Martial artist wants to be stuntman

August 28, 1994|By Suzanne Loudermilk | Suzanne Loudermilk,Sun Staff Writer

Move over Chuck Norris and Steven Seagal. Rocky Farley wants a piece of the action.

OK, maybe the Edgewood resident doesn't want to be a movie star, but the fifth-degree black belt is heading to New York in the next couple of weeks to audition for kick-and-chop stunt roles.

It's a dream come true for Richard Michael Farley, nicknamed "Rocky" by his father, who has been hooked on martial arts ever since he picked up a karate magazine at age 12.

"Kids would say, 'How come you're wearing those funny-looking pajamas,' " says Mr. Farley, referring to the sport's uniform of baggy pants and loose-fitting jacket.

He admits he looks more like a schoolteacher or an accountant.

"Do I look like a karate person?" the 42-year-old Baltimore native says with a laugh.

At 5 feet 10 and 175 pounds, he isn't as threatening as some of his idols, such as the late Bruce Lee or world kick-boxing champion Joe Lewis. But don't be misled. This is a man with a recorded arm speed of 105 miles per hour.

He's also respected by his peers. He recently was inducted into the World Martial Arts Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame, which has almost 2,000 members, doesn't have a permanent site, but its president hopes to find one soon.

"I want it to be a cultural center," says Miguel E. A. Moore of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, who founded the Hall of Fame in 1982.

Hundreds of martial arts aficionados attended the May induction ceremony in Jacksonville, Fla., which Mr. Farley calls the "Oscars of Martial Arts." He and 200 others received plaques at the banquet.

Mr. Farley is a cross-trainer, which means that he practices several types of martial arts. They include Japanese and Korean karate, Chinese American kempo, aikido, kick boxing and tae kwon do.

Mr. Farley, who is "divorced and happy," believes in a holistic approach to martial arts. He espouses the virtues of nutrition and alternative medical treatments such as acupressure and acupuncture.

"He advocates a healthy lifestyle, especially to kids," says Rebecca Brumm, manager of the American Martial Arts College in Abingdon, where Mr. Farley occasionally spars.

Mr. Farley's main love is sharing his skill with others. "Sure, I want to make money, but I also want to teach organized martial arts," says the businessman, who is a partner in a vending company.

He teaches at the youth center at Aberdeen Proving Ground and has some private students.

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