Monday, April 20, 2009

Some thoughts about sports, martial arts, and gender

The origins of this movie lie in the activities I used to do with a female wrestling team that made videos, competed in legit tournaments, performed in night clubs and fetish parties, and did wrestling sessions. I loved the diversity of activity we were able to do with the same skill set: submission grappling. As a long-time supporter of Equal Rights, I also was pleased that we happened to be demonstrating that women could be every bit as hard-working, aggressive, and competitive as men when it came to sports.

By the time I started this project as it is now, however, I was no longer working with that group, so I had to hold an open casting call. Through this casting call, and other casting calls I have made for female martial artists, wrestlers, and grapplers, I have found that most female martial artists who are also actors are more into the kicking and punching and "cardio" martial arts than the grappling arts. Upon reflection, whenever I have gone to grappling trainings or tournaments, there have always been very few women, and very few of those had any interest in show biz.

I recently recalled how when I was trying to help start a legit women's grappling school, research showed that while female participation in sports and martial arts has been skyrocketing lately, the slowest-growing field is wrestling.

Since I started making this movie, and even back when I was making "Combat Twister," I have run up against the perception that what I am making is a "catfight" or fetish video.

Yes, I have made wrestling fetish videos, both as a producer and a performer. No, I am not a wrestling fetishist. While I can tell how someone would find two women wrestling sexy, it's not what gets me aroused. I am more interested in the drama and skill of the fight, and I appreciate it when comedy is well integrated into the match.

The original version of this movie was going to be for the fetish market, but as I thought more about the movie, and the dramatic and comedic potential of the story, the more I thought it did not have to be strictly a fetish movie. And when I realized that I was not going to be making it with the original people that I had been working with, any pretense that it would be served to that market went away for me.

The whole premise of the movie is about how a man learns how to actually stick with an activity until he develops a skill he can be proud of, and the gains the courage to face his adversaries regardless of the potential outcome. It just so happened that the activity that inspired this movie was submission grappling, and the adversary in question was a fetish wrestling goddess. So in order to make this story work, I had to create a world in which men and women have the opportunity to compete on the same level in submission grappling. This, inadvertently, allowed me to express the idea that when you are training and competing to be the best you can be at what you do, you should not limit yourself to competing against only one gender.

I like this idea very much. I have lived with this idea as a part of my life. And now, as a writer, producer and director, I have a chance to make it come to life. But the realities of the grappling world and show biz are making it a challenge to realize that vision.

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