Regardless of your opinion of Hollywood heartthrob Taylor Lautner, his acting or appearance, there is no denying that he is a legitimate talent.
Before his face adorned the bedroom walls of prepubescent girls everywhere, Lautner was a masterful martial artist. He began taking karate at six years of age. The following year, he competed in his first national tournament, in which he won first place in three events.
At this tournament is where he crossed paths with Michael Chaturantabut. Chaturantabut, who has some showbiz credits of his own (Most notably as the Blue Ranger “Power Rangers: Lightspeed Rescue”), was the founder of Xtreme Martial Arts, or XMA. Under Chaturantabut’s tutelage, Taylor Lautner earned his black belt by age 8.
In 2001, the eleven year-old Taylor Lautner won the American Karate Association Warrior Cup in the 17 and under age group and was ranked #1 by NASKA in Black Belt Open Forms, Traditional Forms, Traditional Weapons, and Musical Weapons. He had won 3 Junior World Championships by the time he was twelve.
XMA is an infusion of traditional martial arts and gymnastics, with a focus on showmanship and theatrics. By incorporating tumbling and acrobatics into combat techniques, masters such as Lautner perform dazzling displays of choreographed form empty handed or with weapons, generally to music. 'Mike Chat's XMA has other celebrity students such as Charlie Hunnam, Willow Smith, and superstar recording artist Usher.
The XMA team would travel the country performing exhibitions like this one. It is not clear when exactly this video was taken, but it appears Lautner was around the age of 12. Here he is performing a bo staff demonstration.
While this video doesn’t wildly change my opinions of his recent work, I do have a newfound respect for his skill and I certainly wouldn’t call him a llama to his face if we were in a room with DJ Tiesto playing and a broomstick nearby.