Alappuzha: “It brings you power of mind as well as body. Every human being should learn the nuances of it. If you master in kicking and blocking, the level of confidence will touch an amazing level. I have experienced it in my life’, says Cynthia Rothrock, renowned international martial artist and Hollywood star.
Ms Rothrock who is fondly called as “the Queen of Martial Arts, is on a professional tour to Kerala. She reached Alappuzha on Saturday to attend a function organised by Co-In-Chi Academy at Aishw-arya Auditorium here.
Talking to DC on the sidelines of the event, 62-year-old Rothrock broke down about journey she passed by in breaking the glass ceilings to explore a male-dominated art form.
‘I was influenced by mum. During my childhood, we had a friendly fight together. She kicked my head and limb to learn blocking tactics. However, I was always concerned about not losing my belt in the fights’, she said when asked about the motivation behind the strong bond with martial arts.
Rothrock, a 5’3” powerhouse, has been a martial artist for almost half-a-century. When she began martial arts, it was widely considered a “man’s sport.” She recalls that in initial days there was not a separate woman’s division in many tournaments and women were treated differently, as less proficient than men. By the time, the women’s movement had not reached the martial arts world.
Nevertheless, she, born in Delaware and grew up in Pennsylvania, managed to carve out a career in the Asian “male sport”, mastering in fighting abilities. From 1981 to 1985 she was consecutively adjudged as World Champion in both ‘Forms’ and ‘Weapons’ and went on becoming unbeaten ‘Forms’ champion for over 100 competitions un-til she retired (to begin her film career) as Number One in the country.
Rothrock, not satisfied with just winning tournaments and competing against others, challenged herself to expand her repertoire and walked away with seven black belts and sashes in various disciplines including Tang Soo Do – Moo Duk Kwan (Korean art form), in which she holds Grand-master status as an 8th Dan Black Belt and one of the top-rated practitioners in the world. The other disciplines in which she is proficient includes North-ern Shaolin Kung Fu (classical Chinese), Eagle Claw (Ying Jow Pai), Pai Lum Tao Kung Fu, Wu Shu (co-ntemporary Chinese) and Taekwondo (Korean). She has also studied Chinese Kempo and Tai Chi.
In 1983, she was inducted into Black Belt Magazine Hall of Fame as Female Competitor of the Year and was one of the first women in the world to be on the cover of a martial arts magazine in 1981.
Excited by the debut visit to India, she wondered about the beauty of Kerala as well as the calm of pristine backwaters in Alapp-uzha. "I knew nothing abo-ut either India or Kerala barring a few Bollywood dancing numbers. Once I landed in Alappuzha, I feel so unlucky for being late in paying a visit to this wonderful part of the world. So I decided to move around for a couple of days with the help of my guide’, she said, revealing her plans to make a documentary on martial arts in Kerala.
Calling upon the young women in the country to take up the martial art as healing tool rather than physical conditioning, Rothrock calls the learning of martial art as awareness on the human soul, mind and relaxed use of Chi (energy). "Being a woman fighter, I feel it as an ‘internal art’ that helps to boost confidence level and self-esteem. Indian women can use it as a self-defence tool if there is an issue of safety of women. If any perpetrator lands me in an uncomfortable situation, I will never let him go easily. He will be taught my power of the punch. I know how to do it’, she smiles, adding that she had never faced such a situation in her life.
The fortune to Holly-wood came her way when Hong Kong director Corey Yuen came to America in search of finding the next Bruce Lee in 1985. After auditioning Rothrock, he was impressed by both her martial arts and acting skills and tweaked the role for her as the female lead resulting in the first martial arts movie, “Yes, Madam”.
Rothrock later emerged as “one of the reputed fem-ale movie martial artists of the late 20th century.” Her notable fight scenes can be seen in the movies like Top Squad, The Blond Fury, Yes Madam, Shan-ghai Express, Magic Cry-stal, Prince of the Sun, Above the Law, No Retreat No Surrender 2, China O’Brien, China O’Brien 2, Guardian Angel, Lady Dr-agon, Lady Dragon 2, Ho-nor and Glory, Tiger Cla-ws, Extreme Fighter, San-ta’s Summer House and Mercenaries.
In 2016 co-starred with Don (The Dragon) Wilson in the film The Martial Arts Kid, and in 2017 she appeared in Enter the Fist, written and starring Sean Stone (Oliver Stone’s son). Her next film, Diary of a Lunatic, is slated for July 2019. She is also an inspiration to the small screen as well. She appeared in many TV series including Bertha Jo, The Dukes of Hazzard: Reunion, Herc-ules: The Legendary Jour-neys, and Not Fade Away.
Rothrock now travels around the globe to take classes, seminars and workshops around the globe. “I am happy to teach the people about the positivity of martial arts bec-ause it makes you revolve. Martial Art helps you to convert problems into ch-allenges and overcome her fears and self-limiting be-liefs. My message to you-ngsters is that to “learn a martial art and conquer the world,” Rothrock signs off....