Warrior Women: Interview with Luci Romberg

Blog Tour: I’m guest blogging at VauxHall Vixens about Kung Fu Heroines!

Giveaway: Chances to win Cindy Pon’s Silver Phoenix, Stephanie Draven’s Poisoned Kisses, or a copy of The Taming of Mei Lin. Details at the Launch Celebration page. Drawing will be held 8pm CST on September 15.


I’m pleased to welcome Luci Romberg: gymnast, stuntwoman, martial artist, competitive free runner, and NINJA WARRIOR!

Jeannie: Where do I begin? I’m such a fan….Can you tell us a bit about the experience of getting selected for Ninja Warrior and what it was like to compete over in Japan? (And my husband and I wanted to know if you get to do practice runs on the course before the actual run.)

Luci: First of all, thank you for your kind words. As far as Ninja Warrior goes, my Tempest freerunning teammate, Paul Darnell, pretty much told me we were going to make a ninja warrior submission video. I didn’t even know what ninja warrior was but I was definitely down for whatever. So we made the video, submitted it and I was voted top 3 videos so I got to go to Japan. It was my first time to Japan and it was an incredible experience. The people are amazing, there is so much to see and the course was so much fun. Unfortunately, none of the competitors are allowed on the course for practice. If we could practice just once it would be a lot easier. I was so fortunate to have had the opportunity to go not just once, but twice!!

Jeannie: Freerunning is one of the most exciting new sports I’ve seen. How long have you been doing it and is there any way to start if you’re not already a gymnast/super-athlete?

Luci: I have been freerunning for about two years. The great thing about freerunning is anyone can do it! All you need is a pair of shoes. People just need to get the courage, go outside, and start jumping around. Freerunning is about finding your own path and there are no rules. Although it is definitely not necessary, it makes it easier for individuals who have had gymnastics/martial arts experience as far as flips go. But honestly, anyone can do it.

Jeannie: You’re also a professional stuntwoman and gymnast. What’s the most memorable stunt you’ve been asked to do?
Luci: For me, the most memorable stunt I have done was for a Shiseido commercial. Another stuntwoman and I had to barrel roll underneath a jackknifed semi that was going 30mph. It was pretty gnarly!!

Jeannie: I have to ask this since I’m a petite gal too. Do you get any flack for your size in your profession? It seems like in such a physical job, you must meet some…excuse me for saying…some pretty big jock egos.
Luci: There are definitely some big egos in the industry I am in, but you have to look past that and focus on what your goals are and what you want to accomplish. You can’t let people like that bring you down. As far as my size goes, it is hard to get work because not a lot of actresses are my size and a lot of the non-descript stunts go to the guys. In order to overcome that I train hard, stay focused on my goals, and everything usually works out.

Jeannie: What are your tips for getting over those butterflies in your stomach when you’re competing or about to do a stunt?
Luci: Whenever I’m about to compete or perform I always get nervous. I did soccer and gymnastics all through college so I am used to pressure and dealing with it. I just try to relax and focus on the task at hand. I also find visualizing a great tool in maximizing my performance.

Jeannie: What drives you to be such an action gal? Are you an adrenaline junkie at heart?
Luci: I love movement! My mom and dad were both collegiate tennis players and really good athletes. Growing up I played every sport under the sun. My parents felt it was important for my brother, sister, and me to stay active so they required us to do at least two sports in high school. It made me the active, driven person I am today. I don’t consider myself an adrenaline junkie. Everything I do is well thought out and calculated. I don’t throw crazy moves that are out of my realm. I stay safe and let’s just say with freerunning and stunts they are calculated risks.

Fun Questions:
So….could a little gal actually take on a big strong guy like they show in the movies?
Luci: If she is well trained it is possible. She would need to know the right places to strike and then run like hell. If she tried to all out fight him it is very unlikely she would be able to take him on for long because he is so much bigger and stronger. Fights scenes in movies are like a dance. Every move is calculated.

Jeannie: What would you say is your favorite fight scene from any movie? How realistic is it?
I love any Jackie Chan fights. He is so creative, entertaining, and he uses his environment to the fullest. I also love Ong Bak and Tony Jaa. He is so athletic and, like Jackie Chan, he incorporates freerunning and his environment so well. Like I said before, movie fights are completely choreographed and each movement is rehearsed.

Jeannie: Who’s your favorite Warrior Woman?
If I had to choose, I would say Xena. She is tough, badass but still feminine and sexy.

Here’s Luci in action:

Luci Romberg Stuntwoman:

Warrior Women: Interview with Mandy Sayah

Blog Tour: Interview today at A Journey of Books where I say a couple things about the thought process that went into Butterfly Swords. Hopefully some are interesting. 🙂

Also at Book Junkies with an intervew and except for The Taming of Mei Lin.


