“Mind, Body & Kick Ass Moves” is a ten-episode factual television programme that was originally broadcast on BBC Three, and presented by Brummie martial arts expert Chris Crudelli.
The show is presented by lifelong martial artist and author Chris Crudelli. Each episode is narrated with a voiceover from Mark Durden-Smith, a familiar presenter to fans of English-daytime television.
Presented by Chris Crudelli the documentary series travels around the Far East exploring different martial arts and learning the secret skills and knowledge of various Grandmasters. The series investigates aspects of each different martial art by filming the masters demonstrating their style and skills. In this one series of ten episodes, each episode focuses on a mix of different martial arts and masters and shows Crudelli taking martial arts skills and tricks to the streets, in a style similar to street magic. The opening narration states that Crudelli is a master of combat and esoteric energies.
Through the episodes…
Dr. Hatsumi – Last Living Ninja
Presenter Chris Crudelli performs various tricks in an English Street market. In the Philippines he learns how traditional dancing helps with footwork and coordination for fighting. This leads to showing British break dancers how their moves can be used in a fight. In Beijing he looks at the tai chi practitioners in local parks and gets thrown around on the concrete by an old man! On the beach at Newquay, Cornwall, Crudelli teaches lifeguards the fighting applications of drunken fist. In Chiba, Japan, Chris meets the world’s last living ninja, Dr Hatsumi, who despite his years, puts the presenter through his paces. The descendant of a 500-year old family line, he swings a razor sharp katana at Chris for him to dodge and uses traditional techniques to disarm modern weapons such as an automatic pistol. With the Great Wall of China as a backdrop he meets qigong Master Zhu Min De of the Jingwumen, who channels his energy into his rock-like fists and punches himself in the face!
This episode starts at a UK fairground with Crudelli testing his senses on the rides. He teaches a taxi driver self defence skills that are relevant to their trade. In Osaka, Japan, Master Tanaka has his daughter Midori fire arrows at him which he deflects with a katana. Back in Manila, Master Ernesto Presas stick fights at lightning speed blindfolded! At a Cardiff auction house, Chris demonstrates some esoteric “No touch” skills that spook the participants. Returning to Japan, Crudelli learns the telepathic art of Shin Tai Do and endures standing under a freezing waterfall.
Master Ernesto Presas
Crudelli demonstrates being relaxed yet being able to break wooden chopsticks with his throat. In Kamakura, Japan he witnesses some incredible traditional archery on horseback. Back in the UK at Smithfield Market, Crudelli challenges some burly butchers to sweep and roundhouse kick him with little effect. In Hong Kong Chris meets Master Sho Dao Shi “the Fanny Cradock of kung fu cookery”, who relates food to martial arts and the elements. Carrots for sight, onions for breathing etc. He is also a feng shui and bagua master. Chris teaches some British pizza delivery guys self defence skills that might be useful in their line of work. In Cebu, Philippines Crudelli has the privilege of seeing the rare Black Eagle Escrima using live bladed machetes for sparring on dusty ground covered in broken glass.
At a Glasgow hairdressers, Chris teaches how to use combs, brushes and even a broom as weapons. We see Filipino police commandos practice knife fighting known as Pekiti-Tirsia Kali. This leads into some supernatural voodoo beliefs. Filipino magical self defence includes special written prayers and amulets carried on the person. Astonishingly, we see a ritual that apparently protects a practitioner from boiling hot cooking oil. In Osaka, Japan we get to take a look at Samurai practitioners. Chris helps someone getting a tattoo not feel any pain by using a pressure point and to illustrate the art of dim mak. This leads us to dim mak Master Duan in China. There are some impressive demonstrations not least when he hits Crudelli with a strike that affects him internally.
