<meta name="google-site-verification" content="IJL6ndnFUkxgoQdmCDqSrSrqrB4RRbCb_VGXvXUyFtg" />



An Interview with ‘The Next Dragon’ – Janell Vela Smith

Posted June 17, 2012 by Tiger33 in Features

Janell Vela Smith’s love for martial arts and fitness goes much deeper than a basic desire to ‘get fit‘ or ‘self defense‘. Janell is a true example of a martial artist who really ‘gives’ back to martial arts and local community. Personal Trainer, Stunt Coordinator, Producer, Role Model – Janell took time out from her busy schedule to have a quick chat with AMP about Martial Arts and her upcoming project : The Next Dragon.

AMP : Janell if you could give us a bit of a background into your interest in martial arts, and how it all began?

Janell : My martial arts journey began with my intrigue in old kung fu cinema, every Saturday afternoon I was glued to the television watching “Kung Fu” Theater. A station that played all of the original old school kung fu films that we all love!, As a young girl I was very active and athletic, from age 4 training in gymnastics, baton twirling, cheerleading, all athletics/dance based activities BUT,, I Loved going with my Dad to watch “live action” wrestling matches! My love for martial arts developed early but I was not able to learn until I was adult age. I joined a Dojang to learn how to kick properly, 17 years later 1st Dan TKD, 3rd Dan Tukong Moosul(traditional korean/chinese art), I have trained in many arts but I chose to be trained under a monk Wonik Yi from the Dae Yeon Sa Temple in Korea(Temple of Great Achievement)

He taught me the true meaning of a life dedicated to martial arts. Also, because of his expertise, we had many actors and Directors contact us in Austin, Texas to learn traditional martial arts for film work like Robert Rodriguez for his film Sin City.
I then helped develop Fighting Stunts Associaion in Austin Texas, we trained actors/martial artist for film work. Watching this process helped me later develop “The Next Dragon
My other projects either in Development or in Production -

Also developing 

  • In the Line of Duty reality show
  • Dominion Film with parters Jody Nolan and Jeremy Hawa



AMP  : You are currently heading a new project : The Next Dragon, Could you tell us a little bit about the project ,the structure of the forthcoming show, and of course the planned release date and availability?

Janell : Yes, I am Producing The Next Dragon, the structure was later developed by myself and Producers Arnie Reyes and Phil Abatecola(Producer of Hell’s Kitchen)
We are nearing end of development stage and going into pitch phase. We will see which major network is the best place for the Exciting new reality show!

AMP : So how did the Next Dragon get started ?

Janell : I developed the idea from my Stunt Company..working with various actors/martial artist for film projects. I thought it would be interesting to share this insight with audiences. It is a hard journey to develop ones skills as a “true martial artist” and as an actor. Many people do not understand the level of dedication this takes to become an “Action Star”

It is a hard journey to develop ones skills as a “true martial artist” and as an actor



AMP:For any upcoming martial artists actors reading this, are places still available on season 1 of Next Dragon, how can they go about getting involved ?

Janell : Place are still avaiable. They can contact us via our Facebook page – simply submit your demo reels and our producers will look through this for casting purposes as the time nears for final candidate selections.

AMP :Aside from being behind ‘The Next Dragon’ , you also seem to be involved in a multitude of areas revolving around screen fighting, can you tell us a little bit about your fighting stunts association ?

Janell : Yes, I have been the Director for Fighting Stunts for a few years. We provide film/tv/web/video games access to martial artists for their projects. I also help manage  the careers of several martial artists from the Fighting Stunts Association.


AMP :Are the judging panel been confirmed for The Next Dragon ? we heard rumours of a few famous names being involved in the project ?

Janell : We have been in contact with many A List directors/Martial Artists and Producers . At the moment we can not confirm the judges for the first season until the final round of negotiations are complete – but so far looking very good !



Trivia : Janell has also studied Taekwondo, IpsunTaichi, TaichiChuan. Competed for several years, almost making the US Olympic taekwondo team but missed by age cut-off. Went on to obtain several state, regional and National titles.


