We all leaned forward, on the edges of our seats. As the Stormtroopers surrounded her, she sat still, forging tools in hand. One prodded her helmet with his blaster. Suddenly she sprung up, alive in action, her hammer and tongs whirling and smashing and crushing. We all shrieked in exhilaration! My daughter next to me jumped up off the bean bag, my sons and wife yelling on the couch. And immediately I saw it. The hook of the leg. The open four counts. The double weapon traps and locks. The Armorer was doing Kali!
I wouldn’t find out until months later that the woman behind the mask was none other than Lauren Mary Kim, who would thrill us earlier this year with her motion capture choreography as Ahsoka Tano fighting Maul on The Clone Wars. This was the same stunt woman who brought Elektra to life in the Daredevil series. And much more exciting than that, this was the same Lauren Mary Kim that I had been watching for years on her YouTube series, Kali Diaries. The opening of which, showing our Academy uniform and the distinct salutation of our school and teacher, Guro Dan Inosanto.
Guro himself, as well as his students (my seniors) have blazed a train through Hollywood. The most notable of course was Guro’s appearance opposite Bruce Lee in The Game of Death. But whether it was Jeff Imada’s appearances with a balisong (butterfly knife), Guro Inosanto fighting Steven Seagal in a pool hall, Kali choreography by Guro Jeff Imada in The Bourne trilogy, Book of Eli, The Fast & The Furious franchise, and most recently Chad Stahelki’s John Wick movies, Lauren is in legendary company with pioneers that have infused Filipino Martial Arts into American pop culture for decades.
A lifelong performer and consummate professional, Lauren was gracious enough to take time and talk about her history and career, martial arts and particularly Kali, and our teacher Guro Dan Inosanto.