I met Mandy while studying Wing Chun under Sifu Eric Oram and Sifu Joe Sayah in Los Angeles. Mandy was a senior student then, while I was a white-sashed noob. I was always impressed with Mandy’s agility and precision during the training and sparring exercises, so I searched her out for Warrior Women month.

Sifu Mandy Sayah teaches wing chun kung fu in Mornington and Rosebud academies in Victoria, Australia, contact (03) 5975-9219, or www.wingchununiverse.com. Traditional Wing Chun Kung Fu academies located in Mornington, Rosebud, Dandeong, and East Bentley, Victoria, Australia.

She graciously provided this interview along a few videos demonstrating the Butterfly Swords form and self defense techniques. Welcome Mandy!

What made you decide to start studying Wing Chun?
Mandy: I was a fan of martial arts films including Akira Kurosawa’s films, Sonny Chiba, and Bruce Lee. I always wanted to study an art for self defense and then I learned that Bruce Lee’s core art that he’d trained for 10 years before he left China was Wing Chun. Serendipitously Master Joe Sayah who’d learned from Grandmaster Cheung (the man who’d taught Bruce Lee along with his Sifu Yip Man) had moved from Australia to Los Angeles and opened up a Wing Chun academy ten minutes from my home. I did a class and was hooked at first pak sao punch!

Jeannie: It’s often said that Wing Chun is an ideal style for a woman. Can you expand on that?
Mandy: Wing Chun does not rely on force or strength to overpower an opponent instead using deflection, positioning, and pressure point striking to win a fight. Wing Chun is ideal for men, women, and children who may have to defend themselves against a bigger and stronger adversary. It’s easier to fight someone smaller than you but what if you are faced with someone twice your size or 2 or 3 attackers? Wing Chun gives you a fighting chance with it’s use of pressure point strikes to disable opponents and economical movement making it very effective and deceptive. It’s deceptive how powerful it is and because of the economical movements it’s hard to see what’s happening– it’s very fast!

Jeannie: Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve had to use your training?
Mandy: Only once in 2000 when I was on an overnight train in Europe did I have to pak sao (slap) a man’s wrist away who was attempting to harass and touch a woman I was traveling with. I told him to leave her the f*&k alone and gave him the look that said he was gonna cop it if he came next to us again and he left us alone. Prevention is the best medicine and with heightened awareness I’ve probably prevented myself being a victim of crime by not placing myself in a dangerous position. Otherwise, I’ve just applied my skills during sparring sessions or tournaments I’ve competed in. On 31st July, 2010, I took 1st place in the women’s division of a Loong Fu Pai Tournament in Victoria, Australia. And I’ve competed in full contact kickboxing tournaments over the last 2 years as well.

Jeannie: What would you say are the main ways kung fu has changed your life or your way of thinking?
Mandy: Practicing Wing Chun Kung Fu empowered me physically first which made me feel mentally stronger, safer, and more confident which carried over spiritually to give me greater peace and respect for myself and others. It really united the mind, body, and spirit in a positive way. When I want to master a kung fu technique first I have awareness of what I want then I try to master the technique through repetition which is hard work I have to do consistently in order to get the results I want. This is the same approach I use to achieve any goals in life see my book co-authored with Master Joe Sayah for more on this subject “Chi, Energy, & Prosperity”.

Jeannie: So….could a little gal actually take on a big strong guy like they show in the movies?
Mandy: If she knows Wing Chun or some martial arts then ‘yes, absolutely.’ If she doesn’t know how to fight at all then she’s got to ‘Stun and Run’ – attack the eyes and groin and get out of there. Watch for yourself in this short clip, groin kick, eye gouge, palm strike.

Fun Questions:

Jeannie: What would you say is your favorite fight scene from any movie? How realistic is it?
Mandy: Film ‘Return of the Dragon’ Bruce Lee vs. Chuck Norris in the coliseum in Rome, very realistic. The Bourne Identity – Bourne (Matt Damon) wakes up on park bench in Switzerland, disarms police of their weapons and puts them down – realistic if the person is a well-trained martial artist.

Jeannie: Who’s your favorite Warrior Woman?
Mandy: Well, if you think outside the film box you’ve got the Virgin Mary stepping on the devil (symbolized by snake, good defeating evil), and amazing saints like Joan of Arc, and also Mother Teresa and St. Mary Mackillop who were super strong women who cared for less fortunate people with love and compassion winning the battle over their own selfish wants or desires and putting others first in a materialistic world that tries to get you to ‘spoil’ yourself. In movies, I love JeeJa Yanin the star of Chocolate (2008 action film) and I’ve been a fan of Wonder Woman since I was a kid, she’s beautiful, strong, fearless, and she deflects bullets off her wrist bangles while wearing the best costume ever!

Thank you Mandy!

If you have any questions for Mandy, go ahead and fire away. I’ll let her know to stop by and answer.

I leave you with a clip of Sifu Joe Sayah demonstrating the butterfly swords form. The fluidity and speed of the techniques is what inspired me to use the swords in my debut book: