Paul Mormando Talks w/411 About New Movie Bound By Dept, More
The B-Movie Interview: Paul Mormando
Paul Mormando, also known as “Mr. Karate USA,” is a martial artist and actor from Brooklyn, New York. He is the creator of the Cha Ki Do martial arts system and the Real Life Self Defense System, and is the star of the 2013 movie Double Fist (he also produced the movie as well as directed the fight choreography). Mormando has lived an extraordinary life, having overcome multiple challenges to become the real deal badass martial artist that he is today.
In this interview, Mormando discusses how he got into the movie business, what he hopes to achieve in the martial arts movie world, and a little bit about his latest movie effort.
Bryan Kristopowitz: You’re a well-known martial artist. When did you decide that you wanted to get involved in martial arts movies? Was it always a life goal?
Paul Mormando: I never had any intention of acting, but when I became proficient in the martial arts, I started performing in martial arts demonstrations in big venues like Madison Square Garden, Nassau Coliseum etc. One day while performing in a demo I made the front page of the local newspaper and a manager named Ruben Malaret called me up and asked did you ever consider bringing your martial arts to the big screen? And having been a big Bruce Lee and Jean-Claude Van Dam fan the thought of appearing in movies set in, and I was hooked.
No it wasn’t a life goal but when the acting bug set in my determination and desire were extremely intense. I personally believe had I not been in the car accident and out of the industry I feel i would have had a good chance of making it to the A list.
BK: You don’t look like a “typical” movie martial artist, yet you move like one and exude that badass martial artist presence that only the real ones possess. Do you find people are surprised by how good you are or is that something you haven’t experienced?
PM: Not sure what a “typical” movie martial artist looks like….lol….but I appreciate the badass comment. Many times people underestimate my skills especially my speed. On the set of my new film Bound by Debt I was told by the Director of Photography that the shutter of the camera couldn’t catch my kick (I attached the text message as proof lol). You also get a ton of internet trolls who like to act tough behind the keyboards so people are always testing my skills. One of the advantages that I do have is that I have been doing live demonstrations forever, so while most people speculate that a movie actor can’t really do what he does onscreen and it’s just acting when I do it live it’s a lot more believable. I also have a verifiable background in the martial arts so that helps as well.
BK: When it comes to your movies, is it more important to be entertaining or is it more important to express a particular message?
PM: I am a realist so I never expect to do Shakespeare. However, I like playing roles that are entertaining and make the audience feel empowered, so that good overcoming evil works. Rocky is my all-time favorite movie so anytime I get a chance to play a character where he overcomes the odds, that is also an objective. I am specifically doing a web series called The American Sensei with the intent to spread a positive message to the new generation. I am hoping to air the first episode online in mid-September. So entertaining is first and if I have a chance to do a movie with a good message that’s a plus.
BK: How important is “realism” in terms of your performance?
PM: I like to make my fight scenes as real as can be. However, it’s sort of a contradiction because people are watching movies to be entertained, and real martial arts or self-defense is anything but fancy. For example I kick a knife out of the hand of my adversary in my latest film. Any real martial arts expert knows that that would never happen or be a good choice, but the producers wanted it and it looked good so I obliged. So you have to have a medium. Bruce Lee was a great martial artist, but we all knew he couldn’t take out an army of men but it is entertaining to watch. So, even though I like to keep it real, I am making movies to entertain people, not teach them.
BK: You’re known for two martial arts systems, Cha Ki Do and the Real Life Self Defense System. Could you briefly explain the essence of both systems and how they inform your on screen martial arts?
PM: Well Cha Ki Do is the martial arts system that I created because I felt that the traditional systems didn’t offer all of the necessary tools for a total combative system. Cha Ki Do is a complete martial arts system, with techniques originating from many martial arts and combative systems. Real Life Self Defense is not a martial art system. It is a synthesis of techniques that an average person can learn in minimal time with the intent of defending himself or herself. RLSD is strictly the most dangerous techniques broken down into a simplistic delivery system to induce pain and or even death if necessary.
I draw from both systems for film predicated on the need for the character. If I am playing a hitman for instance I might draw from RLSD. If it’s an arts fight scene I would draw from Cha Ki Do. They are sort of a Yin and Yang.
BK: What projects do you have upcoming?
PM: I am currently filming a movie titled Bound by Debt.
I play Dylan James, a rough and tough underground fighter who is estranged from his family. Robert James (Bobby Ciasulli) is an addicted gambler with a wife and two daughters (Nikki Silva and Alexis Mormando). When Dylan can no longer fulfill his obligations to the mob, mob boss Mr. Russo (Samuel DiFiore) uses Robert’s gambling addiction and family as leverage against Dylan. The two brothers will have to reunite to save themselves and Robert’s family.
I am also working on a web series titled The American Sensei, which is like a modern version of the old Kung Fu series starring the late, great David Carradine. I hoping to release it online in mid-September.
I want to thank Paul Mormando for taking time out of his busy schedule to participate in this interview and david j. moore for helping set it up. Please check out the links below for more about all things Paul Mormando.
Paul Mormando’s Mr. Karate Facebook page
Paul Mormando’s alchetron page
The Double Fist website