12 Aug 2004


Martial arts documentaries on British TV are one of the rarest events. You can probably count on one hand the number of docs ever shown terrestrial TV. Cable and dish users can watch any number of imported docs on the Discovery channel and anyone over 30 will remember 'The Way of the Warrior' the excellent BBC2 doc that travelled the world to show the usual collection of Chinese and Japanese MA but also travelled to India - supposed root of all the Eastern MA - revelation to me at the time. Sadly, it was never repeated and never released on video or DVD. The book of the program can easily be found but doesn't quite convey the magic of seeing old-time masters going about their MA activities.
BBC3 - that's digital TV to us no hopers stuck in analogue hell, is airing a ten part series called Mind, Body and Kick Ass moves. It follows one chap, an obsessive martial artist fluent in Chinese, who travels the far east in search of elusive masters and gets them to show us their tricks.
Consider the number of people in the UK who do martial arts (many hundreds of thousands I'm sure) compared to the number who play, say, snooker regularly (a few hundred?), never was there such a huge anti-bias towards television airing our favorite activity. The problem with filming real MA is that in 99 percent of cases, MA consists mostly of unspectacular and tedious repetition of techniques - a problem voiced by the producers of 'Mind,Body and Kick Ass Moves'. The other problem is that the general public is gorged on the high-wire kung-fu antics of recent blockbuster films such as the Matrix trilogy and it's ilk. As we all know, MA in the real world is nothing like that.
Apart from WOTW and maybe one of two other shorter less publicised programs, MB&KAM is a welcome breath of fresh air. Go on BBC, be brave and put the series on terrestrial, not the fringe digital.

About the Author


Author & Artist

Meerkatsu is the artist name for BJJ black belt Seymour Yang.


slideyfoot said...

Not heard of The Way of the Warrior, though as I was 2 at the time, that's probably unsurprising. ;)

However, it is almost certainly available on the net somewhere: nostalgia is a powerful force, so most stuff from the '80s with a sufficiently dedicated interest group has found its way online. I see that somebody has also done an unofficial DVD release too.

Meerkatsu said...

It was probably the first attempt by a Tv company to document the martial arts in a serious manner - devoid of stunts and hee ya Bruce Lee references etc. It may now be the only serious attempt, although the Discovery Channel have had a number of good attempts at showcasing martial arts.


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