Martial Arts and Crafts

Flying V Fights

By Jon Jon Johnson, Flying V Company Member.

I love that I get to bring my Kung Fu to the Flying V Stage once again. Having grown up studying Baguazhang (八卦掌, or “Eight-Trigrams Boxing”), it was never something I was particularly proud of having brought to the US. I may have beaten up a bully in my middle school hallways, under the notion of “defending my honor,” and used it once or twice in a bar-scuffle, but I’ve never really brought the “art” part of it to life until I worked with Flying V.

Kung Fu is something that feels…so “Chinesey.” On the one hand, it feels like it’s expected that if you’re Asian or Asian-American, you have some training in it. On the other hand, having that training makes you often feel like a stereotype. That’s a little bit of a tight-rope act when one is trying to fit into a new country. “How foreign am I allowed to be?”

Finn Jones being cast as Iron Fist brings, as well as Tilda Swinton’s Ancient One in Dr. Strange bring up some of the age-old orientalist tropes, which does tend to get under the skin a little bit, especially if you’re someone who studied Kung Fu, and carried an ancient tradition across the ocean only to get a decent amount of ridicule for it. Suddenly it’s popular in the mainstream media, but it’s being showcased by people who look nothing like you. Then, on the other hand, you think: “Well, people who look like me get cast as the martial artist a lot. And they rarely bring something to the team other than kung-fuey goodness.” It seems an impossible request: Cast Asians and Asian-Americans in varied roles beyond just martial artists, but please also take the opportunity to cast them in stories that could be enriched by their presence. The main argument I stand behind is that we’ve seen the white person learn the mystic Asian art to win the day, but it sure would’ve been nice to see an Asian-American getting back in touch with his heritage through kung fu.

Enter Jon Jon, who gets to do that. I love stepping up and being the “Martial Artist,” because it’s something I can do, and have grown to love showing off. Being able to claim the mantle of “Martial Artist” in a cast, while also showcasing other skills and roles, is precisely the balance I’d love to see in media as a whole. Asians can be your martial artists, but as long as we remember that Asians can be so much more than that too.

So for fear of turning this into a lecture, I thought it’d be fun to pull up a few martial arts tropes:

All Asians Know Kung Fu:
Some famous examples include Hikaru Sulu (who went with the rapier to defy stereotypes).

Blind Weaponmaster:
I tend to think, most recently, of Chirrut from Rogue One, but another recent example is Stick from Daredevil. (Shoutout to Hawkeye from Old Man Logan, who, though blind, was still super deadly with his aimas long as he could hear his target.)

Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy:
Vegeta, of course. But my favourite is most likely Yu Jialong (or Jen) from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Bare-Fisted Monk:
In video games where you get to choose your class, you often get the “monk,” who is your bare-knuckle fighter, tends to have high attack, high speed, and low health and defense.

Force and Finesse:
One of the most common forms of martial arts duos. Definitely think Luke Cage and Iron Fist. For a film example, think Inigo Montoya and Fezzik!

Pressure Point:
Very popular in Chinese martial arts films, but definitely popularized with the “Vulcan Neck Pinch” from Star Trek, and the “Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique” from Kill Bill, Vol. 2.

Shatterpoint Tap:
This is one of the specialities of Karnak, of Inhumans lore.

Fantastic Fighting Style:
Notable examples are Zack’s Hip-Hopkido from Power Rangers, or Killer Bee’s Seven-Sword Style from Naruto.

As we’re still devising the show, I doubt very much that we’ll be relying on any of these tropes — getting to build a martial arts character (drawing from American pop-culture references) has been a blast, allowing us to select which tropes we discard or lean into as we make our analogue. I’m quite ready to bring this hero, and his sweet, sweet moves into the arena of the Secret History of the Unknown World, and so ready to bring back some Kung Fu to the DC Scene.

Jon Jon

Check out more awesome characters (and fights) in Flying V Fights: The Secret History of the Unknown World. What if all your favorite stories were true? Taking inspiration from sources as diverse as Sherlock Holmes, HP Lovecraft, Indiana Jones and Twilight, Flying V Fights: The Secret History of the Unknown World creates a universe where all of these incredible archetypes and events exist together. Take a trip through the history of a world where weird science can bring dead tissue back to life, masked marvels unite to protect the populace, and eldritch horrors emerge from the deep. Through innovative and high octane stage combat and an epic original score, Flying V once again soars to new heights creating a brand new fully devised piece where two hundred years of creativity is boiled down to two hours of action.

Secret History invites audiences to see fiction as fact: in our world, it’s all real.

Tickets are now on sale at:

No Comments