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Monday, August 13th, 2007 | Author: Casey Criswell

Jeff Gabbard, our kung fu contributor is back once again with a review of Barry Eisler’s Requiem for an Assassin!

Read along for a tease and follow the jump for the full review at Jeff’s new blog, A View from the Crossroads!

I first discovered the Rain series from an ad in Grappling Magazine when I first started training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu a few years ago. I bought the first book, Rain Fall, and quickly devoured it. This was the first series I had ever come across that took grappling seriously and showed how effective it could be in real life-or-death situations. There are no “wire-fu” moments or magic tricks in these books. The action is very gritty and believable. Eisler has done extensive research in quick, efficient hand-to-hand combat techniques. This, and the fact that he is a Judo black belt himself, has helped him create one of the most believable Thriller/Mystery characters ever. This attention to detail shows in every aspect of the Rain series. The characters, locations, politics, technology, and even sex are the most realistic you will find in a Thriller or Mystery series.

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Friday, March 30th, 2007 | Author: Jeff Gabbard

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Author Sam Sheridan has done a lot of living. He has sailed around the world, put out forest fires in America’s southwest, and been part of a work-crew in Antarctica. That’s a lot of adventure for someone so young. Oh, and he’s still found time to travel around the world to train with Olympic boxers, Mixed Martial Artist (MMA) superstars, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champions, and Muay Thai fighters. From the moment he first put on boxing gloves as a student at Harvard Sheridan discovered a love for fighting. This fascination eventually led him to wonder “Why?” Why would an otherwise sane individual choose to get into a ring or cage and stand toe-to-toe with someone who wants nothing more than to beat the living crap out of you? This is the basic question put forth in Sheridan’s book
A Fighter’s Heart
, one that he and the reader explore as we follow the author around the globe.

After spending a little time in Australia studying kickboxing Sheridan decides to travel to Thailand to study Muay Thai kickboxing in depth. Sheridan’s descriptive detail of the training village, the people he meets there and the pre-fight Muay Thai rituals are wonderful and an example of the books strengths. Thailand is one place I have never really considered visiting, but after reading the account of his time there I am putting it on my list of 100 places to see before I die.

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All pictures in this article are for illustrative purposes only

We feel the author’s aches and pains as he trains daily for his debut match against a Japanese Karate fighter. The buildup to the fight doesn’t disappoint as we feel like we’re right there with him preparing for the big day. After the fight (sorry, you’ll have to read the book to see who wins) the author eventually returns to the states and goes on with his life only to realize that he hasn’t gotten fighting out of his system yet.

This desire to fight leads him to Iowa where he trains under MMA pioneer, Pat Miletich the Croatian Sensation. Here he falls once again into the daily routine of constant training and easy camaraderie with many of today’s top MMA superstars. Among them are Matt Hughes and Tim Sylvia.

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Training MMA Sheridan compares and contrasts its differences with Muay Thai and boxing. We learn to appreciate all the knowledge that a good MMA fighter must possess as he can be beat in any of a number of ways. Sheridan’s training eventually leads to a fight where he is injured and forced to quit. This starts an unfortunate trend where each time Sheridan trains in a new style he can never devote 100% of himself to the endeavor because of his nagging injuries. This makes many of the chapters a little anti-climatic.

His time training MMA helps him realize that his “ground-game” is weak. So Sheridan travels to Brazil to study Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I got a real kick out of reading his struggles getting used to wearing a Gi while training. Anyone who practices Judo or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu will relate to this and share a knowing grin.

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Sheridan does a great job describing the history of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and how the local surfer culture has influenced the evolution of the sport. His depiction of poverty in Brazil is gripping and a real eye-opener. Here we get a clear picture as to why some people fight. It can provide a way out of the poverty they live with everyday. Again though, due to his injuries, Sheridan is not able to train fully and so his ground-game does not improve as much as he or the reader would have liked.

After leaving Brazil he spends some time studying Tai Chi from the venerable Master Chen and learns that this “soft” art has its roots in real fighting. It’s goal of slowing everything down as much as possible helps focus and refine your technique.

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One of the biggest sections of the book covers his time training with Olympic caliber boxers. Sheridan provides great insight into the history and importance of the “sweet science” to American history. As with the other chapters we follow his training as he works to develop into a sound boxer and we are once again disappointed when he is injured in a sparring match and unable to have his debut boxing match.

