“Birth of the Dragon” biopic enrages Bruce Lee fans, buries Asians in favor of a white guy

Bruce Lee (played by rising Hong Kong Kung Fu star Philip Ng), the legendary martial arts icon who changed the world, is depicted as a one-dimensional, asexual, awkward loser who is jealous of the white guy in his own biographical film. A biographical film about BRUCE LEE. Wow. What a disaster.

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Philip Ng

The white guy¬†– Steve McKee – is supposed to be the main character of the film and central to the story… um, yeah right. We don’t know who that is, and neither do we know who the actor who plays him is (Billy Magnussen… who?), but you know what, he’s white, so that must make him extremely important and vital to the story in Bruce Lee’s life, right?!

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I don’t know who this man is, but apparently he’s more famous than Bruce Lee.

We purposely did not include a link to the film’s trailer in this article, because we refuse to give the trailer any more hits. If you wish, you can find it on YouTube.

Click here to read a mainstream review of Birth of the Dragon written by Yahoo.

From our understanding, Birth of the Dragon is supposed to be¬†a film about¬†Bruce Lee’s earlier years in America and his fight with Kung Fu master Wong Jack Man – who changed him forever and set him along the path of inventing Jeet Kune Do and the philosophies behind MMA…¬†or is it just another clich√©d White Savior Trope film where a “down on his luck loser” learns Kung Fu and¬†saves the world (including¬†the Asian girl)?

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We’ve never seen this story told before… right?

What the people are saying:

Let’s see the user written reviews on IMDb. The responses are not pretty. If you’re not comfortable with honest discussions about¬†race, look away! You have been warned.

“This is just a fictional story about a white guy who masters Kung Fu and gets the Chinese woman.” – ridgepoor

In real life, Bruce Lee ended up marrying a white girl. He was discriminated by many white men and had to work hard to be a superstar. You went to Princeton University, don’t you think that you should have done some research about this character first? Didn’t they teach you to be critical? This isn’t a movie about Bruce Lee, this is a movie about your racist imagination. WHAT IS WRONG WITH MAKING AN ASIAN GUY BECOME THE LEAD ACTOR IN A MOVIE? Enough is enough, we Asians are already sick of the whole whitewashing thing.

“This is the biopic of some random white guy that you’ve been not waiting for.” – ticklegear

Is this a joke? I am here to see Bruce Lee and but they put the focus on some white guy, Steve McKee (Billy Magnussen).¬†I got nothing against white guys, but what is he doing as the focus of a Bruce Lee biopic? I noticed a very disturbing pattern in Hollywood. They can’t seem to be happy with Asian men in the lead role even in their own biopic.¬†You may think I am kidding but look at all the ways they’ve whitewashed history eg. The Conqueror – Genghis Khan played by John Wayne, Attila The Hun starring the guy from 300.¬†Is it a coincidence that kulturemedia (search it) has a database of this sort of thing? But that’s just the beginning. Instead of celebrating what a beast Bruce Lee is, they make him out to be some insecure and jealous loser who is butt hurt over Steve McKee’s success (in the film that is). Seems more like a character assassination, rather than a biopic.¬†There’s the whole “hostility to the fact that Lee’s students include Caucasians.” This is very one sided because it doesn’t account for the century of rampant racism and war crimes committed by Caucasians against the Chinese including the opium wars holocaust, eight nation alliance, and the stealing of Hong Kong and Macau. None of that is mentioned.¬†All in all, this is a terrible film. I would not recommend it for Bruce Lee fans as it tarnishes his true history with half baked lies and even focuses on some Caucasian instead.¬†Feels like it was the director who was jealous of Bruce Lee’s success.

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George Nolfi – the director of the white savior film Birth of the Dragon, and Matt Damon, starring in the upcoming white savior film The Great Wall. Coincidence?

“This film seriously offends me.” – chrisleeisworking

I wanted to throw my popcorn at the screen!! This is cash grab garbage, crock of shit. The director has turned Bruce Lee into a caricature. This is spitting on the memory of Bruce Lee. As a loyal fan of Bruce Lee and as an Asian, this film seriously offends me. ENOUGH! We in the Asian communities will make sure this film earns ZERO dollars. The script is shockingly dull and absurd, the fight scenes aren’t exceptional, the stunt guy who plays Bruce Lee captures zero essence of Bruce Lee, his acting pure ham. The director should go back to writing to spare us further torture. BIRTH OF THE¬†DRAGON is NOT sanctioned by the Lee family!

“Oh no please no.” – chrisli

Bruce Lee would impart political themes in his films. If you ever watch his Hong Kong movies in original Cantonese language, the script is full of political fighting talk. Its another reason why the people of Hong Kong loved him so much, or the Chinese in general. His characters he played in those films were real heroic figures for the people at the time. No wonder this film didn’t get the blessing of the Bruce Lee foundation / family.¬†I¬†hope the Chinese investors realize this, that they could have had a really great project…but no.

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Bruce Lee’s would-be reaction to this disaster of a film, if he was still alive today.

“Hollywood racism galore.” – bawlife

Film reduces Bruce Lee into a side character in his own story to force a white guy into the lead. Why is the main focus of the trailer on this silly white American dude? Asian males can never take the lead role. Only the side kick even in their own movie. It is disgusting. White people, would it kill you to stop inserting yourselves into everything?¬†And of course the white guy is dating the Asian girl. Can you stop socially engineering Asian girls to only see white guys as the acceptable dating partner? Stop shoving this down our throat. A white guy kisses an Asian girl. Every movie. It’s like they want to brainwash us that Asian girls belong to white men. This turns into a sickening Asian fetish in real life.

“I never write reviews for anything, but this time I absolutely had to.” – nightmarephoenix

I never write reviews for anything, but this time I absolutely had to. THIS IS NOT A FILM. IT’S ANTI-ASIAN PROPAGANDA. Yellow Peril, 2016 version.¬†This entire film is a carefully hidden propaganda piece that portrays Lee as some asexual, angry, Kung Fu loser who accomplishes nothing.¬†Meanwhile, a white guy actually stars as the main character of the movie, gets the (Asian) girl, and wins the day.¬†What? What just happened? A film about Bruce Lee that ISN’T actually about Bruce? This propaganda piece focuses on stereotyping, dehumanizing, and denigrating Asians and Asian culture.¬†Of course, that’s no surprise. If you Google ‘kulture media’ , you’ll find a bunch more examples where western media wages war against Asians in this century. Highly recommend people to avoid this film, and watch “The Slanted Screen” documentary instead.

