View Full Version : Really Cool Research Topic

Joseph Svinth
20th October 2000, 17:04
You know what would be a really cool research topic? Martial arts in Hollywood. Start with boxing and wrestling -- Frank Gotch got about $30,000 to star in some shorts, and Jack Dempsey was paid a million (you could still live on a million back then) -- and then move up to judo (1940s-1950s), karate (1960s), Bruce (1970s), and beyond. The quest is clearly for something increasingly photogenic and novel, but from my standpoint, who were the stunt doubles? The stuntwork for "Kung Fu," for example, was mostly from judo the first two years, and then from David Carradine's imagination the third year. Villains are typically professional wrestlers (Carradine got to beat up Kinji Shibuya) and that scene where Roddy Piper and another wrestler beat each other is great.

If anybody is interested in embarking on a major project, let me know. :)

21st October 2000, 04:05
Hi Joe,

I saw your thread after reading the latest issue of JAMA. In it Curtis Wong was featured. The article mentioned that Mr. Wong was the double for Mr. Carradine in the early years of the series, and I never got the impression that Mr. Wong was a Judo player. I admit I did not watch Kung-Fu in the early ytears and could not tell you about the Judo portion of the action, but I thought this wasinteresting in light of your statement

Looking forward to your, as usual, enlightened reply.


Joseph Svinth
22nd October 2000, 07:08
Tommy --

For published material, try:

* David Carradine, "Spirit of Shaolin" (Sydney, Australia: Random House Australia, 1991). Yes, there is a US version; buy it used because it's not worth much.

* David Chow and Richard Spangler, "Kung Fu: History, Philosophy and Technique" (Burbank, CA: Unique Publications, 1982).

Meanwhile, I've asked Mark Feigenbaum to comment, as Chow, the fight choreographer, did judo at East San Fernando Valley YMCA while Mark was doing it at nearby Encino. :)

22nd October 2000, 09:24
Hi Joe and Tommy,
I don't know much more, but can provide what I know about David Chow and David Carradine.

No matter what the books say, from Carradine's own mouth, he said it was after the cancellation of the TV show (the old network show from the seventies) that he got interested in studying Kung fu. While he did have dan rankings in Japanese Martial arts ("Yes, I have a couple of black belts"- A quote from the Larry King show when he guested for an evening), they were most liklely in the 'te arts of one kind or another.

Stunt doubles and technical advisors are two different things. The advisor will work out a scene in which the action looks more truthful, and the stunt double, either does the stunt as directed by the stunt coordinator, or, especially in those days, budgets for TV shows were not exactly "bigtime" so it is more likely that Wong was the double, and David Chow and Kam Yuen (Yuen Kam - I've seen it both ways) were the tech. advisors, although I doubt they worked together.

David Chow's claims over the years seemed to change with the seasons, but mostly, he was a judoka. If you watch any of the shows, you will notice that Chow and Yuen were listed as tech advisors separately on different shows. If you watch the action on the shows, it becomes easy to see who was the tech advisor and on what show, before the credits rolled at the end. When it was Chow, the techniques and movements were that of judo or jujutsu, and when Kam Yuen worked the show, it was evident he was, as the techniques were much more fluid and graceful, at least as done by someone who had little experience in MA, Chinese or otherwise.

Apparently, Chow did have a judo dojo at the East Valley YMCA. According to the founder of Encino Judo, Chow was teaching until the middle 1970s, but had no idea what happened to him, as he apparently left abruptly. The founder of Encino Judo said he was affiliated with that dojo well before Encino Judo became Encino judo, as it had been at a recreation center in the San Fernando Valley (Encino) in the Los Angeles area.

But again, as to Curtis Wong being his stunt double, is very possible, but probably with David Chow on the shows in which he is credited, as the difference in technique is plainly obvious.

(As a side note, Carradine's diet has changed considerably, as he seemed to have many friends come to the studios (Warner Studios formerly The Burbank Studios) and his dressing trailer was littered with Mc Donald's food wrappers). He does claim a much different diet these days, and swallows vitamins by the handful. He also did some B movies after the show was cancelled and which showed some of his MA talent. Whatever the reason for the lack of respect for his Kung fu can only be because of the show "Kunf Fu-The legend Continues" as he does his own stunt work (mostly) and choreographs the fight scenes himself. While not nearly as exiting as the original, it does show more honesty in technique, EG, kicks are at a much lower and much more believable level, but sometimes honesty means boredom (IMO).


22nd October 2000, 09:33
One easy way to tell if Chow was the advisor for a particular show, look for the obligatory tomoe nage in the show, or seoi nage. Standard stuff, but good action always does stand up, even when on a show about a shaolin monk.:)


22nd October 2000, 23:27
Hi Joe and Mark,

Thanks so much. I now feel like the little grasshopper, sometimes I wish I'd keep my mouth shut. Sorry, I got the impression that Curtis Wong was not only a 'double', but a stunt person, hence my remark to Joe.