Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Martial Arts History Museum

Very occasionally, I like to watch a show called Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this show frequently showcases restaurants in Southern California. On one such episode, I learned about a place called Chili John's in Burbank. My husband and I decided to check it out (the food was very good and the atmosphere was really fun, in case you're wondering) but since Burbank is kind of a long drive for us (about 20 miles), I decided to look for something else to do while we were in town. And this is how I discovered the Martial Arts History Museum.

Located at 2319 W. Magnolia Blvd. in Burbank (barely a mile from Chili John's), the museum was founded in 1999. It costs $10 per person ($5 for children), with a $2 discount for senior citizens or active duty military. It's open Thurs. - Sun., 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. While it's fairly small, and largely reading-based, it's absolutely packed with information.

My favorite part about the museum is that it's divided into sections based on country of origin. There are sections for: China, Japan, Korea, Hawaii, The Philippines, and Thailand (it's possible I've forgotten a country). There is also a timeline of how the various practices were introduced to America and sections on martial arts in anime/animation, television, and movies, not to mention a "hall of fame" for a variety of American martial artists.

Below are pictures from some of the sections.

I thought this bit about how the various "animal"
forms were created was interesting, although I
assume these stories are apocryphal.

For dancing.

Huge drum.

Thought this shield was cool.

A variety of kung fu weapons.

A woman's Tai Chi uniform on the left. A man's
Kung Fu uniform on the right.

This and the two directly below are
different samurai uniforms.

A judo gi.

Ninja uniform.

Ninja weapons.

Kendo uniform.

I just loved how epic this painting was.

I neglected to take a picture of any of the uniforms, such as for Tae Kwon Do, except for the one you can see in the upper right of the picture below.

A Korean drum and fan.


This was my favorite section, because even after two and a half years on Maui, I'd never heard of Lua before. When I asked the very helpful gentleman at the front about it later, he said that until the last twenty years or so, Hawaiians had been very secretive about it. Once it started dying out, they began talking about it with outsiders to help preserve the tradition.

A bit of info about Lua.

Lua weapons.

More Lua weapons.

Even more Lua weapons. 

This is a Kenpo uniform. Kenpo is another form
of Hawaiian martial art. 


Some info on the Filipino martial art
of Kali, which I'd also never heard of.

Kali sticks.

Part of the Muay Thai uniform.

A Khon mask (for dancing).


"Dragon Lady" costume from the film
"X-Treme Fighter."

A replica of Kato's mask from the TV
show "Green Hornet."

The real shield from the "Mortal Kombat" movie.

A Cobra Kai patch from "Karate Kid."

Ralph Macchio's actual headband from
"Karate Kid, Part II."

There was a lot more to this place than what you see in these pictures. I loved this museum. I thought it was really fun and informative. I learned so much. The division of the sections helped me to finally learn the distinctions of styles. I now feel like I have a much better handle on where the various forms of martial arts originated. In addition to all of the displays, there are also several informational videos, and the gentleman up front was very knowledgable and friendly.

If you're going to be in Burbank and have a free hour or so, I highly recommend you check this place out! It's well worth the money and I'm positive you'll learn something.


Patricia said...

This museum seems tremendously awesome.

balyien said...

It's really a hidden gem.