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I found the section on dog-fighting uncomfortable and awkward to read. The author is using it as a way to describe the idea of “Gameness”. Where a fighter is always ready to throw down no matter how tired or outgunned he is. While I understand the intent, as a westerner, I have trouble relating to the idea of training animals to fight for sport.

In the final chapter the author sums up his theories on fighting and provides some sound insight into man’s desire for competition and to “prove” himself. I’d like to add that the difference between a fighter and a martial artist is that a fighter sees his opponent as the guy standing across from him in the ring while a martial artist recognizes that his opponent is within him. Eventually speed and strength vanish and a fighter must recognize that the challenge has always been to improve himself. Hence the “DO” (way) in the name of so many traditional martial arts.

A Fighter’s Heart suffers from feeling like a collection of magazine articles loosely tied together to create a book. This is unfortunate as each chapter could serve as the basis for a book of its own. Just as the author jumps from one fighting style to another, never mastering any, so too are we, the readers, never given time to fully immerse ourselves in the culture, and techniques of any one style.

The book’s greatest strength is the author’s gift for fantastic descriptive writing. We truly feel like we are there with him, covered in blood and gasping for air. His first hand experience training in these sports provides a legitimate snapshot of the skills and dedication needed to successfully pursue them. Are you game?

3 bloodied fighters out of 5

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Monday, March 26th, 2007 | Author: Casey Criswell


Ever find your self watching a movie that makes you relive your childhood a bit? Gets the juices flowing, gets you all excited and a bit jittery by the time you walk out of the movie theater? Imagine the confused stares of many fellow movie goers as my six year old daughter and I bounded out of the theater throwing kicks and punches at each other shouting ‘COWABUNGA DUDE!’ Sure maybe a bit embarrassing in hindsight, but you know what? I didn’t care; the Ninja Turtles are back!

This ain’t your dad’s Ninja Turtles, yet it’s still loosely connected to the crap we saw in the 80′s and early 90′s. Shredder has been defeated and this has led to a period of down time. This means training for Leonardo and falling to disarray for the rest of the Turtle family. There’s a new power a foot though, and this includes the return of the Foot clan, as well as numerous hairy beasts roaming the city. With a family filled with internal strife the Ninja Turtles head out once again to look into these new strange occurrences and with the help of April O’Neil and Casey Jones, they begin to unravel the source of this newest scourge of evil.

There’s so much I love here in TMNT and once again I’m fighting off my boyish fanboyism. This time around however, I really don’t care. It’s Ninja Turtles! First and foremost for this outing, this turtle adventure actually has a solid plot behind it which really pushes this flick to shine bright in the spring onslaught of animated features. Darker and low on slap stick, we get an engaging story that is both thought provoking and entertaining to boot. A enemy (or maybe not an enemy?) that is a bit more threatening thant the often bungling Shredder of the days of yore. Family strife between two brothers butting heads for power over their clan; one selected by their father to train to be a master, the other fighting with issues of not being chosen by the father and feelings of inadequacy. The once powerful clan now fallen to disarray having to fight off the rust from ages of disuse while trying to fight of a new menace. There’s a real story here folks, and it has its touches of darkness making this an attention grabber for the older folks as well as the kiddies. Yes, the kiddies too as it’s not just darkness and despair. There is a lot of humor as well, but not the heights of slapstick comedy seen in the first three rubber suited outings. Subtle and funny, there are a fair number of jokes spread throughout. This isn’t the Bebop and Rocksteady Turtles from the 80′s animated days either and I think the big guy upstairs for that. This is straight up Eastman and Laird Ninja Turtles, or at least as close as we’ve gotten to the real deal.

The voice acting is top notch here as well. With all four Turtles being voiced by seemingly veteran voice actors, none of them are of the pop star variety cast for name recognition alone. This helps to give each of the turtles a unique personality as opposed to ‘hay, that’s what’s his name from that one movie!’ The rest of the cast spread about them however is recognizable and turn in top notch performances as well. We have Chris Evans of Fantastic Four fame, Sarah Michelle Gellar as April O’Neal, Patrick Stewart who’s voice has a career of it’s own by this point, Ziyi Zhang and even brief appearances from Kevin Smith and Laurence Fishburne as well. All actors performed smoothly and convincingly and helped to push the story telling to new heights.

