Meet Ghanaian-British actor and real-life ninja, Joey Ansah

by Rachel Ogbu//

Ghanaian- British actor and real-life ninja, Joey Ansah was born in Hammersmith, London, England. He is of mixed ethnicity, with his mother Nicola is English and his father is the renowned African fashion designer Kofi Ansah from Ghana.

The 34-year-old Ansah has directed all Street Fighters including Street Fighter Resurrection, Street Fighter: World Warrior, Street Fighter: Legacy (2010) and Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist (2014). His big Hollywood break came when he was cast in the Bourne Ultimatum (2007) by award-winning director, Paul Greengrass, in which he plays ‘Desh’, a Blackbriar super assassin working for the CIA who goes up against Jason Bourne (Matt Damon). He starred in Snow White and the Huntsman (2012), as League of Shadows member in Batman Begins (2005). “…having seen the Legend of Chung Lee I was like “someone needs to do something about this and it’s going to be me,” Ansah tells Comicbookmovie. “I put together a pitch, sent it to Capcom and they came back and said they didn’t have enough money to invest in a full series, but they did have Street Fighter IV coming out, so they were like you can get some money from marketing, so I pitched marketing and they took a chance. They liked my pitch and that’s how Street Fight Legacy was born, which was a YouTube three minute, high-end YouTube short, which has about 10 million views. That video was something I could get down with and they actually move like they do in the game!”

It had been a long time dream of his to work on a scale as the Street Fighters project. On his website, he recalls his father renting Action and martial arts films from the local video shop which he would avidly watch. Arnold, Stallone, Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Van Damme became instinctive idols and sources of inspiration which remain to this day.

Joey Ansah attended private school first at Oakfield School and then at Dulwich College Prep. He later attended Devonport High school for boys where he completed his secondary education and then proceeded to study biology at Oxford Brookes University.

During this time he also began obsessively training for the rare Martial art of Ninjutsu with military personnel in Plymouth. After a brief stint high diving, Joey became very interested in acrobatics and tumbling, and began to develop this aspect of Ninjutsu to a very high level, he also took up the Brazilian martial art of Capoeira in which he has trained ever since.

“About 26 years now. I originally started martial arts when I was about five, but I didn’t get really serious and diligent until I was nine. My cousin used to do Wushu with Ray Park way back when and he used to come and teach me and my brother. My family emigrated to Ghana and I started doing Taekwondo out there, and they trained me really hardcore. Bare foot, stone floor, outside, no pads. That gave me a good foundation and I did that for five years. When I moved back to the UK, I then got into Bujinkan Ninjutsu in a big way and did boxing, and various other fighting styles. I just do it all! You should be able to punch in all styles. You need to learn it all and cover all the major forms. Bruce Lee summed it up the best when he said, ‘Look, unless we have a different form of human being with three arms and four legs, then there isn’t a different style of martial arts. There’s only so many ways you can master all those way of moving.”

 Joey Ansah

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