Dec 18, 2010

December 18th, 1983, eve of the All Valley

And perhaps the most awkward kiss in Hollywood history.

Dec 15, 2010

A tale of two storms

Typhoon Holly strikes Okinawa, August 1984

Tropical Storm Lee brushes by Okinawa, August 1985

While conducting my Karate Kid studies it has always been important to me to get a correct timeline. The key to Karate Kid's magic and some of it's mysteries is to know exactly when events took place. Of course the most important date of all when it comes to Karate Kid lore is December 19th, the day of the All Valley Tournament.
But December 19th of what year?

The movie came out in 1984. But is that when its events took place? I suppose when you sit in a theater and watch a movie that is taking place in your time period your mind tells you it is happening in real time. I'm sitting in a theater in the summer of 1984 watching the All Valley Tournament, even though it is taking place in December my mind tells me it is that December that is coming up, it is showing my future events.

Or do I sit there and think of it as events that just recently took place? I'm sitting in a theater in the summer of '84 watching the All Valley Tournament that took place December 19th, it must have been this past December, 1983.

I can see people looking at it both ways. However, we were treated to a decent sequal a couple of years later which ended any doubt of a Karate Kid timeline.

As we all remember Karate Kid 2 took place where Karate Kid 1 left off. Six months after the tournament the movie picks up with Daniel pulling into Mr. Miyagi's house with a beat up car after the senior prom, and a horrible baby blue tuxedo to boot. Mr. Miyagi later gets the letter that tells him of his father's illness in Okinawa. The rest we know, but the key is the typhoon that struck Okinawa sometime in August right around the time they were going to celebrate the Obon festival.

Therefore, if the events of Karate Kid 1 took place in 1983 there should be a typhoon that hits Okinawa in 1984. Or if the events of Karate Kid 1 took place in 1984 there should be a typhoon that hits Okinawa in 1985.

Mystery solved. Typhoon Holly hit Okinawa hard in August of 1984 with winds upwards of 80 miles an hour causing major damage and "stranding an estimated 15,000 vacationers" according to the New York Times article. Of course Mr. Miyagi and Daniel being two of them. In 1985 the only storm to hit Okinawa in August was Tropical Storm Lee which brushed by the island with only "light winds". Certainly not hard enough winds to cause the damage we saw happen in Karate Kid 2.

Dec 4, 2010

Miyagi Chojun, founder of Goju-ryu Karate

When your temper rises, lower your fists. When your fists rise, lower your temper.

Dec 3, 2010

San Diego Chargers #89

Have you ever wondered about the football jersey Daniel wears to the Halloween dance? At that time it would have been a Wes Chandler jersey of the San Diego Chargers.

(from Wikipedia)

Wesley Sandy "Wes" Chandler (born August 22, 1956) is a former American college and professional football player who was a wide receiver in the National Football League (NFL) for eleven seasons in the 1970s and 1980s. Chandler played college football for the University of Florida, and thereafter, he played professionally for the New Orleans Saints, the San Diego Chargers and the San Francisco 49ers of the NFL. He was a four-time Pro Bowl selection and holds the NFL record for most receiving yards per game in a season. After retiring as a player, Chandler has become a football coach, and most recently he was the offensive coordinator for the New York Sentinels of the United Football League (UFL).

-Professional Career-

After college, the New Orleans Saints selected Chandler in the first round (third pick overall) in the 1978 NFL Draft,[7] and he played for the Saints for four seasons from 1978 to 1981.[8] Chandler was selected to the Pro Bowl after his second season in the league after finishing with 1,069 yards and six touchdown receptions. He was traded to the San Diego Chargers in 1981 to replace star receiver John Jefferson, who was traded to the Green Bay Packers after a bitter contract hold-out. He led the NFL with 1,032 receiving yards and nine receiving touchdowns for the strike-shortened 1982 season; his average of 129 yards receiving per game that year is still an NFL record.[9][10] Chandler completed his career with the San Francisco 49ers in 1988. One of his more notable performances was in a 1981 AFC playoff game known as The Epic In Miami, where he caught six passes for 106 yards and returned a punt fifty-six yards for a touchdown in the Chargers 41–38 victory. He also caught nine passes for 124 yards in a playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the following season.

