- Posted January 25, 2013 by
Queens, New York
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Photo essays: Your stories in pictures
Return of the Dragons - Part 2 of 2
In today's society, history is increasingly becoming what the average person doesn't know, doesn't accurately know, or is completely unaware of. This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend three events that were themselves a part of history: Aaron Banks's World Professional Martial Arts Hall of Fame, part of a tradition that spans more than 40 years; a screening of the documentary the Black Kung Fu Experience, a film that profiles some of the legends in American martial arts; and a town hall discussion on Minority Women in Film, lead by actor/filmmakers Ruby Dee, Barbara Montgomery and S. Epatha Merkerson. These events were important not just because a number of attendees are highly esteemed in their respective fields. They were all very important because they shed light on often neglected aspects of the arts and history.
This first set of photos is from the screening of the documentary The Black Kung Fu Experience, a film co-produced and co-directed Martha Burr and Mei-Juin Chen. The film centers on four legends in the martial arts world, who have overcome numerous obstacles to become trailblazing action stars, entrepreneurs, educators and life-long students of various forms of Chinese Kung Fu. The ITVS and Lotus Films production centers on the lives of Grandmaster Ron Van Clief, Oso Tayari Casel, Sifu Donald Hamby and Mfundi Dennis Brown, all of whom have became respected masters who have created a junction for African American and Asian cultures. The film touches on some of the points I discuss in my documentary Blvd. Warriors, which is due to be released later this year, as well as my accompanying Blvd. Warriors photo essay, which is ongoing.
Ron Van Clief and Tayari Casel attended the screening and discussion, along with a number of noted martial arts practitioners, such as Michael Woods, George Logan, Felipe Luciano, Alan Goldberg, Ruben Torres and many others. The event was organized by Museum of the Moving Image trustee (and martial arts practitioner) Warrington Hudlin, who along with his brother Reginald, created the groundbreaking comedy House Party. The screening is part of The Museum's ongoing curated series called 'Fist and Sword,' which screens contemporary and classic martial arts-focused action movies from around the world, often with the filmmakers and stars in attendance.
The Black Kung Fu Experience is also scheduled to run on local PBS stations in the coming months.
For those interested in finding out more about the martial arts, there are thousands of events, including demonstrations, tournaments and seminars around the U.S., given by masters and patrons from around the world. An example of which is happening this weekend, when Master Alan Goldberg will host his annual Atlantic City martial arts showcase. The event, one of the largest of it's kind in the U.S., is expected to draw thousands of fans and action movie stars from around the world, including Michael Jai White, James Lew, Don 'The Dragon' Wilson, Bill 'Superfoot' Wallace and many, many others.