Tony Jaa aka Panom Yirum (born February 5, 1976) is a Thai film actor, specializing in martial arts films, choreographer, stuntman, and film director. Panom Yirum was born in northern Thailand, in Surin province bordering Cambodia. As a child, Tony Jaa watched action movies with Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li, and, imitating his idols, he himself began to practice martial arts, especially Thai boxing. His parents were engaged in breeding elephants and selling them. His parents named their son Pan Yirum. At age 15 he became a student of the famous Thai stuntman and martial arts director Panna Rittikrai. Panom attended a physical education college in Maha Saraham province, where he studied a variety of martial arts, from taekwondo to judo.Tony Jaa became a stuntman for Panna Rittikrai's team. Rittikrai and Yirum developed an interest in the ancient style of muay boran, from which modern muay Thai originated. After several years of training, a short film was made in which Panom Yirum (Tony Jaa) demonstrated all his abilities. This film interested director and producer Prachia Pinkayu, who together with Rittikrai started to make a film with Pan Yirum (Tony Jaa) in the title role. Panom Yirum is a popular Thai film star who has risen both locally and in the Hollywood firmament. The unknown young man managed to get to fame thanks to his skills of vaulting his own body to perfection! His movies caught the attention of his hero, Jackie Chan, who asked director Brett Ratner to have Jha star in Rush Hour 3. However, Jha said he would not be able to participate because of his film Ong Buck 2. On May 28, 2010, Tony Jaa became a Buddhist monk at the Buddhist Temple in Surin, Thailand. Leaving the monastery came as a surprise to everyone and Tony Jha accepted a deal with the Sahamongkol film company. Tony Jaa never uses safety ropes or computer graphics in his work. He believes that the biggest influence on him was Bruce Lee's acting.