STEVE BUFFERY -- Sun Media
Read article at: http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Fighting/News/2008/06/19/5924081-sun.html
Two Brothers... One Dream
by Fred Isajenko
Two of the most famous martial artists in the Canada go under one title: The Twin Dragons. Historic figures in the Toronto martial arts community, the McNamara brothers, Michael and Martin, have established themselves as the driving force behind sport kick boxing in Ontario and have become the top promoters of professional kick boxing in Canada. During their career they have helped numerous Ontario fighters get their world title shots. Leo Loucks, Paul Biafore, Mike Reid, Rico Tatangelo, Robert Borden, Peter Freer and Chantal Nadon have all won World Championship titles with the support and/or training of the twins. With eight schools in Ontario. The twin Dragon Kung Fu and Kick Boxing Club is now one of the largest organizations in Canada..
MAFP: As tournament fighters in your early years you were eager to test Twin Dragon fighters in full-contact fighting. When did you begin training fighters for competition?
Michael: That started for us back in the mid seventies when we stopped entering our students in point, non-contact, tournaments. As young boys in Ireland we had some knowledge of boxing and had a ring in our club almost from day one. We were years ahead of the fighters of that era.
Martin: Most full-contact fighters were standing in a horse stance, with no guard, no fight conditioning training, with their chins sticking out. Matches were held in a marked-off era of hardwood floor where it was hard to knock out your opponent when he could just run out of bounds to avoid getting hit. The foam safety gloves and other equipment sucked. In time boxing rings were in place and the caliber of fighters improved.
MAFP: The Twin Dragon all have a unique training philosophy and work ethic. How could you sum it up and how does it differ from other more traditional school philosophies?
Michael: A lot of what a student gets from his club depends on his or her goals. If you want to be the ultimate competition fighter you better work your ass off in several areas, with physical fitness training being your top priority. Take my twin brother and myself, we have never been over weight or out of shape a day in our lives. We are overworked, under rested, extremely busy jack-of -all-trades entrepreneurs. We teach disciplined, no-nonsense classes every day of the week. Food? Good or bad, we eat it. No fast-food restaurant, no smoking, no beer guzzling and no drugs that is what what keeps us young!
Martin: However, it doesn’t stop there. We are not health nuts. We don’t advocate mega vitamins, health magazine, energy bars, self-prescribed gym drugs, whether it’s steroids or just chemical supplements. Keep yourself busy, do daily workouts, don’t pig out on a regular basis, do some indoor/outdoor physical labor and always do the best you can. We are always, feeling a bit sore, always nursing certain muscles and are always ready for the unexpected, physically and mentally.
Michael: It’s quite simple, you have to be a creature of habit. Your training has to be regular. Don’t make a big deal, mentally, out of working out hard, just do it and don’t baby yourself and don’t look for excuses. The quick, easy way never works; save your money, don’t buy into that crap.
MAFP: How have the martial arts changed in 1990’s?
Martin: The whole world has changed and the martial arts are no exception. Everywhere you look you see a donut shop and there as many martial arts schools. It’s big business and like so many big sports the talent gets watered down. There are big trophies for everyone, there are no losers, everyone is a winner and every student expects to get a black belt, no matter what age and with little restriction on time or effort spent on training. Students don’t go out of their way to clean floors to support their club anymore. There is a health club or “gym” mentality developing. Pay your memberships, do a class and get out.
Michael: Movies have not helped. They are very macho and invoke a violent, blood-sport attitude. They don’t make movies like “The Karate Kid” and the old TV version of “Kung Fu” anymore. On the positive side, there are more people practicing the arts with an awareness of the many different style that exist. TV allows the viewer watching a kick-boxing or an ultimate fighting event a chance to see reality as it happens. Students are not brainwashed like in the old days, they can see what else there is around them. It hasn’t changed that the bucks still pay the bills and a business attitude brings in the bucks, but you have to draw the line somewhere. Yes, the martial arts have changed and so have we, a little - - not a lot. It is so nice to see student dedicated to the old principals of the martial arts. Respect goes both ways. We would never ask a student to do what we have not done ourselves.
