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David Lee Roth: Rock’s Best Martial Artist?


As the members of Van Halen would have been happy to tell you at pretty much any point between 1985 and 2007, David Lee Roth isn’t always the easiest guy to get along with. He generally seems fairly cheerful, though, so it’s sometimes possible to forget that he possesses hands and feet of lethal flying fury.

Vice’s Fightland blog reminds us of Roth’s martial-arts prowess with a post that begins with a nod toward his training in high-level kenjutsu — which has left him, in his words, “the master of the six-foot staff” — and wanders back in time to the early years of his recording career, pausing along the way for a couple of detours into more recent history.

Of course, anyone who follows Roth’s antics — either online or onstage — is well aware of his fondness for high-kicking and staff-wielding, as well as his occasional tendency to injure himself in the line of duty (as he did when he suffered a painful mishap during Van Halen’s recent appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!). And the post might miss a story or two, like the time Roth reportedly broke his foot landing the mid-air split he’s pictured doing on the back of Van Halen II.

But it’s all still pretty interesting nonetheless, and a solid primer for those who might not be aware of Diamond Dave’s lifelong dedication to martial arts. Check it out, and then take another look at the unexplained short film he posted a couple of years ago, in which he plays a hitman delivering Far Eastern justice to some thugs.

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