Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Searching (The Courthouse) For Count Dante

Well, you gotta' hand it to Floyd Webb; he's getting his Black Belt in multiple diciplines: Film making, Chicago martial history, and copyright litigation.
Floyd has been diligently working on his film "The Search For Count Dante", about the enigmatic and ethically challenged Karate master of 1960's Chicago. A trailer for the movie can be found at the highlited passage above.
Dante (AKA John Keehan) captured the ideals of young martial artists across the country, by hawking his "Deadliest Fighting Secrets" booklet in the back of comic books. A picture of Dante and crew appears at the top of the Dojo Rat Blog, something I have been mildly threatened about (See "Of Dante And Dojo Rats").
In the course of filming the movie, Floyd has run into a great deal more than he anticipated. This includes elements of organized crime, military operatives, Voodoo Gurus, and charges of copyright infringement. It seems everybody wants a piece of the action, with generational family legacies hanging in the balence.
Floyd is currently in court, being challenged by William Aguiar jr. over the copyright for Dante images and effects, many of which had already appeared in the public domain.
The court case could be settled next week. For a complete update with details only Floyd can explain, drop on by Floyd's website at THIS LINK.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Buck Stops Here

Hunter Gets His Ass Kicked By Deer - Watch more free videos

Ha,ha-- I just had to put this one up...
I have a friend named Al. Al is strong as hell, wrestled on his college team and was also competitive in Judo. When he hangs sheetrock, it's a sight to behold-- Al is an "animal".
He's also an avid hunter. One night he and his girlfriend were driving to a party held at a clients house for the construction crew that had just completed their project. It's down a long gravel road crossing some swamps, and half-way down, there was a big Buck and a couple of Does standing in the middle of the road. Al inched the truck up till he was almost touching the Buck with his bumper, but the Deer wouldn't move.
Well, Al took off his wide-brimmed hat, got out and grabbed the buck by the antlers and tried to Bulldog it to the ground. Both animal and Al hit the gravel, locked in a death grip. His girlfriend, a beautiful and petite Thai girl, tried to help him, as the Bucks hooves kicked her shins (she showed me the cuts).
As he's telling me the story, I asked him "Al, what the hell did you think you were going to do? Pull out a knife and stab him or something"?
Al said all he could do was hang on. Eventually both animal and Al were exausted.
Me: What happened?
Al: I let him go.
Me: Was he hurt?
Al: His neck was pretty sore, and he staggered as he walked away.
So Al and his girlfriend got back in the truck and went to the party. Only Al had his pants completely torn off him and distroyed by the Buck kicking him. They had to ask the hostess if she could loan him something to wear for the party, and he would return it later.

--And that's how Al got that nice pair of pink sweatpants.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Dojo Rat Visits Mia St. John

Well, well, well... While prattling about the Internet, I found that not one, not two, but three Dojo Rat articles are on the Zimbo homepage of former Playboy model and womens boxing champion Mia St John.
Mia is a long-time Tae Kwon Do champion who turned to a successful boxing career, and looks like she may be looking for a little mixed martial art experiance.
Here's an interview with her:

And at one point she was courted by Hugh Hefner of Playboy, and not only appeared in the magazine, she was "The Cover Girl". Sorry I don't have those pictures for you-- but take a look at her second round in this fight; she has superior technique, better conditioning and totally kicks ass:

This one is for the Chicago boys out there, they've had a rough week or so (I'll explain later). I was going to save it for our monthly feature "Cute Hippie Chick Of The Month", but I think Mia might kick my ass if she didn't like to be put in that category.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Smile; You're NOT On Candid Camera!

Surveillance Camera Defense

Years ago, I resented computer technology because I precieved it to be a harbinger of a computer-driven Police State. Then I began to realize that if anybody is capeable of defeating a computer-driven Orwellian Police State, it's the Cyber-punks and young computer Gurus. Now I embrace the technology and have a great respect for citizen counter-measures.
Europeans are way ahead of Americans in the use of surveillance cameras. They are now using cameras that are monitored in real-time and have speakers in them that can shout out to citizens on the street and give them instructions.
With this going on, it didn't take long for someone to figure out a passive way to defeat these surveillance cameras. In a German article/press release at THIS LINK,(German) the device is profiled. It is worn headlamp-style, and because it is infrared it emits no visible light-- it only affects the cameras. Here is a picture of the device, with small battery pack:

And here is a portion of the article that has been translated from German by Google:
IR ASC - infrared light against surveillance cameras
( english ) IR.ASC [ iràs ] infra-redlight against surveillance camera (English) IR.ASC [iràs] infra-redlight against surveillance camera
Infrarotlicht gegen Überwachungskameras Infrared light against surveillance cameras