MAFP: Women in kick boxing has become the biggest we trend. What are your feelings on this subject?
Martin: It’s great. Lets face it, women need it more for self defense than men do. The threats of rape, spousal abuse etc. Put women at greater risk than most men and some good training can put a woman at more even par with men.
MAFP: Tell us a bit about your early history and your first exposure to the martial arts in Canada.
Michael: We were born in Belfast Ireland, August 1950 and came to Canada as a small kids. We were a big family and lived in Gerrard and Broadview area in Toronto.
Martin: As Irish immigrant kids we were not the most loved people in the school and growing up was a tough learning experience. It didn’t help that we weren't the biggest kids in our group.
Michael: We joined Wong’s Karate in 1965 where we studied a hard style of karate. Paul Moran was a student at Wong’s and it was Moran who guided us, taught us things slightly different from the true classical karate. He was the one who took us all over the US compete in open tournaments, where we won many of the major trophies.
MAFP: In 1971 you gave up karate, the tournaments and began training in kung fu. Why change styles when you were so successful in karate?
Martin: The karate was all straight out. It consisted of straight, stiff, arm and leg strikes and low hard stances. When you’re only five foot six inches tall and get into low, wide horse stance you become four foot nothing and flat footed to boot, no thanks. There was a lot of good technique but it was mixed up with a lot of impractical technique. It was time to move on.
Michael: Karate was good for us, and we enjoyed it as kids but Paul Moran had discovered kung fu at the Hung Luck Club. Sifu Paul Chan was a true fighting master. He was a not money-driven and he saw how fast, and hard working and dedicated we were. The transition from very stiff karate to the faster, circular loose movements off kung fu took sometime to adjust to. But even classical kung fu has its share of impractical techniques. Combining the best points of these two very different styles helped us build a solid foundation to move forward into the world of kick-boxing.
MAFP: When did you open your first club?
Martin: In October of 1972 we opened the first Twin Dragon Kung Fu Club on Yonge Street, just north of Sheppard Avenue. We started as a traditional kung fu school where we taught forms, bowed to a Buddha and wore Chinese sashes.
Michael: In the basement we did full-combat sparring on mats with take-downs, grabs, blocks, everything. It was really tough.
MAFP: Over the years you have continued to change your fighting style why?
Martin: Reality. There is always the doubt; the thought of so many fighting techniques not working in a real self-defense situation. Theory versus practical. Is it art form, is it real? Will it work, was it a waste of time? For two small men who always doubted that all-mighty “Black Belt” it was time to move on and make changes of our own.
Michael: To this day our style of kick-boxing is different. It doesn’t matter how big or how small you are. Our philosophy is to move in all directions, avoid getting hit as much as possible, parry all strikes while moving your head and countering with hard, snappy, fast strikes from any direction. Hitting with all your weapons and constantly switching leg positions from left to right, never relying on one stance. It works for us.. that’s one reason we have so many world champions and fighters who's faces are not banged up. If they train seriously with us in kick-boxing they will get the best training possible. Many women are tired of aerobics and kick-boxing offers them more. They actually learn something that makes them think. It gives them the partner that makes them move and react to defensive and offensive strikes. Skipping, bag work, flexibility, endurance, power, good health and self defense -- it’s all in the kick-boxing. What I object to is the fact that some clubs are watering down the art just to cater to women. Schools that are switching styles to cash in and aerobic instructors who have taken a weekend course on kick-boxing think they are killers and teaching the real thing!!!
Martin: A lot of women are concerned about their looks and will not wear traditional club uniforms. The aerobic kick-boxing classes resemble all other fitness clubs, and little respect is shown. Students can come in late, leave early, wear what they want and don’t even bother to bow in respect. On a positive note, there are some of us that are from the old school, we treat the women the same way we treat the men. For the first time in twenty-six years the women are starting to out number the men and in general they usually workout harder at our club because we don't take any shit from them. They wear our club uniforms and are respectful in the club. No one is treated differently.
