My perspectives from the past are 180 degree different from where they are today.
My dad and his martial arts journey started during the bombing of Pearl Harbor as he was an 11 year old boy when the bombs fell in his Honolulu neighborhood.
On the island of Oahu, the sugar cane workers were divided into Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, and Portuguese. The Japanese who were aware of the impending bombing carved large arrows pointing in the direction of Pearl Harbor, assisting the waves of Japanese pilots.
When the Filipinos discovered that, they slaughtered the Japanese cane field workers with machetes. This caused a tremendous amount of racial tension in Hawaii. So during my dad’s youth martial arts was all about life and death.
When I was young, many of the martial artists were Korean and Vietnam War Vets and the stories that I grew up around were vastly different than what you hear today.
In the 1980’s I started to write a book called 'Kenpo Case Histories.’
My book was divided into chapters of the success stories that the students had had at each belt level. The book was divided into chapters by belts.
Chapter One: White Belt and so on and so forth until the final chapter was Black Belts. I thought this book was a great idea but I did something stupid. I started with the last chapter first.
There wasn’t one interview I recorded where the end result of the fight justified the usage of the material. Not one.
I heard stories where the opponent, a sap who merely wanted to use a phone, was not patient enough to wait for the phone and the martial artist who was irritated responded with his martial arts knowledge and the end result was that the sap was left blind.
Because the martial artist was not arrested, he felt justified.
Another story that was conveyed to me where a kick smashed a person’s knee backwards and the person was permanently crippled because that sap happened to bump into the martial artist’s girlfriend.
I heard countless stories that horrified me. Too many martial artists boastfully told me about taunting people in bars so they could justify the fight.
The end result of my research was hearing too many stories about poor unfortunate saps who happened to cross paths with martial artists, bought into their taunts, and were left unconscious while the martial artist urinated into their mouths. I swear that’s true more often than I’d like to repeat.
I heard all these stories first hand.
I have also witnessed the fallout of the territorial wars with the martial arts studios back in the 1960’s where schools were bombed and shot up. The stories made me sick to my stomach so I stopped writing the book.
This was the foundation for what soured the milk for me in the martial arts.
Things are different now, but not completely. What now was physical warfare has become mental warfare. Everyone is still fighting and divided but it is tantamount to a knitting circle of gossip and innuendo with everyone trying to convince each other that they are ‘more right’ than the other group, whoever their opponent or sap is.
Maybe because I am Ed Parker’s only son and was there in the beginning I am the unlucky one who 'gets to' be thrown into that Norman Rockwell telephone gossip painting because I ALWAYS end up the unlucky ‘bartender,’ ‘counselor’ or worse yet, ‘best friend’ that weekly gets the phone call or message in my box of the latest wounded warrior who’s 'feelings are hurt' by another person or group in the community. Warriors who have no real war to fight can be a real syndrome.
If you aren’t aware of this just look at all the social media posts.
My Hawaiian culture is a warrior culture.
I was a 7 year old sitting in the window late at night in Pasadena waiting for my uncles and dad to get home from an outing. When they appeared in my view I saw coagulated blood coming from the corners of the mouth and literally covering my island ‘uncle ____.’ I will leave his name out.
I ran up to him scared and concerned only to hear, “don’t worry kid, it’s not my blood!” He was a martial artist. I was raised in my family with the creed that all ‘talk' belongs on the mat.
Now it seems that all there is is talk but not enough of the physical or kinetic talk. Which probably breeds mental frustration.
All I hear in recent years is nothing more than 'kinetic semantics.’ In other words mental and verbal gymnastics about what ‘actually’ constitutes a ‘fight.’
If the words you have to use are words like kick, punch, choke, throw, etc. and those words are used in an appeal to convince your listener that the word ‘violence’ is not part of the equation because it is only a ‘ kinetic movement’ of the body then I think something is seriously out of wack.
So here’s the thing; times and cultures change. What you could do 20, 30, 40, or 50 years ago, you can not do today.
What’s different today?
Lawyers, semantics, and frustrated warriors who are all dressed up for war and nobody to dance with.