Movies & TV / Columns

James Jefferson On His Warrior Island Project, Live Fighting Events, More

June 5, 2023 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Warrior Island Logo Image Credit: James Jefferson

The 411 Interview: James Jefferson

Image Credit: James Jefferson

James Jefferson is a writer, director, producer, and martial artist who has created a martial arts themed multimedia entertainment concept called W arrior Island. Featuring live fighting events, a competition TV show, a comic book, and an upcoming movie as well as a philosophy called the Tiki Code, Warrior Island is an entertainment brand on the rise. In this interview, Jefferson talks with this writer about creating Warrior Island, his hopes and plans for the brand, and more.


Image Credit: James Jefferson

Bryan Kristopowitz: How did you come up with the idea for Warrior Island?

James Jefferson: I have always loved and have trained in the martial arts since the 1970s and my favorite two movies are Enter the Dragon and Bloodsport. After watching almost every episode of the TV series Survivor I started to dream about Warrior Island.

BK: What was the inspiration for the “Tiki Code”?

JJ: The Tiki Code is a combination of my Christian values and what I have been taught by different martial arts masters including Bruce Lee’s student Ron Van Clief the Black Dragon, Ip Man’s student sifu Chow and Relson Gracie and many more. After working in the media covering the UFC and Bellator MMA I saw a great loss in the value of what it means to really be a warrior.

Image Credit: James Jefferson

BK: Is it right to call Warrior Island a brand or is it more appropriate to call it a potential lifestyle? Or is it both?

JJ: I believe it is both as well as a universe. A few of the advantages we have over Marvel is that we are real people, real life heroes who you can talk to and meet. Not an actor in a costume with special effects but an actual real life martial arts master with a lifetime of skills and powers.

BK: How long did it take to get the Warrior Island property set up? Did you try to do it sort of all at once or did you try to do it sort of one piece at a time?

JJ: The Warrior Island Universe was built a little at a time but we did it the correct way by first securing all intellectual property, trademarks and copyrights with a very successful IP law firm. We have actually defended our brand and mark more than a few times with the UFC and the BBC and others so that was a smart move on our part. After that we started holding tryouts in Michigan and Arizona and Hawaii. From there we held our first live broadcast MMA event in Branson, Missouri because Missouri is the “show me state” and we wanted to show the world who we are and what we represent. The comics and TV show grew from there. We now have our Own FREE streaming platform called developed by our CTO and Director Michael Felker and his son Scott Felker two of the most talented people I have ever met in video and audio production. We also have a videogame and animated series on the horizon. With all of our products and comics and our online offerings and everything else we really are a universe.

BK: How has the martial arts world responded to the Warrior Island idea?

JJ: The martial arts world loves Warrior Island. They can’t get enough. They have purchased over a quarter million comics and want more and more. Many want to be in the comics or a part of the TV show. And the new “Tiki Code Kids Dojo” Idea is taking off with the Tiki Code and the patches and soon there will be an activity and coloring book. “Follow the code,” “Change humanity, it’s real.

BK: What has been the most challenging part of Warrior Island for you and your collaborators? What has been the most rewarding aspect of Warrior Island so far?

JJ: The most challenging has been getting investors but we scratch and claw and keep growing. The most rewarding is the fans that return from event to event and recognize us and ask us for photos and autographs. Little kids who were babies even remember us. To have a positive impact on children and their parents is amazing. On our gravestone when we die there will be a born date and a death date but the most important thing is the “dash in between,” what did we do to make a positive difference in this world?

Image Credit: James Jefferson

BK: Where is the Warrior Island TV show filmed?

JJ: Season 1 was filmed all over the world at different fight venues. Season 2 was filmed at each fighter’s or coaches’ location and season 3 was filmed at our private set. If we have to tell you anymore we would have to kill you (lol kidding).

BK: How did the idea of Warrior Island live events come about? How many contestants do you typically get for a Warrior Island contest/fight/live event?

JJ: I have always been a warrior. I was born one. I played football for 19 years, boxed for 10 (I was a Golden Gloves boxer), wrestled for 4 on top of my 40 plus years in martial arts. All of that led me to want to be a promoter. The 36 live MMA events that we held under the Global Proving Ground banner had about 6 to 19 fights on each card and the fights we held with the Extreme Cage Fighting by Christian Defiris brand in NYC we had between 15 and 30 bouts per fight. It’s a ton of fun.

BK: How did the Warrior Island comic book come together? How many issues are there at the moment?

JJ: Back in 2010 I met a man named Robert Garrett in New York and he told me he could help me write a comic. After two years we published the first Warrior Island comic book. Over the next few years Robert struggled physically and tragically passed away. I went to his social media and saw who he tagged on each step of creating our first comic so I could continue with the idea (Line Art, Coloring, Story, Editing and Publishing, all of that stuff). I contacted as many people as I could and got a huge response. I learned along the way and I am still learning. To date we have published twelve comics and soon we will have our graphic novel and an animated series based on the comic. Our long term goal is to produce a new issue every month to attract Marvel or DC to buy us but for now we are producing four comics per year. It’s so much fun.

Image Credit: James Jefferson

BK: What’s the status of the Warrior Island movie?

JJ: Right now our full feature Hollywood film is being written by legendary screenwriter Sheldon Lettich. Recently he wrote the successful movies Max and Max 2 but he is most famous for Bloodsport, Double Impact, The Quest, Rambo III, Only the Strong and many more. We should have a full script by the fall and already have many studios inquiring and we are hoping for a 20 to 40 million budget.

BK: Who has been cast in the Warrior Island movie?

JJ: This will be announced when the script is complete but we already have a long list of well-known action stars interested and some A list actors who know martial arts that will be interested. This will all be part of a VIP red carpet experience at the Empire Theater on Broadway in New York City this November at the Urban Action Showcase. We are a diverse company and this event is very important to us.

BK: How did Sheldon Lettich get involved with the Warrior Island movie as the screenwriter?

JJ: I was sitting at our booth at the Action Martial Arts Mega Weekend Awards in Atlantic City a few years ago when a man picked up our comics and started flipping through them. He said he thinks it would be a great movie. I said “I agree” (lol). He said his name was Sheldon Lettich and I was shocked because Bloodsport and Lionheart and especially The Quest are huge favorite movies of mine. We had a great talk and developed a friendship over the next few years and signed the deal to write the movie and here we are! I am more than excited about this.

Image Credit: James Jefferson

BK: How did you get involved in the martial arts?

JJ: I was bullied as a kid and started training in the martial arts when I was about 12. I am now 56 and I still train all of the time.

BK: Who are your martial arts heroes?

JJ: Bruce Lee, Ron van Clief, and many more.

BK: What do you hope audiences get out of the Warrior Island world?

JJ: Follow the Code! Change humanity! I want the world to be a better place by having people, especially Warriors and fighters who are heroes, to show more empathy, honor, respect, integrity, humility, balance and more of the Tiki Code. It’s easy to knock someone down or put someone down, but you should instead pick them up physically or emotionally. It’s a better way to go. Don’t you think?

BK: What other potential ideas do you have for Warrior Island in the future? A videogame? A cartoon?

JJ: Our videogame and animated series are already in the queue. We have no limits. I see action figures with Tiki Code traits and school programs, too.

BK: What’s your favorite martial arts movie?

JJ: Enter the Dragon.


A very special thanks to James Jefferson for agreeing to participate in this interview and to david j. moore for setting it up.

Check out the official Warrior Island here!

Check out the official Warrior Island Facebook page here!

Check out the Warrior Island official YouTube channel here!

Check out James Jefferson’s Facebook page here!

All images courtesy of James Jefferson.