Ever wondered about those mysterious, stealthy, light-footed warriors called Ninjas? Having trained in Spain and Japan, we now get a glimpse into the life of a rather unusual and distinctive martial artist: David Sepulveda Low. He possesses a notable wealth of martial experience; a sustained, committed practice which he has successfully weaved into both his work in the security and fight choreography fields.
Now, David gives us the low-down on his background story, his fighting art, including riveting perspectives on training and his warrior-ways…Read on as we delve into more about this modern-day Ninja!
Welcome to the Kung-fu Kingdom interview, David!
Thank you, it’s my pleasure!
Let’s take it from the top, what is your DOB and from where do you originate?
I was born December 16th 1980 in Alicante, (seaport city on the Mediterranean coast of) Spain
What is your height and weight?
Height: 5’8” ½ (1.73m), 150 pounds (68 kilograms)
How did you first get into the martial arts? How old were you?
I have been a warrior for a long, long time but in this lifetime, I started at the age of 7. I suffered a brain injury at birth, undertook surgery at just 11 days old as a consequence, I grew up a weak child with a major lack of motor and coordination skills , as well as being socially inept. There was karate and judo club at my school. I enrolled into karate…
What was the first main style you trained in and how long have you been training?
My first style was Shotokan karate. I trained that from 7 to 12 years of age. I have trained in many other different styles throughout my life, I would say all in all, over 20 years…it was mostly Japanese, Chinese & South East Asian, along with studying countless books on the martial arts, meditation, self-development and warfare related subjects. However, you could probably guess, I am not much into “styles”, I am more into the wider paradigm of “human development”. I believe that martial arts, with its different stages and styles are just a vehicle for complete self-realization.
Who would you credit as having most influenced you in the martial arts? Who was/is your mentor?
The most influential person in the martial arts for me was my first main martial arts teacher, Mr. Juan Hombre Dopazo from Spain. He is the founder of his own martial arts and self development system called Taishindo. He is a very controversial character within the martial arts world, often misunderstood in the media, but a very special human being with an indomitable spirit. I would also like to mention Mr. Kawakami Jinichi from Japan, known as “the last ninja of Japan”. I have trained with these two masters at different stages of my life -they have been a big influence on me, each in their own unique, even transcendental way!
You’ve worked a little in movies before, now you have some new opportunities, can you tell us more?
Well in truth, I never pursued movies as a career per se, martial arts or my personal quest for self-realization through the warrior pathways has always been always taken first place. I joined a film stunt school in Madrid, Spain back in 1999 after becoming the Spanish national champion in open forms & weapons several times, then I started getting stunt work on national TV shows until I moved to USA in 2004. There I worked in many “B” movies, independent productions and a few big ones, the most notable being Indiana Jones 4, where I performed some stunts. As a stuntman you should be able to act naturally in front of the camera as well when required. As far as acting goes, I played the lead in a few shorts, like, “The Final Lesson”, where I play “Kichiro” the Master and the feature length, Shadowman, where I again played the “Master” character.
What new projects are you working on at the moment?
Actually, my daily bread and butter comes from running operations, training and consulting in the security and personal protection industries. Some of my work is confidential so I cannot openly divulge about it. However, as far as film goes, my focus is on creating my own martial arts/ action projects in collaboration with talented, ambitious directors, producers and filmmakers. As an aside, in winter 2007 I co-wrote an action/martial arts thriller, based on my own life called Reborn, which won the best action screenplay award at the International Chicago film festival back in 2009. I wanted to produce and star in it, but some technical difficulties occurred which has caused that assignment to be shelved, temporarily at least! I am also attached as the lead actor in a vampire / martial arts / sci-fi trilogy kind of Blade meets Underworld, meets Star Wars called Vila: The Chronicles. It’s a rather ambitious project. The book of the first chronicle is available already and can be purchased online. My third personal project I am working on is a ninja movie in an effort to bring back the 80’s ninja boom but, from a more historically accurate point of view this time around, along with a fresher, “Hollywood ninja” image!
Who do you most admire in the martial arts movie industry, and why?
In the movie industry I admire Jackie Chan the most for his dedication and drive to doing his own stunts as well as his amazing creativity when it comes to fusing comedy and action!
Who would you most like to work with and why?
Any dedicated professional that wants to work with me! (smiles)
Can you name your top five kung-fu movies and why?
Sure. I’ll mix it up here with some Japanese and samurai classics as well!
- IP MAN with Donnie Yen: Although the story isn’t so close to Ip Man’s real life, I think is very well directed and Donnie Yen does a superb acting job! I also refer to the action sequences as well. A top martial arts actor continues transmitting to the audience the emotional content of the story through his martial arts and body movement -Donnie Yen really does it here in my point of view. Also, I personally relate to the main character of this movie in many ways.
- HERO with Jet Li: Astonishing visuals, beautiful action and complex story of military strategy, love and betrayal with a deep underlying meaning –where the heart becomes the sword…
- ARAGAMI, of Dir. Ryuhei Kitamura: This one ventures more into the supernatural realm of the warrior. I love the setting and the fact that it was filmed with only 2 actors, one set, in just one week!