Michael: Women are such a great asset to the martial arts schools. When teaching a class I find myself showing the techniques to the women who can best demonstrate the same skills. This really inspires other women to hang in and improve. It’s embarrassing to some men, and a wake-up call to the fact that women can fight! As for women getting into the ring, with proper safety equipment and sparring for training purposes yes, go for it and have fun. If they want to eventually compete, we give them equal opportunities as the men.
MAFP: What about women as professional kick boxing?
Michael: As trainers of six world champions, and promoters, we have to be extra careful matching women fighters. Most of the people in an intelligent audience draw the line when one of two male fighters start getting their lumps, you draw it a lot quicker when it’s a woman.
Martin: The prettier the woman is the more reason you have to not want to see her face banged up. However, we have to admit, that when you see two women fight with great skill, guts and the determination to finish that fight at all costs, it can be more exciting than watching men. Men in general show tremendous respect for women who fight like this. Whoever says that women are the weaker sex is wrong. At our last kick boxing event (held at The Docks in Toronto) we featured, for the first time in Canada, two women fighting for the FFKA featherweight world title. Chantal Nadon defeated Bambi Bertencello from Seatle, Washington in the main event. It was an excellent fight and the girls showed everyone that they are just as good as the men.
MAFP: You’ve named your latest movie “The Right to Fight”. How does this relates to your history as kick-boxing promoters?
Michael: For starters, nowhere else in the world has there been a martial art movie
done like this, it’s not your typical martial arts film. When kick-boxing was banned the few promoters that were around -- quit. We don’t blame them. We hung and our fighters fought underground as well as traveled everywhere to compete and stay alive. The twins made this sport in Ontario and nobody was going to take it away from us, not even the Ontario Athletic Commission. We would fight them to the end and then produce a feature film for the world to see the truth. As you already know, after waiting years for history to run its course, we won in the end. The eighty minute, action-packed docu-drama will be released soon. We stayed in it for the love of the sport, fought for our beliefs and have promoted almost twenty shows in the Toronto area.
MAFP: What goals are left?
Michael: A successful movie release, another feature film, more Canadian world champions. Live kick boxing shows from North Bay, Casino Rama in Orillia, Kitchener, and Toronto all shown on TV. That will do for now. We will never die of boredom and are always ready to fight for what we believe in.
Martin: We plan to be active, stay in the arts, remain in shape and always in touch. We are gearing up for the future and have an award winning web pages at www.twin-dragon.com. We reply to all email comments so send us your ideas and suggestions. It’s also a great place to find out about upcoming Twin Dragon kick boxing shows.
by: Patrick Casey (Staff Writer)
Believing their image has been tarnished, kick-boxing's Michael and Martin McNamara have filed a $37-million lawsuit against three companies behind the movie Twin Dragons earlier this year.
And with Jackie Chan's comedy hitting video stores this week, the Belfast-born identical twins are in Los Angeles, trying to publicize their lawsuit on tabloid TV.
For the past 27 years, the McNamara have been known as the Twin Dragons, operating a string of Twin Dragon Kung-Fu & Kick-boxing clubs, releasing films through their Twin Dragons Production company and promoting professional kick-boxing shows.
They say the Twin Dragons name is a registered trademark in Canada and the United States. So the King Township residents are suing Miramax Film Corp., Alliance Atlantis Communication Inc. and Front Row Entertainment because the three companies teamed up to release Chan's Twin Dragons across North America.
The McNamaras have released two films, Twin Dragon Encounter and Dragon Hunt. Post-production work is being completed on the third, called Twin Dragons: The Right to Fight. Expecting to change the title to The Real Twin Dragons, the brothers hope to release the movie next spring at the Cannes Film Festival.
"We have spent a fortune to make this movie in preparation of selling it at Cannes. Then this Jackie Chan movie comes along with our name on it and it flops," said Michael McNamara. "This has tarnished our image with a silly comedy and tarnished the image of our movie. Miramax and Alliance have no excuse because they should have done their homework. We didn't spend a lifetime in the business for nothing. We didn't spend 10 years making the Twin Dragons movie to have them come along with this comedy."
