Exclusive Interview: Rina Takeda – Actress Idol And Karate Girl
Interview conducted by Spencer Lloyd Peet
She may be small in stature and unbelievably cute, but action star and real-life Ryukyu Shorin-ryu karate champion, Rina Takeda, is anything but a pussy cat. During filming she has taken falls which Jackie Chan would think twice of doing; and delivered lighting kicks that Bruce Lee would have had trouble deflecting. Her outstanding martial arts prowess and lethal kicks and punches in films such as High Kick Girl, Karate Girl, and Kunoichi, which has left audiences wondering if they were for real, has won her a legion of fans and much praise from critics. Her popularity rises from one film to the next and she is undoubtedly set for international stardom.
After a special screening of Karate Girl at the Terracotta Far East Film Festival 2011 in London on 8 May, Takeda kindly gave Diverse Japan a one-to-one interview. We would also like to thank her for extending the interview via email.
Who inspired you to become a martial artist?
Jackie Chan. I’m a big fan of his films.
Have you ever had to use your karate skills in a real life situation?
No, fortunately (Laughs)
Do you ever incorporate the attacking of pressure points into your training?
Hmm, sometimes, depends who I’m fighting against and how aggressive the other person is.
Do you appreciate the philosophical side of combat such as the bushido code?
Yes, director Nishi taught me the history of Karate before shooting High Kick Girl.
How often do you train?
Well, it depends on the month. Actually, I practice with my father and younger brother when I can’t train at the karate dojo. Also I do weight training and sparring.
What personal values has karate given you?
I become more patient through learning karate. Not only my body but also my mentality is strengthened.
What made you want to become an actor?
I wanted to become an actor after watching the TV drama Kinpachi- Sensai; I was a really big fan of it.
From your point of view as a genuine martial artist, how important do you think it is that action films should feature ‘real’ martial artists?
After working on High Kick Girl and Karate Girl, I feel that there is no difference between “real” martial arts and what we did on those films.
From the rehearsal footage of your films you really look like you enjoy the full-contact, would you say that is an accurate assumption?
I enjoyed doing most of it, but some of it made me nervous.
What is your favourite Martial Art film?
Jackie Chan’s Police Story. It is so exciting from the beginning to the end; it really put me into it! He is not only strong but has various skills and comical reactions; the [film] series is so funny, and exciting!
What sort of roles would you like to play in the future?
I was acting a cool girl in High Kick Girl!, KG: Karate Girl and Kunoichi. So I would like to try to play a comical role like Jackie Chan. And also I’d like to try a role of a lady in love. (Laughs)
Whose idea was it for you to record the closing theme song to Karate Girl?
Director Nishi is the one who offered me this idea. I love singing songs, so it was “YES!” for me.
Is it true that you once auditioned to be in the idol pop group Morning Musume?
Yes, it’s true! (Laughs)
Were you disappointed you didn’t make it into the group?
Yes, it was very tough and frustrating to be failing in the auditions because I was very serious to become the member of the group at that time. But now I really appreciate those experiences, they encouraged me to be what I am now.
Apart from practicing martial arts, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I like going to the spa, watching films, karaoke and chatting with my friends.
What goals have you set for yourself, both personally and professionally?
I was very happy to take part in an overseas film festival with my starring film [Karate Girl]. I would like to try my best to take part in a foreign film. High Kick Girl is the new starting point for me. My goal is to have an offer from Jackie Chain! And… to be the Bond Girl of ‘007’, I will try my best to make my dream come true. (Laughs)
Is there anything you would like to say to your fans and supporters?
Whether acting or doing stunts, I would like to be the one which people say, ‘No one can do this but Rina!’ Of course private life is important but I really enjoy being an actress. I would like to try many things that will help to improve my performance.
Special thanks to:
Satomi Nagasawa – Rina’s manager
Miyo Urushihara - Personal interpreter and translator
Miyuki Guitet- Translator