KT:Unrefined bullies and thugs

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Sep 11, 2006
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Unrefined bullies and thugs
By Mills Crenshaw - 01-28-2009 05:33 PM
Originally Posted at: KenpoTalk


I don&#8217;t want to part company leaving a false impression. One respondent implied that I was miffed and was going to &#8220;&#8230;take my ball and go home.&#8221; Nothing could be further from the truth. I meant it when I said I had respect for Bob Hubbard and what he has achieved. I also meant it when I said that house rules should be respected. I just have a different perspective on what Kenpo is about. I&#8217;m not saying that other perspectives are wrong; I&#8217;m just saying I was trained differently. Let me give a specific example.

SGM Ted Sumner (San Jose Kenpo &#8211; Tracy System&#8212;a man for whom I have profound respect) and I had some private correspondence regarding the &#8220;good old days.&#8221; He brought up the July 1977 article in Karate Illustrated in which the fighters of that era were derisively described as &#8220;unrefined.&#8221; (The avatar I chose is a shot of my fight in a tournament referenced in that article). As I thought about our discussion it seemed that some of the thoughts might be worthy of discussion with other serious Kenpo practitioners. Particularly in view of the trends in competition which seem to be shifting martial arts training in the direction of a highly stylized sport and more of a growing social organization rather than a brotherhood (and sisters of course) of warriors.

The article in Karate Illustrated came as no surprise. The editors of many of the Martial arts magazines are from "traditional" Japanese styles. Through the years I watched many of their tournaments where-in one of "their" players got knocked on his backsides by someone from a different style, only to have the point disallowed because the technique was not properly "focused" or their posture wasn't quite correct or their mouth wasn't held just right. Finally I decided that such tournaments were a waste of time. The tournament officials weren&#8217;t scoring based on the probable outcome of the combat; they were looking only for the &#8220;proper style&#8221; from their school&#8217;s point of view. The editors were right. Those of us in competition weren&#8217;t &#8220;couth&#8221; enough. In the early days on the streets of Honolulu they would have called us &#8220;brallas&#8221; (brawlers). Gosh, we were fighting as though we wanted to kill somebody. Shame! Shame on us!

Nope, we just weren't refined enough. They considered us nothing but Unrefined Bullies and Thugs. Nevertheless, Joe Lewis, or Mike Stone or Tom Kelly or Tony Martinez or Bill "Super foot" Wallace or any of Ed Parker&#8217;s early Black Belts for that matter, could drop anyone they faced without breaking a sweat. Isn't it wonderful to see how refined the art has become?

In fencing (where I got my start in the martial arts) we were taught to "touch without being touched," NEVER FORGETTING the consequences if the combat was for real. I fear that, for too many participants, the martial arts have become a stylized form of sport. They see it as a game to be judged on style points rather than a life and death struggle between the quick and the dead.

Here is where my problem arises. I see a parallel in the political world. Politics has become a game. The only thing that's important, to the public at large, is for the right (left) party to win. Never mind what happens to the country or our children or our children's children. To quote a very wise man, &#8220;God help us.&#8221; Time is too short and the risks to our freedom are too great for me spend time in PC chats about style and technique when the very purpose of Learning Kenpo is studiously ignored.

Because I do respect Bob Hubbard and the house rules he has established, I realize it is my obligation to step aside and leave the polite conversation to those who enjoy playing by those rules. I will take a peek, from time to time, to see how you&#8217;re doing; but while the forces of tyranny are gathering I just don&#8217;t have time for the tea cup and doily version of martial arts discussion. I have great respect for those of you who do.

Mills Crenshaw


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