"The Black Dragon" will breathe fire in true-to-life book -- Ron Van Clief tells his story in The Hanged Man
David KnightView all articles by David Knight
Multiple championship winning Martial artist, actor, and teacher, Ron Van Clief has put pen to page before, but perhaps never in as important a work as one that tells his own story, a reflection of the American social changes he was witness to and ensnared by. The Hanged Man is set to be an unflinching record of Van Clief's beginnings, and the highs and lows of his survival story to present day stability and success.
Van Clief was born into a time of turbulent change. The Hanged Man details his experiences with an abusive father that reached a point that as a young man he considered murdering him, racism as his physical reality when he was almost hung to death, and his entrance into the United States Marine Corps and Viet Nam experiences. His life as a father surrounded by violence and drug shoot-outs that threaten his family's New York neighbourhood, and the personal stresses on relationships over the years and how it all takes a toll, testify to his stand-his-ground perseverance.
Van Clief has a long and storied list of championships that are well known. Accomplished in Aiki-Jitsu, Arnis de Mano, Ju-jitsu, Karate, and Kung Fu, Van Clief has over the course of decades of renown grown from student to champion to teacher, developing his own combined style that is called "Shidoshi" -- Chinese Goju, a fluid blend of Chinese and Japanese styles.
His first film role was with Jason Pia Pio in The Black Dragon (aka Tough Guy / Thunder Blow) in 1974, and it was a good career start in a film I still enjoy to this day. Thereafter his roles in film have been both small and larger, and in front of the camera as well as behind the scenes. For example, in one of his behind the scenes roles he did the martial arts choreography for Berry Gordy's 1985 film, The Last Dragon.
The Hanged Man is co-written with Sparky Parks (Lance D. Parks). A comic called The Black Dragon is due out this year some time. Additionally a second, follow-up, volume to Van Clief's essential Black Heroes In The Martial Arts book is planned for the future.