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Interview Roy Horan : gweilo actor and producer in HK
A Superkicker's Way of Life (Hwang Jang Lee) 1/1 - Page 4
Author(s) : Arnaud Lanuque
Date : 13/3/2006
Type(s) : Interview
 Intext Links  
People :
Hwang Jang Lee
Movies :
Art Of High Impact Kicking
Companies :
Seasonal Film Corporation
Lexic :
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Page 3 : The Shooting of Death
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Page 5 : From Jesus To Ironman

HKCinemagic : To get back on Hwang Jang Lee. Can you tell us how a typical training session with him was?

Roy Horan : We had two kinds of training sessions…the training sessions in Taiwan … and the training sessions in Hong Kong . For the training sessions in Taiwan , we would work-out on the top of his apartment building. He had me kicking in the air. My reaction was, “Hum, this is interesting.”…but I doubted its validity. One of his exercises, for those who love martial arts,…and they'll really love this one…was, Hwang would say “Pick a point in the sky and sidekick it ten times.” There was not a cloud in the sky…it was completely clear blue. “I'll tell you whether you hit the mark or not.” Of course, you kick one time, the second time you won't be anywhere close to the mark because there is no real target. I asked him “Why do you want me to do this?” He said, “If you can hit a target which is only in your mind, consistently, it shows you have very good focus and very good control over your body. If you are able to do this, there is no human being on the planet who can move fast enough, that you wouldn't be able to hit…because no human being moves as fast as the mind”. I was thinking, “Wait a minute, that's kind of strange…seems almost mystical!” I asked him about hitting a heavy bag, and he said, “No, don't hit heavy bags; don't do any of that, just follow the way I'm teaching you.” He had a specific way of executing a kick. The kicks had to be done with a certain type of focus and delivered in a certain manner. So, we practiced like this in Taipei.

I remember one time; I was on my own apartment roof facing some low brick walls. I was feeling a bit spunky so, I thought I would use Hwang's technique on the brick wall…and the brick wall shattered! I thought, “What?! How could that happen?!” (laughs) I didn't hurt my foot at all. I had studied physics in university, so I tried to understand the physics of Hwang's style. When we later moved to Hong Kong, I wrote, produced, and directed a video called The Art of High Impact Kicking. What I did was take Hwang Jang Lee's theory and embody it into an entire kicking system. Every type of kick imaginable was described, how to do it, the body mechanics you need to develop it, etc. We put all that in the video itself, but we didn't describe many of his training techniques.

Then came the Hong Kong training. There was a Hong Kong actor, Wong Kam Sun, who wanted to learn TaeKwonDo from Hwang so, every day he would arrive at our apartment and together we'd go to one of the beaches on Hong Kong island, early in the morning, and kick in the sand…deep sand... front kicks from one side of the beach to the other, back again, then do the same with sidekicks etc….which is extremely tiring. He also wanted us to do jumping kicks in deep sand. In this way, we learned lightness, balance, speed, control, and so forth. Hwang's training techniques were pretty arduous. Eventually, I had an opportunity to use them in sparring. The results again surprised me. The training was very efficient, effective, yet without kicking a bag or sparring with other fighters.

HKCinemagic : It was his own training or the way he was taught Tae Kwon Do?
Roy Horan : He developed his own style and method of training. He started learning Tae Kwon Do in the traditional way. One winter day, he was down by a frozen river side and slipped on the ice. To balance himself, he grabbed onto a branch. The branch twisted in a circular fashion, then, shot back at very high speed. Hwang thought about the mechanical motion of the branch wondering how it could create so much power. He realised that the force was generated through circular motion…what physicists call angular momentum. He then employed whip-like motions generated by circular movement in the hips and strikes delivered parallel to the ground. This gave him a greater sense of balance and control as well as the flexibility to go from one kick to another without giving gravity much of an opportunity to pull the leg down. Through circular motion, action and reaction, he was converting one kick into another with little loss of energy. When Hwang was in Vietnam, he did TKD demonstrations and taught in the Korean army's Tiger division. He also trained MP's, western military and Vietnamese soldiers in TKD.
HKCinemagic : He left Hong Kong around the same time you left Seasonnal company, didn't he?
Roy Horan : No, he had left a little bit earlier than that. His box-office had declined because he had done so many films…some quite poor ones. Producers and directors were looking for new bad guys. Hwang went back to Korea for a while. Somewhere in the mid- 80s, I set up a company called Independent Television Programming which worked with TV stations and producers in both Taiwan and Hong Kong to develop independently produced television programs. Our major function was to market and distribute the programs outside of Taiwan as well as use presales to fund the productions….much like an executive producer's function. We produced 560 hours of programming in about two years, a very short period of time. We would bring crew, actors and directors, from TVB or ATV, to work on those projects. It was the first time many of these people had ever worked outside of the major Hong Kong TV stations. They were looking for more interesting projects, and probably better pay. Around this time, I suggested to some of the Taiwanese producers that they should consider Hwang Jang Lee. Soon after, Hwang was hired to act in some TV series. He did this for a while, then later got involved in some overseas films. Last time I saw him, he was investing in sports-related businesses. He eventually returned to Korea. I believe he lives on an island in South Korea...and according to his son, he's still very fit…can perform all the kicks, even though he's now about 62 years old!
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