The Transformative Learning Centre of OISE-UT presents




Transformative Martial Arts

Film Series


University of Toronto



Previous  Screenings


Friday October 1, 2010

Dean’s Board Room,

12th Floor, OISE-UT, 252 Bloor St. W.

(directly above the St. George subway station)


Jon Braeley's Tour de Force Documentary on traditional Chinese martial arts:


Warriors-Cover.jpgA sequel to his acclaimed documentary The Empty Mind, Jon Braeley presents a  sweeping epic travelogue across China focused exclusively on the martial arts of China.  It examines many of the major styles of kung-fu and how they are taught in the training grounds of temples, parks and halls.

...Filled with fascinating interviews of some of China’s top masters, Warriors of China features both external and internal styles of Chinese boxing, including Shaolin Kungfu, Wudang boxing, Tai Chi Chuan, Baguazhang, Xingyiquan and Yiquan.

...Highlights include a full contact showdown between Shaolin’s two largest Kungfu schools, a visit to the famous Wudang Mountain temple, and a rare outsider visit to a Yiquan ("Mind Fist") training centre deep in a remote province.  Besides revealing the impact of the martial arts on several outstanding masters, the film documents the encounter of traditional fighting arts with modern culture in China and abroad. 


discussion to follow,

all are welcome to participate




Friday April 30, 2010

Dean’s Board Room,

small_Emptymind-DVD.jpg12th Floor, OISE-UT, 252 Bloor St. W.

(directly above the St. George subway station)


"Jon Brailey has yet again done a terrific job with The Empty Mind

in bringing the philosophical and psychological side of the far east to

us in this terrific film showcasing some of the top masters of the

martial arts. Names like Ueshiba, Kanazawa, Okazaki and many more

show the art the way it is meant to be practised. Hats off to yet

another fabulous film I enjoyed from the beginning to the end."

--Don Warrener

 "I saw The Empty Mind and I was very impressed.  It was excellent." 

--Gene Ching, Asst. Publisher, Kung Fu/Tai Chi Magazine.


discussion to follow,

all are welcome to participate


One of the best introductions to martial arts from an 'internal' perspective, this documentary tour de force travels
across China and Japan to provide revealing and often exciting glimpses into some of the best practitioners of
karate, kendo, aikido, Shaolin kung-fu, tai chi, and qigong.  Besides giving us access to storied locations like 
Shaolin Temple, Wudang Mountain, and Japan's Budokan, the film showcases some of the Asian arts' top masters
including Moriteru Ueshiba, Masahiko Tanaka, Masao Kagawa, Monk Shi De Yang… and many more.  Written and
directed by  Jon Braeley, the film also features a haunting soundtrack by Richard Brookens (Yellowbell).
Film Trailer
Empty Mind Films website



Friday March 26, 2010


Dean’s Board Room,

12th Floor, OISE-UT, 252 Bloor St. W.

(directly above the St. George subway station)

"Ghost Dog is simply one of the coolest movies

to come down the pike in years."


"...It reminded me how vibrantly original an

honest-to-God independent film can be."

--Cincinnati Enquirer


"Forest Whitaker carries the movie. His subdued, expressive

performance is nothing short of amazing."

--Eugene Novikov, Film Blather


"My fave martial arts film is Ghost Dog."

--Tai Chi Master Sam Masich


Jim Jarmusch's 1999 Classic



"No other filmmaker has made such a bold statement about the parallels of societal violence that exist between cultures, whether Ancient Eastern, Mafioso, or Urban gangster. Fans of any of the three genres will be sure to enjoy this one."

                                                                                                                           --Athan Bezaitis -

discussion to follow, all are welcome to participate


Jim Jarmusch's spiritual gangster film tells the story of an inner-city hit man who lives on a rooftop, training himself as a samurai in the strictest sense. Forest Whitaker plays Ghost Dog, samurai disciple, carrier pigeon keeper, and for ten years the devoted retainer to an aging mafia foot soldier named Louie (John Tormey). When one of Ghost Dog's contract murders goes wrong — the don's daughter Louise (Tricia Vessey) is a witness — her father, Vargo (Henry Silva), decides that to save face, he must have the killer "neutralized." The rest of the film follows Ghost Dog's calculated efforts to survive, as he takes out the gang members while attempting to maintain his ceremonious, mutually respectful relationship with Louie. The film's acclaimed score and soundtrack was produced by the Wu-Tang Clan's RZA.


