If you are a martial arts enthusiast and were lucky enough to live in or around Santa Clarita or Burbank in the past fifteen years, chances are you got to share some pretty cool experiences, most notably, the annual Dragonfest convention hosted by actor and martial artist Gerald Okamura who since retired the event in 2004. This year, that all changes when Dragonfest makes its return to the public eye this month in Burbank, California, hosting a wide array of events that will not only explore martial arts as an entertainment venue, but also as a fundraiser for Burbank’s one and only Martial Arts History Museum, owned by fellow martial artist, founder and president Michael Matsuda.
I also asked Matsuda what it was that he loves the most about martial arts in such a way that would evidently lead him to his own platform within such a vast community, of all things, the owner of the one and only Martial Arts History Museum. His response was very reflective in that his own experiences in martial arts carry a message that personally echoes with him to this day since dabbling in Judo and Karate, and eventually becoming a purveyor of Kung Fu.
“Everyone has to find what fits best for them, which art inspires them and helps them become a better person,” he says. “No one is the same and though every art is great, we have to pick one that will change our lives. I choose Kung Fu. I was introduced to Kung Fu by Al Dacascos, although I didn’t train under him; He came to our recreational center and demonstrated for us. And after seeing his movements and that cool, high collared black outfit, I was hooked. I train and still teach kung fu as there really are no belts or egos. It’s just a way of becoming better within yourself. Many people say Kung Fu is a way of life, and for me, it is. Kung Fu opens a door into your life, and the monks found this as well. It’s more than just punching and kicking.”.
BURBANK, Calif. – (NewMediaWire) – April 24, 2014 – The city of Burbank is surrounded by some of the most notable studios in the motion picture and television industry: Disney, Dreamworks, Warner Bros., Nickolodeon, the Cartoon Network and so many more. It is considered the media industry capitol of the world. Now, you can add the “martial arts capitol of the world” as Burbank will be hosting one of the largest martial arts conventions in America. The DRAGONFEST convention, which will take place on May 18, is a place in which thousands of fans will be able to enjoy martial arts history and meet some of the greatest pioneers of the arts.
Thousands of fans are expected to attend the Dragonfest Convention, which will be hosted by the Martial Arts History Museum, as they will enjoy the opportunity to meet icons, movie celebrities, champions and pioneers, plus support the Museum as well.
Resurrected after a 10-year hiatus, the Dragonfest Convention has been the largest event celebrating the martial arts industry on the West Coast. “Dragonfest was our biggest convention which ended over 10 years ago. Everyone has been waiting for its return and I’m glad the Museum took the reigns and is re-opening this magnificent event,” says Museum president Michael Matsuda.
Dragonfest is the only place where fans can meet such notable icons as Benny “the jet” Urquidez, Art Camacho, Doug Wong, Leo Fong, Tak Kubota, Fumio Demura, Eric Lee, Gerald Okamura, Bill Ryusaki, Carrie Ogawa-Wong, Peter Cunningham, Simon Rhee, Sol Kaihewalu, Donnie Williams and so many more all gathering at the same location.
Amongst the martial arts television and movie personalities which will be in attendance are Lorenzo Lamas, John Saxon of Enter the Dragon fame, comedian Master Ken, Queen of martial arts in films, Cynthia Rothrock, Rodney Kageyama of Karate Kid fame, Peter Kwong of Big Trouble in Little China and so many more.
The Dragonfest Convention is divided into a variety of areas: Celebrities, Authors, Artists, Film and Special Effects.
The authors section the event will include comic writer Lambert Chueng, SideKick Publications, Myriad Publications and the Museum Publications.
Heading up the artistry section is Paul Wee, Emmy-Award winner for his work on The Simpsons, Ed Parker Jr., artist and son of legendary pioneer Ed Parker, Jerome Lu’s Hyperactive Monkey Book, just to name a few.
Martial arts industry companies that will be having booths include the Filipino Arts, Joy of Kung Fu, Dynamic Dojo Talk Radio, Kil Kombat Instruments, Pacific Association of Women in the Martial Arts, Valley Martial Arts Supply, etc.
Bringing a new realm into Dragonfest will be the film and special effects area. Gorilla Pictures, the CNC Movie Factory, Traditionz pictures, The Gathering and others will highlight their new films and reveal their future projects. Special effects designers and sculptors that will have their work at the convention include such recognized names as Erick De La Vega, Koji Ohmura, Hiroshi Kategiri, Christopher Hernandez, Neil Winn, Mel’s Props and many more.
The Dragonfest Convention is a fundraiser for the Martial Arts History Museum. As a non-profit organization, 100 percent of all the proceeds will go to support the Museum.
“There are so many great pioneers leaving us so quickly and without a gathering like this, we many never see some of them again. Dragonfest, which I feel its so important that it’s being put on by the Museum, provides a place where we can celebrate our history together,” says film director Art Camacho.
Expectations are high for this event as support for the Museum is encouraged. “This is for the Museum. We are not a rich Museum and getting large donations has been a struggle, I feel this convention will help us tremendously. Even if you’ve never done martial arts before, this is a great event,” says Matsuda. “We won’t have these icons with us always and many have gone already, let’s show our support for them as well as well and be part of this event.”
For sponsorship information or to purchase tickets online, visit their website at www.MuseumDragonfest.com. The Martial Arts History Museum is located at 2319 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank, CA (818) 478-1722. The Museum Dragonfest convention will be held at the Holiday Inn Media Center in Burbank, CA.
Media Contact: Museum Dragonfest Phone: 818-478-1722