The URA / FILOART developed device promises to the citizens of a more reliable protection against security measures of the state (and other Überwachenden).. IR.ASC offers the safety and security has therefore to the asymmetry of power between the individual and Überwachenden.
In addition to monitoring purposes organised systems interaction between man and machine is still IR.ASC an additional interaction between machines dar. This absurd accumulation of technology is symptomatic, because although the entire expense of the protection measures for the alleged safety of citizens is made, the person slips on the importance scale of the current security plan ever deeper down.
IR.ASC ist ein Infrarotlicht - Gerät zum Abschirmen vor Infrarotüberwachungskameras. IR.ASC is an infrared light - to the device before Divining infrared surveillance cameras. Es kann ohne besonderes technisches Wissen von jedem nachgebaut werden. There is no special technical knowledge of each reconstructed. The device emits infrared light from the infrared images from surveillance cameras disturbs. The face of the person is monitored by a light ball over. IR.ASC Since the whole interaction in a non-visible spectrum (at frequencies between 780nm and 1mm), the man noticed nothing of it and he sees neither the infrared emission of radiation surveillance camera nor by the IR.ASC

(D.R.) Now I imagine that it won't take long for the authorities to deem these devises illegal, as to the possibility that they could be used in the commission of a crime. During the World Trade Organization protests in Seattle, the police outlawed gas masks in an effort to make protestors vulnerable to pepper spray.
When you outlaw gas masks, only outlaws will have gas masks.
What will they outlaw next?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Gangs Of New York

Back in our previous post- "Kung Fu Congressman", readers Hand2Hand and Scott are having a lively debate as to - believe it or not- the causes of the Civil War. H2H comments that "The average Yankee working stiff was forced to fight", which got me thinking about the movie "The Gangs of New York".
According to Wikipedia, the movie is based on Herbert Asbury's 1928 book by the same name. In it, we are introduced to "Bill The Butcher", played by knife-wielding Daniel Day-Lewis - Crime boss and political king-maker. The dark settings of poverty stricken immigrants scraping out a living in - literally "the underground", and the display of inner city violence reminds us that ghettos weren't just a modern social issue. The movie culminates in a bloody fight between "Nativists", those from old families born in the United States, against the mostly Irish immigrants. This happens at the same time that Draft Riots break out, protesting conscription into the Union Army. A huge three-way skirmish occurs, with Union Naval ships firing cannons into the crowds of knife and hatchet wielding gang fighters.
This is all based on actual draft riots that happened as depicted in the movie. There is a fantastic wikipedia entry about the riots which is very detailed at THIS LINK.
As in modern times, rich kids could either pay $300 to get out or get some other poor bastard to go fight for them. Kind of an early version of George Bush's "National Guard" service (flying martinis).
As in most out-of-control civic brawls, there was much looting and scapegoating, with poor blacks being targeted and killed also.
Can you imagine what would happen if a draft was proposed for an unpopular and likely illegal war/occupation such as today's Iraq debacle? And yet, with top Generals admiting that mismanagement has nearly destroyed the effectiveness of our fighting forces, Bush will dump the whole mess (occupation, economic recession, etc.) in the lap of the next administration.
Avoiding draft riots is one of the main reasons we are seeing the rise of private mercenary contractors such as those of Blackwater, which were already used in our country also, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast.
"The Gangs of New York" is a dark and frightening movie with solid historical roots, and a whole lot of knife fights-- it's well worth watching.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Re-post: Wild West UFC

** I thought it would be good to re-post this, on the heels of the story about Abraham Lincoln defeating Jack Armstrong in a well remembered wrestling match. The match was rough, but nothing like some of the old frontieer fights. Below is what I believe to be one of the most brutal made-for-tv fight scenes I have ever seen, and thanks to Scott from "Weakness With A Twist" for a piece of narrative he provided--

In a follow-up to my previous post on the UFC I thought it somewhat appropriate to run this video from HBO's excellent show "Deadwood". The background is a long-awaited fight between the enforcers for compeating intrests in the rapidly growing gold town of Deadwood, South Dakota. In this scene, Swearingen's man Dan Fights Hurst's man "The Captain", and it ain't pretty. If people can get beyond the murder, mayhem and non-stop swearing in this series, I highly reccomend it- it's available through netflicks.
The point of all this is this is how a real fight took place in the old days. My suggestion to all those UFC fans is that the UFC has rules because it is a sport. There can be no finger-locking, vital point or pressure point striking. There is a referee that can stop the fight.
Take a look at this post from Scott at "Weakness With A Twist". It describes a nearly similar fight that took place. Here's an excerpt:

