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Tony JAA the new Martial Art King

Now called as the New Bruce Lee, May be better than Bruce Lee or any other Martial Art Heros

Name : Panom Yeerum (Thai : พนม ยีรัมย์)

Birth name : Worawit, but Tony changed it into Panom several years ago (July 31, 1998) after his father had a premonition dream

Nicknames : Jaa Panom, Jaa or P'Jaa

Birth date : 5 February 1976

Birth place : Surin province in Isaan area (North-East of Thailand)

Height & Weight : 172 cm (around 5'6") and 62 kg (around 136 lbs)

Living in Bangkok and Surin (Thailand)

Siblings : Two sisters and one brother (Waewsiri, Hattaya and Taweesak). Tony Jaa is the third.

Education : Maha Sarakhma Physical Education College

Nationality : Thai

Languages : Thai, Khmer and english (learning)

Religion : Buddhism. Tony goes to the temple everyday.

Status : not married

Pets : two elephants named Dokmai (Flower) and Baimai (Leaf), 50 and 60 years old!

Likes : Hip Hop music, karaoke with his friends, visit temples...

Hidden talent : Tony has a really pretty voice and likes to sing.

Martial Arts skills : Muay Thai Boran, Krabi Krabong, Stick, Sword, Pencak Silat, Capoeira, Wushu, dance and gymnastic...

Martial Arts Master : Panna Rittikrai


Fans of martial arts films will already know who Tony Jaa is: the heir to the martial arts movie throne. With Ong-Bak, he made a huge splash on the world scene, and Jaa became not only a martial arts superstar, but an ambassador for the Muay Thai style.

Click here to view TONY JAA's Martial Art VIDEOS

After the global success of that film, the follow-up Tom Yung Goong, named The Protector in the US, had to be bigger, badder and much more dangerous. It is those things and more, but it's also much more spiritually tied to the culture of Thailand than its predecessor. Central to the core of the film is a quest to preserve the culture: the sanctity of sacred elephants and the purity of the Muay Thai fighting style.

Click Play to view his Video

 I never saw a man (Tony Jaa) working so hard. Everybody was tired at some point but Tony just kept going on, while he had many rehearsals and shots. Between the shots and rehearsals he was standing on his hands to keep warm and to practise. (I know Jackie Chan and Donnie Yen, but the endurence/power Tony Jaa has is just amazing)

In some shots (people dont know) Tony gets hit by kicks when he is watching the elephants skeleton. I kicked him at that moment. He asked me to kick him hard so I did. Besides he kicks his stuntman very hard, he himself want to get kicked hard as well. So the fight will look real for 100% because it is real.

After some moves to Tony Jaa it was time to finish me with a full twist in my face. Tony asked if I could stand a kick in my face. I said 'sure', yep Aroi. Tony had to laugh very hard because 'yep' means 'pain' in Thai and 'aroi' means delicious (but only for food) ..

The first take was a full blow in my face. They had to shoot another one for safety. And the second was full in my face again ! A good souvenir from working with Tony Jaa. Tony Kicks very very hard for his weight. After he hit someone he always ask if someone is ok. (Some other actors never do, just walk away : in this case I wont give you his name) Tony respects every stuntman and he doesnt behave arrogant. The example for many many actors !

  • Tony has trained in Muay Thai since he was 10 years old.
  • As a child, he threatened his father that he would attempt suicide if he was not allowed to study Muay Thai.
  • His father was a Muay Thai boxer and gave Tony his first lessons.
  • His models are Bruce Lee, Jet Li and Jackie Chan.
  • His parents are still living in Surin with Flower and Leaf, two elephants that his family has owned for many years and inherited from his grandparents.
  • His parents were cornacs and rice farmers. Tony Jaa did his first somersaults on his elephants back.
  • His master, Panna Rittikrai, has trained Tony since he was 15 years old.
  • He likes nature and animals.
  • He briefly met Jackie Chan and Steven Seagal several years ago. He had the opportunity to have dinner with Jackie Chan, but he had already boarded a plane when he received the news.
  • He doubled for Sammo Hung when the martial-arts actor made a commercial for an energy drink that required Tony Jaa to grasp an elephant's tusks and somersault onto the pachyderm's back.
  • He did a dozen films as a stuntman or actor in Panna Rittikrai's early films, before shooting Ong-Bak.
  • Tony fought five times in the ring when he was in Muay Thai training camp and won all the matches.
  • The nickname "Tony Jaa" was choosen by Prachya Pinkaew, director of Ong-Bak and Tom Yum Goong.
  • He did a commercial and a publicity tour to promote Thai fruits in China (June 2005).
  • He broke the record for the biggest Muay Thai training session with 1000 persons in Hong Kong (July 2005).
  • His father made a cameo appearance in Tom Yum Goong.