The final touch to make this flick such an enjoyment is the animation itself. Being all CGI, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and unimpressed these days with the medium, especially since everybody and their brother is spitting it out nowadays. Luckily for us, the CGI in TMNT is done to perfection. Recalling the original turtle designs from the Eastman and Laird days these Turtles may appear slightly different than what you’re used too, with detailed cranked up so high they actually look like passable bipedal tortoises as opposed to the old ‘man in suit!’ fare. With the details of the entire city as well as all of the characters brought to life with the same loving detail, the scenery of TMNT becomes a character unto itself and serves to make us forget we’re watching a cartoon, and not a kick ass turtle wielding a Katana.

There are many things that young kids find amazingly mysterious and cool, among them are Ninja’s and slimy green critters. It’s good to know that after a good 20 years, some things don’t change. TMNT managed to over stimulate my childhood fancies to an extreme degree, and even now a day later writing this review I find myself growing giddy and wanting to drop kick a cube wall all while shouting COWABUNGA DUDE! Surely the wife will draw an end to this as me and my daughter break a lamp rolling around playing ninja turtles, but until that time comes I’ll continue to revel in the fun that this flick brought, and continue to talk about it to anyone that will stand still long enough for me to get the first sentence out. I liked it that much folks, and I truly hope you do as well.

4.5 heroic half shells out of 5


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Sunday, March 11th, 2007 | Author: Jeff Gabbard

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Death Trance is a buddy movie featuring Grave, a kick-ass Samurai, and a simple monk making their way… No that’s not it. Death Trance is a post apocalyptic martial arts fantasy film where… Hmm, still not quite right. Death Trance is a story of Good vs. Evil where the “chosen one” must do battle with the goddess of destruction. Nope not even close. Death Trance is an extended music video set to industrial metal music where break-dancing ninjas fight against… Sigh, however you describe it, Death Trance is one trippy movie and that’s alright by me.

This is the directorial debut of Yuji Shimamura’s and the basic plot revolves around the legend of a coffin. Legend has it that whoever takes this coffin into the forbidden forest will have all their wishes come true. So Grave, the warrior, takes the coffin from its protected temple and makes his way to the forest, fighting all sorts of ninja-mutants along the way. Following along behind the coffin is a cute little girl, but we’ll get back to her later.

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Meanwhile, a naïve monk, the lone survivor of the temple, has been given the task of delivering a special, funky handled sword to Grave. There’s kind of a Japanese – Excalibur thing going on with the sword, because only the “chosen one” will be able to pull it out of its scabbard.

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Along the way, the monk meets Sid, another guy looking for the coffin. Sid sports a silly looking Mohawk, but since Sid is packing some serious heat, no one gives him too much grief about his choice in hair styles. Sid is played by Kentaro Segal. Notice that last name? Yes, this is Steven Segal’s son and guess what? Unlike dad, he can act. There’s a scene where Sid pulls out a bazooka and shoots a heat-seeking missile at a one-eyed Ninja – whoa, you don’t see that everyday!

As our heroes make their way to the forbidden forest they fight all sorts of unusual ninja-mutants. From ninjas with machinegun tonfas, (traditional martial arts baton weapon) to spider ninjas, and zombie ninjas with a thing for big floppy hats, there’s some funky fighting going on in the forest!

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Of course, the story about having all your wishes come true is really just a trick. You see, the coffin is actually home to the dried-up old bones of the goddess of destruction. Eventually the coffin is brought back home to the forbidden forest and the cute little girl climbs inside and out comes the goddess of destruction and as the ever lovin’ Thing used to say, “It’s clobberin’ time!” (Sorry, mixed genres there.)

After beating a not-ready-for-prime time “chosen one”, the goddess ascends into Heaven and starts hacking and slaying with abandon. What we see are angels, with bits and pieces of their wings chopped off, falling out of the sky. Pretty cool. Finally the “chosen one” figures out what he’s supposed to do and pulls the penis-sword out of its scabbard and goes after the goddess. The final fight scene between the “chosen one” and the goddess seems somewhat sexual. “Are you going to kill me with that sword or are you just happy to see me?”

This is a visually interesting and quirky martial arts film. Even though the plot is pretty simple, there is still a lot going on, so pay attention or you just might miss the stop motion “Island of Misfit Toys” little creatures that show up in the forest.

2 ½ tripped out Ninjas out of 5
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Monday, March 05th, 2007 | Author: Jeff Gabbard

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American Shaolin
recounts the author’s experiences as he grows from the proverbial 98 pound weakling to a true Sanda (Chinese kickboxing) warrior, during his two years at Shaolin.