Chandler retired from the NFL during the 1988 season after an eleven-year playing career. During his NFL career, he caught 559 passes for 8,966 yards and fifty-six touchdowns, rushed for eighty-four yards, returned forty-eight kickoffs for 1,048 yards, and gained 428 yards on sixty-seven punt returns.[11] Overall, he amassed 10,526 all-purpose yards.[11] At the time of his retirement, Chandler ranked twelfth in NFL history in receiving yards and thirteenth in receptions. He also earned four Pro Bowl selections, including three with the San Diego Chargers.[11] In 2001, Chandler was inducted into the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame.

Nov 25, 2010

The Holy Grail of Karate Kid memorabilia

The Sensei Kreese cardboard cut-out in the background of this photo has got to be the ultimate in Karate Kid memorabilia, the Holy Grail if you will. So far all of my internet searches have been fruitless but the search will continue.

Nov 23, 2010

Someone actually tried to use the Crane Technique?

While doing an internet search for Karate Kid photos I came across this one of a UFC fighter actually using the Crane Technique. By the look on the face of his opponent it seems to be more of a joke than anything but I still need to find out who this fighter is and what was the outcome of this move.

Nov 22, 2010

McQueen Racing

"Founded by Chad McQueen, McQueen Racing develops and licenses limited-edition, high performance motorsport and motorcycle classics and performance accessories."

Chad being interviewed by Hot Rod TV at the 2009 SEMA auto show.

Chad and son Chase being interviewed about the legacy of the Bullitt Mustang

Nov 15, 2010

Karate Kid timeline

1. Halloween Dance, subsequent beating suffered by Daniel at the hands and feet of the Cobra Kai 5, and the saving of the day by Mr. Miyagi.

2. Trip to the Cobra Kai dojo, the agreement reached to settle the score at the December 19th tournament, and the begining of Daniel's karate training with "wax on, wax off."

3. Take a Worm for a Walk week.

4. Daniel and Ali's first date.

5. Daniel's training continues with "sand the floor."

6. Daniel's catching of the fly with chopsticks and "paint the fence."

7. Daniel spends all day painting Mr. Miyagi's house, Mr. Miyagi spends the day fishing, and then the pieces of the puzzle finally come together.

8. After school Mr. Miyagi takes Daniel to the beach so he can "learn balance" in the surf while we get our first look at the Crane Technique.

9. Sometime during these three days Daniel asks Ali out on their second date.

10. The speghetti incident at the Encino Hills Country Club and Daniel learns more about Mr. Miyagi's past later that night at Mr. Miyagi's house.

*. We know little about what happens during this four week period other than Daniel tries to teach himself the Crane Technique at the beach, he practices his blocks, his stance, and punching on the bow of Mr. Miyagi's boat by himself, and then Mr. Miyagi teaches him how to punch sometime after that. Mr. Miyagi also scolds Daniel for not focusing enough and for joking around too much. Also towards the end of this four week period Daniel has his birthday, receives his driver's license and gets #1 and #2 birthday present from Mr. Miyagi.

11. Daniel goes to Golf n Stuff to "find balance" with Ali and to show her his new car.

12. All Valley Under 18 Karate Championship.

Nov 11, 2010

November 11th, 1983

A Friday, after school today the training really begins eventhough Daniel doesn't realize it. Sand the floor is the begining of four days of hard core training.

Nov 5, 2010

November 5th, 1983

A Saturday night, a first date, and pure innocence.

Golf n Stuff! Located at 10555 E. Firestone Blvd., in Norwalk. I'm hoping to get there within the next few months to enjoy this historic location for myself.

Oct 31, 2010

October 31st, 1983

Happy "Take a Worm for a Walk Week."

First day of school after the beating and the dojo confrontation. Here Daniel and Ali have a little "conversation" with the Cobra Kai 5 and Tommy comes up with his Take a Worm for a Walk Week gem.

Oct 28, 2010

October 28th, 1983

27 years ago today was a night like no other, a night of warriors, a night of battle. October 28th, 1983, the Halloween Dance fight took place. I've visited the site of the battle, I've stood in silence and paid respect. In a way it was the night that started it all, the night Daniel discovered Mr. Miyagi was more than just a maintence man. We also discovered the true reckless power of the Cobra Kai.

"Leave him alone man, he's had enough.

Shut up Bobby!

Look at him Dutch, he can't even stand up!

That don't mean squat.

Johnny, leave him alone man he's had enough.

I'll decide when he's had enough man."

May we all take a moment tonight and honor the heroes.

