Laidback Luke Is Serious About Kung Fu

Laidback Luke Is Serious About Kung Fu
Courtesy of Quinn PR

Martial arts is the sort of hobby world-famous DJs might dabble in because they can. Maybe it's just a narcissistic exercise in looking cool, tucked in between fist-pumping all-night ragers and early-afternoon orgies spent in Jacuzzis with a gaggle of supermodels.

Unless that world-famous DJ is Laidback Luke, who is, long story short, a certified badass.

Not only is the Dutch producer serious about martial arts, kung fu specifically, he is also legitimately dedicated to the craft to the point that just prior to landing in Miami for his set at Ultra Music Festival this Saturday, Luke was in China winning six medals at the world championships — three gold, two silver, and one bronze. No big deal.

His fans already know about Luke's primary interest away from the decks, but this past Thursday morning, a couple dozen devotees found out firsthand how serious he really is.

At a unique Miami Music Week event, 20-odd people joined the musician on the rooftop basketball and tennis courts of the W South Beach to learn basic moves and principles of kung fu from Luke.

Laidback Luke Is Serious About Kung Fu
Courtesy of Quinn PR

He has a busy few days ahead — an all-day gig and the Mixmash pool party at Nikki Beach to start — but Laidback Luke, true to his name, was the center of calm. Polite and soft-spoken, he explained this wasn't the first time he’d connected with fans in such a way. "It's something I really enjoy. The fit life is so beneficial for me, not only physically but mentally, and it's something I love sharing with people."

Luke did karate throughout his childhood before delving into the world of making music. He quit just before his black-belt exam. Kung fu didn't become a part of life for another ten years. Then he decided it was time to get into shape again. At the suggestion of a singer he was collaborating with at the time, he visited one of the top kung fu schools in his native Netherlands and was hooked.

It remains to be seen whether the rookies at this lesson will be similarly drawn to the sport.

Beginning with a lengthy series of stretching exercises that put the small crowd on alert of how real shit was about to get, Luke put the group of mostly beginners through some grueling paces. The beauty of an absolutely gorgeous and sunny day faded into the background as the collective focused on not falling on their asses (a few failed in that struggle). From slow-motion pushups to splits to a Shaolin version of burpees and plenty of punching and kicking, he asked a lot of his new students.

Not that Luke would agree with that sentiment. "I kind of actually [took it easy on them]; we just did the basics," he says with a chuckle.

Laidback Luke Is Serious About Kung Fu
Courtesy of Quinn PR

Throughout the learning session, Luke smiled. He teased the crowd by telling them, “This is only the beginning,” before adding, “I’m going real Shaolin on your asses.” He's incredibly fit and limber. For example, the promo poster for the event features him in a Liu Kang Mortal Kombat kick pose that, aside from some digital flames, features no Photoshop editing.

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Just off to the front and side were tables set up with small piles of Laidback Luke-branded gear, including wristbands and T-shirts. Green apples, ice water, towels, and coconut water in actual coconuts sitting in ice baths all sat on a separate table, tantalizingly close.

But not yet.

First there were flying roundhouses to master and strangers partnering up to lift each other, back-to-back, arms interlocked. This was a proper workout, regardless of what the kung fu gold medalist and Beatport chart-topper says. Nearly everyone in attendance was really trying. Inspired by Luke’s charm and good humor, they all had fun. The laughter ringing through the dripping beads of sweat was a testament to that. Despite the fact that some of the participants looked like stumbling extras in a horror-movie zombie horde — and more than a few will be limited in their dancing at Ultra thanks to sore hamstrings — not a single soul left dissatisfied.

Laidback Luke Is Serious About Kung Fu
Courtesy of Quinn PR

Afterward, Luke compared teaching kung fu to DJing. "It's very similar. You watch the crowd and see what they're up to. Are they tired? Are they happy? Are they losing focus? And then you switch it up. It's the same thing I do when playing a set."

Such attention to detail and gauging of the human spirit is the ultimate determining factor when it comes to both the success of his live shows and his pop-up kung fu classes.

It also doesn’t hurt that Luke approaches life humbly. "I am just like you. It's nice to talk about my achievements, but I hope this helps people realize the potential everyone has in them and that you're actually born into this world and allowed to do whatever you want."


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