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Bruce Lee curses the film makers for attempting to destroy his legacy with this garbage.

“A disrespectful appropriation of Bruce Lee.” – consciouskendrik

Hollywood is racist. This movie disrespects the legacy of Bruce Lee. I highly recommend everyone to boycott this movie. The movie serves to perpetuate negative stereotypes regarding Asian women, men, and the culture. ¬†It’s perspective forces the viewer to indulge in racism against people of color. The racism is very subversive and is spread by more than just one movie. Movies like these are bountiful in Hollywood (denigrating Asian culture).¬†I noticed a very disturbing pattern in Hollywood. They do not want Asian men in the lead role even in their own biopic.

“Trash.” – udemypreview

I wanted to watch a movie about the legend Bruce Lee. Not another white washed movie deleting / altering / hiding his history and again disrespecting Asians with another White Male Asian Female love interest. Truth is movies spread lies and it hurts societies. In this case, Asian men. The lies that Hollywood continues to spread must be stopped. You are creating racists with everyone who watches it. Bruce Lee is a legend and you are trying your best to take everything away from him and his people. When will it end?

“Hollywood trash.” – victorspam

Hollywood social engineering trash. Again with the white man save the world trope. This movie is so clich√©. Even Bruce Lee is sidelined to make way for a white guy. Of course, the white guy gets the Asian girl, while the Asian guys are sexless martial artists.¬†Hollywood is still overwhelmingly white and Jewish male dominated. All black, Hispanic, and Asians, whose stories are never told, should stop watching and getting brainwashed. While white people only see fear in black, Hispanic,and Asian.¬†There is an empathy gap. This is because non-white watch movies with white leads, but white only watch non-white leads when it’s Denzel or Will Smith. You will never see a random non-white actor as lead. The simple fact that whites don’t empathize with non-white is because they can’t bear watching something when they are not the main focus.¬†Please don’t watch this trash and give money to these studios. I’m getting to the point that I’m sick of seeing white people on screen. I will hand out boycott cards to movie goers at movies like this.

Anti-Asian propaganda?

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Ken Jeong,¬†another sellout “comedian” who¬†perpetuates racist Asian stereotypes¬†for his own personal gain as an actor¬†at the expense of Asians.

A few users mentioned¬†a media database that captures more examples of Hollywood Anti-Asian racism in their media¬†–¬†Kulture Media.

Well, we didn’t need to look at a site like Kulture Media to know about the white washing of Asian stories and general anti-Asian propaganda that was, is, and continues to be perpetuated by Hollywood / America for the better part of a century.

All we need to do is open our eyes (pun intended) and look at the movies that get made (and exported worldwide) at the expense of Asians (especially Asian men):

  • Ghost In The Shell (main character Motoko Kusanagi¬†is white washed and played by Scarlett Johansson)
  • Aloha (Allison Ng, a Chinese character is played by Emma Stone)
  • 21 (real life story of Asian MIT students are replaced with white actors)
  • Romeo Must Die (Romeo and Juliet story except Jet Li doesn‚Äôt even kiss Aaliyah)
  • The Forbidden Kingdom (only a white guy who learns Kung Fu can save China and the Asian girl from evil)
  • Outcast¬†(white Crusaders come and save¬†China and the Asian girl from an evil Chinese prince)
  • The Wolverine (every Asian guy is useless and dies, while Wolverine saves¬†all the¬†Asian women, uses them for sex, but goes back home to a white girl he actually¬†loves)
  • Full Metal Jacket (“me so horny me love you long time”)
  • The Last Airbender (all the ethnic heroes are replaced with white people, but the villains remain ethnic)
  • The Man With The Iron Fists (all Asian women are sexualized whores)
  • The Last Samurai (a white guy goes to Japan, kills your brother in law, sleeps with your sister, and beats your best friend in a sword fight after only training for a few months, and saves Japan)
  • 47 Ronin (only a mixed Asian born from a white father can save the princess, the other 47 ronin are apparently useless)
  • Red Dawn (Chinese are evil, but they actually watch Hollywood movies so let‚Äôs make them North Korean instead)
  • Dragonball Evolution (Let‚Äôs make Goku a white guy but keep the Asian girl in it)
  • Pacific Rim (only a white guy can save the world and protect those poor helpless Asians¬†–¬†Asian guys are useless and they die. Even though the Asian girl is portrayed as somewhat strong (only after guidance from non-Asian men), it is still comes at the expense of Asian men, who are easily beat down by the white guy)
  • Iron Man 3 (The Mandarin is a wimp instead of a bad ass villain)
  • The Hangover (Asian penis jokes in the 21st century, how mature)
  • Sixteen Candles (Long Duk Dong, the emasculated Asian nerd who is the laughing stock of his whole generation)
  • Breakfast At Tiffany’s (that old bucktoothed angry Asian man played in yellowface)
  • Entourage (Lloyd, the gay fat comedic Asian)
  • 2 Broke Girls (Matthew Moy, another fat Asian nerd foreigner character)
  • Make It Pop (3 Asian girls with 1 white guy in a kid’s TV show about Korean pop, it’s for the kids!)
  • The Interview (white guys go to poor Asian country to make fun of / kill Asian guys while having sex with Asian women, while the supreme leader of North Korea is actually another emasculated idiot who secretly dreams of being American but is also useless and dies)
  • The Great Wall¬†(China gets The Last Samurai treatment, starring Matt Damon)
  • No Escape (white family moves to Thailand, realizes some Asians are terrorists, proceeds to escape the country while using poor local Asians as meat shields)
  • Star Trek: Beyond (The character of Sulu played by John Cho has recently been turned gay, even though the original actor who played Sulu and LGBTQ activist¬†George Takei protested against¬†turning his character¬†gay)

…and the list goes on and on.¬†There are many more examples, but you get the point.

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Bruce Lee sees your bullshit, and he ain’t impressed.

Now, contrast the premise of Birth of the Dragon with the biopic Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story made just a few decades earlier:

In this film clip, Bruce Lee (played by Jason Scott Lee) is upset¬†to see Asians portrayed so negatively¬†in movies such as Breakfast at Tiffany’s. His white girlfriend realizes how messed up this is, and asks to leave the theatre with Bruce.

