Happy Birthday Billy Blanks!

Happy Birthday Billy Blanks who turns 59 today! He’s an American fitness guru, martial artist, actor and inventor!  He’s probably best known for his role in King of the Kickboxers, but did you know he also invented the Tae Bo fitness system too?

Here he is fighting Loren Avedon:

According to his Wikipedia entry:
Blanks began his study of the martial arts at the age of eleven attending karate. He was born with an anomaly in his hip joints that impaired his movement, and a clumsiness that earned him the taunts of his siblings and caused his coaches to believe he’d never accomplish much. Blanks found the answer to these challenges in karate. When he saw Bruce Lee on TV, he decided he wanted to be a world martial-arts champion. The discipline of the program began to transform his body.

He was hired as a bodyguard for lead actress Catherine Bach during the filming of 1988’s Driving Force, due to the political unrest present in Manila at the time; he impressed the producers so much, they wrote him into the script.

This led to Blanks’ work in several martial arts films, including King of the Kickboxers and the first Bloodfist. Perhaps his most recognizable role to mainstream audiences is in the opening scene of Tony Scott’s The Last Boy Scout as a doomed pro-football player. Blanks also appeared as the kickboxing instructor to Ashley Judd’s character in Kiss the Girls.

In the late 1980s, Blanks invented the Tae Bo workout, while running a karate studio in Quincy, Massachusetts. He used components of his martial arts and boxing training. The name is a portmanteau of taekwondo and boxing. Blanks opened a fitness center in Los Angeles to teach his new workout. He later attracted some celebrity clients such as Paula Abdul and the popularity of the workout quickly grew, becoming a pop culture phenomenon after Blanks began releasing mass-marketed videos. The popularity of the workout later waned, but Blanks still attracts many celebrity clients and Tae Bo videos and DVDs have continued to sell well.

Curious about Tae Bo?

Elliot Richards

Elliot is KFK's Web Content Editor, writer and lover of all kinds of movies, including martial arts ones. Favourites include The Prodigal Son, Magnificent Butcher, The Victim, Legend of a Fighter and the Ip Man movies with Donnie Yen.

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