Oct 25, 2010

Huo Yuanjia, co-founder of the Jing Wu Sports Federation

Men of wisdom cannot be misled

Men of benevolence have no worry

Men of courage have no fear

Oct 18, 2010

Sweep the Leg! Interview with the real Johnny, William Zabka

(by Lori Ann White for Kung Fu Magazine)

Love it or hate it, THE KARATE KID gave a generation of Americans its first exposure to martial arts of any kind, and changed the lives of several young actors who appeared in it. Ralph Macchio became a Teen Beat heartthrob, and William (then Billy) Zabka turned into everyone's favorite California golden boy, of the bad variety.

With his perfectly feathered blond hair, his red motorcycle leathers, and his obsessive jealousy over his ex-girlfriend (played by Elizabeth Shue), Zabka's Johnny Lawrence was easy to hate. Yet there was something pathetic about his devotion to his sensei, played by Martin Kove. You just knew his dad was never home and his mom drank her lunch. Johnny Lawrence was the anti-Daniel Larusso (Macchio): like Daniel, following the martial arts as a path to adulthood, but led astray by a corrupt teacher. There but for the grace of our sifus-

Since his heyday as a high school villain, Zabka has pursued a rather low-key Hollywood career, doing some TV work and acting in mainly independent films. He's proven himself behind the camera as well, with an Oscar nomination for writing and producing the short film MOST. And then there's that music video....

With the release of a new Blu-Ray version of KARATE KID for which Zabka provides commentary - not to mention the upcoming release of THE KARATE KID with Jackie Chan - people are once again telling him to "Sweep the leg, Johnny!"


I thought I would start with asking you a couple of questions about your martial arts background. I understand before Karate Kid you were a wrestler, but then studied Tang Soo Do.

Yeah, I was a high school wrestler, I was an athlete growing up. I played all sports and in high school I wanted to play football but I was too small. I got on the wrestling team and I did really well in wrestling and I was very limber when I finished high school.

When I got cast in THE KARATE KID I actually hadn't known any martial arts at that point. Thankfully, due to my conditioning from wrestling, I was able to slide into martial arts training. It was kind of a nice fit.

Did you keep up with it afterwards?

I did. For about five years afterward I trained with Pat Johnson (martial arts choreographer, THE KARATE KID I, II, and III -LW) and Roger Lacombe at Thousand Oaks Tang Soo Do Karate, and I got up to my second green, and trained with Pat here and there privately. I did a couple of other martial arts films with Pat that he choreographed called SHOOTFIGHTER, which was actually a bunch of really great martial artists - Michael Bernardo, Hakim Alston, Earnest Hart, Chris Cassamassa, who was also in MORTAL KOMBAT - a bunch of guys were in it.

Anyway, I trained for five years on and off and then I stopped my training for a while and then I picked it up here and there.

I don't know if you're getting kind of tired of "Sweep the leg, Johnny" yet-

Oh, come on, it's part of my life (laughs).

But I noticed in watching that music video, that there were some really nice little touches - references to iconic martial arts scenes in classic movies, like the flying kick that goes on forever. Are you a big martial arts movie fan?

Oh, sure, I love martial arts films, CROUCHING TIGER-type films, I'm into those. My video is obviously a parody of myself and the KARATE KID. We tried to do something kind of retro with it - a lot of tips to the '80s, a lot of tips to KARATE KID and to pop culture, and then take it a step further, and try to work wires and ropes, which is what I did when I came flying through that front door. Which is quite ambitious (laughs) and difficult, and I have a whole new respect for the guys who fly around the roofs, because all the outtakes of me being pulled up on top of the bus are pretty funny. We did a little tribute to THE MATRIX at the end, too.

But yeah, I'm a huge fan of martial arts films, and I have a total respect for the art. I'm actually a big MMA fan right now, and I just love watching all the different forms come together. It's an amazing way of life. It's a great discipline.

Do you have a favorite fighter that you watch?

Fedor (Emelianenko) I think is my favorite to watch. But they're all good. I just watched the Machida (Lyoto Machida) fight the other night. They call him "the Karate Kid" because he's the Karate guy and I was rooting for him.

There's amazing talent out there. Some of it's brutal, and I'm not into the blood and brutality of it, but I love to watch the forms and the art, and the technique is incredible. The conditioning ... really, there's nothing like it. There's no sport like it. There's no art like it.