Boy, now that is a world of a difference.

Hollywood tells us that only white people matter.

In today’s trend (or maybe it’s always been like this) of film making and storytelling, society is¬†brainwashed to think Asians can never be leaders or important because it always takes a “white male protagonist” in order to “get the audience to relate to him” because he’s white.¬†The same old “it would be a box office disaster if an Asian was the lead actor” excuse made by Hollywood film studios and producers.

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You can relate with Marco Polo…

This same tired formula / plot device is used for shows on Netflix like Marco Polo and Narcos, where instead of focusing on a foreign person whether Mongolian or Colombian as the central character, it has to be told through the lens of a white person. Does it really help the storytelling? Or is it more of a hindrance?

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You can relate with an American DEA agent…
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… and you can relate with me, even though I’m just generated by a computer…

Gee, last time I checked, white people could relate with animated Disney / Pixar characters and CGI blue skinned aliens just fine.

But relating to *gasp*…¬†Asians? No way! Impossible! Asians aren’t human, they don’t speak American, they should all go back to China!¬†Ching chong! Am I doing it right?

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You can’t relate with the greatest martial artist of all time just because I’m Asian? How cute.

Did we forget that in the 90’s, films like Mortal Kombat starred Asians without white washing them / putting the focus on a random white guy?

And they did just fine at the box office!

Sure, the films were campy classics, but fans loved it because they at least stayed faithful to the source material. Birth of the Dragon, it is not.

And who comes out as the losers here? The actor who played Bruce Lee, and all of Bruce Lee’s fans.

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Philip Ng, wearing Dynasty’s Kung Fu Master Rash Guard, gets buried by the film makers in his Hollywood¬†film debut.

We can’t fault Philip Ng for taking on a once in a lifetime opportunity to portray Bruce Lee (let’s be honest, any Kung Fu actor who comes after Bruce Lee is going to live in Bruce’s shadow, as Jackie Chan, Jet Li, and Donnie Yen have all been pressured to take on roles that resembled Bruce Lee) in his Hollywood debut, but to Bruce Lee’s credit, back in his day he never took on demeaning roles in Hollywood, and outright refused them.

We don’t know how Philip Ng’s career will turn out after this film (we wish him the best), but it wouldn’t be incorrect to assume that no one watching this exploitative film will give him another chance for¬†another role in America – and it’s not his fault. The fault lies with the film makers.

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When Bruce Lee’s own television script Kung Fu¬†was stolen by Warner Bros. and subsequently white washed by David Carradine (who would have been a nobody without Bruce Lee), he flew back to Hong Kong to make his own films that showed the world he could be a true leading man, and not a sidekick.¬†Similarly, we now have an unknown white actor Billy Magnussen, piggybacking off of Bruce Lee’s legacy in order to gain fame for himself with Birth of the Dragon.

Hollywood loves to steal ideas and appropriate culture from other people, replace them with white actors, dismiss the original creators, and take the glory and credit. It is history repeated again.

Remembering the real Bruce Lee

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Bruce Lee and wife Linda Lee.

It’s obvious to us that Hollywood is trying extra hard these days to omit or belittle¬†Asians in the media. We’re just shocked to find that they would dare¬†try to erase the accomplishments of the¬†legendary Bruce Lee¬†and what he represented¬†– strong Asian masculinity and sexuality –¬†effectively trying to erase prominent Asian¬†heroic figures¬†off the face of popular culture altogether.

Maybe it has to do with the economic rise and threat of China, but for whatever reason, Hollywood is ramping up its anti-Asian propaganda campaign, further regulating us to sidekicks, nerds, geeks, and emasculated asexuals, even in our own biographical pictures, promoting a revisionist history of Asians (and engineering our society as a result).

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If you need a refresher on who Bruce Lee was, just read the many articles about him online, his many fantastic ground breaking martial arts films, and the many documentaries done on him. We won’t attempt to recap that here.

Bruce Lee however, was anything but an emasculated, asexual geek. He defied the odds, rebelled from traditional norms and mainstream society, and carved out his own legacy that not only inspired millions of people around the world – he was a symbol for Chinese and Asian pride.

We should remember the real legacy of Bruce Lee, and not the sidekick freak show version fabricated by Hollywood today.

– DynastyClothingStore.com

 

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Cultural Appropriation in BJJ / MMA Products and Why They’re Offensive to Asians

It’s Chinese / Lunar New Year again – and here at Dynasty we are going to give fans¬†another juicy write up¬†in the world of BJJ / MMA, from an authentic Asian perspective. Sit back and relax friends, because you know we’re not ones to pull punches – when we go in, we go in.

What is cultural appropriation?

From Wikipedia:

Cultural appropriation is the adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of a different culture.¬†Cultural appropriation is often controversial, as the use of elements of a minority culture by a cultural majority are often seen as wrongfully oppressing the minority culture or stripping it of its group identity or intellectual property rights.¬†This view of cultural appropriation is sometimes termed “cultural misappropriation.” According to proponents of the concept, cultural misappropriation differs from acculturation or¬†assimilation in that the “appropriation” or “misappropriation” refers to the adoption of these cultural elements in a colonial manner: elements are copied from a minority culture by members of the dominant culture, and these elements are used outside of their original cultural context‚ÄĒsometimes even against the expressed, stated wishes of representatives of the originating culture.
Often, the original meaning of these cultural elements is lost or distorted, which means that these uses can be viewed as disrespectful by members of the originating culture, or even as a form of desecration. Cultural elements which may have deep meaning to the original culture can be reduced to “exotic” fashion by those from the dominant culture.¬†When this is done, the imitator, “who does not experience that oppression is able to ‘play,’ temporarily, an ‘exotic’ other, without experiencing any of the daily discriminations faced by other cultures.”

Seeing how many martial arts practiced today originated in Asia and the level of popularity that Asian martial arts enjoy in the west – wrongly designed gear with Asian themes or misappropriation¬†happens more often than one¬†may think. Especially, when we take into account that Asians only make up about 10% of the total population in North America (yet¬†make up 60% of the world’s population), no one is really around to correct others when wrong elements¬†come up¬†in the west.

