Baca to take part in martial arts reality TV series

Soon, many Guymon residents may be able to say that they learned karate from an action star.MarkAnthony Baca, owner and head instructor of American Karate Studios, is one of a handful of martial artists who have been selected to be in “The Next Dragon,” a reality television show aimed at discovering the next big cinematic martial arts star.“I’m very excited about this opportunity,” said Baca. “I have six studios (including one in Guymon), and it was hard to make the decision to do this and take time away from my studios, but fortunately I have six black belts here in Guymon who are able to fill in for me. Without them I couldn’t do this.”Baca has already taken part in the preliminary filming of the show in Austin, Texas and is one of only a few fighters to have already been given a spot on the series. Most of the spots will be filled during nationwide auditions.“One of the producers is a fellow martial artist. Her brother and I have known each other since high school and she wanted me to come in and they liked me and guaranteed me a spot,” Baca said. “Now I am trying to lose 20 or 30 pounds and get in real good shape. I need to do a lot of cardio.”It doesn’t look like Baca will have long to shed the pounds as the shows producer, Janell Vela Smith, said she is nearing an agreement with “a major network.”Baca said the show is likely to be aired on a cable channel such as Spike TV or VH1, with filming beginning in August.The show will serve as an elimination-style competition, in which the contestants will spar using a variety of fighting styles and also complete in a series of other physical challenges. The one who walks away the winner will earn $100,000 and be offered a role in an upcoming “major action movie.”“Yeah, it’s always been a dream of mine,” Baca said of becoming an action star. “I’ve done small parts in a few movies. I was in Kickboxer 4 and I had a small part in a Disney movie called Wishbone, but I was real nervous when I did those. This time, when I went out and auditioned, I felt a lot more comfortable.”At 40, Baca has managed to get over stage-fright, but an even more daunting task may be ahead of him in a competition that will feature fighters almost half his age.“I feel confident. I have a lot of experience that those young guys don’t have,” said Baca, who currently resides in Borger, Texas. “There is one other guy my age and most of the others are in their 20s. There are also some girls on the show, and they can kick even higher than me.“But I am working real hard on my conditioning and my cardio. If they beat me it will because they are better than me, not because they are in better shape.”Along with his experience, Baca may have one other thing going for him: A loyal fan base made up of his many past and present students.“Most of them know about it,” Baca said. “They are pretty excited for me and they are cheering me on.”