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One on One with Philip Sahagun
By Erika Blackson January 18th, 2010

On the weekend of January 15th until the 17th, I was lucky to attend a workshop with none other than Philip Sahagun, Hosted by Sifu Henny Eleonora's Lui He Men Kungfu school. The first session on Friday evening was kind of a getting to know each other and a clever way to determine the level of the group. But the following two days were hard work and in the end most of us were aching all over. All in all, a weekend well spent.

Philip Sahagun is young man who has already made it in the martial arts world. A top rank athlete, performer and actor who despite his celeb-status Philip is very modest and has no star-like airs, he is kind and talks to everybody. I had a chance to sit down to talk to him and I would like to share this with you.

Philip on his training

"I have been training martial arts since I was 5 years old. I was exposed to Kenpo Karate, Kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and at age 17 Chinese Wushu and eventually moved to Shaolin Kungfu and that is where I am today."

On how the different styles influenced his martial arts

"Training multiple martial arts really helped me because in each system I learned different skills. I learned how to develop precision, fight more accurately & develop performance intensity... the benefit of Wushu and Shaolin kung fu was that it strengthened my body more than other systems, I feel I am much faster and stronger now than I ever could be without Chinese Martial Arts. So naturally I have a lot of respect for people who dedicate themselves to this type of practice.

On training in China

"My first time in China was in 2004, I trained at the Shaolin Martial Arts Majoring Institute in Zhengzhou which was headed by Shaolin master Zhu Tian Xi. The school specialized in traditional Shaolin Martial Arts Skills and had exceptional "Jing Gang Quan" (Diamond Fist) and "Luohan Quan" (Enlightened One's Fist)  During my first stay, and those thereafter I focused mainly on Luohan Quan and Zui Luohan Qun (Drunken Luohan Quan) those forms really caught my attention and I still practice them today. Through my trips in China I had the opportunity to take part in some extraordinary shows and eventually train inside the Shaolin Temple itself.

On K-Star

"The K-Star competition lasted about 5 months in China with about 9 months worth of Competition events taking place around the world.  Out of these tournaments they took the top 3 winners from different Countries and flew them to China.

In the North American competition. We had two days of competition covering forms, weapon forms, fighting and an extra talent. I was lucky enough to be one of the guys they picked and I was excited thinking we all were going to China to perform, see Shaolin Temple and go home. But once we all got there they told us it was going to be some big TV-show competition.


Before the start of the official competition we were sent to Shaolin Temple to study Martial Arts & Shaolin Culture under the 18 Luohan. It was a rough combination, the food, the meditation and the kung fu practice. I found the meditation particularly difficult because some of the sessions would last about two hours at a time... that was a killer! After we got out of Shaolin Temple the actual K-STAR show started and we began performing all over China. The show was well received and had over 300 Million viewers. It was a success!

On Tina Turner's final tour

The Tina Turner Tour was a very nice experience! This took place right after I finished a martial arts/acting show with Jackie Chan in Beijing (The Disciple) I came back to America and decided, "ok, now I will focus on my personal life and study". Then a friend called and said "Tina Turner is looking for people who do martial arts." and I was like, "What!? Why on earth does she want martial arts people?" Then my friend said: "Are you interested in going?" and I was like, ok!

So we sat down later that week had a meeting and that was that. The whole process was like a dream. It took about a year to complete, 3 months preparation and 8 months covering North America & Europe.


On martial arts attitude

I think depending on what level, the attitude varies from each person. As a beginner it is important to be patient, watch and listen… but on a intermediate level it is okay to have a bit of an attitude, this is not a “foolish mindset.” This is having an attitude to build up your confidence, to be proud of what you do and push forward your training. With that being said it is also important to find someone who can knock the attitude out of you.

As a beginner, you teach them something, they get to a certain level and they feel comfortable. For them it is like driving a car, after a while it isn’t special anymore, you just sit and drive and don't think about it. Now if you practice martial arts for lets say, five years and think "I won a competition I am great", that is when you stop making progress. At this point I think it is necessary to find a teacher or someone to knock the attitude out of you. Build yourself up, then tear it down, learn some more, knock it out again and eventually you don't need the attitude. You’ve been knocked around so many times you don't care about it anymore. You realize, the only thing the attitude is good for is to make you look foolish and that you have to stand on your own eventually.

For me, training with friends who come from different styles, you always have your own conception of the arts, your own thoughts. You walk into Jiu-jitsu class for example, and find you cannot do your punching and kicking or go to a Shaolin kungfu class and wonder "why do they train the legs like that?" But then after six months of either training you're like, "wow I am more powerful now".

There is a lot to learn and you got to remove your attitudes and keep looking for things if your unsatisfied with your level. If you think you’ve achieved anything you should look hard to find someone who is better, because there are people who are better. Even if you are the best in Shaolin Kungfu or any other traditional Chinese martial art, go find someone from another martial art and even though it is a different style it will help your martial art!

For more on Philip Sahagun, South Coast Martial Arts , training and contact please visit:

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