At best, these designs of “cultural misappropriation” are¬†factually / historically¬†incorrect¬†or just unimaginative in design.¬†At worst, they are highly offensive / blasphemous, containing hurtful imagery that digs deep into besmirching Asian culture, customs, and history¬†–¬†depending on who you’re asking.

For the purpose of this article – we’ve picked out a few¬†designs from the internet¬†and assembled a panel of judges to give us their¬†thoughts.¬†The¬†judges¬†are:

Danny

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Biography:
Born in Hong Kong and raised in Canada. Artist and film maker. Over 15 years of martial arts experience with different disciplines including Goju-Ryu Karate (black belt), Olympic style Taekwondo (black belt), Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (blue belt), Muay Thai (2014 WAKO K-1 Nationals Silver Medalist), Wing Chun Kung Fu, and MMA.

Danny says:
If you talk to people who know me, they’ll often say I’m the type of guy that’s “East meets West” – I possess the unique ability to look at something from both an eastern perspective as I was born /¬†lived in Hong Kong, and a western one, having been raised in Canada and having traveled around the world. I’m also very well versed in films and world history. I’ll be commenting on the cultural and historical meanings of most of the designs I come across from a Chinese perspective, and¬†give you my genuine reaction. Then, I’ll be explaining how designs often neglect the true meaning or significance from Asian culture, and how that may be offensive to others.

Kenji

Kenji

Biography:
Japanese American born and raised in Los Angeles, California. Earned degrees in Psychology and East Asian studies, and is currently working as a therapist reaching out to under-served populations and improving race relations. He possesses over 15 years martial arts experience including Hapkido, Taekwondo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, and is an active competitor in the black belt division in both regional and international karate tournaments.

Kenji says:
I’m all about diversity and representation, but I believe the missing key is how accurately a particular culture is portrayed and by whom. In the case of Asian culture, it is frequently the case that it is being represented by non-Asian companies through western sensibilities and unfortunately, often inaccurately. We cannot come to a place of genuine understanding and cultural awareness if misrepresented images of said culture are more prevalent and influential than the actual culture itself.

Oliver

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Biography:
Born in Myanmar, raised in Taiwan and grew up in the United States of America. Mechanical Engineer with a passion for the creative fields. Trains Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (purple belt).

Oliver says:
This is not a review of any of the products, I‚Äôm commenting strictly on the cultural elements of the design. I was born in Myanmar but ethnically I‚Äôm Han Chinese mixed with some ethnic Karen from my grandmother‚Äôs side. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is one of my passions and I love seeing cool designs on BJJ gear. I‚Äôm also a fan of studying history and understanding different cultures. As such, we must respect the fact that the roots of Jiu-Jitsu came from Japan. While it‚Äôs cool to see different Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gi’s and rash guards paying homage to the Japanese roots of our sports, some of these were done without a full understanding of what the design elements mean. It is especially an issue in the west where Japanese influences seem to dominate over cultural understandings of other Asian cultures. That is what I‚Äôll be commenting on.

Now that you’ve gotten to know our judges and the wide array of perspectives they’ll be bringing, let’s get started, shall we?

“Samurai Panda”

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Danny comments:

When I first saw this I thought to myself: “Really?” There are several things offensive about this design.¬†Firstly, the panda is China’s national treasure. It’s the official animal of¬†China.¬†Secondly, given what the panda represents, you¬†put him in some Japanese clothing and call him a “samurai”. Wow. Like, it could’ve been a Kung Fu panda, a panda monk, a panda warrior… but you chose a samurai panda. How unimaginative, and culturally insensitive.¬†Thirdly, there’s a gigantic sun at the back… which represents… Japan. Given the troubling history between China and Japan (oh¬†you know, just mass genocide from The Rape of Nanking, biological warfare and chemical experimentation from Unit 731, and the forced systematic sexual slavery euphemized as “comfort women” all by those fine folks known as the Imperial Japanese Army)… this is unacceptable.¬†Some people have commented that “Hey it could be a panda on a journey to Japan to become a samurai…”¬†hmm yeah I think that’s giving the designers a bit¬†too much credit. It’s kind of like taking the American eagle and¬†putting a Russian¬†flag behind it – I think people would laugh.¬†Great thinking, TATAMI.

Kenji comments:

This ‚ÄúSamurai Panda‚ÄĚ rash guard from TATAMI is simply silly, mixing in¬†oriental things that have Asian associations but no real martial arts connection or meaning. In addition,¬†pandas are more closely associated with Chinese culture, while samurai are Japanese. This design¬†was most likely attempting to play off the popularity of the children‚Äôs movie ‚ÄúKung Fu Panda‚ÄĚ, but represents the widespread tendency for MMA¬†apparel companies to mix up and combine random Asian stereotypes from various cultures without respect for the martial arts or accurate portrayal of said Asian cultures.

Oliver comments:

This was bothering. This can be highly offensive, and the absurdity of a panda being a samurai makes me think the designer has no clue about East Asian cultures, or just does not care at all. I’m sure China would like to think of itself as a fierce dragon rather than a panda but regardless, having a national animal of a country dressed up as the warrior of another shows either a lack of knowledge or insensitivity, or both. Imagine the American bald eagle dressed up as a zulu warrior or a Russian bear dressed up as a Norwegian viking, actually that last one sounds pretty cool, but it is still silly. A Chinese panda dressed as a samurai is just as silly.

“Bushido”

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Danny comments:

This… is just horribly laughably bad. First of all what’s “bushido” got to do with this? MMA brands keep putting the word “bushido” out there on every product but do they know what it means?¬†It’s crazy. I remember there was an Affliction shirt made for former UFC Fighter Chris Leben that said “bushido”.

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“Bushido” means “way of the warrior” – as in the samurai warrior code, as in the eight virtues of “bushido”: Righteousness, Courage, Benevolence, Respect, Sincerity, Honor, Loyalty, and Self Control.¬†You’re trying to tell me¬†an alcoholic, drug abusing, convicted felon for DUI¬†somehow represents¬†“bushido”?¬†I’m sorry, but¬†Chris Leben does not exemplify the martial arts warrior code. He may be a “warrior” because he goes out there and “bangs bro!”… but he is not a martial artist and he certainly doesn’t represent those values. A guy like Georges St-Pierre or Lyoto Machida exemplifies “bushido”¬†more than Chris Leben.

