Cynthia Rothrock is an American martial artist and actress in martial arts films. Rothrock holds black belt rankings in seven styles of martial arts and was a high level competitor in martial arts before becoming an actress.
On March 8, 1957, Rothrock was born in Wilmington, Delaware to Edward and Ann Markowski. Rothrock grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and at the age of 13 she started taking martial arts lessons.
Rothrock was a five times World Champion in forms and weapons between 1981 and 1985. These categories are not combat-oriented, being displays of fluidity of movement rather than fighting, and are not segregated into male and female categories but fully open to both sexes.
She took first place in forms 32 times and first place in weapons 12 times in her first 38 tournaments, including competing in “Men’s Forms” three out of four times as there was no Women’s Division. She was “Grand Master” of five tournaments and came in first place in 4 out of 5 fighting events.
She holds seven black belts and sashes in multiple Far Eastern martial disciplines, including Tang Soo Do, Taekwondo, Eagle Claw, Wushu, Northern Shaolin, Ng Ying Kungfu, and Pai Lum White Dragon Kung Fu. She received her 6th degree black belt in Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan in 2006. She was tested by Grand Master Robert Kovaleski, 9th Dan and chair of the I.T.M.A., and was later promoted by him to 7th degree black belt in 2011 and 8th degree black belt in 2015. She is a martial arts instructor and her favorite weapons are the hook swords.
In 1983, Rothrock was inducted into the Black Belt Magazine Hall of Fame as “Female Competitor of the Year”. She was the first woman to appear on the cover of a martial arts magazine, and in 1986 co-authored a book with George Chung titled, Advanced Dynamic Kicks. In 2014, she was honored with the Legacy Award at the Urban Action Showcase & Expo at HBO.
In 1983, while Rothrock was on Ernie Reyes’ West Coast Demonstration Team, she was discovered by Golden Harvest in Los Angeles, California. It was two years (1985) later that she made her first martial arts movie for them, Yes, Madam which also starred Michelle Yeoh. It proved to be a box office success. She ended up staying in Hong Kong until 1988 doing seven films there. Possibly her first US film was 24 Hours to Midnight, a Leo Fong directed film which also starred Stack Pierce, Juan Chapa and Bernie Pock.
Rothrock became one of the few western performers to achieve genuine stardom in the local Hong Kong film industry before achieving success in their own country. She was credited as “Fu Lok Law” in many Hong Kong movies. Producer Pierre David initiated Rothrock’s move to the American turf. David offered her a co-starring role with Chad McQueen in Martial Law, Rothrock’s first U.S. production. For the next ten years, she led a successful career in B-grade action movies. Her films include China O’Brien and China O’Brien 2, Guardian Angel, Honor & Glory, No Retreat, No Surrender 2 and Prince of the Sun amongst a roster of thirty films.
Rothrock appeared as Bertha Jo in the 1997 television film The Dukes of Hazzard: Reunion!. She was an inspiration for the video game character Sonya Blade from the Mortal Kombat fighting game franchise and lent her voice on the animated series Eek the Cat.
She made an appearance in the television series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, playing Hera’s second Enforcer in the 1996 episode “Not Fade Away”.
After starring in the 2004 film Xtreme Fighter (a.k.a. Sci-Fighter), where she played Sally Kirk / The White Dragon, she retired from acting to teach private martial arts lessons at her martial arts studio in Studio City, California.
She returned to acting in 2012 with a role in the family film Santa’s Summer House.
In 2014, she starred in the action movie Mercenaries, alongside Kristanna Loken, Brigitte Nielsen, Vivica A. Fox and Zoë Bell.
At the age of 21, Cynthia married her kung fu instructor Ernest Rothrock on September 25,1976 at St.Mary’s Church in the Greenwood Section of Moosic. They have since divorced. She has one daughter, Skyler Sophia Rothrock. She works as a martial arts teacher, and co-owns a martial arts studio in Studio City, California as part of the Z Ultimate Self Defense Studios chain of martial arts studios.
She was the undefeated middleweight Kickboxing/Weapons lady champion for five consecutive years.
Began training when she was 13.
Favorite male co-star is Biao Yuen for their similarity in style and timing.
Has five black belts in Korean and Chinese martial arts.
Guest at the 2001 San Diego ComicCon’s 4th Annual Kung Fu Superhero Extraveganza.
Is dual citizen of the USA and Hong Kong.
Five time undefeated World Karate Champion in Forms & Weapons (1981-1985).
Was first woman cover subject of a martial arts magazine, appearing on both “Inside Kung Fu” and “Black Belt” magazines.
Many characters that she plays state they’re from Scranton, Pennsylvania, where Rothrock actually grew up.
Cynthia is an only child, as is her daughter Skylar.
Daughter’s full name: Skylar Sophia Rothrock (b. 1999).
Has black belts in 5 different systems: Tang Soo Do and Tae Kwon Do (both Korean), as well as Wushu, Eagle Claw Kung Fu, and Northern Shaolin Kung Fu (all three Chinese).
Trademark: Scorpion Kick
She has co-owned and operated two martial arts schools in Los Gatos, California. The first was destroyed in a fire in 1986, with the second opening only three days later.
Holds a 7th degree black belt in Tang Soo Do, a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and black sashes (Chinese equivalent of a black belt) in Eagle Claw Kung Fu, Northern Shaolin Kung Fu, Pai Lum Tao Kung Fu, and Wushu.
In between filming Yes, Madam! (1985) and The Millionaires’ Express (1986), Rothrock ripped the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee. Turning down the option of reconstructive surgery because of her tight filming schedule, she amazed doctors by continuing to work without adverse effects. While the injury would normally have caused recurring dislocation of the kneecap, a study on her leg revealed that Rothrock’s quadriceps and hamstrings were so strong that they held her kneecap in place even without the aid of the ligament. As of June 2012, Rothrock still had not undergone reconstructive surgery.
Teaches private martial arts lessons at her martial arts studio in Studio City, California.
Is an authorized instructor of the Fighting Chance Combat Systems (FCCS) – the self-defense style developed by Jeff Moldovan.
Induced into the International Sports Hall of Fame in 2014.
The character “King”, featured in the video games Art of Fighting and King of Fighters was inspired on her.
Official Website of Cynthia Rothrock The Queen of Martial Arts
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