Under: martial arts
31 Oct 2009

Do you remember the last cool martial arts movie stunt you saw! I know there have been some digital animation or such to “enhance” some stunts but there seems to be a trend toward pushing the human body to new limits!


I just figured out that Extreme Martal Arts (XMA) exists as does newer iterations called Tricking. Both of these activities are not what one could call martial arts (read fighting arts) because they seem to focus more on showmanship and totally disregard self-defense and fighting. Still there are martial arts woven into these activities as well as the more traditional martial arts iterations of fighting stunts.


In this post I will briefly review Tricking, XMA and martial arts stunts and speak of the advantages and disadvantages to these disciplines. Here is a video of Pataman Gym Time Trickingschule Berlin for your perusal.



That was some cool stuff! On practical application might be if they ever had to fight a giant… you know, the cheerleaders do that kick to the giants chin! :)

Ok now seriously Tricking looks fun to me. If I was a teenager I would have enjoyed getting into an activity like this because I was already trying out stuff in gymnastics. One time the teacher was a way and we played king of the balance beam. It was fun because you could kick or punch but I soon found out that straight line techniques worked the best.

The positives I see is Tricking does not limit itself to one activity but rather encompasses many activities! Dancing, cheer, karate, bar fighting, & gymnastics all seemed to have equal footing. The goal was not fighting but rather to show off the human body’s ability to do an extreme or beautiful move!!!  These moves are not for slouches and would keep you in good shape.

The thing I do not like about Tricking is there is no practical application to fighting that I can think of based on looking at this video clip. This seems to be more of a presentation art for show.

While researching video for this post I came on XMA videos. This seems to be more martial arts tricks that has a direct application to movie stunts. Take a look at this video first.


Alright now – from a martial artists perspective this is closer to something I can use! XMA seems to be the “Hollywood” stunt version of martial arts training.

The good thing is many of these flashy moves would really work in a fight but often times one would be ill advised to try them. What do I mean? Well kicking above the waist is foolish in a street fight because you can get your leg caught, nuts kicked or your legs swept easily. If you are fighting someone who does not know anything – it does not matter but that is not a winning strategy.

Another good thing about XMA is the fitness benefits. This is like practicing karate shadow boxing (in the extreme)! Tae Bo on seroids… good for the mind and body!

The disadvantage of XMA is you might get a big head and think you can really clean someones clock! This is like taking a karate aerobics class and looking for fighting take away… it won’t happen. Be happy it looks cool. I view an XMA practitioner like I would a kata champion. It is possible they could be a good fighter if they practice sparring but the fact one can do a cool kata at a tournament does not necessarily translate into fighting ability.

What about real stuntmen? One of my karate buddies, Kim Kimmel did a lot of stunt work and had a famous uncle in the business. He worked as a stunt man and security at the Big Oak Ranch (east San Diego county Western Theme Park) in the 80’s. I remember one conversation with Kim where we were talking about WWE. I was telling Kim that I did not think much of professional wrestlers in the WWE. I thought that if they wanted to really fight, why not just take up boxing, karate, or MMA? The WWE is all fake so I did not really see the point.

Kim told me that the reason he liked the WWE so much was as a former stunt man at the Big Oak Ranch in the 80’s – he could really appreciate some of the stunts/choreography! After hearing that argument, I gained a new respect for the WWE. I still don’t watch it but see the showmanship angle of it now.

Before XMA was ever dreamed of, individual stunt men/women were pushing the envelope of fight scenes in movies. One of the more famous stuntmen was known for doing all of his own stunts (until recently I hear) – Jackie Chan!

Jackie Chan studied martial arts stunts as part of the Chinese opera as a child. His mastery of stunts are truly amazing and probably inspired many an XMA practitioner. Here is a video I found of some of his top stunts.


Wow, that was some impressive stunts… some of them I had not seen before. While I have done some shoulder rolls on sidewalks to freak people out before – never have I done any stunts that approach Jackie Chan’s, XML or some of the tricking!

I have thought of the next extreme stunt I hope to see on a movie soon – the jumping kind of like Jackie Chan did in Armor of God but more like the new Birdmen do in their flight suits!

Now that was a stunt! Funny as I just learned about these birdmen I was poking around youtube and discovered a even newer iteration of birdmen’s flight suit…. rocket boots!

Wouldn’t it be cool to see Jackie Chan in the remake of the remake of Flash Gordon? How do you think the Hawkmen scene would look?

My take on Tricking and XMA is they are good for the martial arts. Anything that gets students into the dojo’s, wanting to be the next Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan is good in my book. Hopefully the sensi will be able to convey what is movie stunt stuff and what is real fighting.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

14 Responses to “Tricking, XMA & Martial Arts Stunts for Fun and Fitness!”

  1. Lisa Graf Says:

    Great Post! Thanks for the info. Graf’s ATA Martial Arts
    .-= Lisa Graf´s last blog ..Dr. Oz Learns Taekwondo! =-.

