Renegade Star Is The Real Deal
By Terry Wilson
Lorenzo Lamas is the handsome long haired hunk who cruises the video highway on his Harley nabbing bailskippers as Reno Raines on the popular television show Renegade. In one 60 minute episode he woo’s the ladies with a flick of his shoulderlength strands and takes out the bad guys with a flick of his wrist and a fancy kick or two. “Using martial arts on Renegade was something that I incorporated into the character,” explained Lamas. “In the script it says, ‘ Reno fights three guys ‘, but they don’t go into any detail. That was left up to me to choreograph the type of fighting style I wanted to do.”
Lamas began his martial arts training in 1979. He went to an old Chuck Norris studio in Hollywood where he studied Tae Kwon Do under Jun Chong for seven years. In a desire to expand his knowledge Lamas got into Budo Jujitsu in 1990.
“This system was developed by Al Thomas. It incorporates a lot of the jujitsu techniques with judo and some basic karate,” recalled Lamas. “I trained with Al privately for three years and achieved a black belt in his system. And between Tae Kwon Do and Budo Jujitsu I’ve been able to develop some unique combinations. Tae Kwon Do gave me a really good foundation for kicking and optimum street defense. Budo Jujitsu incorporates a lot of in close fighting that Tae Kwon Do doesn’t cover. So when I started doing Renegade and started developing a system that would work for movies I used a lot of the good looking kicking forms from Tae Kwon Do along with some of the.close fighting jujitsu. Everybody asks me what style I use, it’s really a combination of them both.”
As an actor, Lamas has learned to blend his real self with the character he portrays. This mixing of personalities is a delicate balance, but if done properly it can create a person, like Reno on Renegade, who is a fictional character that has the traits of the actual actor.
“Obviously I am not a fugitive on the run for a crime that I didn’ t commit, but sometimes reality and fiction canintermingle,” Lamas theorized. “I love motorcycles, I love martial arts, and these are traits that I have incorporated into the character. When you play a character week in and week out for years and years at a time, I find that in my particular case I tend to treat the character as if I would behave. I believe an actor’s obligation to his audience is to tell the truth. To take a line of dialogue and make it his own so that when he says it, it rings true. When you do a show for as long as I’ve been doing Renegade you can’t help but sometimes get a little of your own personality into the character. Thank God Reno is a character with integrity and not a drug dealer. So there is a basic goodness about Reno that I might share with him.”
The traits that make up Lamas personality has it’ s roots deeply embedded in the martial arts. For like Reno, Lamas is a person who remains focused and in control. Lamas contributes much of his stable foundation to the martial arts.
For Lamas the learning and growing process he started as a white belt has evolved to a higher level of understanding. As with most martial artists who have studied any discipline for a length of time, the harmony of mind body and spirit supersedes the fighting techniques thus allowing the practitioner to gain complete benefit from the “do” or “way” in karate “do”.
“The things that I have learned in the martial arts, beyond the techniques, fighting skills and so forth is a way of thinking, a way of concentrating that I use in my daily life” Lamas said. “As an actor, as a race driver, just the concentration exercise that I learned in the martial arts 15 years ago continue to serve me in my daily life. It becomes a way of life. I incorporate all of the beliefs of a non aggressive form of selfdefense into my lifestyle. And I plan on teaching my children that same way of thinking.”
Lamas is keenly aware of the influence his character has on those who watch his show. For that reason he purposely uses nonlethal martial techniques in his fight scenes. “I tend to use a lot of my jujitsu in Renegade because it allows my character (Reno) to subdue a lot of his villains without seriously injuring them,” Lamas said. I want Reno to be portrayed as a person who uses the martial arts only as a last resort. He only fights when he has his back up against a wall and has no choice but to defend himself. So using the softer moves in jujitsu, like the arm bars, chokes and holds not the devastating final blows that are in Tae Kwon Do.”
One of the reasons for the success of Renegade is the realistic fight scenes. Many of the shows fans are martial artists and they are quick to let the star know how much they appreciate the accuracy used in the fight scenes.
“Many of the fans who watch Renegade have trained in martial arts,” said Lamas. “I get a lot of people who write and they say that they really enjoy watching a real martial artists doing his own fight scenes. They (the viewers) can tell when it’ s a stunt man or a double on the screen and not the real actor. As long as you are representing the martial arts in a positive way, not cutting corners, not allowing any sloppiness to filter out to the public then we’re performing a service for the martial arts community. I hate to see somebody try to do a technique and not do it right. I would rather see a stunt man who has been trained in martial arts do the technique for the actor with good form. That’s why I am here with Shihan Miki.”
To keep his martial arts skills polished to a fine edge, Lamas trains under the watchful eye of one of the most respected teachers in the United States, Shihan (master) Minobu Miki of the Japan Sports Center in Point Loma California.
“I was encouraged to train with Shihan Miki to learn how to use a sword for a film I was doing called Midnight Man,” said Lamas. “It’ s an action picture that will be out on video this summer. For about a year I trained with Shihan Miki to get the techniques down. After I finished training for the movie I discovered that this type of training was a wonderful way of getting back to the basics of traditional Japanese karate.”
Learning the away of the sword” was not an easy task, however for Lamas the delicate maneuvers seemed to come easily . “He (Lamas) is a very good student. He learns very quickly,” said Shihan Miki. “He works very hard and has good focus. ” For several hours, the karate master and black belt actor worked on drawing the samurai sword smoothly from it’s sheath, once that was perfected another hour was spent cutting and blocking imaginary opponents. Together they practiced until the moves flowed like water from a cup.
“Here at Shihan Miki’s dojo is the most traditional karate that I have seen,” said Lamas. aIt’ s why I am still here and why I will keep coming back. Because it’ s always important to remember the roots from which all arts developed and right here at the Japan Sports Center is one of those roots.”
Lorenzo is currently filming a new movie in Canada, titled “Mask of Death.” The talented actor will be playing a dual role. He will be playing a cop and a drug lord. While his new flick promises to have a lot of car chases and gun fire in it, there won’t be much martial arts action.
“There will be some fight scenes, but not much karate. I don’t always like to do martial arts. Sometimes it’s fun just to pick up a chair and hit somebody over the head,” Lorenzo said. As for his karate training, once the film is completed he will be back in the dojo because for Lamas, karate is more than a way to sell a fight scene in a movie, for this famous black belt it is a way of life. “When your not exercising and training everything else seems to suffer. Training in the martial arts is a very good centering for me.”
When Lorenzo brings down the bad guys in the TV series “Renegade,” he doesn’t need a double. Lamas has been training in various martial arts since 1979. When Lamas kicks and throws opponents on television — and in the various feature films he’s starred in — you can bet it’s the real deal.”
Terry Wilson is an Emmy-winning TV producer, a veteran black belt, and a writer based in San Diego, California. The story was initially published in the German edition of KICK magazine in 1995.