The…sport of bragging and fighting was also introduced to the American backcountry, where it came to be called “rough and tumble.” ….it was a savage combat between two or more males (occasionally females), which sometimes left the contestants permanently blinded or maimed. A graphic description of “rough and tumble” came from the Irish traveler Thomas Ashe, who described a fight between a West Virginian and a Kentuckian. A croud gathered and arranged itself into an impromptu ring. The contestants were asked if they wished to “fight fair” or “rough and tumble.” When the chose “rough and tumble,” a roar of approval rose from the multitude. the two men entered the ring, and a few ordinary blows were exchanged in a tentative manner. Then suddenly the Virginian “contracted his whole form, drew his arms to his face,” and “pitched himself into the bosom of his opponent,” sinking his sharpened fingernails into the Kentuckian’s head. “The Virinain,” we are told, “never lost his hold…fixing his clows in his hair and his thumbs on his eyes, [he] have them a start from the sockets. The sufferer roared aloud, but uttered no complaint.” Even after the eyes were gouged out, the struggle continued. The Virginian fastened his teeth on the Kentuckian’s nose and bit it in two pieces. Then he tore off the Kentuckian’s ears. At last, the “Kentuckian, deprived or eyes, ears, and nose, gave in.” The victor, himself maimed and bleeding, was “chaired round the grounds,” to the cheers of the crowd.(p. 737)

So, for those that think UFC is the only way to test your fighting skills, there are a lot of techniques you are not training for...

Friday, February 15, 2008

Another Famous Illinois Martial Artist

OK you Chicago tough guys out there; Here's another famous martial artist from Illinois, this from The Bloomington South Wrestling Club:

The 16th President of the United States of America Abraham Lincoln was also a wrestler. Renowned for his wrestling skills was young Abraham Lincoln, who was the wrestling champion of his county as early as 1830, at the age of 21. Lincoln was an impressive physical specimen, thin but wiry and muscular, strengthened by hard work in the fields and towering to a mighty 6 feet, 4 inches in height. It was at this time that Lincoln had his celebrated bout with Jack Armstrong, the local tough and county wrestling champion. Lincoln was keeping the store at New Salem, Illinois, when his boss backed him to out-wrestle the feared Armstrong. From the start, Lincoln proceeded to hand out a thrashing to the local champion. Frustrated by Lincoln's enormous reach, Armstrong started fouling his opponent. Lincoln stood it for a while, but eventually lost his temper. Picking up his opponent, the storekeeper dashed him to the ground and knocked him out. Armstrong recovered in time to keep his cronies from starting a free-for-all. A couple of years later, while serving as captain of a company of the Illinois Volunteers, raised because of the Indian uprising by Black Hawk, Lincoln suffered his only recorded defeat in a wrestling bout. He fought a soldier from another unit and lost a rugged struggle by the odd fall. This time it was Lincoln who averted the free-for-all which seems of have been the customary follow-up to an individual wrestling bout. Often forsaking the ''common British'' style of collar and elbow for the free-for-all style of the frontier, Lincoln undoubtedly was the roughest and toughest of the wrestling Presidents. Also known as ''catch-as-catch-can,'' this style was more hand-to-hand combat than sport. Lincoln progressed rapidly between the ages of 19, when he defended his stepbrother's river barge from Natchez thugs, throwing the potential highjackers overboard, and 29, when he cautiously mentioned himself as possibly the second best wrestler in southern Illinois. Lincoln certainly did not achieve any national fame as a wrestler, but his career was typical of the way the sport was conducted in the first half of the 19th Century.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Kung Fu Congressman

Jesse Jackson Jr.

Well, after dumping a ton of weight, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., (D) Illinois, has reshaped himself into a dedicated Kung Fu practitioner. According to published reports, he has a tattoo with kanji that says "mind, body spirit", and has threatened to use his skills during a congressional skirmish.
Apparently during a debate on the floor of the house, an un-named Democrat stated "Republicans can't be trusted", To which Republican Lee Terry (pictured below) of Nebraska said "shut up". Allegedly, Jackson responded with "F-U"...

Lee Terry and Jesse Jackson in their sparring gear

As Terry was making his way across the floor, he told Jackson to get out of the way, and Jackson responded by asking Terry to step outside and settle it. As reported in the Washington Post:
"The consensus in Washington is that Jackson would have whupped Terry's butt. "It would have been Bruce Lee vs. Pillsbury Dough Boy," one congressional aide told the Post."
For a slide show of Jackson, his instructor and fellow students in action, check out this slide show, it's pretty good!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Was Obama's Tae Kwon Do Scrubbed From The Internet?

