DVDs to add to his collection. Because 18 years later, he knows that I’m still munching on chips on the couch and watching the same sort of movies we always had.
This blog is for my dad, who introduced me to the first of many films I enjoy to this day, and for all the other martial arts movie buffs out there who appreciate a great fight scene like we do.
** Artwork credit: my new best pal Tim Roberts, enjoy the chocolate!