Film Trailer

Wikipedia on Ghost Dog

Interview with actor Forest Whitaker




Friday November 27, 2009

Dean’s Board Room,

12th Floor, OISE-UT, 252 Bloor St. W.

(directly above the St. George subway station)


a captivating look at cinema history through the lens of the Chinese American experience.


"Overt racism collides with the economics of an industry and the perceptions of a culture in Hollywood Chinese, a provocative critical survey of the first century of American cinema and the ways that Chinese and Chinese-Americans have been depicted by the industry...GROUNDBREAKING!!"

--S. James Synder, NY Sun


discussion to follow,

all are welcome to participate



Directed by triple Sundance award-winning filmmaker, Arthur Dong, this documentary is a voyage through a century of cinematic delights, intrigues and treasures. It weaves together a wondrous portrait of actors, directors, writers, and movie icons who have defined American feature films, from the silent era to the current new wave of Asian American cinema. At once entertaining and enlightening, Hollywood Chinese reveals long-untold stories behind the Asian faces that have graced the silver screen, and weaves a rich and complicated tapestry, one marked by unforgettable performances and groundbreaking films, but also by a tangled history of race and representation.


Sample clip from the film

Interview with director Arthur Dong

Official Film Website




Friday October 30, 2009

Room 5-260  (260 on the 5th floor) 

OISE-UT, 252 Bloor St. W.

(directly above the St. George subway station)


a documentary film classic on the fascinating world of women's boxing, featuring perhaps the greatest woman boxer, Lucia Rijker


Directed by Katya Bankowsky

discussion to follow, all are welcome to participate



Shadow Boxers is a documentary about women who train as fighters to enter the boxing ring.
Directed by Katya Bankowski, the film enters into the world of fighting through intersections of
gender, race, class and sexuality, exploring fighting as an embodied politics of anti-violence.
The documentary begins with the narratives of several women, but slowly focuses on Lucia
Rijker and her rise from small bouts to become a world champion.  Like Graciela Casillas
another world-class boxer—Rijker was a martial artist before she trained as a boxer.  The
film spends some time examining how martial arts discipline enters into Rijker's boxing,
giving us insight into boxing as a form of moving meditation.







review by Ken Eisner, Variety, June 22, 1999

Women Boxing Archive Network (WBAN)

Wikipedia: Women's Boxing history

International Women's Boxing Assn.

National Women’s Martial Arts Federation (NWMAF)

Links: Women in the Martial Arts   

International Association of Gay and Lesbian Martial Artists



Host & Facilitator Dr. Jamie-Lynn Magnusson
Jamie has earned a 3rd-degree black belt in Goju Ryu karate, and also studies Aikido and 
Filipino martial arts systems.  A professor at OISE, she teaches equity theory in the 
Department of Theory and Policy Studies.



Friday February 27, 2009


the_warrior_irfan_khan.jpgBest British Film, 2002

Asif Kapadia's powerful first feature film


When his conscience awakens, his journey begins. The Warrior is a poignant look at the choices people are forced to make in order to survive. Irfan Khan is unforgettable as Lafcadia, a man who works as an executioner for a heartless warlord (Anupam Shyam). When a poor village is unable to pay him tribute, the warlord orders an old man to be instantly executed and the village burned and pillaged. For the first time, Lafcadia shows hesitation in carrying out his duties, and after a young girl (Sunita Sharma) shows him mystical snow-covered mountains, he considers running away with his young son (Puru Chhibber). But as he puts down his sword and seeks a peaceful, quiet life, his men (led by the stellar Aino Annuddin) are ordered to bring back his head, leading to horrific loss and a thrilling chase scene through the desert landscape of Rajasthan in India (known as the Land of Death). Part swordfighting epic, part spiritual quest, THE WARRIOR is an Eastern Western reminiscent of the films of Akira Kurosawa and Sergio Leone. Lafcadia's search for inner peace represents the conflicts that tear through the souls of all men and women, a universal desire for the beauty and simplicity of life


See the Trailer for this film


After the film, join us for a wide-ranging discussion of the film and relevant issues of social change and transformative martial arts. 




