By: Albert Miller – Ask yourself: why do you follow, study, or support the martial arts? For me, it was the idea of men and women being able to do things that complete defy the laws of physiology, like a super hero. When I was in elementary school, a teacher (and resident Tang Soo Do instructor) would put on a demonstration every year, and I loved it. If I think long and hard about it, I think I owe just as much to that teacher as I do to Jean-Claude Van Damme to spark my interest in the martial arts.
This past week, I had a martial arts myth from my youth come charging back into my consciousness; that myth got me thinking about others ones that I had heard, and eventually I had my Friday 5ive for this week. That’s right, we’re counting down five Martial Arts Urban Legends and hopefully bring some understanding into the wild times known as Twenty-Sixteen.
Note: This is an open invitation to email us with martial arts urban legends that you may have heard, we will do our best to investigate them and present them for further installments of the Friday 5ive. Send your feed back and legends to CageNationTV@Gmail.Com.
Disclaimer: This is a list that I’ve assembled, and is in no way definitive.
No. 5: The One Inch Punch – The “Kill Bill” movies were brilliant in my opinion; I run the risk of appearing pretentious even saying so. In the movie, Uma Thurman is buried alive and she is running out of oxygen; in order to accomplish that goal, she must punch through the casket using very little room. Now, as fantastic as that sounds, it’s not that far off. In fact, it’s so easily demonstrated, that it didn’t make it that high on the list. I was standing in the 105.9 QWiK Rock studios, talking to Tyson from Mo Valley Paranormal (http://www.movalleyparanormal.com) and he offers to demonstrate the one inch punch. That moment was one where I began to question whether or not my mother had been drinking while she was pregnant with me; I said “sure.” Tyson is not a tiny dude; while training Muay Thai, he made regular practice of breaking baseball bats with his bare shin. Why didn’t anyone talk me out of this? He says “wait here,” grabs a phone book and makes me hold it to my chest. Using his superior-to-Albert’s body mechanics, he hit me with a force that drove wind from my lungs and my ass to the nearby couch. Clearly, there was something to the technique. Depending on who you ask will depend on what answer of the technique’s origin comes from. In a Western sense, we can thank Bruce Lee and Jeet Kune Do for the main stream attention; of course, Jeet Kune Do was developed on a lot of different theories, including Gung-Fu. If you’re willing to dig, I’m sure you could trace it back to ancient Chinese origin. For the sake of proving the claim, here is a video of Bruce Lee himself performing the One Inch Punch.
No. 4: The Iron Shirt / Iron Palm – Apparently, I am just now realizing how much TV has completely warped my ideas of Martial Arts. This legend came into my collective knowledge thanks to the TV show “Kung Fu: The Legend Continues” starring David Carradine (who also starred in Kill Bill). The idea behind the Iron Shirt / Iron Palm, at least in the show, was that a person could be so in control of their energy that no point or blade could harm them. The reason that this concept didn’t land further up the list was because there are actual mixed martial artist who practice the “iron appendage” theory; Luke Cummo (Season 2 of the Ultimate Fighter) comes to mind foremost. According to Cummo, the idea is that your physical form and your energy come into sync, and the more your hands are accustomed to striking hard surfaces, the more punishment that they’ll be doling out (paraphrased). Now, good for me, I don’t have an anecdote about having someone kicking me with an iron foot; in fact, the research on the iron body techniques are rare. On the show “Kung Fu: The Legend Continues,” the Shaolin Monk was actually having the tip of a spear driven into them. Unlike the One Inch Punch, there isn’t a whole lot of video evidence towards the claim. In fact, the only video that I can come up with is some guy getting hit with boards across the chest. I’m going to be honest: I had a hard time figuring out if it was for martial arts or some kind of kink. My opinions shouldn’t bias yours, so I’m including the video below. For the sake of this week’s Friday 5ive, I can’t give my seal of approval of legitimacy (which is illegitimate in and of itself).
