Although Asian forms of martial arts have been part of the American landscape for over 150 years, it wasn’t until 1999 that a museum dedicated to the arts was created. Spearheaded by 45-year martial arts veteran Michael Matsuda, the museum began as a traveling exhibit for many years until landing in its permanent location in the city of Burbank, California two years ago.
Tilted as the Martial Arts History Museum, its primary focus is on the cultural and traditional aspect of the martial arts. With artifacts ranging from Japanese samurai, Chinese Lions, Hawaiian shark teeth weapons to Thailand swords, the museum reveals the impact martial arts has made on Asia’s history.
Leaning away from a who’s who of the martial arts, Matsuda feels that the cultural significance the martial arts has played is a major part of American martial arts history. “A lot of people expect a who’s who and I understand that, but it would be impossible to fill the museum with photos of so many individuals,” notes Matsuda. “Therefore, we have laced the museum with bio’s of those pioneers who have significantly changed history for the better. People like Kano, Funakoshi and stars like Bruce Lee, Ed Parker and just a few others. By limiting the displays this way, people won’t get upset when their name isn’t there.”
Designed by the artists of the Walt Disney Company, Dreamworks and The Simpsons, the museum is visually exciting and fun for families to enjoy.
Created as a timeline of Asian history, visitors experience sections on China, Japan, Korean, Thailand, the Philippines, Hawaii with sections on American tournament history, MMA and American cinema.
In addition to its artifacts, the museum hosts a variety of seminars including sushi seminars, sword cutting, demonstrations, cultural performances, Asian art exhibits and more.
The museum has also been used for The History Channel, A&E, Ancient Aliens and the launching of such films as Man with the Iron Fists and GI JOE 2.
The Martial Arts History Museum is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization and is available for donations, memberships, and grants. It is located at 2319 W. Magnolia Blvd., in Burbank, CA. Website is MAmuseum.com