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Martial Arts Year in Review -- 2006

2006 has been an interesting year for Martial Arts. The year began as most years do with many hopes and potentials. It seemed like Martial Arts was the wave of the future – everywhere you turned the idea of the fighting arts was on people’s lips. Martial Arts was in every movie and more than one boasted the potential to launch a new world of Martial Arts to fans around the world.

As we look back, the momentum for Martial Arts has changed quite a bit. It seems rare these days to hear much talk of a new mainstream Martial Arts film. While the B-rate market is still thriving off of die hard fans, the general population is possibly craving something new. Hopefuls, like Tony Jaa, are still hopeful having not gained the immediate attention as some of the earlier Martial Artists. And then we have Jet Li, who has announced that 2006 was the last of his Martial Arts based movies.

On the flip side, mixed Martial Arts combat, like the UFC, have taken off. They remind me of the early days of professional wrestling, before a lot of the glitz, glam and theatrics that embodies the sport today. The raw combat, blood, gore, sweat, has created a new industry that seems to only see growth and gain in the coming year.

In 2006, we lost several noted names in Martial Arts. Life seems to never end its cycle of loss and gains. New stars rise as we bid farewell to old familiar friends and mentors. For the fear of missing any of the wonderful men and women who have both emerged and passed beyond this world, I will not go into specific names. Only hold in my heart the memory of those who have passed and hope those that have emerged will step up to carry the torch.

The division between what is considered traditional and what is mixed seems bigger than ever before and each discipline continues to define itself. The world around it has changed, and thus Martial Arts has changed as well.

As we step into the new year, it will be interesting to see where Martial Arts goes as a whole. There is a new Martial Arts movie that is finally being released in the US, called Curse of the Golden Flower. Later in the year will see the reemergence of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, introducing a new generation to these comical kitana wielding heros. And there’s new TV shows like the new anime Afro Samurai with Samuel L Jackson. There are voids and openings in the Martial Arts world that seeks leadership and direction. There is still need for Martial Arts overall to consider technology and how to better utilize the advances of the world.

So as we put 2006 behind us, let us open our horizons for 2007.

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