No. 3: The “Dim Mak” (From Bloodsport) – I need to specify: I am referring to the “Dim Mak” as demonstrated in the movie “Bloodsport,” where Jean Claude Van Damme smacks a brick and the brick below it explodes. For all intents and purposes, Dim Mak is universally understood to mean “Death Touch.” There are two schools of theory behind the death touch; the one we’re talking about, and the technique employed by folks who are striking at nerve centers and pressure points. The way I understood the difference (and I could be completely ass backwards on the definition), is the other Dim Mak is more related to the exploding heart technique used in Kill Bill Volume 2. Bloodsport has been at the center of many controversies, specifically around the validity of some of Frank Dux’s claims. I love the movie Bloodsport so much that I have watched most of Van Damme’s video catalogue available in the United States, and documentaries and videos on the legend of Hanshi Frank Dux. I went out of my way to buy and read the book “The Secret Man,” which is Dux’s autobiography. Frank Dux has been accused of falsifying everything from his military record, to his trophy won in the Kumite, and just about everything in between. The movie Bloodsport, based on the life of Frank Dux, has a highly dramatic scene where one of the Black Dragon Society members calls suspect that Dux is trying to represent the Tanaka Clan, yet is not Japanese. To prove that he is indeed a prodigy of Senzo Tanaka, they ask Dux to perform the “Dim Mak,” or death touch. Frank Dux pulls up to a pile of bricks, and performs something of a magic trick. So, how much of that actually happened? The answer: most of it. In the video below, the real Frank Dux is stacking a fragile ceramic tile on top of a brick, on top of another ceramic tile, on top of a brick. When the blow connects, only the bottom brick is broken. While its not the glitz and glam of the movie Bloodsport, he did break the bottom brick and only the bottom brick.
No. 2: Blind Kid Kills Assailant With Judo Throw – My maternal grandfather is a man with many talents; he’s an accomplished electrician, very good with wood working, and was able to set the genetic tide in motion that created the Big Fellah (me). I come from a part of the world that is not entirely up to speed in the world of Asian cultures; in fact, most fighting arts in a gi is “karate.” My grandfather, knowing how much I enjoy Van Damme movies and the combat sports, was very excited to tell me a story that he had heard on the news about a blind kid who was being robbed and broke the attacker’s neck using “karate flips.” I was told this story in the late 1990’s; my grandfather is a very honest man, but the resources to fact check such a story were extremely limited. If I hadn’t seen the news story or read the paper for myself, I had to take the man’s word for it. When you take the combination of a little cultural ignorance, coupled with an archaic oral tradition of news reporting (that ultimately leads to misinformation like the telephone game), you’re not quite sure what you really heard. When I sat down to write this Friday 5ive, that story came back to me in a big way. So, was my grandfather wrong? Actually, no. Some of the verbiage might not be exact, but the man did know what he had heard. The story he was trying to relay was that of Courtney Bestwick, a legally blind man who would not be a victim during a mugging. Bestwick, a martial artist, had given the attacker plenty of chances to disengage, but he insisted, and his life was ended with a throw. What has always struck me as “fantastic,” was that the story really sounds like the comic book “Daredevil.” A blind man who is a martial arts expert, able to defend his life without the benefit of sight? Daredevil. This story happened in the Philadelphia area on October 11th, 1996. This Urban Legend has been verified …also, I have to fully acknowledge that my grandfather was right and he is infinitely wise.
No. 1: Black Belts Have to Register Their Hands as Weapons – I have to believe that this is the biggest small town USA rumor to ever surround the world of combat sports. It’s like the Michael Jordan of misinformed bullshit from Redneck America. This urban legend, this gem of decayed understanding, is right up there with some of the pinheaded rural beliefs like “If you ask an undercover cop if they are a cop, they have to answer you,” like “If you put a penny in your mouth, you’ll fool the breathalyzer,” and like “if you don’t pay your medical bills, they can’t hold it against you. The stark truth is: undercover cops don’t have to disclose their identity, pennies in your mouth makes everything taste like copper, and if you don’t pay your bills you won’t get a good credit score. Why would someone believe such a thing? According to redneck analysts and experts: “Because once you become a black belt, you need to register your hands as deadly weapons.” From what I understand, some martial artists have actually walked away from their martial arts studies, not accepting the rank of black belt if worthy of one. The idea of walking away from years of study because your hands would be deadly weapons is absolutely mind blowing to me. Truth is, if someone is angry enough to fight, their hands are capable of causing the kind of trauma that could kill someone. Their hands are already deadly weapons without the benefit of a black belt. Instead of postulating on my own misgivings about the urban legend, I asked a Pennsylvania State Policeman. I approached this policeman because of two primary reasons: 1. this person exhibits wise demeanor at all times, and 2. I truly believe that this officer is upholding the law and protecting citizens. According to that officer, no black belt is required to register their hands with any law keeping agency. That’s it, it’s that simple: black belts do not have to register their hands. As much fun as it was putting this rumor to bed, I’d still like to know where it got started. Was it a black belt trying to create mystique on their own? Was it another game of telephone that got out of control? In any case, if you find yourself in this argument, you already know the right answer.
Thank you very much for joining us for the Friday 5ive!
Until next time: Fights, Cameron, Action!