- OSHI SAMURAI (The mute Samurai): This one is a samurai classic from the 70’s series. One of my favourites!
- KOZURE OKAMI – Lone wolf and cub: Another favourite from the classic samurai vault!
Can you tell us any specific or special training techniques that work for you?
I‘ll share part of my own personal daily training with you, which is not necessarily very appealing to everyone! It involves an exhausting combination of specific breathing exercises, hard-hitting body strikes & deep meditation sequences designed to extend endurance (increasing sensitivity as well) strengthening the mind and “awakening the spirit”.
Three elements I consider very useful to enhance your martial arts or any other physical practice are the following:
- Re-learn to breath with the lower abdomen, (Dan tien / Hara / Muladhara, in Chinese, Japanese, Sanskrit respectively). Breathe like a baby!
- Strengthening and learning to use your core muscles, which is directly related to number 1 above
- Stretching – Increasing the muscle, joints’ and tendons’ range of motion and elasticity –this will dramatically minimize the risk of injuries and improve your game, no matter what you play!
What kind of injuries have you had and how did you work around them?
Actually Raj, I have had the most serious injuries outside the martial arts/stunts! Specifically in the martial arts, other than many cuts & bruises (funny note; all the fingers of my hands have scars on them) I have scars all over my body really! Back in the year 2000, I sprained my ankle 3 days before I entered the national open tournament. I continued on in such a way that my teacher at that time (Mr. Juan Hombre) and my training peers didn’t notice it. I self-treated it with a combination of applying cold/hot compresses on it, Reiki-like hands-on massage with Tiger Balm ointment and concentrating the mind to bring healing energy to the ankle. I ended up getting a 2nd place in traditional weapons forms with the BO (hard long staff) in that tournament!
What’s the most daring stunt you’ve ever done?
That would have to be falling 30 metres, approx. 100ft!
What special recuperative remedy would you recommend for people living a physically intense lifestyle?
To practice qigong (pron: chi-gong) regularly, or anything else that calms the mind and brings attention to their breathing, relaxation and internal energy flow. To take cold showers, ideally every day, but at least once a week. If they have access to it, I would highly recommend taking baths in natural hot springs too!
Is your diet something you pay attention to, what kind of nutrition helps you to be energised so you can be at your active best?
I eat anything nature provides, I eat as fresh as possible but I take processed stuff as well, all in balance. Everyone’s diet is mostly conditioned to their external environment, their culture, what their organism is accustomed to eat and what they have access to. To simplify all those factors…BALANCE is the key. To achieve that balance, I categorize foods into ying/yang, by colour and by flavour. I am personally not really picky with my own diet, I really do eat anything and everything, I love food! For specific training purposes though, I do modify the way I eat it as well (very fast, very slow, big quantities, small quantities, frequency, mindfulness, in motion) and go through fasting or food starvation periods, this training is what I call War Training, but that is a whole different subject in itself! As far as specific natural and energetic products I consume, here are three: fermented soy bean in different forms (e.g. miso, natto or tofu), pickled plum (Umeboshi) and my favourite, raw sugar cane (not to be confused with ready processed sugar cane!) which you can either peel and chew or make a delicious juice from.
Do you take supplements, what do you recommend?
I do take protein supplementation if I need to gain weight quickly and a multivitamin supplement once every three months or so, all products as natural as possible. The body will take what it needs and flush the excess away.
What are you especially keen to accomplish?
To be able to fully express myself and to “touch” as many people as I can in my lifetime…
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
On Earth, (probably visiting other planets) 🙂 and getting closer to full self-expression…
What do you like to do to relax, any hobbies?
As far as hobbies; I love cars, exotic, sport and off-road, and I love to drive. I also love food, cooking, dining out and discovering new foods and drinks! I like to watch and play soccer, basketball and most other sports really. I am relaxed most of the times, no matter how busy I am. Stress is not in my book!
What advice would you give to a beginner who is considering taking-up a martial art?
To just GO FOR IT! Don’t be shy to try-out different training methods at first, until you find the one that you feel comfortable with and that you can relate to. Your body has to feel comfortable expressing itself through your art of choice and it has to make sense according to what your goals are in the first place. The martial arts teacher is going to play a crucial role at that initial stage. Get a good foundation in the basics, eventually you can cross-train other styles and systems to find your own path and expression.
Which warrior principles do you live by?
Here are my three main principles:
- Everything happens for a reason.
- Maximum result, minimum effort.
- Live and let live.
What special message do you have for Kung-fu Kingdom readers?
To always move FORWARD and (sounds cliché, and no doubt you have all heard and read it over and over for the longest time…) just B E L I E V E!
Last but not least, what warrior-wisdom quote would you really like to share?
“Poison can be turned into medicine, iron into gold!”
Alchemy…now that’s a provoking thought! Thank you for your kind participation in this interview David, we wish you the very best with your current and upcoming projects. Keep in touch!
It was wonderful, I am very happy to share with you Raj, your team and your readers. Until next time!