Five Lessons Van Damme Taught us in the 90’s

If you were a kid in the 90’s, you know that the coolest martial arts action star in the whole world was Jean Claude Van Damme. The “Muscles from Brussels” had the coolest spinning jump kick ever seen on the big screen. He had a cool accent, cool hair, and he always got the girl (which may or may not be attributed to the fact that he always shows his butt on screen). In short, we all wanted to be Van Damme. This is not a bad thing. Here are 5 awesome lessons that we learned from Van Damme as kids.



Loyalty, Honor, and Family are important

A common motivator for Van Damme in his movies is loyalty to his family. In Bloodsport, he wants to honor his Shidoshi (Teacher) by fighting in the kumite. His Shidoshi has become like a father to him, and he has no more sons of his own to carry on the traditions that have been passed down through his family for generations. Frank Dux (Van Damme) will carry on that tradition. In Kickboxer, Van Damme’s brother is paralyzed in a kickboxing match against the ruthless Tong Po. Van Damme has to train in Muay Thai so that he can avenge his brother. In Lionheart, his brother is killed, leaving behind a wife and daughter. Van Damme, enrolled in the French Foreign Legion, is denied permission to leave so he escapes in order to be with his family. In Nowhere to Run, he’s a fugitive on the run who risks getting caught in order to protect the family that he has grown to love. Loyalty, Honor, and Family are important.


Women love a guy who can dance

Of course, I’m thinking of the famous scene from the movie Kickboxer. Van Damme is at the bar with his teacher when he starts dancing with two local girls. Let’s just say that the other guys were not too happy. Of course, teacher may have had a little something to do with why they were mad too.

(here Van Damme recreates the famous dance scene on the Conan show)

But, there’s more…as kids we learned that it’s ok to be a tough guy who has fun, and who is funny. You can tell that Van Damme’s characters are having fun, even in the middle of stressful situations. For example, when the military officers are chasing him in Bloodsport, he starts playing around. He even seems to be enjoying himself while beating up some thugs in Hard Target… and the chicks dig it.


If someone gets cocky with you, punch him in the nuts

I mentioned his trademark spinning jumpkick already but he has another trademark too; the nut punch. In fact, when they created the Johnny Cage character for Mortal Kombat, it was inspired by Van Damme and guess what one of his moves was:

Punch to the nuts!
Punch to the nuts!


I can proudly say that the first time I ever got punched in the nuts is by my friend when we were play-fighting right after we saw Bloodsport.

In this scene, some guy is trying to tough talk Van Damme in Lionheart and get’s exactly what’s coming to him.


Never Settle for Less

In Bloodsport, The Shidoshi is supposed to be teaching Frank Dux martial arts but in reality is using him as a training dummy for his son. Young Frank lets him know that he wants to learn and if he won’t be taught for real, then he’ll quit. In Kickboxer, he initially gets rejected by the Muay Thai teacher but because of his persistence, he finally gets taken on as a student.

In real life, Van Damme was just as persistent. When they first filmed Bloodsport, it was so terrible that the studio decided not to release the movie. Van Damme got them to allow him to work some more on the editing of the movie. It ended up being a huge success and he ended up becoming a huge star. That movie is still one of my favorite all time movies, and in practically every place I have ever worked, catchphrases from that movie end up becoming part of the daily vocabulary.


Never Give Up!

Van Damme never gives up, he gets angry. He’s been in some pretty nasty fights against the toughest opponents. In Lionheart, his best friend didn’t even think that he was going to win the big fight and bet against him. “Wrong Bet!” Van Damme went on to kick that guys butt.

In Kickboxer, Tong Po raped his girl, kidnapped his paralyzed brother, and is now pummeling him with glass-covered hands. Van Damme gets pissed and kicks his butt.

Bloodsport, Chong Li throws some powder in Van Damme’s eyes and makes him blind. Van Damme really gets pissed, focuses, and kicks his butt.

That’s probably the best lesson we can take away from all of this- in life, we are going to face situations that seem almost impossible. Life is going to start beating us down and when that happens, don’t give up: get mad, focus, kick some butt!

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