Sensei Kuroda Tetsuzan – Samurai
At a builder’s merchants in the UK, Chris sets fire to a stack of ceramic tiles before smashing through them with his fist. It leads to Hong Kong Master Leung Ting, who explains how apparently superhuman feats are usually just “vagabond tricks” for street performers to earn money. He does point out the irony that if the tricks are not performed accurately by a highly trained martial artist, there can be serious injuries. Back at the builder’s yard, Chris pounds a board whilst holding an egg in his clenched fist. Remarkably the egg does not break. Qigong Master Tu Jin Sheng performs some impressive “hard” feats but also stands on a tray of eggs whilst painting a relaxing picture for balance. Most astonishingly he drags a truck loaded with seven or eight disciples along a road with a rope attached to his “iron penis”! In Japan we meet Master Sasaki, a “Kiai” master who uses his shouts as a weapon.
Master Leung Ting Vagabond Tricks
Chris shows some nightclub bouncers how to defend themselves against punters armed with a garrote wire, tent peg or baseball bat. Sticking with the theme, we see a crazy Taiwanese Fight Club in a nightclub where punters actually queue up to box each other. In China it is illustrated that even though it is just for the movies, the stunt performers must be highly-skilled martial artists to make the choreography convincing but safe. A parallel is drawn with ring wrestling. Of course Chris teaches two very tough lady wrestlers how traditional martial arts can be used in their sport. There is a wonderful look at Ip Man‘s son Ip Chun’s Wing Chun skills on The Peak in Hong Kong.
Ip Man’s Son Ip Chun
The 80 year-old Master even throws Chris around with ease. At Master Leung Ting’s Wing Chun school he gives some very entertaining but practical analogies explaining why his style is logical and effective. Hong Kong legend Sammo Hung even pops in to discuss the difference between screen fighting and real fighting.
Sammo Hung pops into Master Leung Ting’s Wing Chun School
Master Pan Sheng De’s Taiwanese hard qigong school performs various incredible feats including bending iron rods with their eyeballs. Chris teaches a “Big Girls Night Out” various self-defence methods. We see Doce Pares Escrima, which includes doing a sticky hands-style drill with live blades. An astonishing 85% of deaths on the streets of the Philippines are as a result of knife injuries. Grandmaster Ip Chee Kung runs a Dit da clinic and practices Chow Gar and Praying Mantis kung fu. As well as using ancient healing skills to treat martial artists he is also able to retract his testicles inside his body, as confirmed by Chris’ hands-on examination!
Master Pan Sheng De’s Hard Qiqong School
Chris teaches Estate Agents how to defend themselves. He examines an archive of secret ninja and Samurai weapons. This inspires Crudelli to teach how everyday items such as keys, an umbrella, a belt and even a mobile phone can be used as weapons. On a Filipino beach, canes stand in for machetes as Chris goes through some lethal fighting drills with Master Presas. He also learns how to use a whip and throw nails into a tree trunk. We get a look at custom machetes that are treated with spider venom, some of which escape during the treatment process! Ninja expert Dr. Hatsumi returns to crush Chris’s head with wooden poles. Chris also looks at the influence of animals on martial arts styles. Sifu William Wan demonstrates his Fut Gar 5 animals style and impressively continues to talk with the point of a sword pressed into his windpipe.
Dr. Hatsumi Ninja Death Tricks
There is some impressive special forces training using knives against guns. Chris turns his kung fu training into drinking games for a rugby club and demonstrates how Filipino arts can be used in a snooker hall. Master Kuroda performs some silky sword skills and has a fascinating finger-wrestling duel with Crudelli. Just by tugging on Crudelli’s fingers he can isolate movement in specific parts of the body. In Hong Kong, Chris explains the relationship between traditional lion dancing and kung fu. At a petrolhead’s garage Chris shows how even items such as tyres can be used as a useful training tool. Master Yang Sheng Li performs his unique animal-style tai chi form and special “Chi sounds”. A Taiwanese special police unit incorporates Chinese martial arts into their SWAT training.