Back on topic, Ground Game was¬†trying to go for the Yakuza tattoo look and they barely even scratched the surface of getting it right. It looks like a really poor rip-off of¬†Dynasty‘s concept.¬†Dynasty got it right with their Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon design, which is the only design I’ve seen so far that goes for the full body Yakuza type¬†tattoo look.

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Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon from Dynasty

Kenji comments:

This ‚ÄúBushido‚ÄĚ rash guard from Ground Game is not only a low quality, inferior, commercialized portrayal of the technique and rich history of irezumi, traditional Japanese tattooing, from aesthetic design standards, but titling the item ‚ÄúYakuza Edition‚ÄĚ is just as absurd as a Caucasian designer marketing a hoodie that says ‚Äú100 % Crip 4¬†Lyfe‚ÄĚ in poorly drawn graffiti lettering and selling it in Beverly Hills.¬†Artistically it does not do irezumi justice, it does not accurately represent Japanese tattoo culture, and it glorifies Japanese Yakuza as fictional fantasy characters that the wearer can pretend to identify with by purchasing the product. I dare anyone that purchases this to walk around real Yakuza in Japan and see the response they get; I doubt it is positive.

“Imanari T-Shirt”

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Danny comments:

I’m like, 99% sure those hand gesture signs mean “f*ck you” in Chinese culture, especially in mainland China. The middle finger is a more prominent gesture, but we know what the thumb gesture¬†means.

In a¬†1993 Hong Kong comedy / drama¬†film¬†“He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Father”¬†starring Hong Kong actors Tony Leung Chiu Wai and Tony Leung Ka Fai,¬†in one particular scene, they had to introduce themselves to a pair¬†of guests who asked them of their education background. After the guests introduced themselves as hailing from “Cambridge University” (in an obvious attempt to show off), the two Tony’s had to one up them in return and tell them they came from “Fukien University” (Fujian, China), which also phonetically translates to “F*cking U”.

Then they proceed to do the aforementioned “f*ck you” hand gesture.

Scene starts at 36:54

I guess in Japan this hand gesture must mean something else, haha.

Kenji comments:

I am not sure how I feel about the Imanari t-shirt because generally speaking, what separates the apparel brand Scramble from some of the aforementioned brands is that they actually do their research and are interested in the accuracy of their designs. In addition to actually researching their designs, they collaborate and consult with the actual source, such as their work with Kazushi Sakuraba. The act of consulting ‚Äď asking permission from the culture you are trying to represent ‚Äď is a significant difference than taking and misrepresenting a culture.

When I was in Japan however, the hand signal on this t-shirt stood as a sign for¬†‚Äúsex‚Ä̬†– haha.

Oliver comments:

I’m okay with this, don’t know much about it but I believe that’s a thing Imanari does. He had some of the nastiest heel hooks and foot locks in the game when he was in his prime. As to what the hands mean, I have no idea.

“Mike Fowler Yamato Damashii gi’s”

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Kenji comments:

In terms of Mike Fowler wearing the “Yamato Damaishii”¬†(Japanese Spirit) gi, I‚Äôm assuming it‚Äôs due to him being friends with Enson Inoue and walking the 900 mile temple pilgrimage around Japan. If he decided to start saying he represented “Yamato Damaishii” on his own I would definitely criticize him as completely out of his mind, but this seems to be a case of “earning street cred”. I know the phrase “Yamato Damaishii” can be taken seriously by people in Japan and was once told I was not allowed to say it even in casual conversation because I was Japanese American, not born in Japan.

“Nine Lives”

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Danny comments:

Originated from Japan although popular in Chinese culture, the “jeiu¬†choi mao” or “zhao cai mao”¬†śčõŤ≤°Ť≤ď (fortune cat) can be commonly seen in stores and shops as a sort of good luck charm, to bring in more business. It is meant to be placed facing forward (outside), so the cat “claws” money into the shop or place of business. If placed backwards, it is wrong, and “claws” money out of the shop instead. I guess having a fortune cat as the mascot for this brand makes sense as they want your money hehe. It’s a curious choice, as the cat¬†represents money / fortune, but it isn’t offensive per se. Maybe it’s an Asian version of the Lucky Gi? Haha.

Kenji comments:

Hmmm I’d say it’s a little silly since the company appears to use the maneki-neko beckoning cat because it’s named “Nine Lives”, but the belief that cats have 9 lives is (to the best of my knowledge) from an old English proverb and only a western belief, so anyone from Japan wouldn’t get the connection or the point of why the cat is there. I don’t find it offensive, but definitely something gets lost in the translation.¬†Like a joke, pun, or cultural reference that only makes sense in one place but not the other.

“Wu-Tang Shaolin Killa Bee”

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Danny comments:

This design was totally ruined because the red rays of light look exactly like the Imperial Japanese “Rising Sun” flag (more on that later). The product name is also a little confusing, as the real life Wu-Tang and Shaolin clans were historically enemies, they can’t really be together. I’ll just assume it’s the Wu-Tang from New York City who originated from Staten Island (Shaolin)… haha.

Kenji comments:

As much as I love the Wu-Tang Clan as a musical group, this gi looks like it¬†uses the controversial “Rising Sun” flag of Japan. The characters of the Five Deadly Venoms are also on this design, and they’re of Chinese origin, which the “Rising Sun” flag just doesn’t mix well with.

And all of those ridiculous “Rising Sun” designs…

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Hayabusa with their “controversial” – no¬†scratch that – downright offensive “Rising Sun” flag gi design that is a spit in the face to all Asians. Come on Georges, we thought you were better than that.

Danny comments:

It seems like beating a dead horse at this point, but let me make this clear¬†once and for all: THE RISING SUN FLAG DESIGN IS NOT JUST THE “NAVAL ENSIGN” OF JAPAN, IT IS THE IMPERIAL JAPANESE ARMY WAR TIME FLAG AND IT IS NOT OKAY!!! Whew. I’ve made posts on Sherdog about this and most people just brushed it off like it was nothing, and¬†attributed it to¬†those “Asians” overreacting again. Well – all I got to say about that is imagine someone wearing the¬†Nazi Swastika and walking¬†into Israel, or around Europe for that matter. The flag represents the war time atrocities committed by the Imperial Japanese Army.