As a wrestler, have you ever taken an interest in Brazilian jujitsu?

No, I haven't. Tang Soo Do. Ron Thomas (Bobby in KARATE KID) did jujitsu, and I worked out with him a couple of times, but I never really got into all the training of all the different styles.

You have an Academy Award nomination, for pete's sake. I think a lot of people would look at that and say, "What?"

Laughs) I know. I know. I was hoping to win just so I could get up and throw a shout-out to the Cobra Kais (Johnny's KARATE KID dojo). And my speech was actually going to be - because I wrote and produced the film that was nominated, I was going to say, "You know, it's nice to be nominated as a producer and a writer, but what I really want to be is an actor." But it didn't happen.

Before getting into acting I went to film school and I always wanted to be a filmmaker. From the time I was ten years old I had an 8mm camera in my hand and made films my whole life and videos and dabbled in commercials. THE KARATE KID was really just a "right place at the right time" kind of a blessing. Then my acting career was born. I'm acting still but I'm also directing and producing and behind the camera, which is really what I set out to do from the beginning, and I'm really excited about that.

The Academy nomination was incredible.

You looked pretty happy in some of those photos.

(Laughs) Yeah. It was a short film I did called MOST, and it was a Czech film, we shot it in Eastern Europe, in Prague and in Poland, and that was my next milestone.

I think THE KARATE KID was the one staple of my life that defined my career and myself and then my short film was the second time I felt that kind of excitement and that high. But the difference between the two is - when you're an actor in a film, you show up on a set and you work out and you do your lines and you work for maybe two months and then everybody else gets to work for six months and you watch it and you're a part of it.

When you're producing and you're putting it together, you know every detail and every frame of that film and what it took to get it in there, so I was more aware at the Oscars of how I got there. When I did THE KARATE KID, I had to keep pinching myself because I just went on an audition and next thing I'm having the time of my life learning karate and making the film and then it slowly became a hit and over the years it's become a classic. And my participation in that was just a few months.

But you have all these great - the director and the music and the producers and the other stars and everybody surrounding you and you're just a part of that. You kind of watch it in amazement and wonder, how did that happen?

But when you actually put something together with your own hands, you have more of a sense of how you got there. So it was even more exciting, I think, than being an actor.

Can you tell us a bit more about what you're doing now?

The last film I acted in was HOT TUB TIME MACHINE, with John Cusack and Rob Corddry and Craig Robinson, and that was a fun tribute to the '80s. I'm attached to a few projects to direct and one of them is THE SCIENCE OF COOL, but it's still coming together - the financing, the packaging and all that, but we're hoping to get it up and running in the near future.

I have to admit I didn't see HOT TUB TIME MACHINE. All the '80s fashions and styles in the preview was too much of a flashback. It scared me too much.

(Laughter) Yeah. It's so funny, though, it really is so funny, and Crispin Glover from BACK TO THE FUTURE is hysterical in it. It was really fun. They actually finished the film - the movie was shot by the time they called me to be in it and they were testing the film and the audience review and feedback were great, but they had a part in the middle that they wanted to punch up a little bit so they actually wrote me a part. It was very déjà vu being on the set because everybody was in '80s wardrobe. It was actually like a scene I did in BACK TO SCHOOL with Rodney Dangerfield. I'm in a bar scene and it felt almost like I was waiting for Rodney to walk through the door. The lighting, and the smoke they had going on in there and the hairdos and everything - it was really fun. It's a funny, funny film, and I don't think you need to be afraid of it.

Any other upcoming projects?

I am doing a film right now called CROSS, with Brian Austin Green and Michael Clarke Duncan who was in THE GREEN MILE, and it's kind of a futuristic, almost superhero type of film. It's an independent film, but it's a lot of fun. I'm shooting that right now.

Any wire work in that one?

No, no wire work. But I get to play the bad guy again, which I'm still excited about (laughs). I told the director I was doing an interview with you today and he said, "Plug CROSS, plug CROSS!" I said, "Only if you let me win and I get the girl at the end." But here I am, plugging it anyway.

I do a lot of music videos. SWEEP THE LEG was my first one. I do a lot of breakout, brand-new artists that are trying to get on the map, so I kind of shape the vibe and the style of different bands from country to hard rock to pop. I also just produced and edited a really beautiful documentary on Uganda. It's called MZUNGU - that's the Swahili word for "white wanderer." It follows four college kids through Uganda trying to make a difference, and as they go through Uganda the social tragedies and humanitarian crises overwhelm them. By the end of the movie they're pretty defeated and they come home wondering how they're ever going to help the world.

