Wednesday, March 01, 2006
How far do we fall?
1970 was the year of the Dojo War and the year I left High School.
I went back to my old high school. I was thinking about how we change from who we are. I looked for evidence of myself in the year book and the school papers. 1968 is a pivotal year.
This film has become a real journey of self discovery. I saw something in the year book I did not remember. I was in the Science Club at Proviso East High School in 1968. I wore a tie for the group photo. I was just 2 months out of Ft Benning, GA where my father was stationed before he was shipped off to Vietnam for the second time. Where I was in ROTC contemplating West Point as a career move.
6 months from this point I would be part of the social outrage at that war, already being pissed off at the asassination of Kennedy 5 years before and more heavily policized after the death of Martin Luther King. Kennedy was a problem for me, because we though castro was bad mahaflicky. We knew in our youthful wisdom, Castro would trounce Kennedy one on one, but we had to appreciate what it seemed Kennedy was doing for civil rights. He just needed to keep his hands off Cuba.
I would meet John Keehan again, this is the year he challenged Muhammad Ali supposedly, I was a sucker went there probably really expecting to see Ali knocking Keehan out. Ali was the GOD of all things Fistic. Keehan was out his damn mind, so we thought. But, hey, it got mea and a few thousand others there.
In the January 22, 1970 school paper, I found a picture of me doing a Karate demonstration. This was one month after the murder of the Black Panther Chairman, Fred Hampton, an alumni of my high school. He was killed Dec 4, 1969.
How I pulled this off after all the riots we had at Proviso, I do not remember. We were a school that experienced seasonal race riots. I had already been suspended for a nose breaking in my first two weeks at Proviso in 1968.
I was on the "white side" of the cafeteria talking to my chess club companions. They were white and seemed nervous. But they were nerds, they were always nervous, and they were my first friends at Proviso. I had a computer class with two of them. Someone threw some food at us. I confronted the offenders, I was not a nerd, we just shared the same interests. I did not want to be seen as the new nerd in town. But I was outnumbered, mad and full of Kyukoshinkai. Oyama was my hero of that moment. I was working on my "godhand." I was punching candles, tissue paper, making my Gi snap like any serious testoserone drive teenager. I was developing speed and penetration. The power was a result of the velocity of the mass(my fist).
The word "nigger" passed his lips in the north after I had never heard it in a year in Georgia, at least not to my face, I lived on a military base. The "Greaser"(nomenclature for blue-collar working class white kids of union factory workers and skilled craftsmen) got smacked, head snapped, nose broke, I was not proud. It shocked the hell out of me too. I had no love for hurting people.
He was rising up, I threw the first punch, I was outnumbered. I did not see me hit him, they did not see me hit him, he did not see me hit him. We took it to the bathroom. Word spread a black guy entered the toilet with 6 white guys in pursuit(we actually walked). A dean came in and intervened(thank God!). I had backed to the wall, was stretching, scared to death, breathing deep and calming my mind like a samurai, like I had a patua bless by a Mae de Santo in Bahia. Young foolish and ready to rumble, secure in mind that we had not reached the time where everybody had a gun, like they do now. :-)
I got tossed out for a week. I never had a real fight at Proviso East again. But I was never proud of this. I thought it might mean more fights for that top of the heap thing.
After years of fighting in school for not being this or that, being a person who stuttered or read too many books, hanging with the wrong people or whatever, I admit, it was liberating. I could get on with just being me, any me I wanted to be. I found no satisfaction in fighting. Avoided it whenever I could. In the long run Count Dante had no real influence over me, I don't think. After I advanced to Taoist study I was trying to run the selfless route and focus on tantric kumite, chasing that Taoist poonani.
That is me, in the photo, blocking my fellow club member and jazz flute player, the late Dennis Ledbetter. We wore black Gi's with red black and green patches. I forgot about all this. I rarely think about this stuff. I am now.