While often exhilarating and highly entertaining, movies, television, and videogames are not exactly known for their realistic portrayal of martial arts and combat scenarios. All too often, we’ll witness gravity and logic-defying feats of absurdity being orchestrated by formidable characters in impossible scenarios, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Why be bound by the laws of reality when escaping it is one of the primary reasons we engage in these forms of entertainment in the first place?
Sometimes, however, in our suspension of disbelief, we underestimate what humankind is capable of and are quick to write off the unbelievable feats we witness in film and television as mere nonsense— but there are times when that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Martial arts masters have long been rumored to hold superhuman powers of the mind, body, and spirit. Let’s take a closer look at those that are actually real!
5) Walking on water
The Shaolin Monastery is well known for its kung fu monks who undergo strict discipline and rigorous training in order to carry out the seemingly impossible. Shi Liliang, a monk of the Buddhist Quanzhou Shaolin Temple, made headlines in 2014 when he ran 118 meters across the surface of the river in China's Quanzhou city, only to best his own record the following year by running a staggering 125 meters.
Although his effort to walk on water may not have been done in the classic biblical style most are familiar with, his feat remains an extraordinary achievement— requiring perfect balance and great speed to successfully orchestrate. He was only assisted by 200 pieces of very thin plywood planks laid across the water and succeeded on his third attempt.
4) Catching arrows in midair
By some accounts, Ninjas were believed to have the capability to leap dozens of feet in the air, disappear or even catch arrows. If you would believe it, catching arrows mid-flight is not only possible, but this archery master has taken it several steps further! As Lars Andersen demonstrates in this amazing video, not only can he can catch an arrow in midair, but also fire it back and hit a bull’s-eye in one swift motion!
3) The Helicopter Kick
All sorts of incredible, gravity-defying martial arts demonstrations have mystified audiences over the generations, but perhaps the most visually spectacular of them all is the helicopter kick or hurricane kick depending on whom you ask.
Crazy martial art moves are no longer exclusive to just video games. This guy perfectly executes a kick strikingly similar to the one Ryu blasts his foes within the famed Street Fighter video game franchise— the ‘Hurricane Kick’.
2) Battling through 100 men in the kumite challenge
When one hears the word Kumite, Bloodsport is probably the first thing to come to mind. Jean-Claude Van Damme was dropping challengers like flies in this brutal underground martial arts tournament; however, the Kumite was not merely forged in cinema. It’s a true test of one’s endurance developed by the founder of Kyokushin karate, Masutatsu Oyama.
The challenge pits one man against 100 equally skilled martial artists in 1.5-minute full-contact sparring matches in rapid succession— with only a quick 60-second break in between fresh opponents!
Only a select few have ever made it through the dreaded 100-man Kumite, including Judd Reid from Australia on October 22, 2011. Check out his incredible story in this video.
1) Lethal Chopsticks
Martial arts movies often depict regular, everyday items being used as deadly weapons in the skilled hands of on-screen martial arts masters. Think chopsticks can’t actually be used as a weapon in real life? Think again. This clip shows a guy throwing harmless plastic chopsticks straight through a stainless steel bowl. Enough said.