Dec 26, 2013

Dec 1, 2013

Fan created "Best Kid" poster

(artwork by Terence Shek)

5 reasons why martial arts are better than other sports

(by Ashley Davidson 12-9-13)
As a martial artist, I'd always recommend anyone who is serious enough to pursue sport to give a try to martial arts. Here are the reasons.
Like anything else, martial arts would be a lot better developed when started from an early age. This doesn't mean you can't start later in your life though - all you need is to take is seriously and be patient.

Now, the key element for a real benefit from well, everything, is balance. What people of all ages need to learn, is how to create this important equilibrium in life, which is pretty hard to do in the daily adult life.

This is where martial arts come.
  1. Good health. Yes, where did the exercises go with all this computer work and sitting life-style? The less we move, the more stressed we get. We need to think about our health, do some daily exercises and let out the steam. It would improve both your physical and mental health. Of course any sport would do the trick, but we're just getting started here. Martial arts have a long warm up (about 40 minutes), followed by the actual training, which takes about an hour and a half (normally). To get really good results from this, one should train at least 5 days a week. I'm speaking of personal experience here, going twice a week is just not worth it.
  2. Group activity and socializing. Unlike boring fitness, it's very easy to make friends in the martial arts dojo. For a child this is also a big benefit. Lately, kids can't seem to make friends in school and are often bullied. But when it comes to an activity they go, because they want to, it's much easier to make friends. Sure, there can be a bit of competitiveness, but it won't even come near the bullying problems kids have in school these days.
  3. Learning self defense. People put little value on this. It's true you can't always apply what you've learned. You shouldn't expect that you'll be a fearless fighter when someone attacks you on the street, just because you learned a few things for a few months. People need years to truly learn to defend themselves in real situations. But even if you learn all the movements step by step, there is always the fear factor. Knowing every detail doesn't mean you won't panic in the heat of the moment and forget everything. You also need psychological preparation. Martial arts can give you that with breathing exercises and meditation, however, this takes a lot more time. And not because the instructor doesn't do his job. It's because when one is used to living in a safe environment, especially when they never had the need to defend themselves, getting into combat on the street for self defense is the most unnatural thing ever. Still, this doesn't mean there is no need to even bother get into martial arts. If you're patient and giving your all, you'll eventually reach the state of mind and body you always wanted and the feeling is incomparable. Never underestimate your ability to achieve something grand. If you do, then you just have a low self-esteem.
  4. Learning organisation and discipline. Yes, even an adult can learn a lot about organisation, respect, patience and discipline with all the traditional etiquette. It's not just the obvious things like keeping your cellphone off during training, or not talking to others, while the instructor is talking. Training would take two hours of your day and it needs one to be fully concentrated into it and not thinking of anything else. There is an actual ritual when going into the dojo, you bow at the entrance and bow again when exiting after the training. The first boy literally means "I forget everything that happened outside of the dojo" and the second bow means "I forget everything that happened inside of the dojo".  It's a way to preserve what you learned and go back to your day, only stress free. The same goes for kids. The moment they take this behavioral habits at home, a parent knows this is the right activity for their child. I just wish parents didn't expect their children to magically get educated, when they don't give the same example at home. I've noticed how some kids are really serious and organized in the dojo, but when their parents come to pick them up, they suddenly turn into a screaming police car siren with feet. Having such a big difference of life at home and in the dojo makes the whole process useless.
  5. Cultural enrichment. The other thing is the cultural education everyone get from the Japanese way of thinking and Bushido (the way of the warrior). A girl from my dojo passed an exam for brown belt (2nd kyu), while she was ill and this made her character raise a lot in the eyes of the instructors. I don't think there is a person who doesn't admire people who give their all, even when they're at a disadvantage. And lets not forget we learn a bit of Japanese. The Japanese form of fighting differs depending on the type of fighting style - one can choose KarateAikidoTae Kwon DoJudoJu Jitsu. They all have their own personal taste and behavior and anyone can choose the one they can relate to.

Nov 17, 2013

Aiki Kai dojo

Founded in 1956, Los Angeles Aiki Kai is the oldest Aikido Dojo on the United States mainland. 
The original Dojo was located in the "Seinan" (Jefferson Crenshaw) area of Los Angeles and relocated to its current location in Los Angeles, bordering Culver City, in 1967.

As we move forward, providing more than 60 years of service, we mindfully foster our mission set forth by our teachers and our Founder to facilitate practice for the martial discipline of Aikido.  
Our Chief Instructor is Robert Ishibashi, 6th Dan.

The Mizukami Dojo is named after Chief Instructor Daniel Mizukami Sensei who's dedication and passion for Aikido and the students of Los Angeles Aiki Kai spanned more than 55 years. 

The Dojo is an 60 tatami mat space with a rich history of instruction from many of our Founder's greatest disciples and their affiliates of Aikido here in the United States and abroad.

We are fortunate to have practiced with these great teachers and their students during the last 60 years and it is is our mission to continue to have an open door for any and all who practice Aikido.

Nov 14, 2013

Nov 13, 2013

The resolute ninja

A "ninja poem" from “The Secret Traditions of the Shinobi, Hattori Hanzo’s Shinobi Hiden and other Ninja Scrolls”, Edited and Translated by Antony Cummins and Yoshie Minami, page 147.
Make yourself resolute with the idea that you will win whenever you go on a shinobi mission, and you can succeed, even if it is not realistic.
(This is a reoccurring theme in Japanese martial thought. Samurai ethics often talk of the "way of life and death" and to never hesitate when there is a choice of life or death. This premise is also supported in the Shoninki, and we can conclude that all references to this way of thinking indicate that as a warrior you should go forth with pride, confidence, and direction. This attitude will lead to success, and the opposite approach will result in failure.
This poem is also in the eleventh volume of the Bansenshuki.)

Nov 12, 2013

The Last Samurai

 (by Roger Ebert 12-5-03)
Edward Zwick's "The Last Samurai" is about two warriors whose cultures make them aliens, but whose values make them comrades. The battle scenes are stirring and elegantly mounted, but they are less about who wins than about what can be proven by dying. Beautifully designed, intelligently written, acted with conviction, it's an uncommonly thoughtful epic. Its power is compromised only by an ending that sheepishly backs away from what the film is really about.
Tom Cruise and Ken Watanabe co-star, as a shabby Civil War veteran and a proud samurai warrior. Cruise plays Nathan Algren, a war hero who now drifts and drinks too much, with no purpose in life. He's hired by Americans who are supplying mercenaries to train an army for the Japanese emperor, who wants to move his country into the modern world and is faced with a samurai rebellion.

