Friday, July 1, 2011

Fighter Writer

JC Martin, Fighter Writer has put together a book called, Stories for Sendai to raise $ for victims of the Japanese disaster. I’m fascinated by her passion for martial arts and writing.So decided to ask her about both.

When did your fascination for martial arts begin?

My fascination with the martial arts began from a very young age, when I used to watch Chinese martial arts epics alongside my Disney movies. My favourite actors were (and still are!) kung fu stars like Jet Li, Jackie Chan, Donnie Yen, and more recently, Po! (“I love Kung Fu-uuu-uuu...!!”). Whilst most girls my age dreamt of being a fairy princess and meeting their prince charming, I daydreamt that I was a badass kung fu chick/secret agent/spy type!

What kind of martial arts have you practiced?

I started practising out of a book, which was as thick as two telephone directories! Can’t remember where I got it from, but it looked like one of those mystical kung fu tomes in the movies that bestowed on the reader some profound kung fu knowledge or magical kickass powers. However, after months of practising, I still couldn’t put out a candle flame with my Chi Finger of Doom, much less kill someone with the supposed death touch.

Thankfully, around the time I gave up on the book, a karate club started up at school. I became the only female member. Three years in, I managed to get my purple belt, which is one grade away from the advanced brown and black belts. However, being a largely strength-based martial art, I couldn’t really advance any further, not unless I could do 50 push-ups in a minute—on my fists!

For the next five years or so, martial arts took backstage to exams and other school clubs. As a university student in metropolitan London, I did try one class of Aikido, but didn’t like the overly complicated locks and throws. I mean, why all these fancy moves to trap an attacker, when you could put him out of action with one simple well-placed punch? Also, as I was still relying on funds from my parents at the time, I didn’t feel right getting them to pay for lessons, which can be quite pricey.

When I graduated and started work for myself, I decided it was time to re-visit my passion, and to invest in some martial arts classes. After trying out the generally harder and more militaristic Japanese arts, I decided I’d like to try out the fluidity of the Chinese martial arts. I found a Wing Chun class near where I lived, tried it out, loved it, and nearly eight years on, have never looked back! J

What are your martial arts qualifications?

Aside from my purple belt in karate ages ago, I currently hold a second-degree black belt in Wing Chun, and am a qualified instructor.

Tell us about the martial art you’re currently practising.

Wing Chun is a Chinese kung fu which traces its roots all the way back to the Southern Shaolin Temple, over a thousand years ago. There is a romantic legend that the art was named after a woman, Wing Chun, the first student of the Shaolin nun who developed it. Wing Chun would fight off would-be suitors, and only married the man who could take her on in a fight. More recently, the most famous student of Wing Chun was the late Bruce Lee. His master, Ip Man, has found recent popularity when a series of biographical movies came out based on HIS LIFE .

Wing Chun is a simple, effective art form based on short, fast movements, and on redirecting an opponent’s force and using it against him. It is perfect for the smaller ladies, and the potential for brutality appeals to me. J Its principles follow very Taoist philosophies—embodied in Bruce Lee’s famous quote: “Be like water.”—and that appealed to me, too.

How have martial arts influenced your writing?

Apart from the fact that my protagonist in my WiP, Oracle, is also a Wing Chun practitioner? J

I’d like to think that I’m better equipped for writing fight scenes than most people. I can picture the movements and actions in my head, and be able to decide whether it is feasible or not. I wrote a post about writing action scenes HERE .

On a more psychological level, a good workout helps unblock my mind whenever I’m stuck on a particular part of my WiP.

How have martial arts influenced your life?

I would never have predicted this ten years ago, but kung fu is now a major part of my life. Being a martial arts instructor is fulfilling, sociable, and it allows me more time for writing than I’ve ever had before! I find my confidence in dealing with people has also improved drastically, and though I would never go round searching for trouble, I’d never feel paralysed with fear when I find myself in a darkened alley. Fortunately, I’ve never had to put what I learned into practise in a real-life situation, but I’d like to think that should I ever have to, I’m capable of holding my own. J

Quick writing questions:

Plotter or panster?

Obsessive-compulsive plotter! I have a chapter-by-chapter rundown of the entire novel before I start!

Quiet or music?

Quiet. Preferably dead silence!

Laptop or desktop?

Laptop. I use a tiny notebook that slows down whenever I have too many functions going—keeps me from getting distracted by blogging/Twitter/Facebook/etc.!

Mac or PC?


Coffee or tea?

Neither, usually. Chinese tea when it’s especially cold in the winter.

Wine or other?

Other: water or ice-cold diet Coke.

Day or night?


Please support the Japanese survivors

and buy Stories for Sendai.


  1. Thank you for having me, Theresa! Really enjoyed talking about my two passions: writing and fighting! :)

  2. JC, I can't figure out how to make the smiley faces show! Do you know how?

    You're welcome! I just read the post to my daughter. She's impressed! And she laughed during the princess paragraph.

  3. Great interview! I enjoyed learning more about your martial arts, J.C.

  4. Great idea for an anthology! I have this marked as To Be Read.

  5. So cool! How inspiring. I don't know much about martial arts, but every kind I've seen looks really tough. I'd imagine it requires extreme dedication.

