Michiko Nishiwaki: The primary Japanese feminine bodybuilding champion

Watch the movie Charlie's Angels. Those high-risk stunts that appear to have been performed by Lucy Liu were actually performed by Michiko Nishiwaki. She has been a stunt double for some big names in Hollywood as well as a fight choreographer. After narrowly missing out on being cast in Mortal Kombat, Michiko decided to add stuntwoman to her resume. She performed all of the high-risk stunts in Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004) and Kelly Hu in The Scorpion King (2002). She also did stunts in Collateral (2004), Mission: Impossible III (2006) and Rush Hour 2 (2001).

Michiko Nishiwaki has had an interesting and varied career. As a teenage gymnast in Japan, she liked the muscles she was developing in her upper body but wanted more development in her legs. In the early 1980s, she was inspired by photographs of female bodybuilders, particularly Rachel McLish, who bore a striking resemblance to Michiko. At first she couldn't imagine posing in a tiny bikini. She said, "It just wasn't appropriate behavior for a woman in Japanese society to show her body in public." At that point, female bodybuilding wasn't really mainstream in the US or Europe, so being a woman in a muscle competition was a revolution in Japan.

In Japanese society, wearing a tiny bikini was not appropriate behavior for a woman. Bill Dobbins

A serious athlete, Michiko Nishiwaki found a gym and began weight training to balance her proportions and symmetry. In a relatively short period of time, Michiko became the first female bodybuilding and powerlifting champion in Japan and held those titles for three consecutive years. She and her brother opened three fitness clubs to capitalize on their competitive success. Known as an expert in strength training, she also completed executive personal training and socialized with Japan's elite. Michiko forever changed the stereotype of the submissive and docile Japanese woman by becoming a powerful role model for everyone.

Michiko's acting career began in Hong Kong in 1985. Her first leading role was in the film My Lucky Stars, in which she played a Japanese fighter. Her performance caught the attention of Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung and soon she was performing with many of the most well-known martial arts stars. Michiko appeared in dozens of these genre films and later A-list films such as Memoirs of a Geisha, Lethal Weapon, In the Line of Duty and Man on the Moon with Jim Carrey.

As a top athlete, she easily learned how to portray a martial arts expert on film, which included learning weapons training. Michiko realized she could leverage her own gymnastics training like Jackie Chan, whose background helped him develop a unique, athletic style. She was eventually asked to do stunts and act as an actress, and quickly became typecast by playing villains in most of her Hong Kong films.

Film director Oliver Stone drew my attention to Michiko. I planned a shoot with her in my studio for Weider Magazine. Michiko is so popular around the world that I have seen my photos of her published all over the internet on martial arts websites. t only was she a pioneer in the world of muscles and physique, she was an admirable role model in how to capitalize on her athletic success and develop a film career.

Michiko Nishiwaki on a Kungfu Magazine Michiko changed the stereotype of the submissive and docile Japanese woman forever. Bill Dobbins

Michiko Nishiwaki married and subsequently moved to Moorpark, California. Living near Los Angeles gave me the chance to bring Michiko to my studio to shoot for Muscle & Fitness. I consider the images I have created with her to be a significant addition to my photo archive and I enjoy sharing them with contemporary magazine readers.

Michiko Nishiwaki ready for a fight Michiko in a scene from Rush Hour 2 with Jackie Chan. Bill Dobbins

Michiko Nishiwaki film credits

  • Ghost Rock (2003) – Hana
  • Man on the Moon (1999) - karate fighter
  • Deadly Weapon 4 (1998)
  • Top Fighter 2 (1996) – Yourself (archive footage)
  • City on Fire (1993) - Chia Chi
  • Ging fa yu lau ang (whore and policewoman) (1993) - Nancy Cheng
  • Deadly Seduction (1993)
  • Ba hai hong ying (The Avenging Quartet) (1993) – Sen
  • Huo bao da quan zi (Big Circle Blues) (1992) - Kwan Show-Yun
  • Pi Li Bao Zuo (1992)
  • Yun yu di liu gan (Passionate Killing in Dreams) (1992) - Sha Sha Lee
  • Hong tin huang jia jiang (Angel Terminators) (1992) - Miss Nishiwaki
  • Yin yao hao qing (Hero Dream aka Naked Huntress) (1992) – Yi
  • Sing je wai wong (The Mighty Gambler) (1992) – Joyce Huang (Mainlander)
  • Se jiang (Witchcraft vs Curse) (1991) – Simol
  • The Real Me (1991)
  • The Best of the Martial Arts Films (1990) - Herself (archival footage)
  • Magic Cop (1990) - The Sorceress
  • Dragon Fighter (Hard to Kill) (1990)
  • Hu dan nu er gang (Widow Warriors) (1990) – Chieko
  • Outlaw Brothers (1990) - Miego
  • Tie dan xiong feng (Live Hard) (1989) – Lily
  • Miao tan shuang long (City Cops) (1989) – Michiko
  • God of Gamblers (1989) - Ko Chun's yakuza opponent
  • Time Burst: The Last Alliance (1989)
  • On Duty III (1988) - Michiko Nishiwaki
  • Ojosan tantei Tokimeki renpatsu! (Young Lady Detectives: Heart Beat!) (1987) - Misao Matsuda
  • Jikuu Senshi Spielban (Dimensional Warrior Spielban) (1986, TV Series) – Rikkî
  • My Lucky Stars (1985) - Japanese fighter

Michiko Nishiwaki film cover for Princess MadamMichiko starred in Princess Madam Bill Dobbins

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