Enter the Dojo YouTube star and Ameri-Do-Te founder Master Ken:
The Man behind the Mustache
Exclusive Interview with Matt Page
Last month I posted part one of an interview I conducted with actor Matt Page, the man who plays Master Ken in the Enter the Dojo web series. Here is the continuation of that article.
MICHAEL MILLER: What is it like knowing that Master Ken has become a celebrity and that there are times where you have to play that fictional role for an extended period of time? Is it difficult to play somebody else as if he is an actual person so often?
MATT PAGE: You know I would say the only time that’s difficult is at the live events because I’ll go and do a live performance as Ken, and I’ll do some autograph signings usually afterwards, and then people want to meet up at an after party or whatever. But I’m not going to go to an after party with a fake mustache on, with a weird voice and a costume and everything. A lot of the times I can just see the disappointment in people’s eyes when they realize that Ken isn’t a real guy. They want to hang out with Master Ken. My personality is not as abrasive, I look different, and I talk different. It is weird. It’s like having this secret identity kind of a thing where I transform into Ken and give everybody what they want and then quietly kind of go and shrink back into Matt Page and just be the quiet, mild mannered actor/filmmaker who is crafting this image of Ken all the time. So it’s weird.
MICHAEL MILLER: Do you have any preparation exercises or rituals that you do to get into character when it’s time to become Master Ken?
MATT PAGE: I would really say that it is external things that work internally for the character. Once I get my uniform on and the belt and the mustache and start twisting my eyebrows and once I see myself in the mirror as Ken, I’m basically ready to go. The character to me is very much the rhythms and the way of moving and the way I change my speech a little bit, once I hear myself speak as Ken and see myself in the mirror I’m pretty much there.
MICHAEL MILLER: What has been the most rewarding experience from the creation of Enter the Dojo and Master Ken?
MATT PAGE: I think it would have to be the way fans let me know what it means to them. I remember doing an appearance and this gentlemen came in with his little son who had seen the show, and the kid just came up and hugged me as Ken and got a little emotional, he was kind of weepy because he was meeting Ken in real life and that seemed to mean something to him. And I was like oh wow. I’ve never had that experience of like seeing how much it means to someone who just sees the show and then see Ken in person. I’ve also gotten a lot of letters from service men from around the world who have said, “Hey, I had a drill instructor like this and it makes me laugh especially on days when I’m really struggling with my PTSD from being out in combat.” Them telling me that it genuinely gives them some relief from their daily struggles. So whether I get that from someone in the armed forces or whether I get that from just a regular everyday person who tells me that their day is a little brighter because I made them laugh, I think that is what means the most to me. It’s easy to forget that as we’re trying to continue to grow the show because it’s still very independent, it’s still a ton of work for not a lot of return. It doesn’t make us super rich. It’s something we do for passion and love of it and when we get messages from people about how much it means to them, there is no other feeling like it. I think that is the most rewarding thing.
MICHAEL MILLER: What can people do to help support the Enter the Dojo Web series?
MATT PAGE: A few things. Subscribing to the show, subscribing to the YouTube channel is important because the more people subscribe the more people see our videos when we upload new ones. We have a Website www.enterthedojoshow.com where we sell merchandise; you can get your white belt in Ameri-Do-Te certificate signed by Master Ken; Master Ken has a new martial arts association—Maintain You’re Ameri-Do-Te Street Skills, that’s MY ASS for short. You can get your lifetime membership card for $10. Basically purchasing merchandise, watching the show, sharing the show, we have a donation button if people just want to make a donation to the show which people do monthly. There are people who just give us a few bucks here and there just to keep doing what we’re doing. All of that makes a big difference. I will say one thing about sharing the show. If they’re going to share it, make sure they share it from our YouTube channel because video piracy is very common these days and when people share links that are pirated from our site we don’t get any ad revenue for that. That works against us. There are videos out there that literally have 10 million views that are not our videos. They are taken and put on other platforms. That hurts us a little bit because the show is already free and we’re happy to have people watch it for free. We just want people to watch it on our channel so that Google will compensate us for that. At first we didn’t think it was a big deal because at least people were seeing the show. But then when we see so many views they get and we think oh my God, that video someone ripped off our channel got 10 million views, we could have funded another whole season with those views. Just that one video could have funded a season for us but we don’t get any revenue because it was stolen. Of course we want people to see the show but the most beneficial thing is for people to watch our channel.
MICHAEL MILLER: How much rehearsal time goes into an average episode of Enter the Dojo?
MATT PAGE: Pretty much none. We have no time. When we started, everybody was in the film industry but most of us were still trying to find their place. But over the past four years everyone has kind of ascended in their career. Alex Knight has been in a bunch of movies. He had a big role in a movie coming out called The Condemned 2 which is a big WWE film. Ben has been in some movies, Julie is working out in LA doing some great stuff with a big company, my director of photography Corey Weintraub has shot four or five feature films just over the past couple of years, all our team is great but because they are good at what they do, it’s impossible to get them together except for just a few days to film what we absolutely need to film. I wish we had time to rehearse but pretty much I message everybody and say, “Hey, we’re going to do another season, these are the dates.” And they just show up and we do it. I would love to be able to rehearse, and do prep, and get everybody together and do a table read, read the script and talk about it. Maybe someday but right now we can’t.
MICHAEL MILLER: Do you have the Enter the Dojo series available on DVD for purchase?
MATT PAGE: We do. We have season one and two. I am curious about people’s opinion about this. I was trying to decide if we should do a season three DVD. Some people tell me, “Nobody watches DVD anymore. They all stream everything.” I don’t know. We do sell DVD’s. We sell a few of them every week. That helps. I was trying to decide if people would want a season three DVD.
MICHAEL MILLER: Are there any possible book or movie ideas for the future?
MATT PAGE: Yes. I have been out to Hollywood a few times and have pitched Enter the Dojo as a movie, a TV show, and there’s been a lot of smoke but no fire yet. There’s interest, people are excited about it, they like the show but we just need the right list of elements and timing and everything. In terms of a book, I am just about done with the first Master Ken book that we’re going to start offering here at the store. We’ll be announcing that pretty soon. I’m pretty psyched about it because we’ve been joking around about different ideas for books forever since we started the show, but I finally managed to sit down and put one together.
Michael Miller holds a 5th degree black belt in Ed Parker’s American Kenpo and is an international instructor having taught seminars throughout the United States and Germany. He runs his full-time studio, Miller’s Kenpo Karate Dojo, in Bradford, PA. He was an undefeated amateur boxer in college, wrestled for eight years (5th grade – 12th), and coached wrestling at the Jr. High level for four years. He has cross-trained in Joe Lewis Fighting Systems (directly under Joe Lewis), Superfoot System (directly under Bill Wallace), Gracie jiu-jitsu (under three different lineages), modern arnis, judo, wing chun, krav maga, and chin-na. He is the co-founder of Stomp the Bullying, Inc. and his school is the East Coast Headquarters for the program. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Pittsburgh in writing with a minor in sociology and is the author of the Legends of Kenpo biography series among other books. He can be contacted through his martial arts Website at www.millersdojo.com or his writing Website at www.michaelmillerwriter.com.