Martial Art Forms Used in Movies and Television Shows

There are several martial art forms that are widely practiced the world over but in movies, only a handful are used. This is also true with special regards to television shows. We can divide the types of martial arts used in films and television shows according to the era. The fashion of martial art types changed according to the movie era.
The 1960s Era – During this era, the Chinese films were indulged in showcasing martial arts in their movies. Most of these films were based in Hong Kong and they showcased unarmed combat. During the 1960s there was absolutely no inclusion of weapons and actors fought unarmed combat (this era was popularly termed as the wuxia movies era). Unfortunately, the fight scenes were crudely drafted and executed in a similar fashion.
The 1970’s Era – During the 1970’s era, martial arts traveled to Hollywood. In those days, fight scenes were meticulously drafted and the actors did their part well in showcasing their talent. Once again, weapons were used in minimal fashion and emphasis was laid on unarmed combat. In the late 1970s, the choreography improved dramatically. Shaolin Kung Fu was widely practiced during this time. Chuck Norris popularized karate based martial art movies during the 1970s era in Hollywood.
The 1980s Era – In the 1980s era, Shaolin Kung Fu took a backseat and kickboxing took a front seat. Actors such as Michelle Yeoh and Yuen Biao became popular star-casts in martial arts based action films. During this era of martial arts, directors started the use of wires and trampolines in order to make the stunts appear thrilling.
The 1990s Era – It was in the 1990s that Jean Claude Van Damn popularized kickboxing. During this time, Steven Segal too became popular and introduced aikido (a martial art form) to Hollywood movies. TKD was also a popular form of martial arts showcased in Hollywood movies during those days.
The Current Scenario – A lot has changed in the martial arts scenario as of now. Realism is the key to success in today’s martial art movies. Jiu jitsu, boxing, wrestling and MMA style fight scenes are being popularly showcased in present day Hollywood action movies.
Facts about Martial Art Films:
Fact # 1 – Choreography is the Key to Success- The action scenes showcased in martial art television shows and movie are all fake. When you see a goon being knocked down by the hero, it is all based on the script that permits the good guy to beat up the bad guy. The action sequence that is backed by aggression, strength, body conditioning and unrealistic stunts, is completely determined by the choreographer.
Fact # 2 – If you have seen the IP Man series, you would reach to a conclusion that the martial art stunts showcased here are unrealistic in nature. At the same time, some of you may think whether enacting such scenes is possible in real life. Well, the answer to this question is “No”. These scenes are exaggerated so as to ensure that they capture the attention of viewers. The Win Chun style showcased in Warrior II is a classic example of unrealistic fight scenes.
Fact # 3 – Ironically, when people saw Bruce Lee fight 20 odd opponents and defeat all of them single-handedly, viewers believed that this could be done in a real life scenario. Interestingly, such a feat is impossible to achieve in reality. Martial art stars such as Bruce Lee were considered invincible in real life by their fans, which is incorrect.
Fact # 4 – Interestingly, some martial art action stars such as Jet Lee or Jackie Chan always seem to be hogging the limelight. In reality, there are other martial artists that are more skilled but owing to poor screen presence, they lose out on the ‘popularity status’. Steven Segal or Dolph Lundgren are classic examples of ‘highly skilled martial art heroes with poor acting skills’.
Fact # 5 – Hollywood has hosted popular martial artists such as Van Damme, Steven Segal, Wesley Snipes, Chuck Norris, Jason Statham etc. The Hong Kong martial art industry has popularized martial artists such as Jet Li, Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Donnie Yen etc. Women martial artists that deserve a special mention include Michelle Yeoh and Cynthia Rothrock.
In order to understand the significance of martial arts in movies and television series, you need to watch all time hits such as ‘Enter the Dragon’, ‘Drunken Master’, ‘Merantau’ and ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ etc.