Sunday, August 14, 2016

Sore Loser At The Olympics

The following is a story taken from a news report dated 8/12/16:

Israeli judoka Or Sasson defeated Egyptian rival Islam El Shahaby in the first round of the men’s over-100kg competition at the Rio Games on Friday, and was left standing when his opponent refused to shake his hand at the end of the match.

In judo it is customary to both bow to opponents — a sign of respect in Japan — and shake hands after a bout is over.

El Shehaby had been well beaten but stood impassively and then backed away as Sasson tried to shake his hand.

As he left the mat area, El Shehaby was called back to the center by the referee to bow.

But he was then loudly jeered out of the arena by angry supporters.

He later announced he was quitting judo.

The story resonates with the long history of social, political and religious schism in the Middle East. Many are defending the actions of the Egyptian, claiming he received heavy criticism online for "shaming his faith and nation" for merely competing with an Israeli at the Games. A handshake at the end of a match is not mandatory.

Sadly, disrespect is nothing new in martial arts events at the Olympics. At the 2008 Games in Beijing, a competitor received a lifetime ban from the World Taekwondo Federation after he kicked a referee in the head, pushed a judge and then spat on the floor before being ejected by security. Of course, while the recent tale lacks the blatant violence of this one, it's indicative of the lack of dignity and self-control in the face of defeat.

Jigaro Kano (1860-1938), the founder of judo, sought early on to include judo as an Olympic event. He died before his dream was realized at the 1964 Games in Tokyo. We need not imagine what the master would have thought of what happened this past Friday in Rio. In his words:

Judo should be free as art and science from any external influences, political, national, racial, and financial or any other organized interest. And all things connected with it should be directed to its ultimate object, the benefit of humanity.

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Sunday, May 15, 2016

Have Kung-fu Weapons — Will Travel

Somebody was caught about a week ago (5/7) trying to get through security at LaGuardia Airport in New York with a cache of martial arts weapons that he must have been saving for the coming civil war, the apocalypse, or maybe his ex-wife. He had some collection. Really, what was this nut thinking?

The unnamed New Haven, Connecticut resident was arrested after being stopped by Transportation Security Administration officers at the airport’s check-in area on Saturday.

Several martial arts weapons described as deadly, including three throwing knives, a traditional throwing star, expandable throwing star, as well as a dagger were located after the officers detected weapons among his carry-on items, TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said in a statement.

Expandable throwing star. That thing is more than half-a-foot in diameter. How about that! Does it return to you like a boomerang? In kobudo arts which are taught alongside of Okinawan karate, weapons are rarely thrown. I want to keep my weapons close to me, but not when I'm traveling abroad. Daggers and throwing stars are definitely frowned upon by the TSA.

For the curious, here's the TSA's list of self-defense items that could get you thrown in the pokey if you try boarding a jumbo jet with them. (Click the "self defense" tab if you visit the site.) Note that these may get you through a checking area, but not as a carry-on.

The final decision rests with the TSA officer on whether an item is allowed through the checkpoint.
  • Billy Clubs
  • Black Jacks
  • Brass Knuckles
  • Kubatons
  • Martial Arts Weapons
  • Night Sticks
  • Nunchucks
  • Self Defense Sprays:
  • One 4 fl. oz. (118 ml) container of mace or pepper spray is permitted in checked baggage provided it is equipped with a safety mechanism to prevent accidental discharge. Self-defense sprays containing more than 2 percent by mass of tear gas (CS or CN) are prohibited in checked baggage. For more information, visit
  • Stun Guns/Shocking Devices
  • Throwing Stars
Any sharp objects in checked baggage should be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury to baggage handlers and Security Officers.

In the meantime, happy traveling!

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Friday, April 01, 2016

Serious Question From A Reader

Yesterday I received an email from someone who follows my blog. In it, he asks a question that has been posed to me in various guises through the years. Here's part of it, followed by my reply:

So I rented this movie the other night about Ip Man, the wing chun master. You know who he was? BRUCE LEE'S @#$%ING KUNG FU TEACHER!! Ip Man was badder than Donald Trump. Anyway there's a part in the movie where he uses his wing chun kungfu to demolish 10 black belt fighters all at once! How badass is that! It looked pretty real but I wanted to know if this is even possible. Cause I want to do that $#!t to some people I know. They have it coming, don't worry, and these punks ain't no black belts anyway. Let me know as soon as possible. Thanx, Timmy

Yes Timmy, it is possible to beat 10 Black Belts® like that, or anyone else for that matter. Actually, I do it all the time. You see, in karate and many other systems of martial arts we have solo exercises handed down through antiquity that used to be taught in secret, known as kata ― which is Japanese for "The Dance of Death." Check out this diagram of an old time karate master demonstrating a kata:

And that's all you need to know about facing multiple assailants in a crisis. Because it's common knowledge in the martial arts community that kata was created to beat the daylights out of numerous thugs simultaneously. Now go get some kata DVDs and study them at home Timmy, and get back to me when you get out of the hospital beat the hell out of those damn troublemakers. Good luck!