The twist of it is, the lady who was directing the film - who was shooting it - at the end of the movie becomes the subject of the film. She ends up staying there. And the movie she intended to make about these four guys she ended up putting in storage and she ended up setting up an NGO there and living in Uganda. And now she has orphanages and taxi services and she bought a farm, and she's on the ground there and she's teaching the Ugandans how to be self-sufficient and how to have businesses, and she sets up all these micro-businesses. So the end of the movie is this amazing thing - these four guys who went out to make a difference and came home defeated ended up blazing a trail for these 300, 400, 500 new college kids who are actually living there now.

So it’s a really beautiful, touching documentary about the American culture crossing with the African culture and what we have to learn from each other and the correct ways of helping impoverished nations.

A lot of people think we just give money to the World Fund and we've given I don't know how many billions or trillions of dollars in the last 10, 20 years, but it hasn't reached the people. There are a lot of people on the ground there who know how to make that money work, and this lady's one of them.

So that's a really neat film. I just premiered it last week for a small screening and it'll be available pretty soon.

So I do a little bit of everything: editing and producing and filmmaking and documentaries. I'm just a filmmaker and an actor, really.

Out of all the different types of film you work on, do you have a favorite?

My favorite is just something I believe in, it's just a message or a story I want to tell. That could be in a music video - I'm just as passionate about that as I would be about telling the Uganda story or putting together the SWEEP THE LEG video or producing my short films. They're all the same for me. It's the same kind of high - they're just wrapped differently.

But I suppose if I had to do just one thing, I'd be writing and producing and directing feature films. And acting.

I really love it all, but for acting it would really have to be the right role and it would have to be really fun. There's more muscles you use for making a film and directing the creative part. With acting you're playing one instrument in an orchestra, but you're the conductor if you're producing and directing.

I really love the edit room. That's where the real magic happens: in a closed room with a cup of coffee and a computer and music and good people around and inspiration. That's really fun for me.

Were you approached to do any commentary for the Blu-Ray of THE KARATE KID.

I'm on the Blu-Ray. Ralph and I both did picture-in-picture interviews. I actually just received my copy today so I haven't seen it. We comment on some trivia behind the making of some of the scenes and the psychology of the characters. From what I hear it's got a pretty cool featurette on the making of the Blu-Ray. Which I also hear looks amazing. I can't wait to watch it. I literally just got it. FedEx just dropped it off about half an hour ago. It's almost a video diary of my memoirs.

Do you still keep in touch with any of them?

I do. I keep in touch with all of them. Sadly, Pat Morita passed away a few years back and that's where I reconnected with Ralph. We went to his memorial and bumped into each other there. Actually, Ralph and I are probably better friends now than we ever were. In fact, I just saw him about a week and a half ago. Marty Kove, who played Kreese, and Ralph and I all went down to have a meeting and some coffee at The Coffee Bean in Hollywood. We stay in good touch.

And of course of my guys, the Cobra Kais, those guys are like my brothers. We've been close over the years. Ron Thomas and Ron Garrison and Tony O'Dell. Chad I haven't talked to for a while - Chad McQueen. But everybody else - we're pretty close. It's kind of like a fraternity. Or similar to your high school friends - the kind of guys who are always there. You pick up the phone after a little while and it's the same as it was yesterday.

LW: Do you know much about the upcoming KARATE KID?

WZ: All I've heard about the new one is that it looks great. I don't know anybody who's seen it front to back. I think it's going to be fun for the new generation of kids to have their new Karate Kid. All the kids who grew up on our film are parents now, so why not? I think it should be fun. And it's more a reimagining of the same kind of themes of the story, and I think that's a smart way to go. I really can't comment on it any more because I haven't seen it, but the buzz I hear on it is pretty good.

When you were young and in the original, there was no way to imagine the impact the movie would have; but looking back on it now, what about the story do you think has made it so popular?

I think it's a combination of the story, and having a director like John Avildson and actors like Ralph and Pat and music like Bill Conti and a producer like Jerry Weintraub and a studio like Sony/Columbia behind it. But it's a morality play. All the characters are on their journeys. Johnny isn't really a bad guy. He's misled by his instructor. And then you have the story of a young boy who needs direction, who needs a father, and Miyagi teaches him the ways of life, and I think we all can learn from Miyagi.