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In 1992, despite his friends’ and parents’ misgivings, Polly takes a leave of absence from his studies at Princeton and, with no idea where Shaolin is, leaves for China.

Upon arriving in China, Polly quickly realizes that the 3 years of Chinese he studied in college has only barely prepared him to speak with the locals and find his way through Chinese society. He also faces the culture shock of dealing with corrupt, if ineffectual, old-school communist officials.

Once he finds the Shaolin monastery, he discovers it to be more of a tourist attraction than the mystical temple he has dreamed about his whole life. Even so, his experiences with his teachers, fellow monks, and the Chinese people are deep and meaningful, transforming him into a physically and spiritually fit adult.

Most of the monks Polly trains with are poor young men from peasant families. Being at Shaolin is not some “spiritual quest” for them so much as it is a way out of the poverty they’ve experienced their whole lives. Much like kids in the US dreaming of becoming the next Kobe Bryant, these kids hope to become the next Jackie Chan or Jet Li.

The interactions between the monks really bring the book to life. Like everyone else, they have hopes and dreams and struggle with the challenges of being young men while trying to live up to the ideal of what a Shaolin monk should be.

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Each of the monks is memorable; there’s the precocious Little Tiger, the noble warrior Dequing, and of course the mighty Monk Dong. (Yes that’s right, Monk Dong.) For the next month, I am going to have the image of Monk Dong putting his junk on a desk and pounding it with his fist to make it “impervious”, engraved on my brain. Thanks, Mr. Polly! Forget all the SPAM emails you get about how to make your “unit” bigger guys. All you need to do is study Iron Crotch KungFu!

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The book culminates with the author’s return visit to Shaolin 10 years after he originally left. On his return visit, Polly sees how much China has changed during his absence. It is a country that has become much more open, and thanks to some capitalist investment, is growing by leaps and bounds. Even the monk culture has changed since he left. The author’s description of watching an elderly peasant man perform during traditional forms competition is quite moving and stirring.

If the book has any shortcomings it is that we are not really told how the author’s life is different when he returns to the states. Is he more focused? More confident? His experiences at Shaolin surely have changed how he sees and interacts with the world around him, but we do not have a complete picture here.

I strongly recommend American Shaolin for any reader who is interested in travel-adventure stories, coming of age stories, martial arts, Midwesterners, or penile enlargement techniques.

Amituofo (May the Buddha bless you)

5 Grasshoppers out of 5

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Saturday, March 03rd, 2007 | Author: Jeff Gabbard

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Inside the UFC is a testosterone-charged TV “news” show hosted by veteran UFC commentator Joe Rogan. The show’s various segments focus on upcoming UFC fights, highlights from recent UFC fights, and interviews with current UFC fighters. Yes, there is a pattern here. The show is 100% focused on the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) world of the UFC franchise. For those of us who also watch Pride and K-1 events, it seems a little one-sided. But considering the UFC pretty much has the MMA market in the US cornered, I guess it is covering most of the bases. Thankfully, Rogan does occasionally ask some insightful questions of his guests, which raises the show above the level of a simple UFC infomercial.

The interviews provide some insight into what drives these fighters to train as hard as they do and what their personal lives outside of the Octagon are like. Unfortunately, we still have to watch some of those irritating pre-fight commercials we see before every UFC PPV event. You know the ones…

UFC 379: The Castration

Fighter 1: “I’m just going to come out there and ya know, go wild. That’s my game plan. Just go wild and punish him with fists, knees, and elbows. He’s going to think his skull is a maraca when I’m done with him.”
Fighter 2: “If he thinks he can just come out there and exert his will on me he’s got another thing coming. I’ve got skills he’s never seen. Trust me, when that bell rings it’s my hand that they’ll be raising.”

After about the 50th time of seeing these commercials I’m screaming at the TV! “I get it. You’re going to beat the crap out of this punk and he says he’s going to beat the crap out of you. But he’s a dumb-ass and doesn’t know what he’s talking about cause he’s never faced a bad-ass like you.” I get it, just bring on the damn fight!

