Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Tale of Two Egos

Three if you count my own.

I could have been better in how I did handle these things, but my sense of humor and a wayward follicle in a bodily orifice that doesn't see much sunlight dictated otherwise. That means I had a hair up my ass for those of you who don't get my sense of humor. Besides, I was much younger and very stupid.

Ego #1
In the early 1990's in Woodinville WA, there was a TKD and Hapkido teacher who I'll call Master P. Master P had a 8th degree black belt in TKD and a 7th in Hapkido. I'm sure it was legit, and I'm sure he could show you the receipt for the purchase of those ranks.

Not that he was all that bad, it's just that he was not all that good. What made it bad was his attitude.

Master P taught in a health club and strutted around like a rooster in a farm yard. His dobak was always spotless white with colorful affiliation patches on his chest and shoulders. His custom made black belt gleamed with the bright gold thread embroidery of his name and ranks. Master P was short, round faced, and had a very bad haircut. He wore white leather shoes and matching belt, and when in street clothes, looked like a caricature of a yakuza.

One day, at the health club, Master P was on the pay phone, and was hogging the phone. A rather large body builder got a page (remember this is pre-mobile phone days) and was waiting for the phone. Despite his asking Master P to please hurry, Master P ignored him. Finally, he asked if he could make one quick call and he would be out of Master P's way. Master P replied to him, "Don't bother me, don't you know who I am?" and turned back to his phone call facing the wall.

Said body builder picked up a 10 lb dumbbell and clocked Master P, dragged him into the stairwell and left him there to sleep off his rude behavior. When Master P woke up, he couldn't describe the body builder, but had to explain why he was knocked out in a stairwell, banging on the door to be let out, had a lump on his head, and missed teaching his class. Which is how this came to be known by the staff at the health club and was relayed to a friend of mine who did aikido - jujutsu, sometimes taught in Master P's Hapkido class, and who told me the story.

Fast forward 3 or 4 weeks. I'm asked to take part in a demo of various martial arts. Several teachers are taking part, including Master P. My aikido -jujutsu friend asks me to take part as a favor to him. I hate demos, but I agree since he makes me custom bokuto and had just done a very nice one for me.

I show up to go to the demo with my bag. My friend sees me, waves, thanks me for showing up, and offers to take my bag for me. I hand it over and he's not ready for the weight of the bag and nearly drops it. He asks me "What the heck do you have in here?". I open the bag and pull out a set of 10lb dumbbells, and explain that I thought I would teach defenses against dumbbell attacks. For some reason, I was not asked to do demos again.

Ego #2
In the early 2000's, I was asked to take part in a seminar for raising money for charity with numerous other instructors. The organizer was Jerry Dalien, and his Judo Bash was a yearly event. Jerry was one of the old time judo men in the Tacoma WA area. A strange but wonderful man. When Jerry passed away a few years ago, there were over 400 people at his funeral, including people from across the country, many of whom had studied judo with Dalien as children who came to pay their respects. He's one of the good guys and was well thought of locally. I'll post about him as one of the good guys later.

But this post is not about Jerry Dalien. This is about a Hapkido Master who I'll call Master Pity who was teaching at the event. He was high ranking, I believe he was 6th degree, from California. I took part in Master Pity's class and couldn't stomach it, and bowed off the mat about half way through. In truth, I did have to leave and go to an appointment, but was happy for the excuse to leave.

What was so bad, was he presented his techniques as "inescapable" "can't be defeated" "most powerful" "deadly" What ran through my mind was Pat Morita in the first Karate Kid movie going "If done properly, no can defense." And the things Master Pity was teaching were no more than basic entry level aikido or jujutsu. Yet, to many of the people there, lots of beginners, and including his own senior level black belt students, they were swallowing his crap like it was all you can eat shrimp night at Red Lobster and they hadn't seen food for weeks.

In my session the next day, I taught counters to everything Master Pity taught. I never criticized him, I never mentioned his name. I just showed how to counter locks which were most powerful, deadly, inescapable, and which couldn't be defeated.

I gave lots of attention to Master Pity's seniors in how to counter things. About 30 minutes into my class, Master Pity had left the mats. After class, one of the 3rd degree black belts from Master Pity came over to me and told me Master Pity was very upset with me and had told his black belts to leave my class. None of them left, they stayed and practiced my whole session for some reason. I've never heard from Master Pity since, despite giving him my card and offering to buy him dinner.

Later, some of the old time judoka, came over and told me they liked what I was doing, it was what they thought was weak in modern Judo since it was structured towards too much competition now, and loved to see it was still being taught well.

Another friend, Aaron, also took part and taught his Yabe Ryu tachi waza techniques in his session. Afterwards, the old time judoka complimented Aaron saying he did old time judo and it was nice to see someone do it the way they remembered it being taught when they started judo.

Surprising that two punk snot nose kids were well thought of by veterans. And gratifying to our egos too really.

OK, make that A Tale of Four Egos, not two.

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