Filipino Martial Arts have gotten off to a spectacular start in the movies and on television in 2014! While martial arts in the movies in the 90’s was dominated by acrobatic wire work (The Matrix, Crouching Tiger) and high flying choreography (Jackie Chan, Jet Li), the past few years have welcomed more Southeast Asian influences (The Bourne films choreographed by Guro Jeff Imada, Ong Bak, The Hunted, The Raid: Redemption).
Sayoc Combat Choreography has been influencing actions sequences on both the big screen as well as prime time television now for over ten years. While known for their work on “The Hunted” with Tommy Lee Jones and Benecio del Toro, Tuhon Rafael Kayanan and Tuhon Tom Kier also worked with Sam Rockwell in “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind”. And while Tuhon Raf has been producing art professionally for decades, he has also been behind the scenes with visual and combative fight advising on movies like “Immortals”, “Mirror-Mirror” and the Broadway production of “The Amazing Spider-Man”. Since 2012 Sayoc Combat Choreography (SCC) began working with our friend and training brother Dave Kalstein on episodes of NCIS: LA and to this date have had several episodes heavily focused on technical & mental components of Sayoc Kali. Each of the episodes also contained blades designed by Tuhon Raf, Tuhon Carl Atienza and Guro Harley Elmore, and had characters mention “Sayoc”, “Sayoc Stickgrappling” and “The Frozen Lake” prominently.
This year Tuhon Raf and SCC continue their work with NCIS: LA, including an upcoming episode titled “Tuhon”! Check out promo pictures here.
Outside of NCIS: LA, Tuhon Raf has also contributed to fight sequences on Liam Neeson’s “Non-Stop” out this year. On the small screen, Sayoc and Atienza friend and affiliate Joel Lambert stars in Discovery’s “Lone Target”, and in addition to visiting The Philippines regularly carries Tuhon Raf’s RnD Tomahawk, Tuhon Carl’s Barong and Tuhon Raf’s Bontoc blade.
Guro Damon Caro of the Inosanto lineage has also been involved with martial arts and action sequences for years, choreographing scenes in “The Bourne” films, “300”, “Watchmen”, “Man of Steel” and this year “300: Rise of an Empire”. Guro Ron Balicki & Guro Diana Inosanto, also working professionals with their own established credits in film, trained Aaron Eckhart for his role in “I, Frankenstein”.
While Filipino Martial Arts still haven’t gained the household recognition that Taekwon-Do, Kung Fu or even Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu have, Kali has definitely made it’s way into the mainstream media (documented nicely in 2012’s “The Bladed Hand”). For practitioners and enthusiasts such as myself, it is definitely a treat to see our arts, our techniques or attitudes or concepts being portrayed in these high profile platforms, and validated by the actors and directors that utilize them.