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March 30, 1975 - Image 3

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1975-03-30

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laura berman
dan borus
contributing editor:
m ary long



page four-books
page five-lawrence
page six-week in

Number 22 Page Three Marc

h 30, 1975


The ver






With the fears of crime in the streets becoming ever more
sharply felt, a growing number of Americans are turning to
some form of self-defense. Television, movies, and news-
papers, have projected the image of the invicible practioner
of the Oriental martial arts. But the instructors and serious stu-
dents of the craft have something else in mind.

Daily Photo by KEN FINK

tends bar, he is confronted by
a lush who continually challenges
him. "Hey, you wanna fight?" the
drunk slurs belligerently. Good and
smashed, Lloyd's customer gets a
familiar glaze in his eyes as his
body strains forward to beat that
"black belt son of a bitch" behind
the counter.
Lloyd, an advanced Tae Kwan
Do instructor, is used to turning
away the neighborhood bully tunes
just aching to beat a black belt.
Like the other 20 black belt ex-
perts in Ann Arbor, Lloyd is well
aware of the awesome skills he
holds and the awesome resoonsi-
bilities such skills entails.
Padding about a corner of Wat-
erman Gym, moving fluently
through a series of choreogranhed
exercises dressed in a loose white
cloth uniform. Llovd nossesses the
power to destrov matter or a hody
with a single movemnt of a linmh.
Such power, magnified by elori-
fication in the media, has propel-
led Oriental self-defense to new
heizhts of ponulT rity. Not only
women fearful of harm, but men,
who traditionally were thought of
as able to hAndle themselves have
flocked to classes in record num-
mixed bae of reactions to the
current Kung Fu craze that has
elementary school kids sending
their friends home with their teeth
in their pockets. Although some
such as James Yu. a 5'2" black belt
who began the first karate pro-

gram here and has trained most of
the 20 Ann Arbor black belts, wel-
comes the famed Kung Fu Televi-
sion show, claiming it is "very good
publicity" for his art, others are
fearful of the instant exploitation
of the Oriental martial arts.
While grudgingly granting the
general accuracy of the show,
Steve Hu, a student karate instruc-
tor, warns against the use of the
arts as an activity for ego trippers
sweating for a free machismo ride.
"A person should be able to rea-
lize total pacifism in that machis-
mo doesn't get into it." Hu under-
lines the irony of karate's origins,
"It's the most efficient kind of
fighting, develoned by vegetarian.
pacifist Buddhist monks." He
laughs at Americans "into the male
machismo trin who get into mar-
tial arts because they know it's an
efficient way to beat peonle up."
Americans turn to the Orien-
tal Arts are visible on the floor of
Waterman gvmnasium. There it
is easy to pick out the occasional
tongh uy who looks like he's just
stenned out of the boxing ring,
stomping for a fight. In one cor-
ner. a fighter right off the movie
screen hisses as he performs the
mnovements Hu warns are "all de-
sipned to rpaim or. kill." He struts
about. taunting his weaker partner
and flashing the black belt that
heas become a badge of superiority.
A group of students squats in front
of the match, drawn by the combat
that jars with the other games
of pure sport.

type of black belt spars easily,
grinning like a great cheshire cat
stretching his body through a ser-
ies of choreographed forms. The
graceful dance betrays none of ka-
rate's lethality and blends smooth-
ly with the basketball and volley-
ball games simultaneously in ses-
sion on the gym floor. It has none
of the hostility swelling up in in
the other karate star across the
NOT ALL KARATE instructors are
happy with the new found
American popularity of the disci-
pline. Many are worried about its
"Americanization". One student
instructor sneered at the whole
tournament craze and the belt-
ranking system as an American ad-
"It's all bullshit." He con-
demns the belt-ranking system's
importance here as "a sham that
keeps Americans interested. It's a
reward system - the carrot in
front of the rabbit." Some karate
students continually gearing up for
the next color promotion are sur-
prised to learn the belt-ranking
system is non-existent in the Ori-
ent. According to the instructor
the "belt is a simple piece of the
uniform that keeps the top but-
toned." Although he has been
training for over five years, hehas
never bothered to take the black
belt exam-the spot of color wrap-
ped about his waist is irrelevant.
He points out that karate can be
a "very lucrative business since
they hit you with $20 every time
you take a promotion test." Each

