Everyone loves an American success story,
in this episode WOTB examines two.
Starting point? A knife called the Balisong.
A pioneer in the Hollywood stunt community, Japanese-American Jeff Imada has worked on over 150 film & tv shows since the 1980's with monumental achievements in the Bourne Identity movies, Book of Eli and Fight Club among others.
Jeff is one of the first Asian-American pioneers who broke barriers and opened doors in the movie industry to a multitude of today's most prominent stunt professionals, film makers actors and actresses.
Jeff achieved notoriety early in in his career
by authoring 'The Balisong Manual' volumes 1 and 2 which subsequently helped him to get his first big break via the legendary film director John Carpenter.
A knife industry tycoon and founder of Benchmade USA, Filipino-American Les DeAsis had a dream to produce the best quality Balisong knives with modern aeronautical manufacturing processes.
Overcoming numerous setbacks and bankruptcies Les succeeds to become one of the most successful and important figures in the worldwide cutlery industry.
His company is well known for the highest degrees of knife quality, craftsmanship and community culture.
Forever embedded within their company logo and history is the classic 'Bali-Song' butterfly knife which were the very first knives he ever made and the bedrock of Benchmade's incredible success.
One of the worlds leading exponents of martial arts training and promotion for the past 50 years Dan Inosanto is a living legend.
Best known for being Bruce Lee's best friend and training partner Dan Inosanto was entrusted to inherit the legacy of Bruce's martial art system 'Jeet Kune Do'.
Mastering a multitude of FIlipino Martial Art styles he is widely credited for being the first to bring this exotic hidden art out to the masses.
Having taught Jeff Imada the Balisong and subsequently introducing him to Les DeAsis, Mr. Inosanto was instrumental to the Balisongs early success and exposure.
The subplot of the Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) in Episode 1 is expanded in Episode 2 as Way of the Balisong (WOTB) documents FMA’s influence in American Cinema, Military & Special Forces Training and Martial Arts competition. Seen by millions yet still a bit unknown, the Filipino Martial Arts are a bit of an enigma.
It’s prevalence in the mainstream action movies of today had an unlikely starting point, the Balisong.
WOTB documents the fascinating story of Dan Inosanto’s first school after Bruce Lee's passing, and how the ‘Filipino Kali Academy’ went on to impact the worlds cinema and martial arts.
The inspiring story of Jeff Imada, mentored by Dan Inosanto the former Pre Med student turned martial artist turned Hollywood stuntman overcame discrimination to become the first Japanese-American stunt coordinator in mainstream Hollywood movies.
Intertwined within the Jeff Imada story is the origin of Benchmade USA, one of the largest manufacturers of cutlery products in the U.S. Founded and helmed by Les DeAsis, it's success didn't come easy.
Jeff Imada opens the doors to a slew of hyper talented stunt professionals, actors and directors. His life's work is recognized and honored and his prodiges are achieving new heights in the film industry.
Les DeAsis survives 3 bankruptcies and prevails into 3 decades of success, passing on his companys legacy to his son John and Daughter Melissa while honoring the knife that started it all, the Balisong.
Amidst his early business success, an abrupt change in state and federal knife laws for the Balisong turns Les DeAsis's world upside down.
Faced with multiple bankruptcies, Les hunkers down and steps up to the challenge.
With a great plan and shere perseverance a new life in the knife friendly state of Oregon launches the Benchmade brand, ushering in
3 decades of industry leading prominence.
Les celebrates Benchmade’s 30 year anniversary by bringing back the knife which started it all.
The Las Vegas Shotshow Convention sets the stage for introducing the the most technologically advanced production Balisong in the world, the Benchmade 87.
A crowning achievement to an illustrious career.
A top student of Dan Inosanto emerges from The Filipino Kali Academy and makes waves. Jeff is regarded as the premiere stunt and fight scene choreographer in Hollywood. With a career spanning over 30 years. His work has become legendary in the stunt world. WOTB examines how Jeff got his start after gaining notoriety from his books
‘The Balisong Manual Volumes 1 & 2’.
His martial skills and ability with the Balisong caught the eye of a young filmmaker by the name of John Carpenter who helped launch Jeff’s career in an industry where opportunities for Asian-Americans were virtually unheard of at the time.
Achieving one of the most storied careers in the stunt industry, Jeff Imada is ceremoniously honored by the Japanese-American community with a Visionary Lifetime Achievement Award.
In his speech he recalls the trials and tribulations of being one of the first Asian-Americans in the stunt industry and how he was driven to persevere and excel with the hope of opening doors for other Asian-American’s following in his footsteps
Bruce Lee's untimely death, thrust the burden of his martial arts legacy upon the shoulders
of his top instructor and best friend
The magnitude of this weighs heavy upon a grieving Inosanto who contemplates quitting martial arts.
A heartfelt letter written by a friend named Steve McQueen sparks a newfound inspiration that would change the world of martial arts forever.
At 84 years old Dan Inosanto is still sprite, athletic and agile, continuing to teach and train daily at his world famous Academy.
He has honored his friend and teacher Bruce Lee with a lifetime of extraordinary achievements and a legacy that has positively impacted thousands if not millions of lives.
On July 1st, Mr. Inosanto was honored for his life’s works in the worlds largest Martial Art’s Convention, the Century Martial Arts "Super Show" in Las Vegas.
The ceremony is projected to be attended by tens of thousands of martial arts practitioners, fans, fighters, industry notables and fellow martial arts masters.
A most fitting tribute is planned for the world's most revered martial arts living legend.
The Bruce Lee story has been told, retold and re-imagined countless times since his passing in 1973. What isn’t widely known is how his teachings and influence continued and how it is still prevalent worldwide for the last 36 years through the influence of his best friend and top student Dan Inosanto, the man who would inherited the legacy and future of Bruce Lee’s martial arts style Jeet Kune Do.
WOTB documents the fascinating story of Dan Inosanto’s first martial arts school the ‘Filipino Kali Academy’. The amount of worldwide influence and innovation that proceeded from this small sized school in Torrance, California would become astounding.
WOTB spends a day with Jeff Imada as he preps actors and stunt players for a fight scene.
WOTB documents the launching of a brand new Benchmade product. From conception to design, through manufacturing, marketing and release to the public.