Taiwanese SWAT Training
In the final episode Crudelli investigates the role that belief in supernatural spirits play in martial arts training. Sifu Cho practices a Daoist style that “invites gods” to possess the body. It allows practitioners to jump on and even eat broken glass without any apparent injury. Master Cho states that it has nothing to do with the practice of qigong, which can take years to master, but insists that anyone can invoke this “spirit power” in just a couple of days. Sensei Oshiro shows his effective old-style hard Okinawan karate “ki” strikes.
Sensei Oshiro Okinawan Karate
In the Philippines we see how important amulets are to martial arts practitioners, and how some even have them implanted into their bodies. This practice is especially popular with soldiers and police officers.
Filipino Martial Arts Amulets
Chris performs some of his qigong skills for a paranormal investigator in Newquay. Sensei Oshiro returns to inflict various degrees of pain on Crudelli using some very effective pressure point strikes.
When this series first aired, I remember watching the first episode and thinking, “At last! A show that isn’t about men in pyjamas shouting ‘Hiya!’, that even my mum can understand and be entertained by” (she did and was incidentally). And that is the crucial key to the success of this series; it entertains. Wisely cutting between a wide variety of brief sections, even the shortest of attention spans will cope with each episode and be a little wiser by the end of them.
Throughout the series, Chris Crudelli often challenges guests or passers-by to some demonstrations of his martial arts skills. Boards are broken over limbs and ribs, wine glasses are shattered with a flick of the fingers, and groins are kicked. Some of Crudelli’s street-stunts are exactly that – fairground tricks that have been replicated by non-martial artists. Nonetheless, they are entertaining sequences. Alongside these however, Crudelli does demonstrate some genuine martial arts techniques and impressive practical skills. These are often accompanied by some sensible advice when it comes to everyday self-defence. He even performs the practical applications of drunken fist for some Cornish beach lifeguards, I also enjoyed his tips for taxi drivers and nightclub bouncers!
There is a particularly spooky example of some of the more esoteric arts as Chris increases his “sixth sense” score of detecting “killer intent” from 47% to 81% having showered in a freezing cold waterfall! There are some unique contributions, such as the Daoist chef who relates food to the five elements. Witnessing some artists bend iron bars with their throats and eyeballs, or a man pulling a truck along with his male member (honestly!), is fascinating and wince-inducing in equal measure. It’s borderline circus entertainment but Crudelli consistently relates these skills back to traditional and practical martial arts. Some of the demonstrations are a little too dressed-up in mysticism and the supernatural, but narrator Mark Durden-Smith usually quickly brings proceedings back to Earth with a cutting or witty remark. It would have been nice to see a little more “science” behind the skills though.
The series is very well filmed and edited with an entertaining voiceover from Mark Durden-Smith. Some parts do look like they are trying to film a nineties pop video, but it retains a certain style with its Kill Bill-style theme tune. What I like about presenter Chris Crudelli is that he gets stuck in and is prepared to get involved in whatever style is being presented. He frequently suffers for the art whether it’s a 70 year-old Master jabbing him in a pressure point, getting a sweat on in sparring, or eating deep-fried scorpions!
This is arguably the best television show to make martial arts accessible to a mainstream audience since the BBC’s 1983 documentary series “The Way of the Warrior”. The DVD can readily be found to buy online and is well worth seeking out. Crudelli has spoken on social media about the possibility of reviving or rebooting the show. If it maintains the format of the original, with the huge variety of arts and masters, combined with Crudelli’s engaging kung fu tricks and tips, that is something I for one would be very happy to see!
- “The perfect sword strike is like making love to a beautiful woman.”
- “No wonder they call him the living treasure, he’s always going for the family jewels.”
- “You close that windpipe for a couple of seconds, and nobody wants to know.”
- “The sparrow never lands where the tiger roams. It took me 14 years to figure out what that meant.”
- “It’s not known how effective the bench was, but there are no known recorded horse-bench massacres.”