Oliver comments:

This is highly offensive. The rising sun flag is seen as a symbol of WWII Japanese militarism and aggression. It is akin to the Nazi swastika in Asia. The fact it isn‚Äôt a social taboo to display the rising sun flag in the west shows a clear historic bias to the victims of Japanese militarism as opposed to the victims of Nazi Germany. I believe even¬†“The Korean Zombie”¬†made comments about GSP coming out to the rising sun gi and headband. Now imagine a gi with a swastika on it and you can see why this design would be offensive.

Kenji comments:

In 2013, UFC fighter “The Korean Zombie”¬†Chan Sung Jung criticized then-champion Georges St-Pierre for walking out to his fight at UFC 158 wearing a gi that was decorated with the Japanese “Rising Sun” design. Now it may be debated whether the Japanese “Rising Sun” design is intrinsically offensive due to its connection to the horrible war crimes committed by Japan during its time of invasion and occupation, but the underlying issue is that the company creating the gi (HAYABUSA) and the fighter wearing it did not know the meaning of the symbol being promoted and portrayed by wearing the product. Rather than understanding the historical significance of the design and symbols, they created a gi that “looked cool”¬†because of its “Asian-ness”. This is exactly where the issue of cultural appropriation comes into play and needs to be addressed.

Kenji’s conclusion on cultural appropriation and “Orientalism”:

hrIt is problematic for companies to create products for the superficial reason of a design “looking Asian”¬†for multiple reasons. In the case of the rising sun, an image or symbol may have specific historical meaning that may be offensive or disrespectful to a particular group of people. In this case, it is simply irresponsible to create a design without understanding the meaning of the symbols and images being used.

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Similar controversies could be seen in apparel companies Hoelzer Reich and Silver Star‚Äôs use of the ‚ÄúIron Cross‚ÄĚ, ‚ÄúPrussian Helmet‚ÄĚ, ‚ÄúSS” logo and other German military symbols evoking Nazi imagery, and more recently Reebok‚Äôs infamous ‚Äúdesign error‚ÄĚ releasing a shirt cutting out the six countries of Northern Ireland with the tagline ‚Äúshow your territorial allegiance‚ÄĚ.

reebok-ufc-ireland

While these other controversies made headlines and appear easy to understand why they were offensive and incorrect, why is it that apparel companies continue to produce designs featuring controversial or incorrect Asian designs?

It is impossible to answer this question without a discussion on the meaning of “Orientalism”.

“Orientalism” is a term derived from Edward Said‚Äôs historic book Orientalism (1978) describing not an accurate representation of Asian culture, but rather an exaggerated and often incorrect fantasy of the fictional “Orient”¬†as seen from a Western perspective and skewed by self-serving intentions.

It becomes problematic when viewing a different culture from your own perspective becomes more important, influential, or widespread than an actual, accurate view of the culture. This allows for the superficial appearance of symbols (such as the Rising Sun design) to be more important than the actual historical and cultural significance.

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Orientalism and exaggerated Asian fantasies allow for loose and incorrect associations for all things Asian, such as the mindset that ‚ÄúI do Karate (or insert martial art), Karate is Japanese, so therefore I am closer to understanding and being Japanese because I do Karate‚ÄĚ. And additionally, ‚Äúbecause I understand and am more Japanese, I have the right to wear the Rising Sun flag‚ÄĚ. This is as absurd as someone believing that listening to hip hop music or wearing a particular clothing style made them any more African-American.

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Often, MMA¬†apparel brands are not only selling the image or design, but its “Oriental Asian-ness”. It is the same underlying principle of non-Asians tattooing random kanji characters on their body such as ‚ÄúStrength‚ÄĚ or ‚ÄúWisdom‚ÄĚ. The meaning is just a loose association or general idea, but the visual effect is ‚ÄúLook at this big exotic mysterious Asian thing”!

The allure of Asian culture as seen as an exotic fantasy land and not an actual place with real people with real history allows the viewer to erase culture and rewrite as they see fit. This allows for gross inaccuracies and the mixing of many different Asian cultures into one Oriental fantasy, treating all Asians as if they were the same. Examples of this can be mixing Ninja and Samurai (Japan) with Kung Fu or Shaolin monks (China), or simply throwing in random items or objects that have a stereotypical Asian association such as bamboo, lanterns, dragons, waves, etc.

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Sadly, when companies try to sell Asian-ness on their Oriental products as a look or as a trend, they fail to respect or acknowledge the fact that images and designs represent actual real people from an actual place and culture. Just wearing clothing doesn‚Äôt make you automatically into a yakuza, a samurai warrior, a ninja, or a shaolin monk – and it is important to understand that the figures and symbols being approximated are real cultural figures. It may be fun to fantasize about pretending to be one of these identities, however respect should be had in understanding that the figures being portrayed share a rich cultural history with bloodlines, lineage, traditions, rites of passage, and social class. So don‚Äôt wear it just to look ‚Äúcool‚ÄĚ or ‚Äúbad ass‚ÄĚ, but understand the historic undertakings involved.

Just as it is no longer acceptable for musicians like Katy Perry or Madonna to dress up as an “Asian Geisha” (hint: there’s no such thing as an Asian geisha), or people dressing up as a Native American with feathers in their hair for Halloween, careful consideration should be had when people are wearing or designing clothing attempting to represent Asian culture.

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Victoria’s Secret’s “Sexy Little Geisha” lingerie outfit, promises you a “ticket to an exotic adventure”, “sexy little fantasies¬†–¬†there’s one for every sexy you”. So there’s a “little” racist “fetish” in all of us?

The concept of researching and asking for permission or consultation is a huge factor for cultural appropriation because it relates to the issue of exploitation. Often it is members of the mainstream culture taking elements from another culture, in this case Asian culture, and portraying it however they see fit ‚Äď often inaccurate and misrepresented.

This brings up the final issue of not only the misrepresentation of Asian culture by western apparel brands, but the lack of exposure for Asians to accurately represent their culture themselves. Whether in media representation or popular culture, Asians are dis-proportionally invisible, replaced by stereotypes of how the west sees them.  With this in mind, promoting awareness and increasing the availability of Asians accurately representing Asian culture is a necessary change to improve diversity and cultural awareness.