Thankfully, Inside the UFC’s other commercial breaks are much more enjoyable. In fact, a horny teenager…or middle-age guy, for that matter, couldn’t ask for more. 30 Seconds of a Hot Chick is exactly what the name implies. A bikini-clad woman lying on a sofa reading a magazine for 30 seconds. Genius! Pure genius! Or another commercial segment called Because We Can with three bikini-clad women playing twister. Wow, give me more of that, except that at my age I occasionally see one of these girls and think, “Hmmm, she looks a little like my niece. Maybe I shouldn’t be watching this…”

Inside the UFC is by no means a perfect show. Coverage of other combat sports and explanation of common MMA techniques would give the show more depth. As it is, the show doesn’t take itself too seriously and revels in the fact that MMA is one of the fastest growing sports in the US. It is a show and a sport that is now in it’s adolescence and perhaps this “immaturity” is what gives it it’s charm.

3 Octagon Warriors out of 5
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Sunday, February 25th, 2007 | Author: Jeff Gabbard

I have been a life long fan of the martial arts and have practiced various styles off and on for almost 20 years. Starting with this review I will take a look at martial arts themed books, games, TV shows, and movies.

To start things off let’s take a look at a blast from the past, Joe Hyam’s
Zen in the Martial Arts

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The martial arts world has changed a great deal since this book was first published in 1979. Before Tae Bo, Steven Seagal, (BTW, Seagal like Elvis is best when skinny) and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) there was a small book about how studying the martial arts and Zen could transform your life. This is not a book to learn martial arts techniques or even a great deal about Zen. But it serves as a nice introduction to both.

The book’s small size and easy to read chapters make it a very accessible, quick read. Each chapter covers a traditional Zen idea that is then explained through the author’s training and experiences with the powerhouses of the Martial Arts world in the 1970s. Guys like Ed Parker, Bruce Lee, and Bong Soo Han teach Hyam classic Zen concepts like how to “Empty your cup”, “Conquer Haste”, and “Extend your Ki”. Most of these teachings have stood the test of time well, though just having someone tell me how to “un-think pain” is not going to be enough to keep me from shrieking like a 6 year old little girl when the dentist starts drilling into my un-anesthetized tooth.

At it’s best, the book still serves as an example that even in this day of combat based fighting, there is more to the martial arts than simply beating the crap out of someone. The martial arts can indeed by a way to grow as a person, achieve a “sense of self” and a level of spiritual tranquility. But the next time you’re at the dentist, don’t skimp on the Novocain.

4 Kung Fu fighters out of 5
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Upcoming book reviews will cover the young adult fiction series called
The Five Ancestors
by Jeff Stone.

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American Shaolin by Matthew Polly following the true life adventures of a Midwestern kid’s two years at the Shaolin temple.
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Requiem for an Assassin, the latest John Rain “neck-crank” extravaganza, by Barry Eisler.

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Sunday, January 14th, 2007 | Author: Jeff Gabbard

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If you enjoy graphic cartoon violence set to a hip urban beat then you’ll love Afro Samurai. Afro Samurai stars the vocal talents of Samuel L. Jackson and is set in a futuristic, apocalyptic world. It is a feudal society with limited technology and is ruled by a warrior known as “Number One”. Number One rules until he is killed in battle by Number Two. Each warrior wears a ceremonial headband denoting his rank. Number Two must not only strive to fight Number One, but must also take on all the wannabes who want his job.

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The premiere begins with Afro witnessing the death of his father, the current Number One, at the hands (all 3 of them) of Justice, the current Number Two. Justice is voiced by Ron Perlman from Beauty and the Beast. (The TV show, not the Disney movie)

Nice Pussycat
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Q: Justice you just decapitated Number One. What are you going to do now?
A: I’m goin’ to Disney World!
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Justice is a gun toting cowboy who only uses his six-shooters to block Afro senior’s katana blade. I’m not a warrior-god, but it seems like it would be pretty easy for Justice to just shoot Afro Sr., take his headband and call it a day. But for whatever reason he doesn’t do that. The fight culminates with Justice decapitating Afro Sr. (Editorial note: Folks help me out here. If you’ve seen the show please leave a comment as to how Justice manages to decapitate Afro Sr. I have watched this scene frame-by-frame and can not for the life of me figure out how he manages to decapitate Afro Sr. )

Senior’s head lands at Afro junior’s feet. As Justice places the Number One headband around his cowboy hat he tells junior to look him up when he’s old enough to fight for the title. But for now Justice is Number One and is going to hang out on a mountain top and be a god.

The show picks up several years later when Afro is an adult and a fully-trained samurai with only one goal, to avenge his father’s death. He has the title of Number Two and is such a formidable fighter that he even has time for a smoke break while hacking and slaying a gang of bad guys.

