Interview with Sifu Kisu (part 3 of 3)
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Acastus: Characters like Aang, Katara and Toph have mastered their styles and at a very young age. How realistic is this?

Sifu Kisu: Mastery is an illusive concept. Once you claim the title "Master" you are not one. Why? Because you stopped learning by thinking you have arrived somewhere. Master is a title used in the circle of your peers. If you are a Master, then other Masters will refer to you as "Master so and so".

Martial arts is a series of plateaus. You reach a level only to see all of the levels above. That said, Aang is a gestalt of all of the other Avatar lives preceding his own. A unique case. I don't believe in young masters. My sons were born into our martial tradition and started at an early age and even displayed some skills my wife and I had learned, but had never taught them! I like the concept of a daily practitioner. Like brushing teeth, it is just something you do for health and maintenance.


Acastus: The agni kai duel between Zhao and Zuko in "The Southern Air Temple" is often regarded as one of the best fight sequences in the show. How realistic was this fight?

Sifu Kisu: Realistic? Not really, but it's definitely one of my favorites.


Acastus: What are your favorite fight sequences and why?

Sifu Kisu: This may seem like a copout, but I will say all of them. You see martial arts is a very personal thing for me. "Passionate" would be a poor description of my depth of feeling. Each time I have made the journey to the Nick animation studio, I have given two thousand percent. Many of my colleagues have cautioned me to temper myself, to sell it to them piecemeal. No can do, as people who know me understand, I am an "all or nothing" type of guy. Too intense for most, I spend a lot of time alone. I would like to add here the people at Nick have been very kind to me, tolerated my eccentric nature and my appreciation runs very deep.


Acastus: An astounding array of martial arts weapons appear in Avatar. How are they chosen? Do certain fighting styles favor certain weapons?

Sifu Kisu: Bryan has an amazing creative mind and usually has an idea of what he wants to see. The weapons that you see are from the 18 traditional weapons of Shaolim. Each weapon teaches a different interconnected, unique essence requiring single-minded, unified harmony of self. Different gung fu styles use them in different ways.


Acastus: Aang has a staff, Zuko has broadswords. These seem to be good choices for their styles and personality. If you could choose weapons for Katara and Toph, what might they be and why?

Sifu Kisu: Thanks, I helped choose those for Aang and Zuko.

Katara, if you noticed in "The Swamp" when cutting the vines, used a Samurai like technique with her water. I thought of Zatoichi the blind swordsman, so yea she'd have a samurai or cane sword. Toph would use one of the great swords of China, the Da Dao, or heavy war sword.


Acastus: If you could bend any element, which one would you choose?

Sifu Kisu: I'm the father of the Avatar, dude. I bend them all! Ha ha!

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