Oliver’s conclusion on cultural appropriation¬†and pop culture:

I do not believe the designers of the gears we reviewed have any intention to offend or cause controversy. But they do show a lack of understanding of Asian history and culture. There seems to be a fascination with Japanese cultural elements like Samurai and Ninja in the west, and designs incorporating those two seem to be prevalent. Which is strange to those familiar with history because from a historical context, there were much more impressive groups of fighting men from Asia, such as the Mongols under Subatai or the Han Chinese Imperial Calvary. Both of which can claim military achievements that the Samurais never came close to. Yet they are rarely seen, discussed or even known by the general western public.
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George Lucas’ entire Star Wars film series was a homage (although depending on who you ask, the series may be seen as total rip offs)¬†to period era Samurai films, more specifically¬†The Hidden Fortress. It’s easy to see that Darth Vader had a Samurai helmet, the Jedi were wearing Japanese kimono (or Chinese hanfu, if you want to get specific), the Jedi themselves were inspired from¬†Shaolin monks and¬†Japanese samurai elements, their lightsabers¬†were Samurai katana, the Jedi code was the Bushido code, Yoda was your Asian Kung Fu master (although played by a green alien), the “force” was your qi gong¬†/ ki life force super powers in Chinese wuxia films, and Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi were clearly meant to be Chinese and Japanese, respectively. The series was heavily influenced by Asian culture, yet¬†at the time of this writing, no actual Asians exist in these films.
Samurai and Ninjas have been turned into pop culture icons (in America) very much the same way Pirates, Vikings and Zombies have. As such there is a lack of care in their usage, forgetting they are based on real world warrior classes from a one single nation at very specific time periods and do not represent any Asian civilizations other than Japan. This lack of care and understanding by the designers can lead to inappropriate usage as we see in the examples above, some of which were quite serious mistakes that are only levitated by the fact that most customers have no idea what the design elements actually mean. Still, the lack of understanding shows a lack of authenticity and that is the real issue.

Danny’s conclusion on cultural appropriation, “Japonism”, lazy¬†“Asian” MMA / BJJ brands, originality, and¬†authenticity:

Due to the intertwining historical and military history between the United States and Japan, and the subsequent sharing of cultures and martial arts between the two nations over the better half of the last century (not to mention the Japonism days in late renaissance Europe where Japan opened its shores and was the early adopter of western cultural elements and vice versa), Japanese cultural elements have been propped up in western pop culture, almost fetishized to the point where it overtakes any other Asian representation when it comes to culture and representation.

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Oh God please, no.

Japanese culture as a result becomes the default “go to” Asian culture to exploit and replicate by westerners – fetishized to the point of exhaustion and often¬†times silliness. Seemingly every MMA / BJJ brand out there is quick to pay homage to Japanese culture –¬†and that’s the only thing they seem to know that’s “Asian”¬†–¬†and not much else. You’ll often see brands that center their name or logo around a random kanji¬†(Chinese) character or phrase, and add the term “fightwear”¬†(or some other similar term) at the end of it. How many companies are guilty of this? How many “me too” type of brands are out there? I’m not about to name them, but I could probably code an “Asian” brand name generator for you and it would match 90% of the brands out there. It’s almost as if very little thought¬†or real research was ever put into it – and the truth¬†becomes obvious¬†once you take a look at their products.¬†Where’s the originality and creativity here? Do we really need a 500th brand doing the same thing offering the same products just with a slightly different name? A true understanding of Asian culture is not present in these brands, and they more often than not fall into the category of being¬†another uninspired facsimile, or an imitation of the real thing.

Is Dynasty any different?

As one of the few (maybe the only) truly Asian-owned and Asian-designed brands in the world of MMA / BJJ, we here at Dynasty feel we have a social obligation to the martial arts practitioners of the world, and to the MMA / BJJ community, to not just make sure Asian culture is represented faithfully, but also to provide an alternative to culturally appropriated designs so commonly seen in the MMA / BJJ world.

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God of War (Guan Yu) rash guard paying homage to the legendary Chinese military general of the Three Kingdoms era (AD 220-280). As one of the best known Chinese historical figures throughout East Asia, Guan is respected by both the law and by the underworld as an epitome of loyalty and righteousness.

We also try to design pieces that are totally unique to the MMA / BJJ market, and give the world our take on what we think are true authentic Asian designs.

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The Nirvana (Guan Yin)¬†ŤßÄťü≥ – Goddess of Mercy

We try to uphold our cultural values, our perspectives, and let others know how we feel when we see Asian culture being used inappropriately in designs for BJJ / MMA clothing. We felt like we needed to write this article to let our voices be heard.

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Terracotta Army (Bing Ma Yong) ŚÖĶť¶¨šŅĎ represented the massive army of the First Emperor of China Qin Shi Huang Á߶ŚßčÁöጳĚ.

Thanks for reading and we hope you liked this article. Share it with your MMA / BJJ friends and spread awareness of cultural appropriation and misappropriation, and the need for proper representation of Asian culture in MMA / BJJ designs.

Like what you see from Dynasty? Click here to sign up for¬†our newsletter delivering¬†product releases and exclusive promos straight to your inbox that you won’t get anywhere else.

Celebrate the Year of the Monkey with our current promo code “MONKEY” – spend a minimum of $150 and get free shipping worldwide for your entire order. Promo expires on midnight Monday Feb¬†15th!

Happy Chinese New Year!

-Dan Kai Wah from DynastyClothingStore.com

The Death Of The Martial Artist (How To Tell If You Still Are One)

It’s 2015. Martial arts is dead.

It has become common and mainstream for kids and adults alike these days to train in combat sports such as MMA and modernized martial arts like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, rather than the more traditional forms of martial arts such as Kung Fu, Taekwondo, Karate, Judo, and so on and so forth.

While there is certainly nothing wrong in training MMA and BJJ (in fact we highly recommend them for their effectiveness in real fighting), the high degree of focus on sports competition and winning at all costs in MMA and BJJ Рoften come at a price when it comes to developing and cultivating individual morals, values, and ethics Рperhaps more so than others.

Is anybody a true martial artist anymore?
Is anybody a true martial artist anymore?

This is true for some coaches, and especially true when it comes to aggressive competitors. Nowadays, trash talking, disrespect, picking fights, and wild use of profanity seems to be tolerated, and even awarded.

