7 Ways Martial Art has changed in the past 30 Years – Part 1

Everything changes – that’s life!

If change didn’t happen how would we progress? If change didn’t happen we wouldn’t evolve and adapt and have developed all the things we love in the world (and the stuff we hate too) of course, not all change is positive, although very often personal perception can affect how you view change, personally, I love the focus on coffee that’s’ given us, Starbucks, Costa, Cafe Nero and even Coffee machines bringing the world of coffee into your home. I’m not always so keen on fast food on every corner but then the corresponding pace of life and all its modern intrusions, smart phones, laptops, tablets, 24 hour this and that, seem to have forced or even offered the opportunity for the fast food culture to develop in tandem with it. Even my Mom uses emoticons when she texts – taught by here grand-daughters to be a modern communicator!

This got me thinking about how I thought martial art had changed over the years of my involvement. So here, in no particular order, is my list of seven changes, the first one today is;


Modern Films and TV

Today’s modern films are worlds apart from the original genre I grew up with, in my day we flocked to the pictures to see “The One Armed Swordsman”  and many other badly dubbed and high wired acted Chinese actors cramming our heads with confused dialogue hoping to see some awesome martial art along the way. Before that my Dad would talk about Spencer Tracy and his Judo fight in “Bad Day at Black Rock” – yes there is a film called that!, James Cagney was reputedly a Black Belt in Judo, James Caan is a Master of Karate after training for 30 years, Robert Downey Junior practises Wing Chun, as does Christian Bale. Forrest Whittaker practises Kali, Kobe Bryant is a JKD practitioner, Jason Statham is an MMA fan, and Wesley Snipes is a highly ranked martial artist… The list is massive, search the web and see for yourself. that’s without the recognised stars, Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Jason Statham, Jean Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal and of course the legendary Bruce Lee. Most of this information would not be available if we didn’t have the internet for people to share and research.

Some films I liked for their refreshing look at martial art in film – I really liked the way martial art was portrayed in the Bourne films, I thought more subtle as a part of the story but brutally effective and executed with ice cold mentality. I thought Stallone in Rambo was awesome, especially the escape from the jail. Brandon Lee had big shoes to follow after his Dad but did a great job in Rapid Fire.

And I nearly forgot, James Bond films, not as good as Bourne but still looked good as the guy who had better moves and the mentality to execute them….

The films that had an impact on me?


  • Enter the Dragon – Classic!!
  • Fist of Fury – “Why you kill my teacher!!!” dubbed but Bruce lee is great.
  • The Big Boss – didn’t like it – corny martial art for me.
  • Game of Death – destroyed to commercialise it but the 7 levels of the pagoda are stuff of legends!
  • Nico/Hard to Kill/Marked for Death – Seagal at his best
  • Under Siege 1 & 2 – Still good
  • The Bourne films – Great martial art and brutally direct and effective – Kali in action
  • Big Stan  – great send up with Guro Inosanto in it too, plus a load of other martial art names.
  • Ong Bak – awesome fight scenes showcasing South Easy Asian martial arts.
  • Lethal Weapon 1 – Mel Gibson showcases BJJ triangle
  • Rambo – Go Sly!! – escaping the jail was awesome!
  • Rapid Fire – Brandon Lee – a great showcase of JKD related martial art

I’m sure there’s more, post your choices and why they resonate with you!

8 responses to “7 Ways Martial Art has changed in the past 30 Years – Part 1”

  1. My mum has never forgiven Bruce Lee for “killing” Chuck Norris in Way of the Dragon, however the respect of the warrior in that is awesome, as well as the fight scene

  2. I agree that way of the dragon Bruce v Chuck is one of the best fight scenes between two martial artists, I love the fight between Bruce and the guards underground in enter the dragon! even has some double stick!
    I remember watching for the first time as a kid with my dad and at the scene with the nunchuks, that they cut out in later releases. My dad said “this man is a true master” high praise to say the least from my dad.

    Some of my other favourites;

    Blood sport for the range of different martial arts portrayed.

    Kick boxer for the drunk dance scene in the bar, reminds me of rich Wardle!!

    Gladiator especially when he takes on the six gladiators and then throws the sword in to the crowd “Are you not entertained”

    Total recall the original with Arnie, I like the fight scene under the stairs in the shopping mall, always seemed brutal to me!

    More recently what about the raid and raid 2, Wicked!!

  3. My dad was and is a HUGE Bruce Lee fan…even wanted to name my brother after him which my mom was not having!!
    Fist of Fury was my first Bruce Lee film and I was amazed at the fight scene in the dojo where he punished the whole school for the killing of his master – class!
    Big Stan was ace – I want the retro Guro Dan Tshirt 🙂

  4. For me the best fight scene ever would have to be Way of the Dragon Bruce vs Chuck Norris, I also love the fight scenes in Enter the Dragon with Bruce and O’Harra and John Saxon v Bolo ( reminds me of Steve Jones ).
    I had no choice but to watch Enter the Dragon growing up as my dad was obsessed with Bruce Lee !!

    Some other great fights ;

    The blade films with Wesley Snipes some great fight scenes.
    Raid, none stop action !!!
    The last Samurai, I love this film and the way it shows the culture and ethos of the Samurai, the final battle is awesome !
    Troy, the fight between Hector and Achilles was epic.
    Flash point with Donnie Yen was amazing, I love the way he incorporated Brazilian Ju Jitsu and mma, a little unrealistic but great to watch !

    • Yes rich the blade films forgot about them loads of kali in them!
      also the hunted with tommy lee jones lots of kali in that.
      What about the worst fight scenes, the worst I have seen is in star trek the original series with William Shatner in one he fights a lizard man on a desert planet it is rubbish!!

  5. Actually, Donnie Yen in IP MAN was pretty good, although it was heading toward to much flying wire acts.
    What about the TMNT – they’re back and rocking it at the cinema?
    And the fight scenes in the Expendables…

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