Friday January 30, 2009

Transformative Martial Arts and Body Politics: A Queer Perspective, featuring... 

He fights like a man,

  so he can become a woman



px12.jpgBelieving he's a girl trapped in a boy's body since childhood, Parinya Charoenphol (affectionately known as Nong Toom in Thailand) sets out to master the most masculine and lethal sport of Muay Thai (Thai boxing) to earn a living and to achieve his ultimate goal of total femininity. Touching, funny and packed with breathtaking Thai kickboxing sequences, Beautiful Boxer traces Nong Toom's childhood, teenage life as a traveling monk and grueling days in boxing camps. Shot in 9 provinces across Thailand and in Tokyo, the film also features a series of explosive matches where Nong Toom knocks out most of his opponents in Thailand and Japan.

     Directed and produced by Ekachai Uekrongtham, the film stars Asanee Suwan, a real-life kickboxing champ as Nong Toom. The role earned him the 2004 Supannahongsa Award (Thailand's equivalent to the Oscar) for Best Actor. Beautiful Boxer also features compelling performances by Thailand's award-winning actor Sorapong Chatree in the role of Nong Toom's coach and former Miss Thailand Orn-Anong Panyawong as Nong Toom's mother.

     Kyoko Inoue, one of Japan's top female wrestlers plays herself in the film. She has fought with Nong Toom in real life back in 1988. That historical match was reenacted for the film in a dramatic sequence shot at Toyko Dome. Nearly all of Nong Toom's opponents in the film are also professional kickboxers in real life.


This movie session will be of interest to queer martial artists and anyone interested in martial arts as embodied politics.

Note: Discussion following the film will be somewhat abbreviated due to the feature's length (almost two hours), but we still aim for some discussion of important issues raised by the film.


See the Trailer for this Film


image016.jpgHost and Facilitator Jamie Magnusson 

Jamie has earned a 3rd degree black belt in Goju Ryu karate and also studies aikido.  She encourages practitioners from gay-positive clubs to bring literature and flyers to share with others searching for supportive clubs and training spaces. / Resources

Beautiful Boxer website


International Association of Gay and Lesbian Martial Artists


Links: Women in the Martial Arts   


National Women’s Martial Arts Federation (NWMAF)


Roxana Ng, "Embodied Pedagogy as Transformative Learning: A Critical Reflection," Proceedings, Canadian Association for the Studies of Adult Education (CASAE) 24th Annual Conference, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, May 28 to May 31, 2005


Lang Liu,  A Very Brief History of Capoeira


Ann Phillips in Vitality magazine: “Classical Martial Arts: An Eastern Inspired Path to Wellness and Empowerment





Friday November 28, 2008

Qigong: Ancient Chinese Healing for the 21st Century

Narrated by James Shigeta (Star of Flower Drum Song and Disney's Mulan)

Directed by award winning television producer and graphic designer Francesco Garri Garripoli

Post-film discussion facilitated by Roxana Ng 


Qigong-VideoQigong (pronounced "chee-gung") is a 5,000 year old Chinese healthcare modality that has both endured the test of time and is making a tremendous resurgence at the threshold of the 21st Century. Literally millions practice Qigong in China and around the world each day to successfully treat diseases ranging from hypertension to cancer. The purpose of this one-hour documentary is to provide a unique look into the world where the elder Masters of this medical artform dwell. Viewers will be taken on a journey deep into the Chinese and Tibetan countryside to visit monasteries, temples, schools, and homes of these Masters like the 93 year old female bone-setting Master Lao and the spry 92 year old Wushu Master Duan Zhi Liang; seeing them perform and teach their exercise and healing techniques and hearing them speak in their original homeland settings to gain historic perspective.