  2. SueC Says:

    I think there is a place for showmanship and performance in martial arts. It’s generally entertaining, exciting and inspiring to watch someone test out the limits of the human body. I love Jackie Chan films!

  3. TheMartialArtsReporter Says:

    Getting and keeping people in the dojo is a good thing,
    I totally agree.
    Jackie Chan has certainly helped doing just that by raising the bar of performance and stunts throughout the years.
    Another guy who surprised me as a stunt coordinator is famous kata performer, Jean Frenette.
    Sorry, I’m getting carried away (again).
    Always enjoy your posts.

  4. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hi Lisa, Yes this was some fun stuff… I checked out the kid on Dr. Oz and he was impressive.
    Hi Sue! I feel that way too… “watch someone test out the limits…” so long as it is not me! :)
    Hey The Martial Arts Reporter – I liked your Jackie Chan post too!

  5. weasel videos » Digger Stunts Says:

    […] My Self-Defense Blog » Blog Archive » Tricking, XMA & Martial Arts … […]

  6. john Says:

    Years ago when Mike Chatt first started XMA I trained with him at a seminar. We had about 40 people in the class and they showed us a few moves. FYI- he wasn’t selling XMA as a new and improved fighting art. If I recall, he was pretty upfront that it was more about performance and testing your limits rather than some superior way of fighting.

    You sound a little put off by it?? Me? If I could do it I would but I don’t have much desire for the high flying stunts.

    Mike Chatt is a real nice dude.

  7. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hi John, Thanks for the information on Mike Chatt. I think martial arts are mostly for self-defense but do see other valid and interesting applications.

    Whenever I see a kata champion or other stuff for show I just worrie a little that average folk might not realize it for what it is. I have the same opion of flying kicks in kumite or other moves that would not work in a real fight. I tried to give a balanced view of this and I really like good stunts in movies.

    I have nothing against Mike or anyone else in XMA, Tricking or movie stunts.

    Have a good Thanksgiving John.

  8. pat Says:

    Things have gone to the flying unrealistic moves for showmanship in the last 15 years or so. It is fun to watch but it gets away from what we are really trying to accomplish.

    Get the job done fast, no messing around. I have never thought of flipping and doing anything fancy when defending myself. Who would?
    .-= pat´s last blog ..Karate Belt Display updated Sun Mar 7 2010 6:29 pm CST =-.

  9. Matt Klein Says:

    True that the high flying stunt would not work too well in a street fight. But what I like about a acrobatic moves is the explosive power that they build. A bit like plyometrics, which the Russians used to dominate the Olympics before everyone else caught on. I also feel they create more interest in the martial arts and help fill the seats in tournaments. Think Power Rangers for kids.

  10. Chris Says:

    “Anything that gets students into the dojo’s, wanting to be the next Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan is good in my book.”

    Actually, I’ve had people come into Wing Chun class wanting to become the next Jackie Chan, and when they left immediately upon realizing it wouldn’t happen, it only made the instructor look bad.

    I am speaking as a huge Jackie Chan fan, but I don’t care to have people enroll based on false pretenses, nor to add acrobatics to a martial art that doesn’t benefit from their presence.
    Chris recently posted..Joint Locks Considered DangerousMy Profile

  11. Matt Klein Says:

    Fair enough Chris, agreed that you don’t want people there for the wrong reasons. However, look at how many different reasons we have for doing the martial arts; fitness, self defense, social belonging, mma, etc. They are all looking for different things and you can’t please everyone.

    Don’t see how it makes the instructor look bad as it is not his/her problem if people don’t get what they want out of it. It is their problem if they have preconceived notions. Maybe they should have done their research better as Wing Chun is not known for its flashy kicks, unlike Wushu.
    Matt Klein recently posted..Karate Kid vs. Kung Fu KidMy Profile

  12. Chris Says:

    Matt, in this particular case, the instructor had to answer to the university activities director, who noticed the immediate dropouts and assumed the class was inappropriate and/or poorly run (and should be canceled at the end of the quarter).
    Chris recently posted..The Case Against Martial Arts TournamentsMy Profile

  13. Matt Klein Says:

    Chris, I am sorry to hear that. It is always a tragedy to shut down a school, because many people are committed to training there. Perhaps a better description in the school catalogue could have avoided this situation. Even as a school owner I have to answer to my customers, who vote with their dollars.

  14. Martial Arts Liniment Says:

    My school does XMA. It’s cool, but it’s a show to get people to come to the school. It’s cool when they put it in movies though… pretty flash for the modern movies where modern martial arts are becoming boring to watch for normal people.