Martial arts action actor Chuck Johnson finds niche in Japan

Martial arts action actor Chuck Johnson finds niche in Japan

Where are you from, and what brought you to Japan?

I’m from Michigan — I spent the first part of my life in Detroit, and the second part in an upper-middle-class suburb called Okemos. That move was my first experience with culture shock! I started Olympic taekwondo when I was 15, and I took the gold in my very first tournament. Two-and-a-half years later, I was the Michigan State Junior Olympic Champion for both sparring and forms, winning the gold medal in both six days after receiving my black belt.

When I was 20, I had big dreams of going to the Olympics, so I started traveling back and forth to Korea to train. After three years, I had won one national championship in the States. But I decided that that path simply wasn’t for me. I came to Japan to find a new path.

Which was a harder culture shock for you: going from the murder capital of America to a cushy upper-middle-class suburb, or going from the West to the East?

Korea wasn’t so difficult for me to adapt to because I’d been around Koreans since I was a teen, and culturally, the Koreans share a myriad of elements with African-Americans: they both have a strong Christian social base, community-first orientation, super-direct communication patterns, etc. But Japan was a whole ‘nother ballgame. It took me a long time to get used to working here.

What kind of martial arts do you do now?

My base is Olympic taekwondo, but I’ve been studying capoeira and katana tate for two years. I also have experience in judo, kendo, hapkido, tai chi, kickboxing and boxing.

Tell us about your upcoming projects.

I just finished a live action show with the Pass Guard Action Team, and we have another one coming up in around October. Beyond that, I’ve been cast as one of the main characters in a post-apocalyptic Japanese samurai movie that starts filming next year, and will be shot in Thailand. I’ll be doing sword action and free hand action, and I’ll have Japanese speaking lines, so most of my efforts for the remainder of this year are going towards preparing for that role and promoting myself in Korea and China.

What do you like to do in your downtime?

Rest. I train 4-5 days a week, so usually I’m sore all the time. When I’m not resting, I spend my time working on Phat English, a system I developed while working as an pronunciation coach. It uses specially designed hip-hop music to teach American English Phonetics. When I’m not doing that, I’m studying other languages myself — in particular, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish and Portuguese.

For more information, see www.chuck-n-action.com and www.phatenglish.com. This story originally appeared in Metropolis magazine (www.metropolis.co.jp).

  • 0

    lipscombe

    phat english hahaha, oh dear. just what the world needs. more big-upping fo'real

  • 0

    TheguyNextdoor

    lol lips, yeah....what happened to EBONICS????

  • 0

    kimigano

    Who?

  • 0

    terebiko

    I am in the same boat as kimigano. Chuck who? I remember Chuck Wilson, the Judoka who became a tarento. Then there's the great Texas Ranger Chuck Norris...

  • 0

    seimei

    Phat English - specially designed hip-hop music to teach American English Phonetics

    • ooooo goody, perhaps we can teach Japanese people some grammer and vocab before filling their heads with this.
  • 0

    TheNewZen

    Looking at his age and given MA creds, he gone far for his age. BB in 2.5yrs. Lost of styles for someone so young.

    Said that never heard of him either.

  • 0

    KnightsTemplars

    I agre with TheNewZen; Strange he has achieved so much, but i have never heard of the guy.

    Somethingawry with the story, not saying he is a complete fake, but it don`t all ad up to me.

  • 0

    Damax6

    look at what everyone here wrote above me. NOT 1 of you had the common decency to give the man credit. I figure that teaching english YOUR way with your DEGREES, makes you all "the smarty pants" crew. Did any of you used his method, did you , after you tried it came to the conclusion it don't add up....

    Can anyone of you have rhythm do attempt such. Someone mentioned EBONICS???why the hell???. Can anyone of you walk a quarter mile in his shoe??...i get it..its a "Black thing"

  • 0

    dennis0bauer

    yoooH Damax6 chill dude. it's like you them J's lingo is dis men. They need da thru english lingo man.

    peace

    but seriously i have not heard from him either. The guy from softbank is more famous than him.

  • 0

    TheNewZen

    You can check his stuff here: http://jp.youtube.com/watch?v=cED5k3CmPJM

  • 0

    ExPrinceska

    Wow, his video is great and he is so amazing!!!!!!!!!! I am his new fan. He is not exactly skinny but his jumps have such a height and he is very good at rotating and controling the balance, has strength and height in his kicks, superb, superb and congrats for your success and fame!!!!

  • 0

    KnightsTemplars

    Modesty is not one of his many atributes.

  • 0

    pathat

    "the Koreans share a myriad of elements with African-Americans: they both have a strong Christian social base, community-first orientation, super-direct communication patterns, etc...."

    Is that so?

  • 0

    ExPrinceska

    He is very flexible too. It is amazing that he combines power and flexibility, usually very flexible people (in the legs) lack the power for the martial arts.

  • 0

    pathat

    "Chuck who?"

    Teacher Page:

    http://www.humbird.co.jp/instructors.html

  • 0

    franknbeans

    Apparently he isn't as good as he thinks he is, or he wouldn't need to teach english like any other schmoe here....

  • 0

    akaguma

    you must admit it is pretty second rate to 'teach' others a language you don't have much command of yourself

  • 0

    TheNewZen

    IMO, too many people mistake acrobatic skill for Martial Arts/fighting skills. Thanks to a steady diet of MA movies over the years most are more athletic/acrobatic than showing the true stuff.

    Hence why they are actors.

  • 0

    Good_Jorb

    I can see it now:

    Hooked on Hip-Hop worked for me, desu YO!

  • 0

    TheguyNextdoor

    LOL Jorb

  • 0

    JeromeInJapan

    Yea... there is like 3 articles on him all writen the same way... 1 youtube video with like 3 comments... and no proof of his olympic gold. Sorry man buy yea 2.5 years?! Maybe in wack a$$ taekwondo but in karate it takes about 4 years. To me... just another brother in Japan doing his thing... ahhh it never ends.

  • 0

    IchyaParadise

    No he is a Junior Olympic Champion...jr...he is a jr. What was his name again?

  • 0

    rjd_jr

    Cool guy, wish him best of luck in his future endeavours. Don't let the jealous and bitter nobodies here rain on your parade.

  • 0

    lipscombe

    hahaha wondered where rjr had been. I'm also a teacher why would I be jealous of him? just find him a bloated ego self-decieved opportunist...but keep telling me what I think rjr

  • 0

    kawaiitenshi

    wonder if he supplied the photo and practices bad boy poses in the mirror before going to work?

  • 0

    helloklitty

    He is very flexible too. It is amazing that he combines power and flexibility, usually very flexible people (in the legs) lack the power for the martial arts.

    Speed beats power in martial arts. Every martial artist knows this.

  • 0

    IchyaParadise

    Speed beats power in martial arts. Every martial artist knows this.

    I guess you never been in a real fight. You can get hit a lot of times by a fast person, but that one hitta killa will take you out.

    rjr, tell me why you on his jock?

  • 0

    JeromeInJapan

    "niche in Japan?" What the hell does that mean? On few people in Japan like him? I can see why... a lot of people have niche markets they target to in Japan... dumb people who believe all black people are Michael Jordan.

  • 0

    womblingfree

    Some pretty bitter comments here, and for what? I looked up this guys on IMDB and he's had small roles in plenty of movies including Godzilla: Final Wars, Death Trance and Densha Otoku. Apart from competing competitively in K2 and Taekwondo the guy's actually got brains enough to develop a set of commercial language materials. Good luck chuck.

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