Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Art of war

With the continuing popularity of video games and action films, many boys dream of following in their favorite star’s footsteps – fighting evil through a series of punches and kicks.

Anthony Marquez is one of the few who fulfilled that dream.

Marquez, an Evanston resident and the instructor at Extreme Kung Fu and Wushu Training Center, 825 Chicago Ave., said he became interested in martial arts after watching a Bruce Lee movie when he was five or six years old.

“After watching the movie I thought, ‘Wow, that’s what I want to be,'” Marquez said. “I kept telling my parents, ‘I want to be like Bruce Lee.'”

Two decades later, he finally made his way to the big screen.

Marquez, raised in the Chicago area, started martial arts classes several years after seeing that Bruce Lee movie and has been practicing for 26 years. He has competed nationally and internationally, earning the title of Rookie of the Year from the North American Sport Karate Association in 1989. He stopped competing after winning a national championship in 1996.

Extreme Kung Fu teaches wushu, which from Chinese literally translates as “martial arts.” Wushu focuses primarily on martial arts as an art form, combining sequences of motions into routines similar to a gymnastics floor exercise. San shou, a specialized form of wushu, is a more combative style of martial arts.

“Some enjoy the art, some like the fighting better, but it’s all the same basic movements,” Marquez said.

Marquez trained in both in the United States and overseas, spending time in Thailand and the Philippines. In China, where the art began, wushu is very competitive among martial arts students.

“It’s like the NBA is here,” Marquez said. “There are thousands of kids who play basketball on the streets and then a smaller number who play on their high school or college team, and then an even smaller number who go on to the NBA.”

Beyond competition, Marquez has used his skills for the entertainment industry.

In the early 1990s Midway Home Entertainment began work on a live-action martial arts video game. The company wanted to work with Jean-Claude Van Damme, Marquez said, but “they couldn’t get it together.”

The proposed game’s lead artist and designer knew Marquez and approached him about working on the project.

“They filmed us in suits in front of a blue screen doing a bunch of different punches, different kicks and falling down,” Marquez said. “Then they digitized the film for the game. When you’re playing the original Mortal Kombat game, that’s us.”

Marquez has done stunts in several movies and was a body double for Leonardo in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III in 1993.

Martial arts in film and video games are a great way to bring the sport to a wider audience, Marquez said.

“Too many people think it’s a solemn, mystical thing, but that’s just one part of it,” he said. “(Movies and video games) are valid ways to express the sport. As long as it brings interest to martial arts, then it’s good for everyone.”

Marquez opened his own wushu studio in Evanston in 2002 and holds classes both for people interested in the sport and those just looking to stay in shape.

“Before, survival was the number one reason to learn wushu,” Marquez said. “Today very few people need to learn martial arts to survive. Now it is more about the respect and the mindset of the sport.”

Marquez said he enjoys being able to share his passion for the sport with students and seeing them win championships, gain confidence and simply stay fit.

“I’ve always loved martial arts,” Marquez said. “I love teaching and being on the floor and helping students. I get a really big kick out of that.”

Reach Laura Olson at [email protected].

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Art of war