Everybody was kung fu fighting
February 9, 2008 4:31 PM   Subscribe

If I was a teenager in the 70s, what style of martial art would have seemed the most badass to me? And why?
posted by Astro Zombie to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (28 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Everybody was Kung-fu fighting. Man, those cats were fast as lightening.
posted by 45moore45 at 4:32 PM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Drunken Monkey, because it looks so trick.
posted by JaySunSee at 4:34 PM on February 9, 2008


Whatever Bruce Lee called his thing. Tae Kwon Do also had a rep.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:39 PM on February 9, 2008


Seconding Kirth Gerson:

Jeet Kune Do.
posted by selfnoise at 4:41 PM on February 9, 2008


Yeah, Jeet Kune Do is a good one, but if you had a slightly more eccentric bent I'd say Savate, that would be my choice for a Wes Anderson type teenager. French Martial Arts, good stuff.
posted by Divine_Wino at 5:13 PM on February 9, 2008


It definitely would have been Kung Fu. Bruce Lee is one reason. This TV show is another.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 5:25 PM on February 9, 2008


It definitely would have been Kung Fu. Bruce Lee is one reason.

That doesn't even make sense. Bruce was doing JKD.
posted by juv3nal at 5:34 PM on February 9, 2008


I kinda think you would have been a Capoeira guy. It's all subversively political and sexy, what with the danciness and the Brazilianness. It would be great for picking up chicks, which you were really into in the 70s as a teenager, with your striped shirt and white belt.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:34 PM on February 9, 2008


"Jeet Kune Do" is a style of Kung Fu. The term "Kung Fu" was used generically here at the time to refer to Chinese-style martial arts, essentially all the styles derived originally from Shao Lin. By the same token, "Karate" was generic for a large number Japanese styles of martial arts (including "Ryo Bu Kai", the style I studied at the time).

Irrespective of whether that's what the words really mean, or how they really should be used, that's how we did use them. I didn't learn the term "Jeet Kune Do" until 20 years after Bruce Lee died.

The badass martial art starting in the mid 1980's would have been Ninjutsu, because of the Turtles.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 5:40 PM on February 9, 2008


Bruce was doing JKD.

Nobody knew that. Everybody just thought he did 'kung fu' (which is what he was originally trained in, and taught on his arrival in the US), and thought all his movies were 'kung fu' flicks. Even today a google for 'bruce lee kung fu' gets you twice as many hits as 'bruce lee jkd' or 'bruce lee jeet kune do'. I don't know anybody who even knows what JKD is.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:55 PM on February 9, 2008


Elvis was doing karate. He was TCB, baby!
posted by geekyguy at 6:15 PM on February 9, 2008


Elvis was old news by the 1970's.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 6:19 PM on February 9, 2008


Absolutely Kung Fu. There was the song, the TV show with David Carradine, and even a Saturday morning cartoon. We were all crazy about Kung Fu.
posted by LarryC at 6:54 PM on February 9, 2008


I was a teen in the 70s, and it was always Kung Fu. Kung Fu. There was a whole entire TV series named Kung Fu. Any discussion of martial arts among my friends always ended with the conclusion that no matter what you knew of any other other discipline, Kung Fu trumped any and all of it. If anyone we knew actually took Karate classes, and they took anything but Kung Fu, those of us with zero experience would always disdain them, asking, "Why didn't you take Kung Fu? Idiot!" Kung Fu was the best.

This conclusion was arrived at based on total ignorance of any actual teachings or abilities, and purely on the having watched the TV show and our "knowledge" that Bruce Lee did Kung Fu, and what we heard some guy say once who knew a guy who did Kung Fu. With Kung Fu, you can KILL someone with your PINKY! With Kung Fu, you can break a 6x6 with a swift kick, bringing down an entire house. A little bit of Kung Fu could beat a lot of Judo and Tae Kwon Do, and even Kung Pao Chicken.

Kung.
Fu.
posted by The Deej at 6:58 PM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Kung Fu. No contest.
posted by flabdablet at 7:14 PM on February 9, 2008


Yes, Kung Fu was all the rage in the 1970s, but Hap-Kido was pretty cool, too.
posted by Oriole Adams at 8:17 PM on February 9, 2008


Kung Fu was a big part of pop culture (thanks David Carradine) and familiar to the masses. Those who really dug the Martial Arts scene were all about Bruce Lee, so if you were in the know, the answer's Jeet Kune Do.
posted by dzot at 8:18 PM on February 9, 2008


Kung Fu. Two more anecdotes from popular culture:

Hong Kong Phooey

Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:20 PM on February 9, 2008


I was a teenager in the Seventies.

Kung Fu. No contest.
posted by konolia at 9:02 PM on February 9, 2008


Gung Fu (most of us first heard it that way) may have seemed exotic in the 70's, thanks to "Kung Fu", but since the question was specifically: Which style would have seemed more badass to someone IN THE 70's -- I'm gonna hafta go with Hapkido, with a tip my big black round hat to Tom Laughlin, Bong Soo Han and the wildly popular "Billy Jack" movies.
posted by RavinDave at 11:19 PM on February 9, 2008


since the question was specifically: Which style would have seemed more badass to someone IN THE 70's

Actually, the question was which style would have seemed more badass to Astro Zombie.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:37 PM on February 9, 2008


True dat. All right, lor of votes for kung fu. Anything more off the beaten path?
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:02 AM on February 10, 2008


Anything more off the beaten path?

Taido started up around '65 so it would have been relatively new & exciting for those in the know. It doesn't rate much in terms of badassness (the moves are pretty impractical outside of a movie & they're big on tenkai, choreographed mock fights) but it has neat looking rolling/jumping/spinny moves being roughly a Japanese mix of karate, gymnastics & capoeira.
posted by juv3nal at 3:20 AM on February 10, 2008


Gung Fu (most of us first heard it that way)...

Because that's the Mandarin pronunciation of the term, Just as Kung Pao is pronounced 'goombow'.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:17 AM on February 10, 2008


Judo, or aikido. The stuff about energy and flow and qi and using your enemy's strength against him would play well with someone who just finished reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance while high.
posted by box at 9:07 AM on February 10, 2008


(Dunno if that's you, AZ, and no offense intended to anybody--I was just thinking ''70s teenager who's concerned with bad-assery")
posted by box at 9:09 AM on February 10, 2008


That doesn't even make sense. Bruce was doing JKD.

Bruce was doing "traditional" Kung Fu before he created JKD. The form is called Wing Chun. But the only people that cared about specifics in the 70s were practitioners. To the lay-person, it was all just Kung Fu.

So, Kung Fu for the win.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:56 AM on February 10, 2008


A friend of mine caught the tail end of the seventies, but was in Hapkido, fwiw.
posted by arnold at 11:13 AM on February 10, 2008


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