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Ninja-Ninja is also voiced by Jackson and serves as Afro’s wise-cracking companion. Ninja always seems to appear just in time to let Afro know that trouble is about to happen. He also acts as Afro’s moral compass. “Oh, man that was off the hook how you cut off all those dude’s heads and all that, but ya know – maybe it’s bad to kill so many people?”

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During his travels Afro stops in for a glass of lemonade, yes lemonade, at Okiku’s bar/restaurant. Okiku is a soft-spoken, gentle spirit in this harsh world and is voiced by the ever hot Kelly Hu.

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While making his way to Justice’s mountain Afro is spied upon by a bunch of cone-headed warrior monks called The Empty 7. The leader of the Empty 7 is known as Brother One. (not to be confused with Number One) Brother One thinks that if he can capture the Number One and Number Two ceremonial headbands he will have the secret to god-hood. Then he can be all cool and sit on a mountain top just like Justice.

Each member of the Empty 7 has their number tattooed on the side of their heads and they bear an uncanny resemblance to Ki-Adi Mundi, the cone headed Jedi from Star Wars. Don’t believe me? Just look below:

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Afro Samurai is based on the Japanese dōjinshi manga series, created by Takashi Okazaki, and airs on Spike TV. The stylized animation is rich and looks great. But I found the story lacking and while the violence was gratuitous, it didn’t do enough to move the plot along. Character names like Number One, Number Two, Brother One, etc. are confusing and uncreative. Naruto on Cartoon Network and Avatar – The Last Airbender on Nickelodeon, are both much better martial arts cartoons.

2 brooding, hip samurais out of 5.
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Thursday, September 14th, 2006 | Author: Jeff Gabbard

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A Martial Arts reality show may seem like a strange topic for Cinema Fromage, but trust me folks…this is one cheesy show!

With the success of Spike TV’s The Ultimate Fighter it was inevitable that other martial arts reality shows would follow.

The Final Fu is MTV2s response. Final Fu puts it’s contestants through various physical challenges and sparring matches to earn points. The contestant with the most points wins and all of our contestants have their eye on the grand prize of $25,000.

One of the big differences between Final Fu and The Ultimate Fighter is that Final Fu focuses on what are known as the “traditional martial arts”. Tae Kwon Do, Karate, and other striking arts that have been around the US for decades. If you are a student of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, MMA or other arts that have become popular since the mid 90’s, this show is not for you.

Final Fu’s sparring matches are low contact and award points for hitting various body targets:
• 1 point for most kicks
• 2 points for punches to the torso as well as more complicated kicks.
• 3 points for jumping/spinning kicks.

Points are deducted for being too aggressive or hitting too hard. That’s right, a fight where you are penalized for hitting too hard. And there is no clinching or ground fighting. MMAers – See, I told ya so!

The matches are designed to help showcase the techniques and skills of the various arts, but more times than not they come across as playground scuffles between 2nd graders. Many fights on the show devolve to the point of having the 2 combatants stand toe-to-toe and literally machine-gun light impact punches at each others torsos in an attempt to rack up points. Has anyone fought like this past elementary school? If this is showcasing the skills of these martial artists then I have just got to get my 9 year old nephew on the show. He’s got that style of punch-fu down and even has a pretty mean shin kick!

Like other reality shows each of the contestants has “confessional” time alone with the camera. A few of the male contestants come across like Napoleon Dynamite describing his skills. “You know, there’s like a butt-load of gangs at this school. This one gang kept wanting me to join because I’m pretty good with a bo staff.” And just like Napoleon they’re living in a fantasy world. While these guys might be champions of low impact point matches, they would be chum to the sharks of the MMA world.

There is still a place in the world for the traditional martial arts and I think some of the challenges show that. While they may seem cheesy these challenges focus on the skills that the traditional martial arts are still arguably better at developing than the newer arts. Self-control, balance, discipline, respect etc. Many of these contestants are very graceful, athletic individuals and those skills were developed by their chosen art.

As someone who has studied martial arts from both worlds I was disappointed with Final Fu. I can’t help but think that a show focused on the traditional martial arts could be made better by focusing more on how these arts have transformed the lives of the participants and not try and prove their effectiveness in combat. We’ve been there done that. It was called UFC 1.

2 Kung Fu Fighters out of 5
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