To perform a butterfly twist, one must put their weight onto one leg while jumping and swinging the opposite leg over the body, causing a complete midair horizontal rotation. This trick is no challenge for sophomore Forbes Lau.
Lau, a visual and media arts major, said he has been teaching himself martial arts since his freshman year of high school, gradually progressing to an advanced level in a variety of styles. In general, he said he practices mixed martial arts, including krav maga, muay thai, karate, taekwondo, and kung fu. Currently, he said, he is learning judo.
Lau said his inspiration came from watching Power Rangers on TV and wanting to learn their moves.
“That gave me the thrust, and ever since, it’s been my strongest passion,” he said “Every time I train, I fall in love.”
For the past several years, Lau said, he has been training on most weekdays for three to four hours. He said he keeps practicing because of the sense of purpose it gives him and the self-discipline it has taught him.
Lau said he divides his training schedule between activities like yoga, shadow boxing, and cardio. He said he also does calisthenics and strength exercises that target different parts of the body.
Martial arts has also been an outlet to overcome difficult moments in his life, Lau said. In the past, he said he has struggled with bullying, transferring colleges, losing touch with friends, and breaking up with girlfriends. Lau said that he knows he can count on his martial arts to help pull him through and brighten his mood.
“A lot of bad things have happened to me over the years,” Lau said. “Martial arts has really opened my life in a new way—I actually feel healthy, and I’m happy about myself.“
Lau said he has not taken his skills to competition, since he finds the rivalry in a high risk situation too intense. He said he prefers to practice martial arts for personal reasons and his love for the sport.
On campus, Lau has been a part of four student movie projects where he has used his martial arts skills. He has starred, and led the choreography for, each film.
Currently, Lau is working on a movie that plans to finish shooting this month. He is collaborating with Michael Doppel, a senior visual and media arts major on his film, The Mantis, about an underground fighter. When Doppel, who is directing the film for a class project, was looking for someone to choreograph the fight scenes, he said he immediately thought of Lau.
“He responded well to the script and did a great job adapting it,” Doppel said.
Over the summer, Lau said he intends to go to Los Angeles to attend a training program at the Xtreme Martial Arts center. He said he was personally invited to come last summer by Michael Chaturantabut, the center’s co-founder and actor who played the blue Power Ranger in 2000 and 2001.
“I told him about my dreams and where I’d like to be in my life,” Lau said. “And he has offered me a place at his studio.”
Lau said he plans to continue training in martial arts, and in the future, hopes to use his skills in the film world.
“Martial arts,” he said, “gives me another reason to keep fighting.”