Actor Jackie Chan is well-known for his martial arts movies, especially the remake of the Karate Kid in 2010. This has left many people wondering if Jackie Chan is just acting or if he does know Karate.
Jackie Chan wasn’t just acting in his films, he does actually know karate. Typically if actors or actresses have to perform a stunt, they will get a stunt double. Jackie Chan, however, performs and usually choreographs all his own stunts including elaborate fights.
Continue reading to find out more about Jackie Chan’s history with Karate.
History of Karate
Karate is a martial art that originated in the Ryukyu Kingdom which is now the modern day Okinawa Prefecture in Japan. Karate was actually inspired by the Chinese martial art Kung Fu, more specifically a branch of Kung Fu called Fujian White Crane.
Karate is an offensive rather than defensive martial art that focuses on striking by using punching, kicking, knee strikes and elbow strikes. It started to become popular in martial arts films around the same time Jackie Chan was gaining popularity, the 1960s to 70s.
It is increasingly gaining more popularity as a sport as it will be included in the next summer Olympics. There are around 100 million practitioners of Karate in the world, and Jackie Chan is one of them.
The Karate Kid
The question about whether Jackie Chan knows Karate or not likely stems from his starring role in the Karate Kid 2010 remake. Ironically though, Jackie Chan and his co-star Jaden Smith, are doing Kung Fu in the film, not Karate.
Though Jackie Chan does know Karate, the Karate Kid remake takes place in China, not Japan. The original movie takes place in Los Angeles, California, but Daniel LaRusso (the kid in Karate Kid) learns Karate from a Japanese handyman in their apartment, played by Pat Morita.
Despite there being no Karate in the Karate Kid remake, producers kept the name to better market the new film. Jackie Chan is no stranger to Kung Fu movies either as his first film breakthrough was the 1978 film Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow that established a comedic Kung Fu genre.
Jackie Chan was also the stunt director in films like Half a Loaf of Kung Fu and Spiritual Kung Fu both made by Lo Wei’s studio, a director that worked on many of Bruce Lee’s films. Lo Wei is often cited as launching both Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan’s martial arts film careers.
Even though Jackie Chan has been in and directed many Kung Fu movies, he does have formal training in Karate. He is also a black belt in Hapkido, a Korean martial art that teaches self-defense and uses traditional weapons and he also knows Judo, Taekwondo and Jeet Kune Do.
Jackie Chan’s Injuries
Since Jackie Chan does all of his own stunts, he has obtained many injuries from his various Kung Fu and Karate fighting scenes. In 1975, Jackie Chan hit his head after falling off a truck and got a concussion. Despite this, he got up and performed the stunt again.
In 1983, he fell from a clock tower while filming the movie Project A. He landed on his head and damaged his cervical spine. Then, he damaged his spinal cord in 1985 while filming Police Story. This injury almost paralyzed him, but he had surgery and went on to film 7 more movies for the series.
A year later in 1986, Jackie fell 40 feet to the ground when he missed a jump he was performing for The Armor of God. This injury fractured his skull, resulting in brain surgery to remove broken bone fragments from his brain. This has left him with a permanent plug in his skull and partial hearing loss.
Jackie Chan has said that he has not been in a film where he was not injured. Despite this, he continues to perform and choreograph all of his stunts and continues to practise martial arts like Karate.