The role of the samurai leader Katsumoto (Watanabe) is complex; he is fighting against the emperor's men, but out of loyalty to the tradition the emperor represents, he would sacrifice his life in an instant, he says, if the emperor requested it. But Japan has been seized with a fever to shake off its medieval ways and copy the West, and the West sees money to be made in the transition:
Representatives from the Remington arms company are filling big contracts for weapons, and the U.S. Embassy is a clearinghouse for lucrative trade arrangements.

Into this cauldron Algren descends as a cynic. He is told the samurai are "savages with bows and arrows," but sees that the American advisers have done a poor job of training the modernized Japanese army to fight them. Leading his untried troops into battle, he is captured and faces death -- but is spared by a word from Katsumoto, who returns him as a prisoner to the village of his son.
It's at this point that "The Last Samurai" begins to reveal itself as more than an action picture.

Katsumoto, who conveniently speaks English, explains he has kept Algren alive because he wants to know his enemy. Algren at first refuses to speak, but gradually, during a long, rainy winter of captivity, he begins to have philosophical conversations with the other man about the ethics of war and warriors. Some of these talks sound like Socratic exchanges:

Katsumoto: "Do you believe a man can change his destiny?"

Algren: "I believe a man does what he can until his destiny is revealed."

For Algren, the traditional village life is a soothing tonic. Haunted by nightmares from his wartime experiences, he confesses, "Here I have known my first untroubled sleep in many years." He has been lodged in the house of Taka (Koyuki), the widow of a man he killed in battle, and although she complains bitterly to Katsumoto, she maintains a smiling facade in Algren's presence.

Algren: "I killed her husband!"

Katsumoto: "It was a good death."

Katsumoto has pledged his life to defending the dying code of the samurai. Algren finds himself gradually shifting allegiances, away from the mercenaries and toward the samurai, but his shift is visceral, not ideological. He bonds with Katsumoto, respects him, wants to find respect in his eyes. The movie illustrates the universal military truth that men in battle are motivated not by their cause but by loyalty to their comrades.

"The Last Samurai" breaks with the convention that the Western hero is always superior to the local culture he immerses in. It has been compared to "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Dances With Wolves," films in which Westerners learn to respect Arabs and Indians, but this film goes a step further, clearly believing that Katsumoto's traditional society is superior to the modernism being unloaded by the Americans. Katsumoto is the teacher and Algren is the student, and the film wonderfully re-creates the patterns and textures of the Japanese past; its production design, sets and costumes are astonishing.

Watanabe is a deep, powerful presence; he has the potential to become the first world star from Japan since Toshiro Mifune. Cruise is already a star, and will be targeted by those predisposed to see him and not his character, but here I think his stardom works for the film, because he takes with him into battle both the cocksure pilot of "Top Gun" and the war-weary veteran of "Born on the Fourth of July." The casting helps the film with its buried message, which is about the re-education of a conventional American soldier.

The supporting cast is splendid: Koyuki quietly stirs as the widow who feels sexual attraction but suppresses it; Tony Goldwyn blusters and threatens as the hard American mercenary; Timothy Spall is the British translator who knows the words but not the music. Scichinosuke Nakamura plays the emperor as a tormented, shy man who admires Katsumoto's values, even while agreeing with his advisers that the rebellion must be put down. "I am a living god -- as long as I do what they say is right," he muses at one point, in words I somehow doubt any Japanese emperor would ever have employed.

The director is Edward Zwick, whose other war films ("Glory," "Legends of the Fall," "Courage Under Fire") have also dealt with men whose personal loyalties have figured more importantly than political ideology. Here he gives Algren a speech attacking Custer, whose last stand was fresh in everyone's mind. ("He was a murderer who fell in love with his own legend, and his troops died for it.") Yes, but how would Algren describe this film's final battle scene, in which Katsumoto leads his men into what appears to be certain death? To be sure, his men share his values, but is there an element of seeking "a good death"? Is a there a line between dying for what you believe in, and dying because of what you believe in?

That the film raises this question shows how thoughtful it is. If "The Last Samurai" had ended in a way that was consistent with its tone and direction, it would have been true to its real feelings. But the ending caves in to Hollywood requirements, and we feel the air going out of the picture. An art film can trust its audience to follow along to the necessary conclusion. A Hollywood ending assumes that the audience caves in at the end, turns dim-witted and sentimental, and must be fed its lollypop.

"The Last Samurai" has greatness in it, but sidesteps the ending that would have given it real impact. If there's going to be an alternative ending on the DVD, I know what it would have to show -- and so, I suspect, does Edward Zwick.

Note: Which character is the "last samurai" -- Katsumoto, or Algren? A case can be made for either answer, which suggests the nature of their relationship.


Nov 7, 2013

Oct 29, 2013

Cobra Kai 5

(artist unkown)

Oct 28, 2013

Oct 23, 2013

Karate Kid season - 2013

Karate Kid season is upon us again!

September thru December is always my favorite time of year for several reasons, but also being the Karate Kid season makes it all that much more special.

This year however I don't have too much new to add, I really haven't come across any new Karate Kid information and the revised calendar that I did last year still stands, I think I got the dates spot on.

So this year I thought I would post this classic Karate Kid article written a dozen years ago on ESPN's website.

Enjoy the article and enjoy the season!


Holy Trilogy of the Karate Kid

(by Bill Simmons August 30th 2002)

Webster's definition for a trilogy: "A series of three dramas or literary works or sometimes three musical compositions that are closely related and develop a single theme."

Sports Guy's definition for a movie trilogy: "A series of three dramas in which the first movie did so well, they couldn't help themselves, so they brought everyone back to make more money in an uninspired sequel, only that one did pretty well, too, so they brought everyone back again for a third movie, just to beat the dead horse completely into the ground."

