5 Self Defense Questions With Tae Bo® Creator Billy Blanks

Billy Blanks
Billy Blanks has had quite a life. He’s received six black belts in various martial arts, including Judo, Kung Fu and Tae Kwon Do. He not only created Tae Bo®, the revolutionary fitness program which merged martial arts with music, but also made it a household name for many loyal followers including Paula Abdul, Magic Johnson and Shaquille O’Neal. If that wasn’t enough he’s also had quite the acting career with features in both TV and in movies “Kiss the Girls,” “The Last Boy Scout” and “Jack and Jill,” to name a few. Billy was kind enough to answer five questions about his amazing life and the world of martial arts.

5 Tae Bo® Origins

Haipha Simon: Tae Bo® has been a mainstream fitness and self-defense program for over two decades. How did the original idea for Tae Bo® come about?

Billy Blanks: Unlike most fitness crazes today, Tae Bo® has a humbling beginning that was created in my basement. It was there that I put the “Rocky” theme song on and began working out. I realized how much energy I was given by something as simple as adding music to my workout. Amazed by this, I began looking into other forms of movements that incorporated music, including taking ballet. Ballet improved my coordination, flexibility and taught me how to count musical beats. From there, I began choreographing karate and boxing techniques to music. While composing this physical symphony, I realized that I was exhausted and the simple action of combining choreographed moves to up tempo music was what made the difference. That was the beginning of Tae Bo®.

4 First Contact

H: What is the first thing an individual should do when defending themselves in a fight?

B: Calm down and keep yourself at peace before any action starts. Try talking your way out first before any action. Use your will power and understand your power.

3 Amateur Mistakes

H: What are some of the most common mistakes amateur martial artists make when it comes to defending themselves?

B: They don’t train enough or use their self-awareness. You need to challenge your will. Make your will control your mind first and your body second, and then you’ll be able to reach your goals.

2 Weapon of Choice

H: What forms of martial arts do you practice and is Tae Kwon Do your martial art of choice?

B: Aside from Tae Kwon Do, I practice Okinawa Shorin-Ryu, Hung Gar Kung Fu, Tang Soo Do, Tai Chi Chuan, Judo and Boxing. Yes, Tae Kwon Do is my martial art of choice.

1 Greatest Lesson Learned

H: What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned from martial arts?

B: Focus and discipline. Martial arts have taught me how to build confidence and self-control. At 35 years of age I learned I had dyslexia—martial arts taught me I could overcome anything in my life and be successful. It has helped every aspect of my life.


H: Tell us something that people would be surprised to know about you.

B: I love all kinds of music. I am a rapper and I create music for my workouts. A lot of the music in my new workouts I am producing. I play the keyboard and I played the flute in high school. I also took ballet lessons for 12 years and performed in the Nutcracker and Swan Lake. Ballet helped improve my coordination, flexibility, and taught me how to count musical beats.

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