"That's why we have to strike back," he added, explaining the $37-millionsuit represents $1 million for every year he and his brother have been in business, plus an additional $10 million in general damages. And the publicity from the lawsuit may also be a valuable asset, putting the brothers' story on televisions Hard Copy, First Edition and A Current Affair.
"We have an 11-minute demo tape with highlights from our three movies and action from kick-boxing shows. We are not leaving any stone unturned," said McNamara. "A lot of people go out of their way to create havoc and publicity, although it's usually just a bunch of crap. This one will actually help us sell our life story. That's where it's going to be fun." Despite the lawsuit, McNamara remains convinced a settlement can be reached.
He is even willing to worked with both Miramax and Alliance to market his Twin Dragons picture, along with two new scripts he has already written. "I know that if somebody like Miramax doesn't take my movie on, someone else will. I know there are some American companies out there that will work with us," he said. "But we could negotiate a package settlement that includes the movie and new script development." Representatives from Alliance and Miramax did not return phone calls last week.
The Identical twin brothers are suing Miramax Film Corp., Alliance Atlantis Communications and Front Row Entertainment Inc. for the release of Jackie Chan'scomedy-action film, Twin Dragons. According to Michael, 'Twin Dragons' is trademarked in the Canada and U.S.
There Twin Dragons Film Production company have released two films, while post-production work is being completed on a third. "We have spent a fortune to make this movie in preparation of selling it at Cannes. Then this Jackie Chan movie comes along with our name on it and it flops," said McNamara.
"Miramax and Alliance have no excuses because they should have done their homework." Despite the Lawsuit, McNamara thinks a settlement can be reached. He is even willing to work with Miramax and Alliance to help market his film, along with his two new scripts. -- Patrick Casey
Kick-boxing promoters Michael and Martin McNamara have launched a $37-million lawsuit against three major film companies.
The McNamaras, known in Canadian martial arts circles as the Twin Dragons, claim the recently released Jackie Chan comedy/action film Twin Dragons represents a major copyright and trademark infringement.
The McNamaras have been promoting pro kick-boxing shows in the Toronto area under the name Twin Dragons for 27 years and operate eight Twin Dragons martial art schools. The Irish-born identical twins also have produced and starred in three films: Twin Dragon Encounter, Dragon Hunt and soon-to-be released Twin Dragons (The Right To Fight). "Damned if somebody comes out with a comedy and makes a fortune using our name," Michael (Mick) McNamara said.
"That makes us look like wimps and losers if we don't go after them. This is very personal. We have worked too hard to be made fools of."
In a statement of claim filed against the Miramax Film Corp., Alliance Atlantis Communications and Front Row Entertainment Inc., the McNamara are asking for $27 million in general damages, $5 million in aggravated damages and $5 million in punitive damages. the claim also calls for an injunction against any further production, marketing, distribution, sale, rental or licensing of the Jackie Chan picture and a declaration that the McNamaras are the owners of the trademark and copyright to the name and image of Twin Dragons.
The defendants have refused to comment. The University of Toronto recently agreed on a financial settlement with Paramount Pictures over the release of the film Varsity Blues. The school charged that the film damaged the reputation of its sports teams of the same name.
Central to the legal action, Jackie Chan's latest flick, Twin Dragons released last April and showing up a video this month. Chan's film was originally produced in 1992. The plot follows twins separated at birth who becomes martial arts warriors and reunite.
Identical Toronto twins Michael and Martin McNamara are martial arts experts who train and compete in international kung fu and kick-boxing events under the trade name Twin Dragons. In their statement of claim, they note their Ontario martial arts clubs have operated as Twin Dragon Kick Boxing since 1972. Since 1990, they've owned Twin Dragon Film Productions, which has produced three martial arts films and has a bio film of the brothers' lives in production. It's title? The Twin Dragons.
The brothers are seeking an injunction blocking use of the name for the Chan film, acknowledgement of trademark and damages totaling $37 million.
The Lawsuit surfaced in a press release a day ago, Page Six adheres there's already been an initial offer of settlement from the film industry giants -- but for less than five figures. Lawyers are still talking.