Let me begin by saying I am a very strong supporter of Senator Barack Obama's bid to become the next President of the United States. I certainly do not intend this post to be critical of his campaign, I merely find it a curiousity.
Here's the scoop: It appears Obama's campaign may have scrubbed his Tae Kwon Do training from the Internet.
Sometime last year I was reading a martial arts news website, and was suprised to see that Senator Obama was training in Tae Kwon Do. I have to say, it suits him well; he appears very atheletic and has the lean, tall build of a long-range kicker. The article I read included a brief interview with his instructor, who described him as "an average" student, but very dedicated to his training.
I took a mental note of the article at the time, thinking it would be good to revisit as the election year developed.
So both yesterday and today, I have searched Google for that article or any other article that describes Senator Obama's training, to no avail.
There was only one single reference to the subject, one line in this Washington Post gossip column, by Mary Ann Akers -who if I'm not mistaken also runs the political blog "Wonkette".
Akers states "Obama took Tae Kwon Do at the swanky East Bank Health Club in Chicago", and that "his campaign declined to comment on the Senator's Tae Kwon Do"...
I could not find another single reference, and even the link provided in Aker's article had been scrubbed.
Now this got me thinking; why the effort to conceal the fact that Obama, who is extremely popular and doing very well in the primary election process, is a martial artist?
One thing that may be a factor is that Obama went to school in Indonesia when he was around nine-years-old. The Republicans have siezed on this pre-teen era, and the fact that Obama's middle name is "Hussein", to promote vicious, false rumors that Obama is a Muslim. (Not that it matters what Obama's faith is, but he has gone to the same Christian church for nearly twenty years). Viral Republican e-mails are spreading this propaganda arcoss America at his very minute, and several Federal employees are being prosecuted for using government computers to help propagate this myth. Perhaps Obama's campaign thinks the martial artist thing can somehow be confused with the Indonesian Muslim falsehood.
Another thing that is possible is that it may be an effort to protect his Tae Kwon Do instructor or the school itself, which may choose to remain neutral in the Presidential campaign. Yet another possibility is that Obama's family may still be involved with the school, and it is for their protection.
As stated above, I am an Obama supporter, and would be proud to view him as a martial artist. Perhaps after this exceedingly lengthy election has played out, we'll hear more about it.

Coming up next: One Bad-Ass Kung-Fu Congressman...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Tacos, Beer, And Push Hands

Yang Chen-Fu in Classic Ward-Off Position

People react in various ways when they find out you are a practicing martial artist. Some are curious and ask questions. Some keep their distance and never talk about it.
Now, I have to say, I live on "The Island Of Lost Boys", a rural "Never-Never-Land" of guys that have arrested development from their skateboard era, and others that work hard labor in the field and construction industries. Beer-fueled rowdiness is the name of the game. I've been at parties where someone will come up and grab you around the neck and see how you react, and events like this can be interesting opportunities to try out a spontaneous technique or two.
Such was the case at the last Super Bowl party I was at. Our local tavern hosted a gig with free tacos, hot wings and the works. I personally have no interest in football. I didn't even see one play of the game, could care less. But free tacos?
At some point, I walked to the restroom to make room for more beer. I washed my hands, opened the door, and was looking back at the wastebasket as I tossed the paper towel away. Little did I know, a big dufus guy I know was waiting for me outside the door. He yelled and jumped toward me, to see how I would react I assume.
Naturally, I was startled at first. I felt myself draw back, puting some space between us. But then, in a completely natural and unrehearsed manor, my right arm rose into the Tai Chi Chuan "peng", or "ward-off" position, against his chest. My left palm was directly below the ward-off, pushing against his belly. At that instance, I had siezed his "center", and began pushing him backwards. As he flailed his arms trying to regain his balence, I slightly re-positioned and steered him directly through the door and into the WOMENS restroom a few paces away. The bar erupted in cheers and the beer flowed.
There were several things I learned from this experiance:
First, If this had been an unfamiliar bar, it could have been someone blindsiding me (which happened once before) or whacking me with a pool cue. On friendly turf, I had let my guard down.
Second, practicing push-hands gives you a distinct advantage in beer-fueled shoving matches.
But most importantly, I realized how we react to this as described by my Tai Chi Chuan instructor, Michael Gilman. At first, when startled, I pulled back slightly and sunk into my lower dantien, in the lower belly. Gilman teaches this is where our animal instincts reside, our raw reactions are centered there. Then, I raised my arm into ward-off and made contact. This is where the energy has moved into the heart dantien, our interaction with others resides there. And finally, when I realized I had fully siezed his center, the energy had risen to my dantien at the third eye location in my forehead. This is where our intelect and spirituality resides.
Amazingly, I actually felt the subtle transitions between these stages of energy and contact, something I may have experianced before, but did not rationalize. I'm still mulling it over, and it may change the way I approach my practice.
And finally--
Lesson learned: Never let your guard down!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Review: "Stick Fighting" --By Hatsumi and Chambers

