From Punching Faces To Swinging Wii Remotes

Life's funny. You start out wanting to be a martial arts master, go on to appear in Hollywood movies, invent Tae Bo, and then decades later, end up with your own Wii game in Japan.

In a duck press, that pretty much sums up Billy Blanks.

During the 1980s, Blanks was able to capitalize on the martial arts movie boom and appear in flicks like rental favorite Bloodfist, opposite Don "The Dragon" Wilson". It wasn't just b-movies like Timebomb that Blanks appeared in. He's also that guy who shoots up the football field in The Last Boy Scout. Blanks was carving a niche out for himself as a tough guy heavy, and he even apparently inspired Street Fighter character Dee Jay.

Yet, it was inventing Tae Bo and fitness coaching folks like Paula Abdul, Wayne Gretzky and Emmanuel Lewis that brought Blanks into the spotlight and turned him into a fitness mogul.


In 2007, Billy Blanks mania broke out in Japan when Blanks released his series of "Bootcamp" videos. Hundreds of fans greeted him at the airport, and Blanks appeared on countless programs. He became, as they say, big in Japan. After divorcing his wife of 23 years in 2008, Blanks married a Japanese woman, fathered a child and opened an exercise studio in Osaka.

This year, Billy is releasing a Wii fitness game, Billy's Bootcamp. Japanese netizens are quick to point out that the ad is a straight up parody of a series of famous children's backpack ads, with the randoseru refrain changed to "exercise".

The ads might be a few years late to cash in on the Bootcamp craze in Japan, which has since long past. But unlike so many foreigners who come into Japan, make some ads, earn some money and then leave, Blanks seems here to stay.

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