with potentially ten ranks includ-
ed and a test required for each
upward leap. The instructor under-
lines the karate students' naivete,
"They're so happy to get a new
rank, they don't notice they're
paying a check."
As Hu points out, the martial
arts were not developed for ego
extension or simply self-defense.
The arts strive for both physical
and moral control. Hu sets true
understanding of karate high in
the black belt level. "It's fairly
hard for Westerners to compre-
hend. It has to do with yin-yang
and the dynamic interaction of op-
posites that define existence.
14U LIKES TELLING about the
tenth degree black belt (there
are only about 20 in the world)
who remarked on a visit here, "I
don't know why people spar. Do
they want to get hurt?" The mas-
ter was more interested in mrac-
tiring body movement and form.
Randv Hall, president of the
University Tae Kwan Do Club,
talks about karate, of which Tae
Kwan Do and Kung Fu are forms,
on the more gut physical level,
stressing body awareness and phv-
sical control. He joined the club
hecause of the fantastic body con-
trol he witnessed at a demonstra-
tion. He is quick to demonstrate
the point, jumping smoothly off his
chair to execute a full-Dowered
side kick that stops just inches
short of the wall - his stand-in
partner-"An animal has control,"
he exolains. "This is control in a
moral sense.''
Control is accomplished through
discipline and an insistence on re-
spect for others. Partners bow to
each other and to the instructor
before and after each snarring
session. Ron Alliere. a black belt
instructor at the YMCA, feels this
makes the art more than just a
system of self-defense moves.
"There's more to karate than just
self-defense." he says. "It im-
proves your character. making you
a more reasonable, decent person
in society."
But, for all the talk of the philo-
sonhical, sensual facets of karate,
there is no debate about the lethal
potential of the art. This power is
a concern and a resnonsibility for
those who hold the capacity to do
great damage.
I U. WHO JOINED the elite seven
years ago after an unarmed
street gang in Detroit kicked a
friend's father to death, has not
yet shot a well-timed punch in a
real-life situation. "It all sounds

time it's not necessary to use your
lethal weapon." He laughs at a
man, intrigued by his black belt,
who seemed anxious to learn ka-
rate to fight "raging dogs."
But he's serious when he argues,
"Protection of oneself is intrinsic
to man's nature. It's not civilized
to carry guns either."
Hall, however, didn't jump full
force into karate without some
reservations, "It bothered me for
about two years." I'm a nice guy,"
he smiles, "I don't want to harm
This power and the Charlie
Chan-Kung Fu myths of quiet in-
vincibility has made some black
belts very reticent to admit their
status. Lloyd, a tall, lean man
whose gentle appearance belie his
skills, despises the litany of re-
sponses his black belt distinction
provokes. "I consider myself suc-
cessful if I can know someone for
six months without them finding

surprised when "I got punched in
the face by a girl." Hall lets out an
admiring whistle, "Man, she had
a beautiful punch."
Joyce Moscovitz, a member of the
University's Tae Kwan Do club,
pauses between her warm-up at
the gym to observe, "It's hard to
hit people, but it's a lot more diffi-
cult to fight with women than with
Jean Baderschendier, a member
of the same group, agrees, "I fall
apart when I have to fight wom-
en." She sees karate as a natural
extension of her dancing and gym-
nastic interests emphasizing, "I
never try to be a hero with it. The
first time I broke a board I had a
strange feeling. It made me more
While Alliere forbids male-fe-
male contact in his classes at the
'Y', the University Tae Kwan Do
Club encourages it. Lloyd points
out, "Contact's not a dirty word.
Two people of the opposite sex
make contact all the time."

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"It's controlled action,

not simply in the physi-

cal sense, an animal has control. It is control in a


sense," says one practioner.


Steve Hu, "It all sounds very romantic, but basic-
ally you're scared shitless."
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In another corner a different school has about seven belt colors

out. Even Yu, the man who could
be called "the father of Ann Arbor
karate" is still a bit embarrassed
when he is asked if he can break a
BUT SOME LIKE the Oriental
mystique and revel in it. Says
Hall, "There's a guy in my frater-
nity with a black belt. He's only
5'6", but no one gives him any shit.
They sort of think this person's got
something extra.
For whatever reason, schools are
flourishing. But they are based on
hard work and highly discipline
schedule. Some schools are run
like military drills. "The person
who stays in there all the way,"
says Yu, "really commits himself.
Yu sets three years as the mini-
mum training period for a black
There is no difference in train-
ing for males and females. It is
rigorous without regard to sexual-

Hu has doubts about the all-wo-
men classes his studio offers, ob-
serving, "If you're going to be at-
tacked, it's going to be by a man."
However, he outlines the rea-
sons women have for requesting
all-women classes, "They either
dislike men, are not up to the male
power level, or are afraid of the
machismo element in a male class.
They're afraid the men will hu-
miilate them."
Hu throws a block on front of
that fear asserting, "The average
male is afraid to make body con-
tact with another male - they
don't hug each other; most have
trouble holding hands with some-
For all the brouhaha about Kung
Fu and other assorted forms of the
Oriental martial arts, many in-
structors with many years experi-
ence in the art counsel their stu-
dents the best defense against at-
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