Renzo Gracie, one of the most popular BJJ instructors in the sport, has actually spit on his opponents in past MMA bouts, stomped on other people's heads in brawls, and picked street fights with club bouncers in NYC. That is clearly not a positive role model for his students.
Renzo Gracie, one of the most popular BJJ instructors in the sport, has actually spit on his opponents in past MMA bouts, stomped on other people’s heads in brawls, and picked street fights with club bouncers in NYC. That is clearly not a positive role model for his students, or society for that matter.

Simple martial arts values like being respectful and courteous of others, minding our language, greeting each other, shaking hands and thanking each other after a match seem to have disappeared.

High school bullies who used to pick on other kids, have now become Jiu Jitsu bullies who smash on hobbyists and non-competitors, get special preferential treatment and protection from their coaches, carry themselves with their noses in the air, and only care about chasing the next gold medal or the next big win. Getting more fans, followers, sponsors, and free gear seem to be the only thing that concerns them. Their coaches are only concerned about promoting their schools, selling memberships, and making more money.

Lloyd Irvin, a BJJ instructor and master internet marketer, has largely been exposed by the BJJ community as a cult-like leader who brainwashes his students and promotes rape culture within his schools.
Lloyd Irvin, a BJJ instructor and master internet marketer, has largely been exposed by the BJJ community as a cult-like leader who brainwashes his students and promotes rape culture within his schools.

On the professional levels, drug abuse (Jon Jones) and outright cheating is even acceptable, as long as you have money and popularity (Vitor Belfort), and / or can spin it somehow with WWE promo cutting skills (Chael Sonnen).

Jon Jones has convicted multiple felonies including DUI and hit and run, and has been busted for cocaine. He has avoided jail time as a result of his status as a celebrity and fighter.
Jon Jones, while widely considered as the greatest UFC Light Heavyweight Champion of all time and a pound for pound great, has convicted multiple felonies including a DUI and a hit and run, and has been busted for cocaine use. The irony is not lost – as he has admitted in the past to have snitched on his friends for smoking marijuana. He has avoided jail time as a result of his status as a celebrity and fighter.
Vitor Belfort is a known cheater, having been busted multiple times for performance enhancing drugs.
Vitor Belfort is a known cheater, having been busted multiple times for performance enhancing drugs. He is still allowed to fight and compete despite popular belief that he continues to cheat.
Chael Sonnen, one of the most notorious cheaters in the sport, abused performance enhancing drugs so much that he had to retire from competition after the athletic commissions no longer allowed exemptions. Thanks to his mouth, he's been able to talk his way out of suspensions and even gifted title shots.
Thanks to his mouth, Chael Sonnen has been able to talk his way out of suspensions and was even gifted title shots. One of the most notorious cheaters in the sport, he abused performance enhancing drugs so much that he had to retire from competition after the athletic commissions no longer allowed “therapeutic use exemptions”.

Admirable, respectful martial artists like Fedor Emelianenko, Georges St-Pierre, and Lyoto Machida have already exited or are on their way out of the limelight, no longer the idols or role models of the general public, and only to a few hardcore fans.

Fedor Emelianenko is a former PRIDE Heavyweight Champion, and widely accepted as the greatest heavyweight fighter to ever have fought MMA, and the #1 pound for pound greatest fighter of all time. He has almost always maintained a calm, stoic composure and remained a respectful martial artist.
Fedor Emelianenko is a former PRIDE Heavyweight Champion, and widely accepted as the greatest heavyweight fighter to ever have fought MMA, and the #1 pound for pound greatest fighter of all time. He has almost always maintained a calm, stoic composure and remained a respectful martial artist.
Georges_St_Pierre
Former UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre rarely talked trash, showed true martial arts values, and was always a humble and respectful competitor. Greasing allegations aside, he is widely regarded as the greatest welterweight MMA fighter of all time, and one of the pound for pound greats.
Lyoto Machida is a former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. He is a true martial artist in every sense of the word, and not a day goes by where he does not train. He does not talk trash, and prefers to let his actions speak for themselves.
Lyoto Machida is a former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, known for showing the world that Karate can be used effectively in MMA. He is a true martial artist in every sense of the word, and not a day goes by where he does not train to improve himself as a martial artist. He does not talk trash, and prefers to let his actions speak for themselves.

So in 2015 – how can you tell if someone is still a true martial artist? Let’s take a look at the 5 ways we can identity a true martial artist – regardless of the discipline they practice.

1. They are humble, honest, and respectful, to everyone.

It doesn’t matter to them if you are the janitor, the receptionist, the white belt newbie, the blue belt hobbyist, or the world class BJJ black belt ADCC champion celebrity coach. They greet and treat everyone with the same amount of courtesy and respect. Not just the first time, not just the second time, but every time.

2. They remain patient and calm when dealing with problems or enemies.

They don’t lose their cool. They don’t throw a fit or a temper tantrum when they get submitted in a roll, lose a match, or get injured. They are patient when it comes to dealing with setbacks, confrontation, conflict, disagreements, or enemies.

3. They don’t use their skills to bully others.

When sparring or training with others with a significant skill gap between¬†them, they don’t bully others by brutally knocking out their training partners, pushing smaller training partners around, or rolling excessively hard and pulling off¬†violent¬†and forceful submissions that can easily¬†injure others.

4. They show sportsmanship and good degree of control.

In a match, they kick ass, and after beating their opponents, show sportsmanship and respect to the other competitor. They don’t foul their opponents, fight dirty, cheat, hit them after the bell, or crank on a submission to purposely hurt their opponents.¬†If they are confronted on the street, they defend themselves intelligently without the use of¬†excessive force.

Lyoto Machida showing a sign of respect to his opponent Ryan Bader, after delivering a brutal and impressive knock out.
Lyoto Machida showing a sign of respect to his opponent Ryan Bader, after delivering a brutal and impressive knock out.

5. They are role models who give back to the community and help others.

They carry themselves positively, and make positive life choices that set a good example for others. They give back to the community in some way, perhaps as a teacher or coach, and bring a positive impact on other peoples lives.

So how do you, your training partners, friends, instructors, and coaches stack up? Do you uphold the values of a true martial artist, similar to¬†our Dynasty Family members? If you do – we’d like to hear from you,¬†because Dynasty is a brand for martial artists – not bullies.

Like what you see from Dynasty? Click here to sign up for¬†our newsletter delivering¬†product releases and exclusive promos straight to your inbox that you won’t get anywhere else.

–¬†Dan Kai Wah from DynastyClothingStore.com