Which brings us to the Karate Kid trilogy. Sure, there was allegedly a fourth installment ("The Next Karate Kid," featuring Hillary Swank as Mr. Miyagi's new student), but as far as I'm concerned, that movie never happened. You hear me? Just like "Rocky V," "Another 48 Hours," "Caddyshack 2," "Another Midnight Run," "Fletch 2," "Made," "Slap Shot II: Breaking the Ice," the final season of "90210" and everything else, "The Next Karate Kid" never happened.

For my money, the "Karate Kid" franchise lived and died with the immortal Ralph Macchio as Daniel LaRusso, and it remains the most memorable Sports Movie Trilogy of all-time. And since that trilogy ran the gamut from "superb" to "awkward" to "wait a second ... this isn't really happening, is it?", we might as well recap the LaRusso Era once and for all.

Here's a closer examination of all three films, in order:

"The Karate Kid"

Quite simply, one of the 15 best sports movies of all-time. Please ignore the ludicrous Page 2 voting, which omitted "The Karate Kid," "Fast Break" and "Major League" from the Top 20 and featured a chick flick (Bull Durham) at No. 1, the dumbest, most outrageous thing in the history of Page 2, and for the love of God, I will not argue about this. Any "Best Sports Movies" list that doesn't feature either "Hoosiers" or "The Natural" as the No. 1 pick shouldn't even count. Let's just pretend it never happened. OK? OK.

Back to the brilliance of "The Karate Kid." For one thing, there's a terrific plot: Lovable loser Daniel moves to California, feuds with a band of moped-riding karate bullies, gets his butt kicked repeatedly, turns to a Japanese maintenance man for guidance, learns karate, learns about life, falls in love, enters a tournament against the bullies, gets injured in the semifinals, rallies back to fight his girlfriend's ex-boyfriend in the Finals, improbably gets the win. The end. Does it get any better than that?

And you forget this now, but Mr. Miyagi's character was a stroke of genius at the time, a cross between Mickey from "Rocky," Pop from "The Longest Yard" and Confucious. Who didn't love Mr. Miyagi? That character was so well-written, it actually won Pat Morita (best-known as Arnold from "Happy Days") a "Best Supporting Actor" Oscar nomination, which was the 1984 equivalent of Mr. Belding from "Saved By The Bell" being nominated for an Oscar in 2005.

This was also Ralph Macchio's defining movie, and that sentence is funny enough in itself. But seriously, who else could have played Daniel-San? By the end of the movie, you actually believe that 1) Daniel could beat everyone from Cobra Kai in a karate tournament, and 2) he would have no problem wooing a young Elisabeth Shue (looking yummy here, even with the extra baby fat), which remains one of the all-time movie stretches.

Hey, this kid's 5-foot-7, he weighs 100 pounds, he can't defend himself, he has no money and no car, we run in different social circles, his mom has to drive him on dates, and everyone hates him. ... I think I'm in love!

Wait ... we're just getting started. The supporting cast was superb, including Morita, Shue (as Ali with an "i," one of those rare sports movie girlfriends who actually brings something to the table) and Martin Cove as Cobra Kai's evil sensei, John Creese, whose "Sweep the leg" order remains one of the more secretly chilling movie scenes.

(And didn't you love the Cobra Kai? They were like an Aryan Karate Machine, weren't they? Why hasn't anyone opened a chain of Cobra Kai karate studios across America? If you were studying karate, wouldn't you want to study at the Cobra Kai? Couldn't they at least sell the Cobra Kai karate outfits online? Has there ever been a better roto team nickname/movie homage than Cobra Kai? I could go on all day.)

Three underrated cast members really helped the cause here:

1. Randee Heller as Mrs. LaRusso, one of my favorite Hollywood Moms of the '80s (right up there with Mrs. Keaton and Mrs. Bueller). You know, in a five-year span, Randee played Gabe Kaplan's wife in "Fast Break," Ken Reeves' stripper girlfriend in "The White Shadow," and Daniel-San's Mom in "The Karate Kid," and then she was never seen again ... and I guess my point is this: You don't need to work anymore with a résumé like that.

2. Billy Zabka's watershed performance as the villainous Johnny Lawrence (Daniel-San's nemesis and the head of the Cobra Kai), which launched his much-lauded career as the definitive '80s movie villain. In my opinion, he has entered that rare group of actors who only need to go by one name: Eastwood, Stallone, Hanks, Cruise, Nicholson ... and Zabka.

(Note: Some of my readers have been pining for a "Billy Zabka DVD Collection" -- "Karate Kid," "Just One of the Guys" and "Back to School," with director's commentary from Zabka and deleted scenes -- and frankly, there's still time. They could even call it "Zabka!" It's a no-brainer. Like you wouldn't buy this?)

3. The Cobra Kai flunkie who screams "Get him a bodybag ... yeahhhhhh!" during the climactic Daniel-Johnny fight scene, which emerged as one of the signature movie quotes from the '80s - right up there with "How 'bout a Fresca, hmmmmm?", "Dammit Maverick!", "Looks like the University of Illinois!" and "Two months, Bender ... you're mine for two months."

Some other classic moments: Miyagi saving Daniel-San on Halloween night (and wiping out the Cobra Kai) ... Miyagi and Daniel-San trying to catch flies with chopsticks ... the well-filmed scene when Daniel is trying that balancing thing on the beach ... the emotional 16th birthday party, when Miyagi gives Daniel-San one of his antique cars (awwwww) ... Daniel and Ali's first date, one of those hokey, "We're on a date and having a good time" '80s montages ... Daniel crashing Ali's country club party, then getting a plate of spaghetti on him, prompting another classic '80s device -- the "Everyone's laughing at me, and I need to get out of here" scene.

And don't forget these crucial wrinkles:

A random appearance by Banarama's "Cruel Summer" (an '80s classic) during the scene when Daniel gets kicked off the soccer team. Always gets me fired up.

Miyagi teaching Daniel-San karate by forcing him to perform household chores like painting fences, sanding floors and waxing cars. That always killed me. Daniel-San somehow learns karate from all of this, while Miyagi gets his house remodeled. Only in Hollywood.

(Note: This sequence was especially beneficial for me and my college buddies, since we used to joke that the Irish-Catholic girls in our school were trained by Mr. Miyagi -- every time you made a move on them, they rebuffed you with either "paint the fence," "wax on/wax off" or "sand the floor." There was one girl we actually just referred to simply as "Miyagi." That's right, college ... $22,000 a year at the time.)

