Hollywood producer and founder / CEO of Threshold Entertainment Group, Lawrence
Kasanoff (Mortal Kombat; Mortal Kombat: Annihilation; Blue Steel; Strange Days),
was in South Africa last month to celebrate Blackbelt TV’s first year on DStv,
MultiChoice’s pan African satellite pay-TV platform.
Kasanoff also announced the acquisition of rights to broadcast the Cape Fight
League on Blackbelt TV, the 24-hour martial arts channel he created four years ago.
“Wherever we land up in our journey to bring martial arts to the world, we find new
content. In this, my first visit to South Africa, we’ve identified the Cape Fight
League, an exciting mixed martial arts league. Mixed martial arts is the fastest
growing sport in the world and is similar to Brazilian jujitsu,’ said Kasanoff.
As to the enduring popularity of martial arts as a spectator sport, Kasanoff
explained: “Martial arts has proved so popular in sports, TV, film and video games
because it’s a blast to watch. Apart from its visceral appeal, at its core martial arts
is about empowerment. It proves that you don’t have to be the biggest guy around
to be able to protect yourself.’
When asked if watching lots of martial arts content might lead to an increase in
violent behavior Kasanoff maintained the opposite is true. “If you take troubled kids
off the streets and introduce them to martial arts, then it gives them something to
focus on and to be disciplined about.
“Martial arts is all about honour, discipline and respect. A true martial artist embraces
all of these qualities. At the moment we’re celebrating Shaolin Week on Blackbelt TV.
Shaolin monks learnt martial arts to defend the weak,’ he commented.
Blackbelt TV covers multiple fight disciplines including karate, judo, sumo, boxing,
kung fu, kick boxing, etc.
“Our goal with the channel is to show martial arts is a lifestyle,’ continued Kasanoff.
“Basically we take martial arts and Hollywood it up – we have a huge Hollywood
component and lovely girls on the channel. Our motto is “Kicks, Flicks and Chicks’.
“Blackbelt TV is now in over 50 countries and by the end of 2014 we hope to be in
every continent. Martial arts is very diverse so we cover a lot on the channel – fight
leagues, movies and our own original programmes. There is a huge demand for martial
arts content and there is great material out there but no one had aggregated it
before Blackbelt TV. Our primary selection criteria for content is that the martial arts
has to be good.’
Martial arts movies from the 1980s, the 1990s and up to the present day are shown
on the channel. Interestingly, Chinese films from the 1980s have proved particularly
popular with audiences in Africa. About 70% of Blackbelt TV’s content for its African
audience is movies, whereas in other parts of the world it’s a third movies, a third
league fights and a third original content.
By 2014 there will be 10 original programmes on Blackbelt TV. One of the original
programmes currently airing is A Day in the Dojo.