I have always loved the study of the stick as a weapon; they can vary in length and heft, are common enough to be carried in public and are devastatingly effective.
My preference however, is not for the all-popular Fillipino arnis-type systems (for better or worse), but for the more traditional kobudo.
In their book "Stick Fighting", Masaaki Hatsumi and Quintin Chambers outline techniques of the Kukishin Ryu in a very readable and traditional format. Printed in 1971, this book predates Hatsumi's fame as the man who brought the art of the Ninja to the public at large. There are no masked attackers or exotic weapons. This is straightfoward stick-in-your-face stuff, with Hatsumi in the traditional "Hakama" clothing.
The book deals with weapons of different lengths: The "Hanbo"- a walking stick about four feet long, another at appx. 12 inches (which is based on techniques of the Tessen, or folding iron fan), and my favorite, the "Edda Coppo", a pocket stick.
People who train with weapons such as the Aikido Jo staff will enjoy seeing the variations of techniques with the shorter length sticks. The Hanbo is easily transferable to a cane, umbrella or walking stick, and one thing I love about this book is that it's focus is on neutralization, grappling and control techniques rather than striking. This is where it may be of value to security and law enforcement individuals.
The unique aspect they present is the use of the "Eda Cappo", or pocket stick. Rather than some technique like driving a pencil through an attackers skull, this book shows thoughtful nerve strikes, bone crushing and joint manipulation with the pocket stick. Readers that have followed the Dojo Rat Blog may remember that my favorite pocket weapon is one of those big, squarish carpenter pencils. Don't even sharpen them, it just puts holes in your pockets-- but it is a nearly perfect improvised weapon. The length is slightly longer than a man's hand, and it has hard edges that can dig into the opponent's joints using techniques as described in the book.
It's nice to see Hatsumi in a traditional setting, sans- Ninja garb. I highly recommend the book to traditional weapons enthusiasts, especially those familiar with the Aikido Jo staff.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Finally! February Cute Hippie Chick Of The Month!

Ok, let's get this out of the way -- Yes, it's the February "Cute Hippie Chick Of The Month"... A Brazilian beach bunny demonstrates some --Snake Style??

As I got my system up and running I realized I had mistakenly added a comment moderation function for no reason at all. Here I was, all lonely with nobody to comment back to for weeks. I'm such a bonehead... I found all the comments you have been sending and published them to the posts you all wrote in on. I will be reading them over the next few days, and I have now disabled the moderation feature so all comments will once again be posted as you write them.
I'm back on my feet and am planning some new and interesting posts, thanks for checking in!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

What I Did While My Computer Was On Vacation

Greetings fellow Dojo Rats, I'm Baaacckk!...(I think).
Old computer: Dead
New computer: Still growing up and learning. Be patient, this scene is not quite together yet.
--But just as the Kanji for "Crisis" is the same Kanji for "Opportunity", we must look for the bright side of every disaster and grow from it.
Here's a few things I did while my computer was on vacation:

1. Played my guitar, ukes, banjo, and even dusted off the mandolin. I had more time to practice and learn new songs. My wife loved it for the first twenty minutes, then probably wished I had a computer.
2. I became a "Soils Engineer". I have 750 feet of open trench for my water, power and phone lines to our building site. We dug it two weeks ago with a trencher. Then we had to clean the trench by hand, as the rains caved it in everywhere. Then we had a snowstorm, and the ground remained frozen for another week. Last weekend I finally got the rest of the lines in the ground and as of today I am awaiting for the inspector to show up. Umm, mud...
3. Did a little more reading on a couple of martial arts-related books that I intend to review on Dojo Rat.
4. Got to the work jobsites on time. It drove my employees crazy.

So, despite being away from the Net for a while, it was somewhat refreshing and gave me somthing to look foward to when I got the new computer hooked up. Nothing is quite set up correctly yet, but I'm back with new posts later this week!