As funny as "wax on, wax off" is today and how they've turned into little sound bites, "Walk on the right side of the road, you're okay, walk on the left side of the road, you're okay, walk in the middle of the road, you get squished like a grape" - there's just some great jewels.

And also, of course, Robert Kamen who wrote it - he comes from such a great martial arts background and he's such an amazing screenwriter.

It's just one of those stories and scripts that really work. And then you mix in a little bit of '80s music and some hip pop culture and age it for 25 years and it just turns into a classic, I guess.

We all need direction, I think. We live vicariously though Daniel, who's the underdog and has all odds against him and has a victory in the end that we all look for in our own lives. We all hope for that moment in our own lives, I think. THE KARATE KID kind of gives us a little bit of hope for that moment in our own lives.

But I'd like to see where Johnny is now.

Just watch SWEEP THE LEG. He's in his trailer, and he's watching reruns of the moving and wondering what the heck happened. How did he lose? That's exactly where Johnny is now.

Oh. Okay.

Either that, or he's a doctor.

Oct 16, 2010

"Best Kid" movie poster.

(In Japan the Karate Kid was released under the name Best Kid.)

Oct 14, 2010

Morihei Ueshiba, founder of Aikido

"Aikido is not a technique to fight with or to defeat the enemy. It is a way to reconcile the world and make human beings one family."

Jul 31, 2010

New Karate Kid doing well at box office

(posted July 31st 2010)

Just an update, since the new Karate Kid movie came out (which was on June 11th) it has pulled in $172,000,000. Not bad at all since it cost around $57,000,000 to make. A sequel is already being planned. Nice!



(posted October 17th 2010)

I checked the website today and it is showing the new Karate Kid with a grand total of $176,000,000. I'm not sure if that is with dvd sales or not, I doubt it, I imagine thats just box office. Long live Karate Kid!

Jun 28, 2010

The old crew at the premier of the new Karate Kid

At 48 years old the original Karate Kid has still got it. Looking good Mr. Macchio.

The Cobra Kai back together, (except for Tommy.)

Jun 12, 2010

Roger Ebert's review of the new Karate Kid

(by Roger Ebert June 9th 2010)

If you've seen "The Karate Kid" (1984), the memories will come back during this 2010 remake. That's a compliment. The original story was durable enough to inspire three sequels, and now we have an entertaining version filmed mostly on location in China, with 56-year-old Jackie Chan in the role of Mr. Miyagi.

The original was one of its year's best movies. The new one lacks the perfect freshness of that one; there aren't many surprises, as it follows the 1984 version almost point by point. But here is a lovely and well-made film that stands on its own feet. The Chinese locations add visual interest, there are scenes of splendor in mountains and on the Great Wall, and the characters are once again engaging.

The original film's greatest asset was the Oscar-nominated performance by Pat Morita as Mr. Miyagi. Jackie Chan is so famous that it can come as no surprise here when his Mr. Han, a reclusive janitor, reveals a hidden talent for the martial arts. But Chan has never been a strutting, macho fighter onscreen; his charm comes from a self-kidding quality. Here he does a good job of cooling down his usual cheerfulness and keeping his cards hidden.

In the role of his young pupil, Jaden Smith, son of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, has a natural screen presence. Dre Parker is calmer than the skittish kid played by Ralph Macchio, but so much smaller than his opponents that we can well believe his fear of a bully at school. And when that happens, we can forget obsessing about the 1984 film and enjoy this one. That was then, this is now.

The story once again involves a kid being packed up by his divorced mom and forced to leave his hometown and friends and move far away — from Detroit to Beijing, this time. He hates it. Then a cute young violinist named Meiying (Han Wenwen) smiles at him, and life looks more promising — if it weren't for the school bully Cheng (Wang Zhenwei). This creature is so hateful and sadistic, it's hard to explain, until we meet his brutal kung fu coach, Master Li (Yu Rongguang Yu). The monstrous Li teaches a new form of child abuse: Kids beating up on each other.

The story proceeds, as it must, with Dre slowly softening the heart of Mr. Han, who saves him from a beating by Cheng and agrees to teach him the secrets of kung fu. Training goes well, and Dre and Meiying make a pact to attend each other's big days: his kung fu tournament, her recital. There's the usual nonsense about her parents disapproving of him. Gee, why in the world would the parents of a world-class classical musician disapprove of a kung fu student from Detroit who doesn't speak Chinese?