Miyagi's surreal ability to "massage" any injured part of the body and bring it back to life. I don't even have a joke here.

The inspiring All-Valley Karate Tournament montage (one of my favorite sports movie sequence ever), taken to the next level by that "You're the best ... around ... nothing's ever gonna keep you down!" song. I've probably watched this sequence 455 times in my life, and if it was showing on HBO8 right now, I'd be taking a break for No. 456. I love when Daniel beats Dutch (the white-haired kid, played by Chad McQueen, who would eventually make a name for himself on Skinemax). In real life, would Daniel-San have ever beaten Dutch? Of course not. Even in the movie, they skimp over that fight because they know it's totally improbable.

Still, a great sequence, capped off by Daniel-San's injury, Miyagi's massage trick, a chill scene when Daniel-San limps out of the locker room to fight Zabka ("He's gonna fight! Daniel LaRusso is gonna fight!"), and, of course...

The Crane Kick. 'Nuff said. Remember my riff in the "Hoosiers" column about the greatest ideas in sports movie history? Doesn't the Crane Kick rank right up there? Of course it does. Perfect ending, splendid movie, and one of the best 15 sports flicks ever. Don't listen to my cohorts at Page 2. They are clearly insane.

Unfortunately, "The Karate Kid" was a little too good, which means we had to deal with ...

"The Karate Kid, Part II"

While preparing for this column, I realized that I hadn't seen "KKII" in years. That led to this exchange between me and the guy answering phones at my local Hollywood Video store:

Me: "Hey, I was wondering if you guys had "Karate Kid II" in?"

Guy: (Dead silence)

Me: "You know, the sequel to 'Karate Kid'?"

Guy (a little frightened): "Um, yeah, we do."

Me: "Great, I'm coming down right now to pick it up."

Guy (picking up his other phone to alert local police): "Sure."

(I'm telling you, you haven't really died a slow death in life until you've entered a video store and muttered the words, "Hi, I'm the guy who called about 'Karate Kid II.' ")

Anyway, it's just as excruciating as I remembered. Probably the highlight comes in the beginning -- which picks up right where "KK1" left off -- when Creese breaks Zabka's second-place trophy, then tries to attack Miyagi before punching through two car windows and passing out. Thoroughly enjoyable, most notably because Zabka and his Cobra Kai cronies weaseled another paycheck out of the deal. But it's all downhill from there.

A quick plot recap: Miyagi's father in Okinawa dies, so Miyagi decides to fly to Japan. Since Ali dumped Daniel-San, he has no friends and nothing to do all summer ... this prompts a painful scene in which Daniel-San arrives at the airport just as Miyagi is boarding his plane, leading to some "Please, let me come with you" begging and this hair-raising quote:

"Mr. Miyagi, you're more important than college, you're more important than anything to me."

(Yup ... this was the point in the trilogy in which the Daniel-Miyagi relationship could officially be described as "a little uncomfortable.")

So they fly to Japan together, as everyone worries that they might join the "Mile High Club" on the flight. Turns out that Miyagi fled Okinawa after stealing his best friend's girlfriend, and the friend (Sato) challenged him to a death match or something. The old girlfriend is still around (caring for Miyagi's father), and in the WATFO's of WATFO's, she has a daughter who digs Daniel-San. Unfortunately, Sato is still around as well, accompanied by his evil nephew, best described as "The Japanese Zabka" (the JZ).

And we go from there. The JZ immediately starts feuding with Daniel-San; it doesn't matter if he's in America or Japan, folks, there's just something about Daniel-San that rubs people the wrong way. Sato tries to goad Miyagi into a death match, calling him a coward about 160 different times. Some property is destroyed. Daniel-San and Miyagi both find true love ... and fortunately, not with one another. There's even a grating hit song from the '80s (Peter Cetera's "Glory of Love"). I would tell you more, but it was difficult for me to watch the movie with blood pouring from both eyes.

Maybe the only enjoyable twist was the birth of the Ralph Macchio Face -- scene after scene of people threatening either him or Miyagi in Japanese, while Macchio squints his eyes, lurches his body forward and opens his mouth in disbelief. He's so annoying that, right around the middle of the movie, you turn against him and start openly rooting for the JZ to kill him. And hey, it almost happens.

After Sato and Miyagi bury the hatchet (after an improbable hurricane scene), everyone in the village gathers for a conciliatory ceremony ... which gets rudely interrupted when the JZ hijacks Daniel-San's girlfriend with a knife, forcing Daniel-San to fight him to the death. As Miyagi says, "Daniel-San ... this not tournament, this for real." Thanks for clarifying that.

Well, you can guess how it turns out: With Daniel-San on the verge of losing, everyone starts shaking those little Japanese two-sided drum thingies (shouldn't they hand these out at baseball games?). Inspired, he knocks the JZ unconscious with an absurd barrage of two-handed punches, saves his Japanese girlfriend and guarantees himself a happy ending. Also, the movie ends happily. Just a dreadful film. And not even in a good way. It should have ended here.

And yet, inexplicably, for whatever reason, it spawned another sequel ...

"The Karate Kid, Part III"

Good God ... where do we begin? Back in the '90s, you had a 75.638% chance of catching "KKIII" on one of the three HBO channels at any time. I'll never forget the spring when I was vacationing in the Caribbean -- our hotel TV had six channels, including a Spanish HBO. Needless to say, one morning, "KKIII" was showing with Spanish dubbing. You couldn't get away from it if you tried.

Fortunately, if there was a Hall of Fame for "Enjoyably Bad Movies," "KKIII" would probably have its own wing. Ralph Macchio returns as the college-age Daniel, which would have been fine except for the fact that he weighs about 200 pounds, he's at least 35 years old, and he has suddenly and inexplicably developed a Charles Barkley-sized rear end. Just the sight of him wearing jeans is enough to crack up an entire room. I've seen it happen.

Since it wouldn't be a Karate Kid movie unless someone was trying to ruin Daniel-San's life, they created a plot centering around the millionaire friend of Creese, who fell on hard times after Zabka lost the All-Valley Karate Championship. Blaming Daniel-San, The Rich Guy (played in career-ending fashion by Thomas Ian Griffith) develops an elaborate plan to deceive Daniel and Mr. Miyagi, hoping to eventually destroy both of them. Honestly, I wish he had.

