Wednesday, April 15, 2015


The MARTIAL ARTS have always played a huge role in the mythology of the WU-TANG CLAN!!!

Throughout the years and their music,  they have woven references to the films into their lyrics, their imagery, and even the beats.

In 2011, WU-TANG CLAN Leader/Rapper/Musician/Songwriter/Producer ROBERT FITZGERALD "RZA" "BOBBY DIGITAL" "RZARECTOR" DIGGS made the leap from martial arts movie fan to Martial Arts Filmmaker with his own film, The MAN With The IRON FISTS, a vibrant attempt to reproduce the surreal maximalism of a classic Shaw Brothers production, and has now followed up with sequel, The MAN With The IRON FISTS 2.

ESQUIRE Journalist MILES RAYMER caught up with RZA to attempt to unlock the secret chambers - KUNG FU WISDOM, The MOVIE He WANTS To REMAKE, And FROM Whence COMES His FILMMAKING VISION.
Here are some interview highlights:

You're something of a philosopher, and I was wondering how much of your philosophy there is in the movie.
RZA: As the writer of the film I get a chance to make a setting that's imaginative, to make characters that are imaginative, and maybe sometimes get lucky to fit some philosophy or ideas into a film. To me, there should always be a spoonful of philosophy in a movie. I look at Woody Allen, one of the best writers ever, Tarantino, and there's always something thought-provoking in their films, and I aspire to do the same thing. In this particular one, I think what I was trying to point out is that during the same time Thaddeus was going through... as a black man from America who's now living a different life, the life of a free man at a time when the rest of his family most likely wasn't free, he comes across other places where there's still oppression. He didn't escape it, you know?

It seems like one of the big themes is that Thaddeus is searching for personal peace and yet he still feels a responsibility to the people around him. Is that something you've experienced in your personal life?

Definitely. Definitely. That's one thing about the character that's in me. There's a slight metaphor with that character's journey and my journey. My journey turns out well at the end, so far. Who would've known though?

Martial arts have played a huge role in your life, it seems. I was wondering what they've taught you, the films and your practice and the principles they seem to have imparted to you.

It may be simple, yo: strong body, strong mind. Body and mind have to become one. The reason why martial arts was designed was because the monks were good at meditating but they weren't good physically. So they have them exercises to help them build their physical so they could achieve high on their mental and on their spiritual. Martial arts is healthy, man. Any kid who takes a martial arts class, he learns confidence, he learns strength, he's becoming stronger without even knowing. And if you never ever have to defend yourself, the looseness of your muscles, of your tendons, the blood circulation that it builds up, the breathing that it builds up will help you in your elder years. They say the oldest person in the world is a 140-year-old tai chi practitioner.

You practice martial arts. What's your regimen like?
I would say, first and foremost, that I practice mental martial arts more than anything. But on a physical level, I was shown qigong by my Shaolin master and I was fortunate to learn Hung Ga from a Hung Ga master, which is basically the tiger style of kung fu. It's the same style that Gordon Liu used in The 36th Chamber [of Shaolin]. I was able to get that form shown to me by a true master. It was a blessing to have... I'll tell you the truth real quick. This man was probably 80 years old, and I would practice with him and we'd do... you hit each other's arms and hit each other's shins. This old man was hurting me man, you know what I'm saying? I'm serious! His arms was like steel, yo. I had to keep going because I didn't want to be embarrassed. I was back at the hotel room and I told my assistant, "Tomorrow you practice that with him and I'll watch."

You're a fan of kung fu movies from way back. Tell me a little about your first encounters with them and what drew you to them in the first place.

My first kung fu movie was a double feature: a Bruce Lee Film and a Jim Kelly film. It was mostly first the action that attracted me. When I saw Five Deadly Venoms I was hooked. Just the imagination in that movie... you've got a guy who sticks to walls, another guy who weapons can't hurt, another guy who does the snake style who has the snake agility sliding on the floor, and another guy who does centipede style, he has two hands that's like a thousand hands. You know you're a kid watching that, it just sparks the imagination for a nine-year-old. Then a few years later I saw 36th Chamber, which was actually called Master Killer at the time, and this one was the one that got me into the philosophy of it. Because, you know, after my third time watching it there was a scene where [the protagonist, played by Gordon Liu] goes to the older monks and he wants to learn kung fu. He wants to start at the highest level, so they take him to the highest level, the 35th chamber. And when he gets there, nobody's doing kung fu as it looks. Everyone's just sitting there chanting, and when they're chanting they're saying words like, "The five tones deafen every ear. The five colors blind every sight. Without wisdom there is no gain." That struck a nerve with me. It caused me to kind of start researching their history, researching their philosophy, researching what the Buddha said, what Confuscious said, the Tao Te Ching. So it opened up another kind of awareness for me. I'd always been an avid reader, but this gave me something different to look for when I went to the library or the bookstore.

You mentioned Jim Kelly. I've seen Black Belt Jones like a million times...
[laughs] That's funny! Before you say anything, yo, I want to do that over, yo. I want to be Black Belt Jones!




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