Music plays an intricate role in all martial arts. One popular image is seen in the 1970’s TV series “Kung Fu”. Chinese Monk, Kwai Chang Caine (David Carradine) travels by foot across the Wild West. In between adventures he is seen playing the bamboo flute.


As an avid music lover and martial arts practitioner, I was excited to learn of the history between the two. The Martial Art History Museum is a local treasure, nestled in the heart of Burbank. The Museum President, Michael Matsuda, gave me a brief tour and shared some exciting information!

Taiko Drumming-Japan
Taiko first began in ancient Japan over 2,000 years ago as a form of communication. It was also used on the battlefield to coordinate troops and intimidate the enemy. The Japanese also used, and still use, taiko in Kabuki theatre to accompany singers and actors. The drums range in size from that of a snare drum to drums as large as a car. The most common taiko drum is about the size of a wine barrel.

Muay Thai Music-Thailand
The music is played before a Muay Thai match. Instruments include Pi Java (Javanese Clarinet), Klong Kaak (set of two drums), Ching (Cymbals that are made of brass or iron) and Kong Mong (a drum that originate from the south of Thailand).

Chinese Opera, Lion Dance- China
Chinese Opera- showcases a comprehensive art. It blends singing, acting, fighting, acrobatics and dancing together by using these methods to narrate stories and depict characters. Lion Dance- one elaborate costume is worn by two people, one person in the head and one in the tail. The lion signifies courage, stability and superiority. The lion’s every movement has a specific rhythm that is directed by musical instruments; The drum, gong and cymbals. All of these instruments are required learning in Traditional Kung Fu Schools.

Ha’A Koa (Dance Of The Warrior)- Hawaii
The Ha‘a Koa is rooted in traditional Hawaiian practices including the lua (martial art), hula (dance), and oli (chant)and may include the use of musical instruments such as the ipu and pahu (percussion instruments). Hoe (canoe paddle) is one item that is used as a weapon and in dance.

Escrima Dance- Philippines
Escrima sticks are traditionally crafted from the rattan vine. The standard size is 26 to 28 inches. In the 1700’s when the Spanish rule came to the Philippine Islands,weapons were banned.Music and stick dancing were combined to learn Kung Fu techniques.

The Martial Arts History Museum showcases a wide variety of traditional music instruments and video on display. Please check out the videos and enjoy!

The Martial Arts History Museum is the first museum in America devoted to the history of martial arts. Its goal is to inform visitors about martial arts’ influence on Asian art, history, culture and tradition. It is located at

2319 West Magnolia Boulevard, Burbank, CA 91506

(818) 478-1722