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®.
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.
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.
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.
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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