Some lingering questions and thoughts from 95 delightfully unappealing minutes ...

Why did The Rich Guy devote weeks of his life to destroying Daniel-San and Mr. Miyagi? Didn't he have anything more important on his plate than bringing down a teenage karate champion? Was he saying to himself, "You know, I feel pretty good about my stock holdings this month. ... I think I'll take some time off and browbeat an 18-year-old kid"? We might never know.

Once The Rich Guy started training Daniel-San, why didn't Daniel realize that his new sensei was evil, especially when his training regimen consisted of instructions like "Punch these wooden boards with your bare hands until they start bleeding"?

Why in God's name was Daniel-San still hanging out with Mr. Miyagi? How come he couldn't make any friends that were within 45 years of his own age? In one scene, he kicks off a date by bringing the girl over to meet Mr. Miyagi, essentially saying, "Hey, instead of going out, let's go meet my 85-year-old Japanese buddy, Mr. Miyagi. He's weird, he talks in grunts and his first name is 'Mister.' You'll love this guy!"

What was he thinking? Seriously, what was he thinking? Was there a bigger loser in the history of Hollywood lead characters than Daniel-San? And does this explain why so many people went out of their way to antagonize him? Do you realize that, in the span of 12 months, this kid was terrorized by three different groups of people in two different countries. What were the odds? Couldn't this kid catch a break? Was he really that bad?

(I'm brimming with rhetorical questions. This movie dumbfounds me. Is that a word? Can you be dumbfounded? And while we're here, why is it so damned hard to find a good bonsai tree? And why can the simple phrase "Ay! Must stay focus!" feel so inspirational and life-altering? All right, where was I?)

Apparently, the writers for "KKIII" had a meeting where this exchange happened:

Writer No. 1: "I think we should have The Rich Guy recruit a bully from out of town to help terrorize Daniel-San."

Writer No. 2: "Yeah, we'll name him Mike Barnes ... he could be a renowned teenage karate champ with a mean streak."

Writer No. 1: "That's just what I was thinking! Like an over-the-top Zabka!"

Writer No. 2: "Yes! And in the Finals, Daniel-San somehow beats him."

Writer No. 1: "Perfect! The audience will never see it coming!"

When Daniel-San finds out that The Rich Guy has been working for Creese all along, they confront him at the Cobra Kai studio, pushing him around a little, then crossing their arms and laughing like cartoon villains at him ("HAH HAHA HAH HAH!") before Miyagi saves the day. You can't even measure this scene on the Unintentional Comedy Scale. It's impossible. I can't believe everyone was filming that day with a straight face.

That reminds me, when you're watching this movie with buddies and pulling the "Mystery Science Theater" routine, remember this tip: Every time Daniel-San and Mr. Miyagi have a scene together, crack jokes in the Miyagi voice like, "Daniel-San, take off your shirt, Miyagi show you special massage trick."

(Guaranteed laughs for the entire room. It gets contagious. Pretty soon, everyone will be narrating things like "You know, Daniel-San, you built a little like Miyagi's first wife." Never gets old. I'm tellin' you, everyone will think you're a comedic genius. Just trust me on this.)

Finally, why didn't the "KKIII" writers think up a better ending? They should have gone with a WWF-style twist for the final 20 minutes: First, The Rich Guy buys off Miyagi, only Daniel-San doesn't know about it. Before the finals of the All-Valley Tournament, The Rich Guy shows up with John Creese and his new girlfriend ... Elisabeth Shue, who's all over him as a stunned Daniel-San looks on (making the Ralph Macchio Face).

Then, just when Daniel-San starts winning the final match, Miyagi comes flying in and hits him the head with a bonsai tree, causing him to lose the title and selling him out in the process. And the movie wraps up with Miyagi, Creese, the Rich Guy and Shue celebrating over Daniel-San's battered body as the crowd collectively laughs at him, followed by Daniel-San going into the shower and hanging himself. The end. A fitting finale to the trilogy.

Nope. Never happened. The actual movie ends with Daniel-San retaining his title against Barnes, then raising Miyagi's hand in the air as Creese and The Rich Guy try desperately to look outraged. Just a goofy ending to an utterly goofy movie.

And just like that, the most memorable Sports Movie Trilogy of all-time was finally over. Maybe we never found out what happened to Daniel LaRusso when he grew up, but I can tell you this: If they ever made a "Return of the Karate Kid" movie -- with a grown-up LaRusso opening a karate studio to compete with Cobra Kai, then getting picked on by his own students and eventually pulling Miyagi out of a nursing home to help him survive -- I would be the first person in line.

Come back, Daniel-San. We miss you.

Oct 10, 2013

Limited edition Karate Kid blu-ray steelbook cover (for Sony via Gallery 1988)

(artwork by Sam Gilbey)

Last year Gallery1988 hosted an exhibition called ‘say hi to the bad guy’ in LA, and I wondered what if would be like if the Cobra-kai had commissioned a promotional poster at the height of their badassery. The poster was sold in a limited edition, and seemed to be received pretty well at the time. You can see it in more detail here.

Cut to this summer, and Gallery1988 got in touch to say that Sony would like to use the artwork on a reissue of the original Karate Kid movie on blu-ray. It was like taking an unexpected crane-kick to the face (without the obvious telegraphing of Daniel-san standing on one leg in front of you) and it was certainly one of those emails that demanded to be read a couple of times before it could be taken in. The artwork need to be rearranged somewhat for the more compact aspect ratio, and a title was added, but then it was ready to go.

It’s one of 16 iconic films that Sony are re-releasing on blu-ray as part of ‘Project Pop Art’, each with a new illustrated steelbook cover from an artist that’s contributed to a Gallery1988 exhibition. I’m incredibly flattered that they thought to put my artwork forward, and equally humbled that Sony chose it. There’s so much good work out there, and so many talented artists, so this really as an honour, especially considering how much I love the movie.