Luckily for Dre and the movie, everyone in China who needs to speak English can do so, even the little monster Cheng. Many Americans not only have little interest in learning another language, they have little interest in reading subtitles of their own. We believe, as Mark Twain put it in The Innocents Abroad, that any foreigner can understand English if it is only spoken slowly enough and loudly enough.

It goes without saying that the whole film leads up to a climactic kung fu tournament, and that Dre is pitted against Cheng for the championship. The lineage of the film is distinguished; the 1984 version was directed by John Avildsen, director of "Rocky." This film's climax is unusually well-handled; the tension is constructed in a careful way, the characters are developed, and use of a scoreboard makes it seem orderly, not rushed. It's one of the better obligatory fight climaxes I've seen.

The director, Harald Swart, has not been one of my favorites; he made last year's "The Pink Panther 2." But here, with a robust script by Christopher Murphey and cinematography by Roger Pratt (who filmed two "Harry Potters"), he makes a handsome, absorbing movie. It runs a little long, but during the championship, that's the last thing you're thinking of

Jun 4, 2010

1 week till new Karate Kid movie comes out!

On June 11th, one week from today, we will have the pleasure of a new Karate Kid movie. At first I was opposed to the idea, why try to improve on the best movie ever made? Plus, why aren't they naming the movie The Kung Fu Kid since it will be kung fu and not karate that our young hero will be learning?

But as time went on I decided as long as the movie is good and not crap like so many movies are these days, I will go with the flow like a twig on the shoulders of a mighty stream and enjoy it. Also if it inspires a younger generation to go back and watch the original then we all win in the end.

Mar 11, 2010


dojo kanji

(from Wikipedia)

A dojo is a Japanese term which literally means "place of the way". Initially, dojos were adjunct to temples. The term can refer to a formal training place for any of the Japanese do arts but typically it is considered the formal gathering place for students of any Japanese martial arts style to conduct training, examinations and other related encounters.

The concept of a dojo as a martial arts training place is a Western concept; in Japan, any physical training facility, including professional wrestling schools, may be called dojo because of its close martial arts roots.


In the "training grounds" section I will post pictures of any building or location that evokes a feeling of martial arts training. I realize some photos I post won't be of actual dojos but anything that gives me the feeling of ancient training will be game.

Mar 9, 2010

Karate Kid pilgrimage - 2009

(originally posted on the Rule 31-2 blog, July 22nd 2009)

So this weekend is it, the long awaited Karate Kid pilgrimage!

It all began on a cold day this past winter while I "ran the channels" and came across the Karate Kid on AMC, I hadn't seen the movie in a while so I sat down and watched it. It was like I was 14 again and watching it in the theater, Daniel was so cool and Alli was hotness to the max (even with that stubborn baby fat.)

I took it to the next level while at work and googled Karate Kid fan sites. I found one that had the locations used during filming all mapped out. Most were right there in the Los Angeles area so I told Aimee a summer trip was in store to visit these holy sites. She looked at me like I was nuts but that's nothing new.

Everything went one step further when Aimee's mom mentioned she wanted to go to LA to do some shopping in Japantown. We decided to put together a road trip for sometime in the summer and here we are, only days away from high adventure.

We leave Saturday morning and plan to get to LA Saturday night. Sunday morning we will hit Daniel's apartment and the adjacent field where Mr. Miagi opened up a can of whoop-ass on the Cobra Kai. Then a trip to the Cobra Kai dojo (which is actually Jun Chong's Tae Kwon Do studio) and then if we feel we can handle it, a trip up the coast to Leo Carillo State Beach where Daniel and Alli first met and the Cobra Kai first displayed their awesomeness.

All day Monday will be power shopping in Japantown and Chinatown, then Tuesday we head back.

Watch this space for a full report upon our return.


(originally posted on the Rule 31-2 blog, August 8th, 2009)

When I first toyed with the idea of a Karate Kid pilgrimage nothing stimulated my senses like the thought of entering the Cobra Kai dojo. How could it not?, the scenes that took place at the dojo were epic. "Fear does not exist in this dojo, pain does not exist in this dojo! Strike first, stike hard, no mercy sir!" Those are words I live by, that is my creed.

