THAI KARATE WINS BEST SHORT FILM DOCUMENTARY
THAI KARATE WINS BEST SHORT FILM DOCUMENTARY
The film 110-Man Ultimate Fight is about a young Thai man who sacrifices everything to follow his dreams – a sacrifice that led him to become not only a world champion but to achieve “Best Short Film Documentary of Martial Arts” honours at the Art 4 Peace Awards in Conjunction with the World Film Festival.
This is his story.
On March 25, 1997, he was born in a coastal town – Pattaya Chonburi, Thailand – into a family heavily devoted to the martial arts. At three years of age, Junior (known to his friends as Oui, or “Fatty”) started his journey in the martial arts. He would eventually become one of the world’s best Karate advocates.
Junior was lucky to have had a father, Kancho Sifu, who is a very famous karate teacher and the leader of one of Japan’s largest karate organizations. Through this connection, Junior had access to some of the world’s best training and competitions.
The martial art known as Shorin Kempo is one of the most physically demanding styles of karate. Its rigorous way of life led Junior along the path to his current success. From the age of three, Junior has trained nearly every day of his life, at his father’s side. Until recently, while most of the world knew about Junior’s accomplishments, many in his home country did not. At 10 years of age, Junior became the youngest person in the world to complete at one of the most difficult karate gradings in the world: the Shorin Kempo Shodan. The grading lasted three days.
When Junior was 10, he started competing internationally in Japan, where he immediately began dominating in his divisions. Since 2007, Junior has competed in more than 67 international karate and boxing tournaments.
At the age of 15, he entered the 1,000-day Uchideshi Program, which only 97 people in Shorin have entered, and which only 19 managed to complete. It is one of the hardest and most demanding karate training programs in the world. On February 1, 2017 Junior completed and graduated as an Uchideshi of Shorin Kempo. In fact, he completed 1,365 days. This training brought him to where he is today.
With three world-title belts and participation in more than 67 international tournaments, along with the knowledge he had learned from some of the best karate teachers in the world, Junior saw that fighting is just a small part of karate. Rather, karate is a way of life that teaches one to adapt to and overcome all the challenges that one encounters.
From 2016-2018, Junior travelled the world, teaching seminars alongside his father in India, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and many other countries. During one of these trips, he met a young boy named Zac Chaplin, who loved karate and was a fan of Junior’s. Zac was dying from a rare form of cancer that doctors were struggling to understand. Junior was moved by how the karate instructors and club in a little Australian town rallied to help Zac and his mother, who couldn’t afford to pay for the medical treatment and had lost their home trying to keep Zac alive and give him hope.
Junior flew down to Australia in May 2017 and gave Zac his world title belt. He told Zac that Zac deserved the belt more than Junior did, as Zac was fighting for his life. Junior said to his father, “I fight because I love it, but Zac is fighting for his life. If I lose, nothing changes; I can fight again. But if Zac loses, he dies!”
Mathew Charles – Zac’s karate instructor and a student of Junior’s father – was going to attempt the 100-man fight to raise awareness for Zac, as well as raise money for Zac’s treatment. However, while preparing for the fight, Mathew sustained a devastating leg injury which ended his fighting career. Everyone was devastated. Junior offered to take Mathew’s place.
The date was set for May 28, 2018. The Kumite (Fight) would take place in accordance with Japanese tradition, behind closed doors on the island of Okinawa, Japan. The only people allowed to be present were the fighters, the Japanese masters to authenticate the fight, and family and friends. At the time, only 28 people in the world had succeeded in fighting 100 karate fighters in one day, non-stop. Junior was seeking to become the youngest person in karate history to attempt a Japanese-certified Kumite. He was also the lightest.
The masters decided that this Kumite had to be different from all those before it. Its purpose was to raise awareness of the fight against cancer in children. Junior was approached and asked if he could step far beyond expectations and fight 110 men to make a statement: “Never give up when the going gets tough!” He accepted the challenge.
Junior trained harder than he’d ever trained in his life. This time he wasn’t preparing to win or knock out his opponent; he was training to survive four hours of excruciating pain, injuries, and broken ribs, to take whatever was dished out to him and get back up and fight on until the end. This fight would be a bare-knuckle one, with no protective equipment except for a groin guard. Junior was preparing to receive as many as 1,000 full-force kicks from karate champions throughout the 110 rounds of fighting, as well as up to 5,000 bare-knuckle punches. He knew it wasn’t about winning; it was about how much he could take until the end.
Many people didn’t know that seven days before the fight, Junior suffered a devastating knee injury. Doctors said he wouldn’t be able to fight. Junior was upset; he had come so far. If he stopped, what would that have said to a little boy battling cancer for his life? Junior received revolutionary orthopaedic cell therapy on his knee at the Zen Clinic in Pattaya. Within three days he was walking again, and within five days he was back training. Two days later, Junior announced that he would continue with the fight. Junior knew that he had just lost half of his weapons; he wouldn’t be able to kick in the fight, which meant he would have to take even more punishment than he expected. The fight now became more about mental strength than anything else. Junior told his father, “This fight might finish my career because of the injuries, but I must show Zac and anyone else out there suffering to never give up. I must do this.”
The rest of the story is revealed in this documentary film that has brought many to tears. The film shows humbleness, dedication, sacrifice, pain, and suffering. It shows team members that have much love for one another, and it testifies to the ability to transcend all odds. Most of all, it shows compassion and respect.
The documentary 110-Man Ultimate Fight moved so many at the Art 4 Peace Awards in Conjunction with the World Film Festival that it won all three nominations. It also led to the development of Junior’s foundation, “Fight Cancer for Kids,” which has received massive support.
Mr. Davoo Roostaei is one of the world’s most famous artists. He painted for Pope John Paul II, and his painting hangs in the Vatican. Davoo has also painted the Dalai Lama, four sitting presidents of the USA, the president of France, the chancellor of Germany, the great Muhammad Ali … the list goes on. Davoo approached Junior and said that he would be honoured to paint him. Davoo’s paintings sell for 250,000 USD to 25,000,000 USD; he will also support Junior’s foundation. Junior’s painting will be auctioned in Beverly Hills, with all proceeds going to “Fight Cancer for Kids.”
Junior’s humble dedication to his goals has attracted the attention of some of the world’s most influential people in the fields of sports, karate, business, art, teaching, and film. They have been inspired to support youth and teach people that sports are not just about victory but are a way to express, learn, adapt, and overcome, as well as to help all those in one’s life.
The presenter at the awards ceremony summed it up best when he said that although the award for the film festival was for the Best Short Film Documentary of Martial Arts, the honour went far beyond that. The movie showed a young man’s sacrifice for something he loved, a lifetime of commitment, and, most of all, humbleness. This was the first time a non-professional movie had made it so far in the competition, and it was all because of Junior.
Suddenly, Junior was the film festival’s main attraction. It took two hours to complete all the photos on the red carpet. Then came offers of management services and to speak at UCLA with Davoo Roostaei about dedication and following one’s dreams.Other offers included commercials and even the possibility of a full-length 110-Man Ultimate Fighter movie. All this because of a man who, as a young boy, rode on a tractor to attend school in Pattaya, Thailand.