Sunday, March 13, 2016

Bearing The Storm

There is something to be learned from a rainstorm. When meeting with a sudden shower, you try not to get wet and run quickly along the road. But doing such things as passing under the eaves of houses, you still get wet. When you are resolved from the beginning, you will not be perplexed, though you will still get the same soaking. This understanding extends to everything.

― Tsunetomo Yamamoto


Saturday, March 05, 2016

Cashier vs. Gun-Toting Punk

I'm not a big fan of gun disarm techniques for obvious reasons. A while back I posted about a murder trial that involved Chuck Norris testifying for the defense, demonstrating how to disrupt a gun wielder.

This past week, a cashier working at a convenience store in Georgia (US) thwarted a 17-year-old robber brandishing a gun. Bhumika Patel was ringing up the youth's purchase of soda when he flashes a gun in her face. Attempting to slap the weapon away, she hits him over the head with the cash drawer and then promptly chases him out of the store with a hammer. The suspect was caught later. Christian Thornton faces charges of armed robbery, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during a crime. Check out the video here.

Everyone is hailing her as a hero. I think she's more crazy than heroic. I'm guessing this was not her first rodeo — who knows how many times this store has been robbed or shoplifted — but this could have ended tragically very easily.

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Thursday, December 31, 2015

What Would You Do?

Into a soul absolutely free

From thoughts and emotion,

Even the tiger finds no room

To insert its fierce claws

— A Taoist Priest, from the opening pages of Tao of Jeet Kune Do, by Bruce Lee.

While doing research for an article it happened that I got sidetracked by another blogger's post, in addition to an unrelated but relevant news report. So for now, I feel compelled to bring you a lesson in dojo etiquette and managing one's impulses out into the real world. A Karate Man Would Not is the fictional tale about a young trainee who is exhorted by his master to temper his relationships with others outside of the training hall. The master, in typical fashion, is not very direct about how one should exactly approach this, hoping that the student will get it on his own with minimal prodding. Without giving too much away, the story focuses on how to remain cool when challenged in a non-physical way. Easy in theory. Not so easy when it really goes down.

Case in point: A man confronts a group of people protesting a fracking project taking place near public schools in Mars, Pennsylvania. Clearly spoiling for a fight, the antagonist lets loose with a barrage of insults and insinuates that the camera man is somehow responsible for "milking my tax dollars" (to say nothing of the fact that oil companies are entitled to billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies, but I digress) because citizens have apparently little better things to do than to worry about natural gas drilling where they live.

Please watch this to the end. Examine your inner state as you view this.

DISCLAIMER: Profane and racist language

I don't know about you, but my initial viewing of this left me feeling like I wanted to put my foot through a wall. The fact that this is an environmental issue, or about free speech, or that this idiot ended up getting fired from his job because his boss saw this now-viral clip on YouTube is besides the point. The peaceful group were for the most part unfazed by this verbal attack. There's no doubt they harbored some fear, and for good reason. Realize that this guy felt that he held the moral high ground with this tirade.

Who among us could remain poised in the face of such a vicious verbal barrage? In the past I've written about honor and a real life tale of what happens when self-restraint fails. Whether your reaction is one of fear or that of anger, it should not dictate how you respond. As Musashi said, "In fighting and in everyday life you should be determined through calm. Meet the situation without tenseness yet not recklessly, your spirit settled yet unbiased. An elevated spirit is weak and a low spirit is weak. Do not let the enemy see your spirit."

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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Rousey vs. Holm: My Two Cents

This post begins with an admission: I am, at best, a casual fan of mixed martial arts. By now, any real MMA fan has heard that Ronda Rousey, the UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion, was defeated last night (Sat., Nov. 14, 2015) by a relative unknown — Holly Holm. So the following is my naïve understanding of a sport that I really don't follow closely, and it is with this neophytic perspective (along with my actual knowledge of karate, among other things) that I'll weigh in.

Nobody gave Holm a chance. She was regarded as mere cannon fodder for the indestructible machine that the undefeated Rousey has been portrayed as, and justifiably so. Her last three bouts have lasted an average of 22 seconds each! An adept striker, Rousey's real forte is judo, as she earned a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympics.

Witness the second and final round of the match. Rousey is forced out of her comfort zone of close quarter grappling by Holm's strategy of maintaining a healthy distance. Holm, a southpaw and a former professional boxer and kickboxer, repeatedly lands crushing left crosses against Rousey's unprotected face. Note the sweet slip Holm gives Rousey at 4:28. The coup de grâce was a brutal round kick to the neck by Holm.

Holm's transition from boxing to MMA may be wiser than she realizes. MMA has been shown to be less injurious than boxing.

Some thoughts I've held for a while, but culminated with this match:

  • Many fights don't end up as a ground-and-pound wrestling match.
  • MMA is not merely sportive head bashing, but a highly technical art that deserves respect.
  • Women in MMA can be as popular as their male counterparts.
  • The idea that competitive fighters of any stripe are heartless thugs that lack empathy is largely a myth.

The golden age of women's MMA has begun. Indeed, MMA in general is here to stay. Anyone who thinks otherwise is sadly mistaken.

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