IGN: Describe the significance of elephants in Thai culture.

Tony Jaa: I don't know where to start with the significance of the elephant. It's so important. In history, elephants were always used in war. When they had wars in Thailand, the king would always sit on the elephant in battle, because the elephant is a strong symbol to the Thai. Now, there is no war, so they don't use the elephants for travel so they are mostly used in hometowns. They worship elephants as brothers, sisters, fathers, their mothers, their ancestors, their grandfathers. It is a spiritual symbol for them.

IGN: If you're looking at elephants as family, did your personal family include an elephant?

Jaa: In real life, I have two elephants in my hometown and they were inherited [from] my grandparents. They're still living. One is named "Flower," and the other is named "Leaf." They are worshipped as gods.

Their role in the family—there are a lot of ceremonies in Thai culture, when people become Buddhist monks or marriage—they use elephants to make the ceremony more sacred. And they're used sometimes for labor.

IGN: This film had a much larger budget than Ong-Bak. What things were you able to do with a larger budget that you couldn't include in that movie?

Jaa: The main key that is different from Ong-Bak is characters. They [got] more and more big characters in supporting roles. We flew to Australia to do the scenes, and the preparation was smoother than the first movie.

IGN: How much planning goes into each fight sequence?

Jaa: We did so well on Ong-Bak that we had to prepare more on fight scenes in this movie. So, we did like mock shots on video and then evaluated if it was good enough for the movie or not. Especially for the long-shot scene where there were five minutes and four floors, everybody had to be perfect… We had to prepare one month for that scene and it took eight takes to get it. All seven, they threw away and just used the last one.

IGN: Do you think it's difficult to find things that haven't been done in a martial arts film?

Jaa: We find it challenging finding uniqueness in a movie, however, most of the movies are kung fu, and Muay Thai or Thai kickboxing hasn't been that popular, so we feel that there's more to explore in the Muay Thai.

IGN: What is the scariest stunt you've had to perform in a movie?

Jaa: Every stunt he does is dangerous. If something goes wrong, it's my life. For the long take, it was the most tiring and frustrating, so probably that would be my answer. The last scene, where I use bones from elephants to knock out 50 of my enemies; when I do a scene, I get into character so sometimes it's dangerous for the stand-ins because I'm hitting everywhere. I'm really concerned about their safety, too. But everyone came out okay, so that was a good thing.

IGN: Did injury ever halt the production?

Jaa: There are always injuries; in Ong-Bak and this movie, The Protector. There was one scene where I tore my muscles because I wanted to double-leap from each wall. At first, I wanted to do three, but then I wanted to beat the record. 1-2-3-4. I tore my muscle.

IGN: How do you respond to people saying you're the next Bruce Lee or the next Jackie Chan?

Jaa: I don't really want to be compared to Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan, but I really feel honored and really proud that people actually see me as them or similar to them, and because they are my inspiration for what I have become today. I am really honored that people compare me to those people.

IGN: What's your personal favorite martial arts film?

Jaa: I watch mostly every martial arts movie… I really like movies that aren't just martial arts. I like movies that have spiritual meaning behind them, like samurai movies, or movies that have meditation. The movie by Akira [Kurosawa] really inspires me.

IGN: Is it a goal to come over and make movies in Hollywood?

Jaa: I have another project in Thailand right now, but for the future, nothing is for sure. Whatever the future brings, it depends on the role in the movie.

IGN: Is there an actor or director you've dreamed of working with?

Jaa: For directors, Steven Spielberg. For actors, Tom Hanks or Tom Cruise.

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