Updated: Feb 6, 2021
From the tropical paradise of Hawaii to the golden coasts of California, Chinese culture has drawn Kevin White towards the competitive circuit.
By Stuart Morales, Editor
Kevin Louis White started his path towards the Chinese martial arts when he was in the United States Navy at 20 years-old. In 2009 he enlisted and began training in Monterey, California, as a Cryptologic Technician, becoming fluent in Mandarin, before he was stationed in Honolulu, Hawaii. He eventually left the Navy as a Cryptologic Technician-Interpretive 3.
While in the service, White started pursuing bodybuilding on the recommendation of his Chief. He challenged himself to compete in the MuscleMania bodybuilding competition in 2012. Initially he intended to compete in Hawaii, but it was cancelled that year so he dove head first into the MuscleMania World Championship in Las Vegas, where he won 16th place. The categories for MuscleMania were physique, nightwear and themed wear. An idea occurred to him, he could do Chinese martial arts for his themed wear and add it to his acting resume.
Acting had been one of his passions from before his time in the U.S. Navy and was something that he continued to build upon while in the military. His Internet Movie Database (IMDB), entry sums up his entry into acting.
“While stationed in Hawaii, he was discovered by Ryan Brown and landed his first role on ABC's Last Resort," reads his IMDB bio. "Afterwards, he joined the Screen Actors Guild and relocated to Burbank to tackle the industry head-on."
“I go inside and there’s Sifu Aram and he hands me a flyer … and that was the beginning of everything.”
White began his search for a martial arts instructor in Burbank, CA, where he visited Blue Dragon Martial Arts studio, which was closed.
“I continue driving down the street and look to my left and it’s just some average looking building that says Orthopedic Wellness Center and has some kung fu [sign] on it,” recounts White. “I go inside and there’s Sifu Aram and he hands me a flyer … and that was the beginning of everything.”
White initially started learning Hung Gar kung fu so that he could perform a traditional form for the themed wear competition in MuscleMania 2016. After learning a form he stopped his practice with no intention of returning. White’s goal as a bodybuilder was to look good, in spite of the mental and physical toll it took on his health, but to learn kung fu he needed to practice the development of mind and body in order to reach a level of proficiency which resonated with him.
“It felt like home,” said White, “and being away from kung fu felt like being away from home.”
White eventually returned to the Orthopedic Wellness Center to continue learning kung fu from Sifu Aram Nalbandyan. He was focused and dedicated to his martial arts practice and trained four days per week, with an emphasis on fighting. The International Chinese Martial Arts Championship Pasadena was his first martial arts competition, where he won a bronze medal for sparring but was disqualified for throwing an illegal knee strike. In his next three competitions he won two silver medals and a gold in full-contact sparring divisions. Starting in January 2021, his sifu has had White leading the classes and assisting in teaching as the Dai Sihing (eldest martial arts practitioner) of the school.
Looking to the future, White’s ambition is to compete in smoker Muay Thai fights, a non-sanctioned fight between people from other gyms or organizations, with the goal of competing in the UFC one day.
“To be able to use kung fu to fight,” said White, “your mind has to be one of will, one of confidence, of strength, of all these things.”