In honor of Women’s History Month, we have decided to highlight some influential women in Martial Arts beginning with Cynthia Rothrock.
Cynthia Rothrock is an American martial artist and actress in martial art flims. Rothrock holds black belt rankings in seven styles of martial arts and was a high-level competitor in martial arts before becoming an actress.
“I started at 13 years old,” Cynthia Rothrock said. “I had some friends in tang so do, so I gave it a try. When I was younger, I tried everything — piano, music lessons, other sports — but the martial arts were the first thing I really stuck with.”
Since that time, she’s earned a black belt in tang soo do and taekwondo. She also holds instructor-level rank in three Chinese arts: northern Shaolin Kung Fu, wushu and eagle-claw kung fu. It seems she definitely found something she could stick with.
“Martial arts training is never easy”, she said. “You’ll feel uncoordinated at first, but you shouldn’t give up. If you practice, you’ll get better, and the results will be extreme,” she promised. “You’ll get stronger and stay in shape — and one day the training may save your life.”
Having a mentor or a martial artist you look up to can help you through the tough times in your training, Cynthia Rothrock said. For many years, her favorite was Jackie Chan.
“When I was taking classes in New York, we had a Chinese instructor who taught on Sundays,” she said. “After the workout, he’d take everyone to Chinatown to see kung fu movies. I’ve always looked up to Jackie Chan and still respect him very much.”
Cynthia Rothrock’s own acting career blossomed for many years — despite obstacles posed by on-again-off-again complaints about violence in movies and the fact that studios are reluctant to invest money in projects with female martial artists. “There are far fewer [roles] for women in action movies,” she said.
But she never let that hold her back. In fact, she viewed it as just one more challenge. In much the same way that she was able to break down barriers and become a world champion in forms and weapons, she broke down barriers and became an international film star. That observation led her to give a final tidbit of advice to young martial artists who dream of doing big things in life:
“Don’t give up,” she said. “The results can be extreme.”