The Karate Kid was a big part of both my childhood and then later during university, where it was an important shared pop-culture reference at the karate club. In fact one year I remember we even used screen-grabs and quotes from the films on posters trying to recruit new members. I was a serious (Shotokan) karateka for the best part of a decade (although I guess not that serious seeing as I’ve stopped now and only battle pixels these days, but that’s for another time). In any case the movie certainly had something to do with igniting my passion for martial arts in the first instance, before I discovered the cinematic delights of Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee and numerous others, and before I tried my hand(s and feet) at the real thing. It turns out that ‘Sweeping the leg’ in a tournament really isn’t that big a deal by the way.

Anyway, Ralph Macchio personified the ultimate movie underdog teen, and Noriyuki ‘Pat’ Morita flawlessly embodied the mysterious wise master archetype as Mr. Miyagi in his Oscar-nominated performance. Daniel-san clearly didn’t have the best Karate technique, but that attitude of practising something ad infinitum until it becomes instinctual is really the goal of any artist, martial or otherwise, so there’s a nice parallel there too.

So what started out as a simple news post turned into something bordering on existential there, so I’ll simply wrap it up now with the following: you can order the blu-ray now at Best Buy!

Oct 7, 2013

An inviting dojo

United Studios of Self Defense, Mission Viejo, CA

Sep 20, 2013

All Valley artwork

artwork by Jim Ferguson

Aug 16, 2013

Prowling Pa. ninja says he was trying to help cops

( 8-15-13)

Everybody agrees that a 19-year-old Pennsylvania man dressed up as a ninja and lurked near homes, but they disagree whether that's a good idea – or legal.

Todd Kapcsos, of Johnstown, was in court Wednesday to waive his right to a preliminary hearing on charges of loitering, prowling at night and disorderly conduct.

Police said Kapcsos frightened some elderly residents who saw him sneaking around while carrying a black baseball bat and wearing a hooded sweatshirt, another long shirt, a mask and a pair of gloves – all of them black.

He contends he was just trying to help police catch bad guys.

"I dressed up in all black, snuck around, went through bushes," Kapcsos told WJAC-TV. He claimed to be practicing "ninja moves" including rolling into a ball so he'd appear to be a rock hidden in the shadows.

"There's not enough police officers," he said. "The community should do something rather than sit back.

But one neighbor, Chris Trevino, told the TV station, "It looked more like he was trying to break into homes, not like he was gonna be a ninja and save the world."

That night, July 15, Trevino saw Kapcsos "running like a ninja, not like a normal person jogging. He was going back and forth creeping."

So she called the police.

"The ninja ran across the alley and right into the arms of a police officer," Trevino said.

Kapcsos was lurking in the Moxham section of Johnstown, about 60 miles east of Pittsburgh. Several high-profile crimes have occurred in the neighborhood in recent months, including three of the city's five homicides. The last one occurred Aug. 6 – a stabbing at a car wash – about three weeks after Kapcsos was arrested.

Aug 6, 2013

Runner urges caution after alleged attacked on Jordan River trail

(by Devon Dolan 8-5-13)

A Taylorsville woman says she was attacked by a stranger while running along the Jordan River Parkway Monday morning. Now, she wants to make sure others are more prepared than she was.

Emily Jameson said she knows the Millrace Park trails well — she runs them several times a week.

She's always carried pepper spray but never needed it until Monday.  Jameson — a runner since the age of 9 — was jogging alone when she approached a man walking in front of her.

"It just seemed like someone I was just passing until I came right up on him," she said. "He ran at me and punched me."

The man gave no warning signs before the attack, Jameson said.  "He just started to run and charged me and punched me right in the shoulder," she said. "I screamed." Jameson said she froze when the man began yelling at her to "get me my money."  After a few seconds, the man stopped and walked away.  "I don't think I've ever been that terrified," she said.  The attacker left a bruise on Jameson's shoulder. She said she'd never felt unsafe on the trails leading up to this point.

"This guy would just attack anyone who agitated him in some way," she said.

Other runners on the trail Monday said they'd never felt threatened before.  "I feel safe," said Herold England. "Who is going to bother me?"  Jameson said she was frustrated she didn't know how to react appropriately.  "When it happened I froze," she said. "I had no idea what to do."  Russell Clegg with Z-Ultimate prepares his clients for threatening situations.

"The first thing is you want to be assertive," he said. "Yell, be direct, make eye contact."

Clegg teaches his students to get away if they can, or to fight back. But his best piece of advice: Be aware.  "Avoiding problems is always so much easier than trying to solve a problem," he said.

 Jameson said she's now dedicated to teaching family and friends to be more prepared than she was.

 "This is how we prepare ourselves when something like this happens," she said. "Everybody should be prepared in some way."  Jameson described her attacker as about 6-feet 2-inches, 180 pounds and wearing a white T-shirt and black shorts. She said he was very agitated and aggressive. Murray police officers are investigating.


My take

A perfect example of how something can happen anywhere at any time that would require you to protect yourself.

The fact that she "had no idea what to do" and that she "froze" when the attack came shows that she has never had any self-defense training or most likely has never even thought about it.

American Kenpo Karate is perfect for the situation she found herself in.

Jul 11, 2013

Johnny Lawrence anime

I wish someone would re-do the Karate Kid films as anime, that would be so cool.

I found this picture somewhere on Tumblr and figured this is how Johnny Lawrence would look if they did do a Kartae Kid anime.

Jun 25, 2013

This would be so cool

artwork by Sage M. Coffey

What if Karate Kid (not the Kung-Fu Kid) was an animated series?! All these character designs were done with the limited palette on the left, minus the shading. Hope you like them!

Jun 23, 2013

artwork by thebestmoviequotes.tumblr

Jun 14, 2013

You're the best around

artwork - tomweinerdesigns.tumblr

Jun 9, 2013


artwork - danulabda.tumblr


artwork - pernilleoe.tumblr

Jun 2, 2013

Teens, adults get into 'really ugly' fight at kindergarten graduation

(by Devin Kelly 5-31-13)

A fight that broke out after a kindergarten graduation in Cleveland on Friday -- reportedly over spilled punch -- escalated into a brawl that led to eight arrests, authorities said.

Families had gathered at Michael R. White Elementary School, a K-8 school, to celebrate the kindergarteners' promotion to first grade. About 11 a.m., a call came in reporting a large fight with shots fired, said Cmdr. Wayne Drummond of the Cleveland Police Department. Officers arrived to find people fighting in front of the school.

