Like many Hawaii actors who have played villains on “Hawaii Five-0,” Egan Inoue is a juxtaposition in terms.
Inoue has all the physical attributes needed to play Wo Fat’s bodyguard, as he did in the season two opener, “Haʻiʻole.” And with a resume rich with martial arts experience and training, he looks and acts like a hired mercenary.
Yet no matter what you have read or heard about Inoue, he is a family man, dedicated trainer and MMA practitioner, as well as someone devoted to staying mentally and physically strong though martial arts.
After spending time at Egan’s Training Center in Mānoa and talking to Inoue about his life and his fighting career, I found most may know about him because he trains Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Yet there is so much more to Inoue than just being a trainer to the stars of “Hawaii Five-0.”
Inoue is a self-proclaimed “Mānoa boy,” growing up in the same valley where his training center sits today. He attended Roosevelt High School, then moved to the University of Hawaii Lab School to play baseball. He attended the University of Hawaii at Mānoa until he decided to chase his dreams. He became a professional racquetball player, traveling more than a million miles to play and compete in a sport where he was International Racquetball Federation World Champion in 1986 and 1990.
After his 10-year career in racquetball, he went on to pursue another love, Brazilian jiu-jitsu. In 1996 and 1997 he became the World Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Champion and now holds a third degree black belt in the sport. He also holds black belts in Tae Kwon Do, Hapkido, Shotokan Karate, Jeet Kun Do and Japanese Jiu Jitsu, as well as a brown belt in Judo.
Inoue said when practicing jiu-jitsu, it is “all within yourself.”
“In other sports, you’re always comparing yourself to others around you, but if you can stay within your game and keep a clear mind, that is the most important thing in any competition. You always want to stay centered and balanced,” he said.
Inoue himself is a former professional mixed martial arts fighter with five world championship titles. He said his style is mostly based on boxing training he received at Kalakaua Gym (some of his training was with my great-uncle Peter Jhun), Muy Thai kickboxing, and Greco Roman/Freestyle wrestling that he learned from UFC fighter Randy Couture, not to mention years of martial arts training and discipline.
While he no longer trains MMA fighters, he will train those who come through his jiu-jitsu ranks. Inoue currently runs Egan’s Fit Body Bootcamp and Grappling Unlimited out of his Mānoa Training Center and holds classes at gyms in Kailua, Waipio and at the Downtown YMCA. He not only takes pride in his training center and the people he trains, but also has a strong sense of family and self. Inoue has five children, ranging from one year to 16 years old, and his wife Marcia is also very active in the running of his training center.
Everything in life is “a journey,” said Inoue.
“Whether you are learning jiu-jitsu or taking a bootcamp class or MMA, it’s all about the journey. Where you came from and where you are going,” he said.
When I asked Inoue about his time on “Hawaii Five-0,” he said he had been up for a different role, but after being asked to read a few lines he was given the bigger role of Wo Fat’s bodyguard. While his character didn’t have a name, he was seen in several key scenes with stars Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park. In his opening scene with Kim and Mark Dacascos, who plays Wo Fat, he was surprised Kim asked for advice on how he would handle a “surprise attack.” Inoue used his instinctive martial arts training to figure out a quick move that he could teach Kim to use in the scene, which was used in the final cut.
Inoue said working with Grace Park in two scenes was also very memorable as she would joke with him, often fixing his tie and his coat in between shots so he could maintain his slick henchman look. Park even stayed in the scene with him so he could deliver his line, “You won’t shoot, you’re a cop.”
Park could have let her stand-in finish the scene, but she said, “No, I want to stay here for Egan, I’m going to help him,” as the scene probably would have played differently for Inoue without her there to help him maintain his character. Inoue also said he played the ninja who broke into McGarrett’s house and stole the box in “Ke Kinohi” in season one.
“I joked with some fans that I know what’s in the Champ Box,” he said. Alas, Inoue was not allowed to share any more information.
For Inoue, training O’Loughlin and Caan is like working with anyone else.
“I don’t treat them any differently,” he said. “They are human and the jiu-jitsu skill is the same.”
He did say that when they have especially hard weeks they usually want to take time to train more and often call Inoue to carve out time so they can train with him. He said O’Loughlin really enjoys training and Inoue will even text him jiu-jitsu ideas to remember and focus on when shooting is especially hectic.
Today, June 4, is Inoue’s birthday, and in honor of his special day he’ll be sending out a birthday workout as a gift to everyone. He said he’s “thankful and grateful” for all the things fans and followers have done for him, so look for his birthday workout on his Facebook page or follow him on Twitter.
