The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was one of my favorite shows growing up. I loved imitating their moves in the living room. A couple of decades later I found myself wondering whether they were faking the martial arts so I did some research.
Are the Power Rangers real martial artists? All the original cast members of the original Power Rangers except for Amy Jo Johnsons (the pink power ranger), have had some form of martial arts training. Jason David Frank, who played the Green and White Power Ranger, is very famous for his martial arts experience.
Let’s briefly meet the cast of one of the most enduring shows from our childhoods!
About The Power Rangers
The Power Rangers or more properly, the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, were a huge pop culture phenomenon and children’s TV show in the 1990s. The Power Rangers used their martial arts skills and other powers to protect the earth from evil.
While the original show is long since gone, there have been sequel series, movies and there is even another pending reboot. The popularity of the Power Rangers is incredible.
Jason David Frank: Shotokan Karate, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Aikido, Muay Thai, Wing Chun, Shotokan, Wado-ryu, and Jeet Kune Do
It’s fair to say that the most talented martial artist to become a Power Ranger was Jason David Frank who starred as the original Green and White Power Ranger. He’s so good that he was inducted into the World Karate Union Hall of Fame in 2003! He is an eighth-degree black belt in Shotokan.
In 2009, after his time as a Power Ranger was up, he joined the MMA leagues and he won his first fight as a full heavyweight after his first bout (which was intended to be a light heavyweight fight) was cancelled. Sadly, injury to his biceps appear to have curtailed his fighting future.
He almost didn’t star in the Power Rangers at all as he was meant to be the lead in a show called VR Troopers. However, his work on the pilot of Power Rangers was so popular that the studio swapped him out for Brad Hawkins who had been cast as the Green and White Ranger but who never ended up playing him.
He continues to act, particularly voice acting, in the present and he also runs a Christian MMA company which uses the slogan, “Jesus doesn’t tap.”
Austin St. John: Tae-Kwon Do, Judo, Shenkito and Kenpo
Austin St. John is a serious martial artist. He’s been involved in Tae-Kwon Do since he was just five years old! His practice time has paid off and he has a second-degree black belt in that martial art. However, that’s not his only accomplishment, he has a black belt in Judo! He’s also practicing both Kenpo and Shenkito.
Austin was the Red Ranger in the earliest incarnation of the Power Rangers and he was brought back into the series for Power Rangers:Zeo and again or the movie Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie. His last appearance (to date) was in the Power Rangers: Wild Force episode “Forever Red”.
He is no longer involved in acting and his day job doesn’t involve any kind of fighting at all, in fact, quite the reverse – he’s a paramedic dedicated to saving lives and preventing injuries!
Thuy Trang: Shaolin Kung Fu
Thuy Trang was one of the Vietnamese “boat people” and her family fled Vietnam when she was just two years old. She arrived in America in 1980 without being able to speak a word of English. Her family insisted that she learn the language and the martial art of Shaolin Kung Fu.
She would receive a black belt in Kung Fu just before her father died as she turned 18. A year later she would be asked to join the cast of the Power Rangers for the first series as the Yellow Ranger. However, she didn’t appear in the pilot (that Yellow Ranger was Audri Dubois who left the show before it made it to the air).
She continued training in martial arts while working on the show and was offered tuition by fellow cast members. She lost her part on the show when she asked to be paid a fair wage for her efforts (the show had brought in over $1 billion and she’d only made $60,000)!
Thuy is, sadly, no longer with us. She died in a car crash in September 2001.
Walter Emanuel Jones: Tae Kwon Do, Hop Kido and Hakido
Walter was the original Black Power Ranger and his main training was in dance as he’d always aspired to be a professional dancer. He had been studying martial arts for about 10 years, though, before he got his break on the show.
He’s not quite as accomplished as the other cast members, but he has a black belt in Hop Kido and is keen on both Tae Kwon Do and Hakido (MMA) too. He says that he had learned a lot from other members of the Power Rangers cast.
He was also the only Power Ranger to invent his own martial art. Zack Taylor, the day-to-day name of the Black Power Ranger, was the creator of “Hip Hop Kido” which involved dancing to hip hop whilst executing karate moves. It might not be the ultimate form of defense in the real world, but it probably comes in quite handy in a rowdy nightclub at 2 a.m.
Today. He says that he gets most of his work as a voice actor though he has appeared in Malibu Shores and NYPD too.
Amy Jo Johnson: “I Made Up My Own Style”
“I don’t think I would have gotten the role if I wasn’t a gymnast,” she said. “I made up my own style of gymnastics and martial arts. People like Jason David Frank and the stunt coordinator, real actual martial artists, helped us, trained us and choreographed stuff.” Amy told the Herald Extra.
It’s fair to say that most of the Power Rangers actual fighting on the show wasn’t really based on any specific system of martial arts and that a gymnast or possibly even a skilled dancer could have handled the demands put on them.
Amy was the original Pink Power Ranger and she appeared in 137 episodes of the show before she finally quit to hand over the role to Catherine Sutherland. She is said to have nearly died twice during filming though neither accident was caused by a fight scene (she was said to have nearly caught fire and nearly been electrocuted on the set).
She continues to act, today, and has appeared in several shows as well as the critically acclaimed Tammy’s Always Dying movie. She has also released three albums as a solo recording artist though none of them have had any particular chart success.
David Yost: Martial Arts Not Specified
David Yost told The Daily Nonpareil that he was an experienced martial artist but didn’t dwell on which martial arts that he practiced. Instead, he got deeper into the intellectual difficulties he felt that he faced as a Power Ranger.
He was the original Blue Power Ranger but says that he really struggled with his role. He says that while his Power Ranger was supposed to be the smartest one of the group, he’s not the smartest guy and it was really hard for him to make the line sounds natural and normal as a result.
When he left the show in 2010, it was thought, by fans, that he quit because of the dreadful pay (as many of his other cast members had left for this reason) but it appears that he actually quit because he felt bullied and harassed over his sexuality (David is gay) by the production crew.
Tragically, this led to Yost trying to change his own sexuality using the technique of “conversion therapy” which has been generally derided for failing to have any impact. In Yost’s case, it appears to have led to a nervous breakdown for which he needed treatment in a psychiatric hospital.
He is said to be working on a Power Rangers reunion movie for Netflix as a director now and also owns his own clothing brand “Affirmative Clothing”.
So are the Power Rangers real martial artists? Yes, as we have seen – all but one member of the original cast has a formal martial arts background! This should come as no real surprise. Many martial artists are also aspiring actors or actresses and they definitely have an edge when it comes to starring in a show about martial arts.