Two teenage girls appear to have gotten in a fistfight while leaving the building after the ceremony, Drummond said. Family members from both sides joined in.

During the fight, one person pulled out a hammer, and another a club or a stick, Drummond said.

“It just turned really ugly, really fast,” he said.

Cleveland City Councilman Jeff Johnson, who lives across the street from the school, said that spilled punch sparked the fight, the Associated Press reported.

No one was injured, and police brought the fight under control. Eight people were arrested on suspicion of aggravated rioting, though more were involved in the fight, Drummond said. One of those arrested was a juvenile.

The report of shots fired turned out to be false, and no guns were involved in the incident, Drummond said.

The school went on lockdown in response to the incident.


My comments

My guess is none of these persons have had any martial arts instruction which would have taught them how to walk away from a situation like this.

May 25, 2013

10 Things Kids Learn from Studying Martial Arts

( 5-13-13)

To parents that have little experience with the world of martial arts, the entire sport can seem violent and dangerous for kids. Upon closer inspection, however, many find that their kids will reap an innumerable amount of benefits from participation in a martial arts training program. In addition to busting sedentary habits and getting kids in shape, martial arts instruction also helps kids learn these ten valuable lessons.

1. Determination and Dedication – In order to ascend through the ranks and earn new belts, kids that study the martial arts must exhibit dedication and determination. Learning to set and achieve new goals through hard work and dedication is one of the most valuable skills that a child can take away from martial arts training.

2. To Manage Disappointment in Healthy Ways – No matter how dedicated he is or how hard your child tries, there’s a good chance that he’ll be disappointed by a failure to advance or a mistake that he makes during training. Rather than shielding your child from these feelings, you can use the opportunity as a valuable teaching experience, helping him learn to manage that disappointment in healthy ways.

3. How to Avoid Physical Confrontation – Action heroes in summer blockbuster films may attack their opponents with style and gusto, but real life just isn’t like the movies. In reality, your child will be taught how to peacefully diffuse a volatile situation and to avoid physical force altogether unless it’s absolutely necessary for defense.

4. Working With a Partner or As Part of a Team – Some martial arts styles, like jiu jitsu, will require kids to work with a partner to hone their skills and advance. Working together or as part of a team to learn skills and master their technique helps kids learn the value of teamwork, a principle that he can apply to any number of situations as he gets older.

5. Increased Social Skills – Even if your child doesn’t choose a style that requires much work with a partner or group, the act of spending an hour or so each week with the same people and interacting in a controlled environment often helps shy kids come out of their shells.

6. To Listen Effectively – It’s impossible to learn proper technique and improve martial arts skills if you can’t listen to the instructor carefully, which is why training in the martial arts can have such a strong impact on kids’ listening skills as a whole.

7. The Importance of Self-Restraint and Discipline – The basic tenets of all martial arts styles place a strong emphasis on discipline and self-restraint. Willful, stubborn kids that struggle with their impulse control can benefit greatly in the hands of a seasoned instructor.

8. How to Respect Authority Figures – Regardless of the style, a great martial arts instructor will command absolute respect from his or her young students. This respect for a particular authority figure can easily extend to a respect for authority in general, especially when the focus of classes emphasizes this concept.

9. The Importance of Confidence – Success is dependent upon confidence and self-assurance in so many areas of life, and it’s imperative for kids to gain such traits. Mastering new techniques in martial arts training will help your child to become more confident and slowly gain faith in her abilities, making her more confident and self-assured in general.

10. The Benefits of Being Physically Active – The dangers of a sedentary lifestyle and the attendant risks of childhood obesity are well-documented, but all martial arts training will require your child to be physically active and fit. Learning the importance of a healthy, active body can inspire your child to make real changes in her lifestyle, helping to make her more focused on fitness and health in many areas.

These are just a few of the things that your child can learn from participation in a reputable, quality martial arts program. Before enrolling your child, however, it’s wise to remember that not all dojos are created equal. Just as it’s smart to shop around for the best area dance instructor or sports coach, you should also make an effort to locate an instruction facility in your area that has a strong reputation and a focus of kids’ programs.

Apr 24, 2013

Miyagi street art

Pedal Hard bike shop, Sacramento, CA

Apr 22, 2013

"If it's okay with his mommy."

Want to feel old?

Ralph Macchio is now the same age as Pat Morita was when they filmed the original Karate Kid, 51 years old.

(This creepy photo is from Karate Kid II however.)

Apr 20, 2013

A real life Cobra Kai

Class isn't over until there is blood on the floor.
No fear, no pain, no mercy.

Mar 28, 2013

A History and Style Guide of Karate

(by Robert Rousseau

Karate is primarily a stand up or striking martial art that emerged on the island of Okinawa as a blend of native Okinawan fighting styles and Chinese fighting styles. The term karateka refers to a karate practitioner.

The History of Karate

In early times, natives to the Ryukyu Islands developed a fighting system that was simply referred to as 'te'. The largest island in the Ryukyu chain is Okinawa Island, which is generally considered the birthplace of karate.

In 1372, trade relationships were established between the Ryukyu Islands and the Fujian Province of China, and this eventually spurred several Chinese families to move to Okinawa. These Chinese families began to share Chinese Kenpo with the native Okinawans they came in contact with, which was a blend of Chinese and Indian fighting styles. Through this, traditional Okinawan fighting techniques began to change, even if many families simply developed their own styles of martial arts in isolation. Still, there were three general styles that emerged and were named after the areas they developed-Shuri- te, Naha- te, and Tomari- te. The differences between the three styles were small and more about emphasis than anything else, as the cities of Shuri, Tomari, and Naha were all very close to one another.

The fact that weapons were banned in Okinawa in the 1400's by the invading Shimazu clan (Japanese clan) was a factor that spurred on the development of not only martial arts and karate in Okinawa, but also the use of inconspicuous farm tools as weapons.

As relations with China strengthened, the blend of the more traditional Okinawan fighting styles with those of Chinese Kenpo and the empty handed Chinese styles of Fujian White Crane, Five Ancestors, and Gangrou-quan, became more obvious. In addition, Southeast Asia influences were also brought into the fold, though perhaps to a lesser extent.