Janell Smith Exclusive Interview

Janell Smith Exclusive Interview



Support production of martial arts movies and order DVD or Blu-ray

Ninja II


Undisputed 3

Undisputed 2

Never Back Down 2

Green Street 3


Janell Smith Exclusive Interview

Janell Smith

Janell Smith has always called Austin, Texas home. Unlike other girls her age, as a child her father would take her to see boxing and wrestling matches which she found fascinating. A bright and energetic athlete throughout her life, Janell’s academic years centered on her studies and a host of extra curricular activities. As director of Fighting Stunts, Janell has produced 10 short films and a feature entitled Tremens.

In 1996, Janell began training in Taekwondo and eventually earned a 1st degree Black Belt. In 2004, she discovered Tukong Moosul, a form of martial arts developed by Grandmaster Wonik Yi. Overall, Janell has spent the last 12 years training in the martial arts. With countless awards and degrees of recognition, Janell began to serve as instructor at Grandmaster Yi’s academy. In 2005, the academy was selected by directors Robert Rodriquez and Frank Miller as a training ground for their film Sin City.  Janell Smith was fascinated with the process of training with actors and was motivated to help establish the Action Film Institute and Fighting Stunts Association.

Budomate: Janell, tell us please how and when did you come up with idea of the Next Dragon Show?

Janell: I started thinking about developing a show that showcased all of the amazing talent that I had been working with in Action/Stunts for Films in US(Texas). My teacher and I started a stunt company called Fighting Stunts Association and Action Film Institute.

We started the company after my teacher worked with Robert Rodriguez for the film “SinCity” He trained and choreographed Devon Aoki in her sword style (GrandMaster Wonik Yi-Creator of martial art style Tukong Moosul-trained at Dae Yeon Sa Temple in Korea). He also privately trained the Writer/Producer Mr. Frank Miller. We became known for training actors for action and stunts in film. I soon realized this was a lot of work and dedication to becoming an “Action Star” and to maintain ones mental spiritual training in the “Arts”. Bruce Lee was able to maintain both the “real” life combat training AND “Screen presence” for film.

Budomate: What is the main purpose of a new martial arts show “The Next Dragon”?

Janell: Our main purpose to to give “martial artist” all over the world an opportunity to become an action star. Many do not know how or where to begin getting into the Film Industry. Our show will be a wonderful platform for them to showcase their skills as a Martial artist and train with some of the best “action/stunt” trainers from all over the world. They will also be exposed to Directors and Producers from upcoming Action Films looking to cast some of them for their films.

Budomate: In January 2010 you were auditioning in Austin for a show, why did you start with Texas?

Janell: We started in Texas due to the fact that Texas is a great place for martial art tournaments. We attended a tournament to discover up and coming talent. This is how Bruce Lee was discovered by Producers. I am also from Texas and I serve on many boards to help develop the “Film” Industry in Texas.

Budomate: Are any famous martial artists connected somehow to “The Next Dragon” show? Maybe Chuck Norris is interested to support you as a Oklahoma born master?

Janell: Yes, we are currently in talks with the Norris Camp to work together.Master Chuck Norris lives in Houston, Texas and has his production company here. We will also work with his Film Festival called: “Action Film Festival” to promote The Next Dragon. Other well known names we are in talks with to work on the show as “Guest Judges” are : Robert Rodriguez, Chuck Norris, Jet Li, Quentin Tarrantino, Shannon Lee to name a few.

Our Host/Producer Mr. Rudy Reyes will add an interesting dynamic to The Next Dragon show. He was Host on the shoe for Discovery Channel called “Apocolypse Man” and also on HBO series “Generation Kill” He is a Marine Recon and the “real deal” Black Belt that has lived the ultimate ModernWarrior Life. Our sizzle reel is almost complete and I will send to you. Our Director for the show is Marcel Rodriguez (Robert Rodriguez’s brother).

For more information go to thenextdragon.com or find Janell Smith on Facebook among budomate’s friends.

All rights for Janell Smith interview reserved by www.budomate.com and can not be used without official permission.




Janell with Austin Fit Magazine


Janell Smith KVUE News


Janell Smith KVUE News