Is it true that Jodi Long from “Sullivan & Son” is a sword fighter?
—Marsha Song, Petaluma, Calif.
Long, 59, whose mother is of Japanese-American descent and whose father is Chinese-Scottish from Australia, is a practitioner of tai chi sword. She says was raised more Chinese than Japanese even though she is a native New Yorker and grew up speaking with a Queens accent, which she has since lost.
In her one-woman show, “Surfing DNA,” she tells the story of how she was walking in the park one day when a Chinese man stopped her and asked her to join him and some others who were doing tai chi.
“I did really well with it because it is in my bones,” says the actress, who stars as Ok Cha Sullivan on “Sullivan & Son.” “There’s something about it that I get inherently. Then, I was interested in doing sword, and my teacher said, ‘Live by the sword, die by the sword. You don’t want to do sword.’ But then I met another Chinese woman, who did the most beautiful sword, and I just had to learn it.”
Shortly afterward, Long, who holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the acting conservatory at State Univeristy of New York at Purchase, was surprised to discover that her mother’s family were Japanese sword makers.
“It was just mind-blowing. It was a huge revelation,” she says. “So, I do think that there are things that we don’t know that just pop out of us because it’s in our blood. It’s just something inherent in us.”
Another of those things may be Kundalini yoga, which Long also practices. “My mother’s family were Nichiren Buddhists—that’s the Nam Myoho Renge Kyo yoga,” she says. “My mother rejected it. She became a Protestant. My family in Portland still does it. I’ve been to the funerals, where you go and you chant. My grandmother is so happy that I’m back to chanting, or mantra work, to connect. It’s not the same tradition, but it still gets you to the same place.”