Qigong-Healing1Qigong: Ancient Chinese Healing for the 21st Century is produced and directed by Garripoli, Emmy award winning graphics and special effects designer, author, and longtime Qigong practitioner. Author of "Qigong - Essence of the Healing Dance," his expertise ensures a sensitive treatment of this subject while making it accessible to the Western viewer. The natural Chinese settings including Beijing, Datong, Luoyang, the Shaolin Temple, Xian, Chengdu, and Shanghai will provide viewers with an insight into the wonders of the Chinese culture. Footage from the country of Tibet will captivate you with its magic. The insights into the wonders of Qigong's medical implications will be a unique offering for the growing number of students, medical doctors, and healthcare professionals from around the world. For all, it will be exciting to learn of the history and current practice of this exciting cultural gift from China which may hold the answer to better healthcare in the next century.


See a Clip from this Film


Host and Facilitator Roxana Ng teaches in the Adult Education and Community Development Program at the RoxanaNgOntario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. She has written extensively on issues pertaining to immigrant women; globalization and work restructuring; and marginality and equity in education. Dissatisfied with theories and practices that privilege the intellect (simplistically equated with the mind) over the body-spirit, in 1990 she began to explore eastern philosophical thoughts that do not create this bifurcation. Using Chinese medical theory and qi gong as a starting point, she has developed a form of  transformative education, which she calls “embodied learning”, that she is integrating into her teaching and writing. She has practised tai chi and qi gong for over 15 years, and continues to study these healing and martial art forms.



Links / Resources

Wudang Qigong

Five Animal Frolics Qigong

Miraculous Energy Projection: from Bill Moyers documentary Healing and the Mind

More Crazy Qigong demonstrations

Roxana Ng, "Embodied Pedagogy as Transformative Learning: A Critical Reflection," Proceedings, Canadian Association for the Studies of Adult Education (CASAE) 24th Annual Conference, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, May 28 to May 31, 2005

Tai Chi and Meditation Centre / Emerge Internal Arts




Friday October 24, 2008

Mestre Bimba: A Capoeira Iluminada (The Enlightened Capoeira)

                The Rise of Capoeira Regional

Introduced by Lang Liu of Filhos de Bimba-Toronto and Bavia Arts .


MestreBimba1The Film:  The captivating and inspiring biographical documentary of Mestre Bimba, one of the founding fathers of contemporary capoeira.  In 1899, in deepest Bahia, Manuel dos Reis Machado, the Master Bimba, was born. He would become the most important name in Capoeira in Brazil and over 150 other countries where this Brazilian fight/game/sport is practiced. Determined to change its criminal status to which it was condemned by the 1890 Penal Code, Bimba modernised capoeira, founded the first academy and became one of the most important popular educators of the Americas. Through accounts given by some of his old students and never seen before images, the documentary tells the story of this humble, illiterate Brazilian, who is today known, sung about and respected in all capoeira rings. Inspired by the book Mestre Bimba: Corpo de mandinga, by Muniz Sodré.

capoeira4Director: Luiz Fernando Goulart

Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1941. He graduated in law from PUC. He has written and directed over 150 films, business and training videos, TV series, DVDs and TV documentaries. Assistant director, production director, executive producer, screenwriter and director of 40 national and international short and feature-length films. He directed the features Marilia e Marina 1975), A rainha do rádio (1979) e Tropclip (1984).


See the Trailer


Discussion: Lang Liu chief instructor of Filhos de Bimba-Toronto, will be on hand to facilitate discussion and answer questions about capoeira, the regional style, and Mestre Bimba.  Lang trains with the son of Mestre Bimba, Mestre Nenel and his Salvador-based group, "Filhos de Bimba" (Children of Bimba).   Lang is also researching capoeira and indigenous knowledge for her doctoral work at OISE-UT. 

All topics and issues raised by the film or the series are open for discussion: the nature of martial arts, non-violence and social change, women in martial arts, embodied knowledge, mind-body transformation, etc. 


Links / Resources      

A Very Brief History of Capoeira by Lang Liu

Demonstration Roda at the Mother School of Mestre Nenel in Salvador

     Filhos de Bimba, Toronto (Lang Liu)         Bavia Arts

Fundacao Mestre Bimba (Mother School, Salvador)    Filhos de Bimba, Sao Paulo   Filhos de Bimba, Newcastle





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