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The grand martial of Burbank

Michael Matsuda's Martial Arts History Museum works its way up from 4,000 years ago.

December 10, 2011|By Matthew Fleischer

Highlights of the collection include replica Japanese 12th century Samurai armor, traditional Hawaiian shark-tooth-lined “knuckledusters” and even Daniel Larusso’s headband from “The Karate Kid, Part II.”

And there are swords. Plenty of swords.

“Unless you own one,” says Matsuda, “this is just about the only place you can come and handle a samurai sword.”

Matsuda himself is an accomplished practitioner of the art of Monkey Kung Fu, a Chinese martial art that uses monkey-like movements as part of its technique. He bolsters the museum’s collection with a spate of martial arts and Asian cultural programming.


The museum plans to start the new year with two high-profile events. Matsuda says he’s organizing an “animation night” in early February — highlighting prominent local Asian Americans working in the field. Speakers will range from Paul Wee, head animator of “The Simpsons,” to Frank Wu, from the “Family Guy” animation team.

Later in the month, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, former Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight champion and Hollywood star of “The A-Team,” is expected to make an appearance.

Don’t expect any Monkey Kung Fu demonstrations in the near future, however.

“It’s not about me,” Matsuda says with a laugh.

MATTHEW FLEISCHER is a writer based in Glendale whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times Magazine and LA Weekly.


What: Martial Arts Museum

Where: 2319 West Magnolia Blvd., Burbank

Hours and tickets: 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Thurs.-Sun.; $6 adults; $3 ages 6-12; free under 6.

Phone and info: (818) 478-1722 and

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