Brothers claim they own movie name, sue for $37M
by: Desmond Brown
The McNamara twins, known around kick-boxing circles as the Twin Dragons, are ready to slug it out with film giants Miramax and Alliance Atlantis.
Michael and Martin McNamara are suing the two film companies, as well as Front Row Entertainment Inc., of Edison, N.J., claiming their rights to the name Twin Dragons, the title of a Jackie Chan action/comedy film that was produced in 1992 and released earlier this year.
The 49-year-old Belfast-born brothers are seeking $37-million in general, aggravated and punitive damages from the three film companies. The brothers, who opened the first of their eight Twin Dragons Kung-Fu and Kick Boxing clubs in Toronto in 1972, are also seeking an injunction that would stop the film makers from producing, marketing, distributing, selling, or renting the film Twin Dragons. "We want some respect and they've got to pay," said Michael McNamara.
Through their company Twin Dragon Film Productions Ltd., the McNamaras have produced three movies of their own. Their latest is also called Twin Dragons. The film, which stars the twins, will be released at Cannes next spring, Mr. McNamara says. He also says that the Jackie Chan version of Twin Dragons has caused irreparable damage to his film.
He says part of the claim includes the expense of changing the name of his film from Twin Dragons to The real Twin Dragons. " The damage has been done. The bottom line is we're not going to settle for peanuts," said Mr. McNamara. While the matter is tied up in the courts, the McNamaras are getting anxious because the Jackie Chan Twin Dragons movie is schedule to be released on video Sept. 7. Next week, the brothers are heading to Los Angeles, armed with copies of their three movies.
They'll be visiting shows such as Hard Copy, Current Affairs and First Edition to set the record straight on who the real Twin Dragons are, said Mr. McNamara. Alex Brown, spokeswoman for Alliance Atlantis Communications refused comment because the matter is still before the courts.
Ian Outerbridge, lawyer for the McNamaras, said that he has spoken to legal representatives for the film companies and is confident of a settlement. But Mr. Outerbridge would not disclose any details. "Negotiating a settlement is much like a seduction," he said. "It's much better done in private."
Toronto kick-boxing promoters Michael and Martin McNamara plan to hit a couple of major film companies where it really hurts.
Where it bleeds green.
Lawyers for the McNamara brothers sent a letter to the Miramax Film Corp. and Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc. last Thursday, demanding that they immediately change the name of the recently released Jackie Chan comedy/action film Twin Dragons or face a big-ticket lawsuit.
The letter also demanded the deletion of all references to "Twin Dragons" in the film, and that the companies withdraw all advertising and promotional material using the name.
The McNamara brothers have been promoting professional kick-boxing shows in the Toronto area under the name Twin Dragons for 27 years. The Irish-born twins also operate eight Twin Dragons kick-boxing schools in the Toronto area and have, in fact produced films titled Twin Dragon Encounter, Dragon Hunt and the soon to be released Twin Dragons (The Right to Fight). The McNamaras also own the Twin Dragon Bar & Grill in Concord, Ont.
"I'll go for $300 million," said Michael (Mick) McNamara yesterday, when asked the amount he would sue the two film companies for if they didn't respond to his letter by the end of this week. "We didn't spent 27 years of our life, using the name Twin Dragons, to be made fools of in a comedy."
McNamara said he owns the copyright for the name Twin Dragons in both Canada and the U.S.A. A spokesman at Miramax in New York City responded with a curt "no comment" when reached by The Sun last night.
"They didn't do their homework," said McNamara, in reference to the alleged copyright infringement. "So we're to go after them for the money and publicity."
McNamara said he would be willing to talk to Miramax and Alliance about working out a deal to help publicize their own Twin Dragons movies. Failing that, he's determined to go ahead with the lawsuit.
"We're not going to be taken lightly," McNamara said. "We're not geniuses, but we're not stupid either. We know our rights."
Paramount Pictures, distributor of the recently released film Varsity Blues, recently agreed to give money to the University of Toronto after the school charged that the film damaged the reputation of its sports teams, which bear the same name. Paramount also will put a disclaimer on the video and book based on the movie, indicating that the depicted football team is fictional.