Sakukawa Kanga (1782-1838) was one of the first Okinawans to study in China. In 1806, he began teaching a martial art he called "Tudi Sakukawa," which translates to "Sakukawa of China Hand." One of Kanga's students, Matsumura Sokon (1809-1899), then taught a blend of te and Shaolin styles, which would later become known as Shorin-ryu. However, it is a student of Sokon's by the name of Itosu Anko (1831-1915) that is often called "the Grandfather of Karate." Itosu is known for creating simplified kata or forms for less advanced students and helped karate gain more mainstream acceptance. Along with this, he brought karate instruction to Okinawa's schools and the forms he developed are still used to a great extent today.

Characteristics of Karate

Karate is primarily a striking art that teaches practitioners to utilize punches, kicks, knees, elbows, and open hand strikes to disable opponents. Beyond this, karate teaches practitioners to block strikes and breath properly.

Most styles of karate also extend into throws and joint locks, with the extent of this dependent upon the style. Weapons are utilized in most styles as well. Interestingly, these weapons are often farm tools, as the use of them originated during a time when weapons were banned in Okinawa by invaders. By using farm tools, Okinawans did not bring attention to the fact that they were practicing to defend themselves.

Basic Goals of Karate

The basic goal of karate is self-defense. It teaches practitioners to block the strikes of opponents and then disable them quickly with pinpoint strikes. When takedowns are employed within the art, these tend to be used to set up finishing strikes.

Karate Substyles
  • Budokan
  • Goju-ryu
  • Kenpo
  • Kyokushin
  • Shito-ryu
  • Shorin-ryu
  • Shotokan
  • Uechi-ryu
  • Wado-ryu

Mar 21, 2013

Police looking for man who attacked woman outside restaurant

(by Pat Reavy 3-20-13)

The search continued Wednesday for a man who stabbed a woman in the neck outside a Salt Lake City restaurant Tuesday night.

The 40-year-old woman was walking home from the Salt Lake Main Library and took the path behind the Faustina Restaurant, 454 E. 300 South, about 8 p.m. when she said a man grabbed her purse and attempted to run.

The woman tried to hang on to her purse when the man attacked her.

"Suddenly she felt what she described as these punches to her neck, and it turned out the person who was assaulting her was using some sort of sharp-edged weapon," said Salt Lake police detective Dennis McGowan. The woman suffered a deep cut to her neck and behind her ear, but her injuries were not believed to be life-threatening.

"She was able to fight back, essentially make a lot of noise, and that caused him to flee soon after the attack began," McGowan said. She then ran into the nearby Faustina Restaurant for help.

McGowan said it wasn't clear Wednesday whether the attack was completely random.

Detectives were looking Wednesday for a white man, about 5 feet 7 inches tall, with brown hair and facial stubble. The only other description provided to police was he was wearing dark clothing.


(my comments)

You know, they always say if someone tries to mug you to just give them what they want, this woman is lucky to be alive for fighting this guy off and not giving up her purse.

On the other hand though she is brave for taking a stand and hanging on to her property. I think most of us are tired of the cowards that steal and if we were in her shoes we would probably to the same and fight back.

More reason than ever to get involved in the martial arts, to learn to protect yourself and how to fight back.

Mar 9, 2013

Fan artwork

artwork from daboogiemonster.tumblr

Be Street Movies

Mar 8, 2013

Ali in the blue one-piece

Who's that blonde in the blue?

The Hills.

The Hills? What's the Hills?


Karate Kid Nintendo video game

Mar 2, 2013

Dojo in the rain

A rainy day is the perfect day to train in the martial arts.

Mar 1, 2013

Is it just me or does Johnny's head look like it is detatched from his body? Also, notice Johnny's jacket, it is not the same one he wore in Karate Kid 1. The original jacket didn't have black trim.

Focus power, make good fight

Daniel, you would have won if they hadn't cheated

Kind of a silly photo with their facial expressions and all.

Feb 25, 2013

Ralph in the zone during rehersals.

Feb 22, 2013

Karate Kid 3 club scene

A great scene in an otherwise disappointing movie.

Feb 18, 2013

Feb 16, 2013

Feb 1, 2013

Miyagi and Daniel

unknown artist

Jan 19, 2013

Z-Ultimate Self defense studios?


Panda asked,

So having recently moved I'm trying to find a new place to study. There's a Z-Ultimate location near by, and having glanced over their website I think that I'd like to try it. I'm familiar with the Ed Parker style of Kenpo and they claim to use Kenpo (though of a different style) so I'm interested in that aspect. However, I would like to know if anyone has actually been taught at one of their studios, and what their experiences were with both the style and the teachers.

Thank you!

1 year ago  


Rynok answered,  

Let me tell you a little bit about Z-Ultimate Self defense studios:

Their founders broke off of United Studios of Self-Defense, lying about the reasons for that; basically claiming USSD founder & head Professor Charles Mattera had "retired" and that they were the legitimate successor to him and USSD, when Professor Mattera had NOT retired at all - he's still very much active and in charge of USSD. Z-Ultimate also did a bunch of other things when they broke off, including stealing confidential information, sabotaged the USSD website for a while, and destroying USSD’s electronic files. They tried to claim that monks from the Shaolin Temple in China were coming to do a seminar in the U.S. for them (which wasn't true - when the Abbot of the temple - who was the person who promoted Professor Mattera to Grandmaster in Shaolin Kempo karate - was shown a picture of these alleged monks, he only recognized one of them, a person who'd been kicked out of the temple years before for wrong-doings).

They also tried to sue USSD and prevent Professor Mattera from contacting individual USSD schools to let them know of what Z-Ultimate was doing.

Most of Z-Ultimate's lawsuit has been tossed out, and USSD has filed a counter-suit against them, and several USSD investors have also filed a suit against Z-Ultimate (both of which are currently pending; interested individuals can follow along on USSD's website - linked below - by moving their cursor over the "News/Events" link at the top of the page, and then clicking on the "Legal News" link).

The Shaolin Temple in China has also blasted Z-Ultimate over the split, calling Z-Ultimate head Paul Taylor's actions "shameful behavior.”


1 year ago


Darth Scandalous answered,

EPAK has been trampled on by clowns who make up their own way.

This is an example.

It's a mcdojo.


USSD is a mcdojo too.

Shaolin Temple in China has nothing to do with USSD and would find it pathetic to be involved in this BS dispute between two frauds.

1 year ago