  6. Cool. I didn't know there was so many types of martial arts. I'm amazed you have advanced so far--cool!

  7. Great interview - I love seeing this really cool cause spreading around the blogosphere.

  8. The legend about the woman who fights off her suitors is quite cool. What a great cause to promote! I hope the sales generate a ton of money for Japan.

  9. J.C. can I tell you how cool you are? Well I will! You are so cool!!! And could kick my butt for sure:) Though I guess that isn't what its all about right, knowing whos butt you can kick:)

    Thanks for the interview Theresa!

  10. My brother takes martial arts. It seems like a ton of fun! J.C. sounds way too cool. :D

  11. Very cool cause and a fun interview.

    Have a nice weekend!

  12. Wow! Beautiful, talented, committed and dangerous with a pen! How wonderful!! Great to meet you JC and thanks Theresa for a fab guest!! Good luck with the Stories for Sendai - what a great cause too. Take care

  13. WOW! I'm impressed by JC and her determination to learn the skill of martial arts. her entire lifestyle sounds vey healthy. Wonderful interview, Theresa!

  14. You're both awesome lady writers! Thank you for the fascinating interview. I've always vaguely wanted to learn a martial art, but I'm too weaksauce for it. haha.

  15. I'm so impressed! Now I'd like to learn martial arts as well! :)

  16. I thoroughly enjoyed this interview. I didn't get into martial arts until I was 40. I took it with my three daughters. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. And there were people much older than me in the class. I admire you for putting the anthology together. That's awesome.

    Theresa, thanks for this super cool interview.

  17. Very impressive, J.C. The martial arts, the writing. You are one cool and fascinating writer girl. Our sons are black belts in shotokan. See you over at my house on Tuesday, J.C.!

    Great interview, Theresa. (You're super cool too.:) Have a great weekend.

  18. This was such an interesting interview! Thank you both for the post, it was nice to learn about martial arts, something I'd always been interested in. :)

  19. Great interview! I wish I could get lessons from JC. Girl's who kick booty are awesome!

  20. Thanks for reading and the comments, everyone.

    I agree, JC would be fierce in a fight.

    My children take taekwondo, and I see the positive influence it's had on them. When I had the opportunity to interview JC, I was glad she agreed to martial arts and writing-related questions.

    I hope her book raises a lot of $ for Japan.

    @ LynNerd, how cool that you took up martial arts later in life. I took an obscure form of it a couple of years ago. Between that and yoga, my body got strong and my posture was much better. I would like to take martial arts again.

    @ Robyn, it's great that your kids take martial arts too.

    I hope you all are having a great weekend.

  21. Fun interview! I agree that knowing how to do something really well gives you confidence that translates into the rest of your life.

    I WISH I could outline like that - it kind of terrifies me though!

  22. 50 pushups in a minute! Wow...I wish I could do that. I never really thought about how a physical activity like martial arts could inform/influence writing, but reading this post definitely enlightened me as to its possibilities. I can see now how there are similarities, such as the importance of focusing on the task at hand without letting one's mind wander; that's something that's definitely hard for me to do because I often find myself daydreaming.

  23. Hi JC, Hello Theresa,

    Fun interview, and super cool to learn more about you JC!

    All the best!

  24. great interview. My brother loved his martial arts. Unfortunately he practised them on me, his little sister hahaha. Wish I'd paid more attention ;)

  25. Loved this interview! Great to learn more about you, JC, especially your expertise in Wing Chun and its "potential for brutality." Awesome :)

  26. Hi Theresa and JC .. loved learning about Wing Chun and I can see you'd be able to write sequences incorporating the moves within your stories.

    Also I like the analogies you make re writing, communicating and being more social ..

    I love the idea of Stories for Sendai .. and will be buying it ..

    Happy 4th July day .. and for JC in London - lovely day here too .. cheers for now - Hilary

  27. I don't encounter too many writers who are martial artists. This was a fascinating read. I can imagine it's a great way to clear one's head.

    I have the Stories for Sendai anthology on my Kindle.

  28. Great interview Theresa and JC. Enjoyed the myth! Only marry the man who could take her on. Love it.

  29. I wish that I had gotten more into martial arts. I suppose that I still could but I find myself to be too fat and unwieldy.

    Theresa, I gave you a blog award on my blog. There's no strings attached either (you don't have to pass it on). It may give you an idea for a blog entry.

  30. What a great interview! I love the quick rapidfire questions at the end, such a cute way to get to know her.

    I'm so envious of JC's martial arts! I wish I'd gotten started at a younger age... guess it's never too late to try it!

  31. Great interview you two! Thanks for all the details, JC, it's a world I know nothing about :-)

  32. Thanks for the new comments. JC Martin's description of the philosophy behind the martial arts and her practice of it, makes me want to take up martial arts.

    It would probably be good for us writers to gain a little more discipline! It's never to late to start.

  33. Wow, Theresa, your blog's got lots of awesome, active followers! Thanks everyone for your kind comments! I've never been called 'cool' so many times in such a short space of time!

    Yes, martial arts does instil both discipline and confidence in all aspects of your life. It can be very rewarding, regardless of the art you practise, and of course, it's a great way to stay in shape!

    Theresa: Try deleting the smileys and retyping them again in Blogger. That might work?

    For those of you considering starting a martial art, it's never too late! Our oldest student is in his 60s--and he's a black belt!

    Pat: My lifestyle sounds very healthy until you find out my favourite writing snack: Nutella, straight from the jar, with a spoon! :)