Like many young athletes, former sanda fighter Jason Yee dreamed of making movies. Through grit, perseverance and talent, he’s made this dream a reality – after writing, producing and acting in two of his own acclaimed independent feature martial arts thrillers, he’s now in pre-production to shoot his third film, New Chinatown, in Los Angeles.

“I have to credit my work ethic to my working class upbringing,” he says, “along with the discipline I learned in the martial arts.”

Sanda Fighter Jason Yee

jason yee sanda fighter food for fight

Yee studied traditional styles of Wah Lum and Hung Gar as a kid growing up in Boston, but he also became a pioneer of modern wushu, competing in the very first World Wushu Championships in Beijing, China in 1991 and winning a sanda bronze medal.

He was not only the first American to win a medal at these inaugural Championships, but also the only athlete to compete in all disciplines – forms, weapons and sanda – at a single WWC event. (The rules were later changed to disallow this). He competed in two World Championships events before moving on to open his own kickboxing school and coaching the winning Boston Sanshou Team to many national and international victories, including the first sanda US silver medal.

jason yee sanda fighter food for fight

As a filmmaker, Clint Eastwood was Yee’s inspiration, but the martial arts-meets-noir became his genre. In 2001, Yee wrote, directed and starred in his first feature film, Dark Assassin, a low-budget thriller shot on 16mm film. When the film was picked up for distribution in 2005, Yee turned his school over to his students and moved to Los Angeles to become a full-time actor and filmmaker.

His second film, (and starring role) was The Girl From the Naked Eye (2009). Yee has since appeared in TV pilots for Nickelodeon, TNT and in several independent films, and continues to produce, direct and act.

Jason Yee Adheres to Ketogenic Diet

jason yee sanda fighter food for fight

Jason Yee may have retired from competition fighting, but he remains a sanda fighter in attitude, action and spirit. He trains daily, and has changed his health regime drastically over the years. His battle now is training for health and fitness as a holistic part of his life.

“When you’re an athlete,” he says, “you’re in tune with your body. As you get older you get more disciplined, and you look harder at how to keep young and healthy, and trying to remain at your peak performance. I have to admit, when I was fighting in the ring, my diet was pretty poor. As the years progressed and seeing negative changes in my body, I was ready to make the change.”

Yee’s change was his own systematic re-education — of nutrition and the body, of using food as an optimum tool for training, better health, anti-aging. Today Yee adheres to a Ketogenic diet. This diet is a high-fat, adequate protein, low (or no) carb regimen that lets the body burn fats, not carbs. Ketones are produced from the breakdown of fats in the liver. Giving the body fats and taking away carbohydrates will burn ketones as the primary energy source.

Jason Yee’s Food for Fight

jason yee sanda fighter food for fight

“The Keto diet trains the body to use fats for energy instead of sugars and carbohydrates,” Yee says. “ I eat a lot of organic chicken, avocados, I cook with coconut oil and I like a lot of salad concoctions. If I splurge, I’ll have a steak, or sashimi. I also have fermented vegetables, to keep my gut healthy. Always organic, because antibiotics used in non-organic meats can have a negative effect on your system.”

Yee adds, “It’s a question of agency – not getting fat, fighting off illnesses like diabetes, cancer. It’s 70% of what you eat, and 30% exercise. I do cross training, plyometrics, martial arts, weight training, high intensity interval training. I focus on the details, keeping my body strong and focus on little, tiny muscles in glutes, or hips. As we age we lose our elasticity, our elastic spring, what we use for jumps or speed. I work out and eat accordingly to keep my body, my muscles, toned and tuned.”

Yee believes firmly in his own refinement and evolution, not only of his body as time goes on, but also of his career as an independent filmmaker and, importantly, as an actor. Keeping the yin and yang of kung fu philosophy in mind, he notes,

“Coming from the martial arts, it’s all about control. Acting is also about giving up control, confronting your fears about opening up in front of people, of having the freedom to focus but let your imagination guide you. It’s ultimately trying to find that balance.”

Jason Yee’s Grilled Dubliner Chicken Melt

jason yee sanda fighter food for fight

What is Jason Yee’s food for fight? One of Yee’s favorite recipes is grilled chicken topped with Dubliner cheese, a cow’s milk cheese with a sweet, nutty flavor. One skinless, boneless breast has 165 calories, 31 grams of protein, and 3.6 grams of fat. An ounce of Dubliner cheese has 9 grams of fat, 7 grams protein, and is a good source of calcium. Kerrygold’s Irish Dubliner is from grass-fed cows.


  • 1 skinless, boneless chicken breast
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 2 oz Irish Dubliner (or cheddar) cheese


  1. Coat the chicken breast with olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper.
  2. On a grill or grill pan cook the chicken on medium heat, covered, for about 3 minutes per side.
  3. Slice the Dubliner cheese (or cheddar) thinly and let melt on top of the hot chicken. (Do this in the covered grill for faster melting.)
  4. Serve immediately.
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