(Jun Chong's Tae Kwon Do dojo. Photo taken sometime mid-2000's. Notice the mirrors, the archway, and the punching bags from the Cobra Kai days are still there.)

I wasn't even sure the dojo actually existed but once I found out that it did and that it was still a martial arts dojo (or so said the latest information available)fantasies filled my mind. I thought of how cool it would be to take some time off of work, not just a couple of days but a couple of months, and move to California. I would rent a small apartment in Receda, maybe even at the South Seas apatments, and take classes at the dojo. Everyone would think I was there just to learn Tae Kwon Do, but I would keep my secret safe in my mind and close to my heart. I would be there to train on ground as holy as the Shaolin Temple, I would be an actual Cobra Kai in training. Well, that was my fantasy at least.

When we set off on our adventure Sunday morning the air was thick with excitement. I had gone over Google maps, Mapquest, etc. for days and I had the directions written down in detail. Traffic wasn't too bad and we actually arrived in North Hollywood quicker than I had expected and soon we found the street we were looking for, Lankershim Ave. I told the gals that the dojo would be somewhere on the right, somewhere on the block we had turned onto. But as we got to the next road and I knew we had gone too far I was perplexed, nothing even looked close to the dojo. (I also had an old photo of the Jun Chong dojo from the outside that I had pretty much memorized.) I told them we would have to drive around the block and come back for another pass, this time I would look for a parking place and we could search for it by foot. We came back around and found a spot on the street quickly, and with one quarter in the parking meter we had 15 minutes to be tourists. We walked down just about a half a block and then there is was, different than I had imagined but there it was.

It was now painted all white and Jun Chong Tae Kwon Do was no longer on the door. Now there was a sign that said "Body Theory Fitness" and hip hop music blasted through the walls out onto the street. "What is this?" I thought. "What's going on?"

It turns out the place was now a fitness center and there were about 30 people inside doing aerobics or something to that effect. What was worse though was that the place was gutted, no longer were there punching bags and floormats, no longer was there a mystique of the Orient. All there was was fat sweaty people moving to the beats of Sean Paul.

Have you ever yearned? I mean really yearned, not just craved or coveted, but yearned deeply in your soul? Well, Aimee captured my yearning perfectly in this photo. Like a hungry child looking in the window of the corner bakery and smelling the freshly baked bread that he knows he cannot consume, this is how felt as I peered through the front doors of what once was the Cobra Kai dojo.

The dojo was gone, gone forever. Why are there such injustices in this world? That location should be restored to it's former glory and made available to those that seek martial art enlightenment. That place needs to exist, exist for the warriors within.

After we left the former site of the Cobra Kai dojo we headed to Receda to find the South Seas apartments, my heart was heavy and I didn't drive quite as fast to Receda as I had to North Hollywood. How could they have done that to the dojo? Would the apartments still be apartments? With my luck the apartments would be some run down drug and sex trade depot? My soul needed uplifting and thankfully I did get it.

Entrance to the South Seas Apartments.

This is the sidewalk where Daniel struggles with his suitcase and bike when he first arrives in Receda. The entrance and gate as you can see has been updated to "lock-down" status and is no longer the same wooden gate Daniel almost breaks with his massive karate kick.

The pool and patio area.

You can even see fairly well Apartment 20 at the top of the stairs, whomever lives there is pretty darn lucky.

The alley on the side of the apartments.

Here is where Daniel throws his bike in the dumpster in disgust after the Cobra Kai run him off the road on their motorcyles. After being confronted by his mother who saw him throw the bike away he pleads to return to New Jersey. A classic Hollywood moment, and to think I walked that same alley. (Notice a dumpster still occupies the same ground.)

Mr. Miyagi's workshop door, again we are on lock-down status but you get the idea.

Mr. Miyagi's workshop was just temporarily made for the movie, in real life it's a parking space. Lucky people who get to park their car there, I wonder if they know their car is parked on hallowed ground.

The field, fence and battle ground.

As you can see the open field next to the apartments still exists. I'm surprised over the past 25 years no one has built homes or a strip mall there. In the movie there was a gate Mr. Miyagi opened however now it is just a fence, nonetheless it was pleasing to my soul.

Now that we are back and I sit and reminisce I am very happy we went, all-in-all it was a wonderful trip. To be that close to the events of the Karate Kid was a dream come true.

The only thing that would make it any better would be another pilgrimage. I'm sure there will be one, hopefully sooner than later.