ED- The Eerie Digest would like to introduce actor F.D. Nick Braaksma to all of our readers. Nick, one of your greatest attributes toward filmmaking is your physical fitness training and martial arts. Tell us how you began training in this field.
NB- As a boy at age 5, my father took me to a Judo and Jiu Jitsu class. Throughout my childhood and adolescence I kept training in these forms of Japanese wrestling and submission arts which led me to become a professional instructor in the field of Self-Defense and Fighting Arts
ED- What did your training include, and how did you branch out to martial arts ?
NB- During my childhood and as a teenager I went to class 3 times a week and got the usual Dojo beatings from the older boys; I was the smallest and youngest and was the “punching bag” for my buddies in class. During those years we had to compete in the Dojo (school) tournaments and, as sad as it sounds, I never won a match till age 15. In high school I had a friend who took Karate classes and he invited me to his dojo where I was put to the test during my 1st class; the older students tried to “initiate” me but my Judo and Jiu Jitsu training suddenly paid off! The 1st one to face me during that test was swept to the floor and my new Karate Sensei (teacher) was pleased to have me as a new addition to his competition team! At age 17 and 18, I won several Dutch Regional titles in Kumite (fighting) and fought against the best of The Netherlands where I lived at the time.
ED- You also took up kick-boxing, and even owned your own training studio. Please tell us about this.
NB- After high school in The Netherlands, I came to the US to study at Wake Forest University in NC; a dream for a movie buff like me come true, to live in the land of John Wayne, Starsky and Hutch and Kojak! In college I was introduced to the Jhoon Rhee Tae Kwon Do organization with whom I earned my black belts. As College Team Captain for our Karate team I led my students to victory many times. Right out of college I was offered a fulltime job as a Martial Arts instructor by Grand Master Jhoon Rhee, teacher of many movie stars like Bruce Lee …..my dreams to become a school owner and a champion in the martial arts were realized. I worked for several organizations and owned my own schools; currently I am teaching law enforcement, fighters and kids at my Dojo in Mobile, AL.
NB- My 1st introduction to TV and Film was during college, but those were just acting and film classes; then after college during one of my workouts at the gym I ran into a man named Carlos Roman; he had an auditioning for actors and stuntmen for his TV Pilot “Lady Law”…..I could not resist and introduced myself. Carlos asked me to do a “few moves” and I got the role as “Raul Vega”, an ex-cop-gone-bad; he also wanted me to do the fight scene with him. During my time working for Jeff Smith, 7 time world champion, I also had the privilege to meet Chuck Norris and Arnold Schwarzenegger ….the perfect inspiration for yours truly.
ED- You now perform stunt work for films. How did your former training benefit you, and what first drew your interest to the world of cinema?
NB- I actually self promoted my martial arts business during my time in Aruba where I owned and operated a martial arts and fitness business; I appeared in numerous TV shows and interviews for the sports channels and even anchored for the “Aruba Breakfast Club” in which I interviewed local celebs. Writing articles for magazines about health and fitness boosted my popularity and allowed for more doors to open professionally. I also appeared in TV commercials promoting and endorsing sports products for my sponsors like Gatorade and healthy foods like Quaker Oats.
NB- Tony Saldana (played by Carlos Roman) was my ex police partner who was wrongly accused….or rather framed by me. I staged my death and schemed behind the scenes while Tony thought I was dead; we eventually met again and had a formal toe-to-toe in the same boxing gym where he taught me the ropes of fighting. I drew the short end of the stick and he was finally proven innocent.
ED- Tell us about the role that you played and how you interacted with the other actors in it.
NB- My favorite part was of course my fighting scene with Carlos who also directed Lady Law; my dialogue was fun for me….playing a villain was perhaps one of my dark secrets : ) We did a few re-takes to make sure Carlos, the director, had the “right” shot for the final cut….make up and a few real bruises were the result of my 1st “beating” on film! I assisted Roman Pictures with the casting for extras by bringing in a few of my martial arts students and colleagues; having had my friends and students be part of Lady Law brought me great pleasure.
ED- You were in another Roman Pictures production called ‘Cobalto Force’ . Please tell us all about this project and your role in it.
NB- During the filming of Cobalto Force I got to show my martial arts skills and also do a combat scene where my character, Nick van Zant, an ex-military-nut, got injured during the jungle mission. Mayhem was the order of the day and all hell broke loose, when we fought the guerrillas who had kidnapped nuns and children; of course we, “the good guys,” managed to free them…..mission accomplished….and of course, as the story line goes, our mission was not endorsed by the US authorities. Ray Cobalto (played by Carlos Roman) was the “fall guy” in the movie. The unique part of Cobalto Force was that Carlos Roman filmed it in Black and White to give the scenes a more documentary like and realistic look.
ED- What other film genres are you looking to perform in, and what other roles would you like to play?
NB- My interest in certain films has always mirrored my personal interests and experiences. Martial Arts, Education, Action, Drama, Comedy, Mystery and fascination for Science Fiction are all part of my life. I like Dark movie themes, but favor more historical roles of personalities who inspired our world as we know it. If I had to choose to play “my” favorite screen personality it would be a role like Tom Cruise’s when he played Jules Brunet in The Last Samurai or Russell Crowe’s role as Maximus in Gladiator. I would prefer to inspire the audience with a life lesson based on a true story.
ED- Nick, you are certainly a force to be reckoned with, and I am sure that we are going to hear some good things about you in the future. I want to thank you for your time with this interview and wish you much good luck in your career.