As executives for Movietimes.com, the place for everything movie related on the web, one would think that we could watch a few of the best martial arts movies and learn how to defend ourselves. Right? No, wrong. Some of you may be wondering why we would need to know how to defend ourselves when a large part of our job involves watching exclusive premieres of movies, most recently Fighting with Terrence Howard, and then attending the after party. Unfortunately in our quest for complete journalistic accountability, we have had more than a few executive producer types get confrontational about the reviews we have run of certain films. Seriously, Hollywood is hardly the place to put your audience first.
As entertainment executives we thought watching movies would be the best way to get tough, but somehow we still found ourselves getting swirlys in the bathroom of Le Deux. We spent hours saying “you talking to me” in our best Deniro voice, but when some thug from The Weinstein Company responded “yes” we were suddenly mute. Bruce Lee movies made us look like Jerry Lewis, and the gats’ we bought after watching Boyz in the Hood leaked water all over our pants.
We soon decided that a combination of movies AND actual lessons in martial arts would be the way to go, with the choice of martial arts being decided by what was most effective in the movies. After all, if it kicks ass on the big screen it should do just fine in real life, right? It is not like we needed to take out scores of terrorists with a bow and arrow – we just wanted a little respect from the local hoods at Nobu Malibu. We spent the next few days frantically compiling an even bigger selection of martial arts movies (we decided guns were impractical) and prepared to watch them over the weekend as we decided which martial art we were going to study.
Naturally a weekend of blasting endless fights on our DVD surround sound system attracted the complaints of our neighbors, including by some stroke of dumb luck Roy Elghanayan, the founder of Krav Maga L.A. Although we would like to refer to him as a Los Angeles version of Zohan, Roy is well known a hand to hand combat expert, and somehow even morons like us knew that despite his skinny 5’9” 160 pound frame, this was one dude we should not mess with…sort of.
We explained our situation to Roy, and drawing on his years teaching hand to hand combat to elite units of the Israeli army, he agreed to let us know which martial arts would be even remotely practical. Roy loves movies, it is rumored he personally trains Hollywood stars in his Santa Monica gym, so we resumed watching our DVD’s, this time with the volume way up. What we learned was an amazing eye opener, so much so that we have decided to share our knowledge.
The Five Rules of Movie Real Life Self Defense.
1) Stay away from weird things like Steven Segal: After watching Above The Law we were sure we would study Aikido, which loosely translates from the Japanese, "the art of divine harmony,” to make some divine ass kicking on the punks at CAA. Given Segal’s ratings about working for the CIA, alleged mob ties and some badass scenes in Above the Law that are almost good enough to make up for the 20 crap movies that followed, we figured this stuff is the bomb. Unfortunately Roy pointed out that the problem with Aikido is that it would probably take us a good 5 years of constant study before it would be helpful on the street. “Studying Aikido is like learning a new language” is how Roy politely explained it. “Aikido will require you to learn a whole new way of moving” Roy continued, “if you want to learn to defend yourself quickly you need to utilize simple moves that are instinctual by nature.”
2) Jean Claude Van Damme is an aerobics instructor: We figured that any martial art that gets you a nickname like ‘The Muscles From Brussels’ kicked ass, and the fact that Jean Claude showed so much of his vulnerable side in JVCD demonstrated real courage to us. We liked JVCD so much that we bought the DVD, but when it came to kickboxing lessons Roy nixed the idea by pointing out that most kick boxers barely close their fist when they punch. Apparently trying to throw a roundhouse kick at someone is a good way to find yourself lying on your butt.
3) Pat Morita is old, and so is Karate: Roy explained to us that Karate is an ancient art that has not been updated in several centuries. While it looked like a good way to mess up a perfectly good 80’s haircut it is not cut out for modern unarmed combat situations.
4) Mamet Speak is all talk: We figured if David Mamet, the academy award nominated screenwriter and director who has a reputation for one of the smartest intellectual types in Hollywood made a movie about Brazilian ju-jitsu (Redbelt) then this stuff had to kick ass! Just thinking about how tough Mamet made Alec Baldwin sound in Glengarry Glen Ross when he pulled out his infamous brass balls made us feel more confidant.
Unfortunately, hat we learned is that despite generally good reviews Redbelt feels like an incomplete movie, and Brazilian ju-jitsu is dangerously incomplete martial arts for defense. “Brazilian ju-jitsu will teach you many locks and takedowns that emphasize on moving the fight to the ground,” explained Roy “and that is the absolute last place you want to be in a fight.” At first we figured Roy avoided being on the ground because it is dirty and full of germs, even at the Beverly Hills Hotel. However after watching a few episodes of Entourage we realized that even if we threw a ju-jitsu lock on Vinnie Chase and dragged him to the ground we would just end up with his whole entourage kicking our buts while we lay on the ground.
5) Train with J-Lo – be a Badunkadunk: Like all Hollywood movies we made our most important rule the most mysterious. What rule number 5 mean is that you need to learn self defense from someone who has been through hell and back, not just the Hollywood version that saw J-Lo learning a watered down version of Krav Maga for the movie Enough. Sure Krav Maga is considered the best choice for self defense, but in the same way Hollywood takes brilliant foreign movies and turns them into crap (Vanilla Sky) you won’t learn effective Krav Maga from someone who was never in the Israeli Army. What Roy said was “it was my responsibility to prepare soldiers for an environment where they could face an attack from a terrorist with a gun, knife, bomb, stick, etc. without warning at any moment.” “I didn’t prepare my soldiers to win medals or competitions,” Roy continued “I trained them to survive.”
Reflecting for a moment on what real life was all about we took a break from action movies that weekend and spent a beautiful Sunday at the beach without anyone kicking sand in our face.
Editor's Note. Roy Elghanayan is a very nice person who teaches Krav Maga in Santa Monica, CA, and as far as we know he has never killed anyone for playing their DVD's too loud. He has group classes and is also open for private lessons and seminars all over the US.