Redux Side Note:
CBS is starting to get viewers prepared for the upcoming “Hawaii Five-0” move to Friday nights. This week’s episode was “Hāʻawe Make Loa,” with guest appearances by Rumer Willis, C. Thomas Howell, several Victoria Secret models, and Hawaii actress Z Zoccolante. Fridayʻs episode is “Kahu,” with special guests George Takei and Lew Temple of “The Walking Dead.”
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher who lives and works in Honolulu. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.
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Wendie great interview! Very interesting facts I haven’t heard about Egan wonderful I think I did hear he was the ninja who stole the champ box but cant remember but thanks for reminding us again 🙂
Egan you are so down to earth I notice a few of your stuff on H50 and I have seen some of your workout videos on YT and the pics you really do work hard and sharing your pics and videos of Alex I love keep them coming! Like Alex said he didn’t look very fit 2 years ago but look at him now he looks amazing and us fans can’t thank you enough.
Thanks for reading and commenting Nardia;) It was fun to talk with Egan and hear about his H50 experience as well as his work with Alex and Scott. Such a pleasure to be able to have interviewed Egan. Aloha, Wendie
It’s so funny how Five-0 manages to get the sweetest guys to play the bullies on the show. Mark D and Egan are the sweetest men. I absolutely despise exercise but if I had someone like Egan to motivate me every day I’m sure I’d feel differently about it. Looks like his classes are NEVER boring and I don’t mean because Alex and Scott are in them! LOL
Thanks again Wendie for another glimpse of Five-0 behind the scenes. I just love knowing more about the wonderful people in front of and behind the camera! Mahalo sistah!
Linda- you should try his workout- I just did his bootcamp this morning and I’m not going to lie- it was hard- but really rewarding. I’m going back tomorrow! 😀 It was great to hear about Alex and Scott using Egan’s training to handle the stress of H50 in a positive way. It was so fun to talk with Egan. And to know he was trained by my Uncle Peter was even more special:) Thanks for reading and commenting! Aloha, Wendie
Happy Birthday to Egan! Seems like an all around nice guy and inspirational to those around him. May he have many more wonderful birthdays to come. 🙂
Thanks for reading and commenting Ess and for posting this on your H50BAMF Tumblr:) Aloha, Wendie
Thanks for this interview! Since I am connecting to Egan on Facebook ( Like) I often received some of his training exercises by e- mail ( short videos). Those are great and interesting. ( I train myself on a regular basis for at least 7 hours a week ; MMA training, muay thai etc…);
You will love this- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-hp6NA95VM&feature=youtu.be
It’s Egan’s Birthday present to you:) And check out his ebook special http://mmabodyweightworkouts.com you might like that too:) Thanks for reading and commenting. Aloha, Wendie
Thank you even if I received this one by e-mail this morning! I enjoyed reading you. My family and I visited Hawai in february 2009 and we enjoyed it!
I did these today- and they are a killer. I couldn’t even hang all the way through. Hope you try/tried the workout and enjoyed:) Aloha!
I did not try this one yet. I do so many things at the gym but sometimes I share Egan videos with my trainers on facebook . Maybe we will do some of these workout. Bye, I am going to the gym…
Great article, thank you!!!!!
Thanks for reading! Aloha, Wendie
Great article, Wendie! I knew Egan was in the S2 premier, but I couldn’t mentally place him! You solved the mystery for me!
I’ve been following Egan on Facebook, and he seems like such a sweet, genuine human being! Love to watch his little videos and if I was younger, I’d love to follow his regimens!
Wishing Egan a wonderful birthday, and thanks, Wendie for keeping the blogs coming during the summer!
Thanks for reading and commenting, Lynnette:) You’re the best:) Egan is fantastic and his training is hard but rewarding. Thanks for your support;) Aloha, Wendie
Thanks for one more great article, Wendie! Egan seems such a sweet guy but as a trainer, I’d bet he is hard to handle! And don’t you just love how wonderfully Alex speaks of all his friends and collegues! Summer greetings from Greece! ♥
Aloha Tula! Thanks for reading and commenting:) Egan is really great and I haven’t taken a class from him, but I’ve watched his workouts and I think you are right:) But at least we’d know that we’d be in good hands. Thanks for the support:) XO Wendie
Thanks, Wendie. I knew Egan was familiar and now I remember the episode he was in. It’s interesting how the actors help each
other to improve their performance to make the show better.
So true, Ed! Thanks for reading and commenting;) Aloha, Wendie
Thanks Wendie. I always enjoy your personal touch into H50 stories. Good job.
Thanks for reading Brenda:) And for commenting;) Aloha, Wendie
Thank you for this additional background material. It helps to understand not only the ep, but how the actors prepare for it. Thanks also for your “summer school” reports when the series is not new on TV.
Thanks Paul:) I hope that you all will enjoy the posts I have planned for this summer:) Mahalo nui for reading and commenting. Aloha, Wendie