Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Green Dragon Dilemma

I have encountered a great dilemma in telling the story of the dojo war. I have many versions from one side, Keehan's side, and spotty information from the Green Dragon side.

The activities of John Keehan, where and who he learned from remain mysterious to some, fictional to others and a few I have talked to just may have the truth. In showing information in unedited form, I attract new information that helps me connect certain dots and throw other less than accurate information out. No one person has the whole truth in this story. It is like jazz composer Charles Mingus one said to his friend Fats Navarro, that truth is like a ruler everyone makes for himself, some are longer, some are shorter. And we also know that sometimes truth changes in the telling and is transformed over the times.

Keehan's Chinese practice seems to begin, in San Francisco, with James Lee. This may be verifiable, I am still working on so I can make an accurate conclusion. James Lee wrote booklets on Iron Palm and Poison Hand back in the late 1950s.

Masters Edgell and Felkoff offer further evidence of Keehan learning techniques in Chicago. This will be clarified in the film. The claims that he learned or published Green Dragon techniques bears serious questioning.

It is already established he was with Ed Parker for awhile. No one teacher can claim Keehan, he started as a boxer, then went to judo and it gets murky from there. I have several claiming to have introduced him to Karate, As a very young man he was on the move and had money from his rich doctor father, so it is not improbable that he went where he wanted, when he wanted.

I never thought I was going to solve the mystery of what started it all. I keep confronting new myteries to unravel. Maybe the dojo/dragon war was just Keehan feeling his star fading and seeing a new generation rising. Maybe it was the missionary zeal of a new generation who saw Keehan as old news. The only truths I have found are one dead , one maimed, a career shattered and life drastically changed.

This is such a compelling tale, a challenging tale, it gets overwhelming sometimes. But no worry. I have it well in hand, I like to think. There are still interviews to do, animation to create, I should finish shooting my recreations in the next few weeks.

Making a documentary is a journey of discovery. This journey is like a rough ride down some serious rapids. The good news is the kayak is not sinking, far from it.

Some interesting changes are afoot. New information continues to arrive even as I am trying to finish up. Unfortunately, it just gets more interesting.

One thing the Green Dragon letter did for me was bring to mind the Von Boskirk's. I used to shop there starting when I was 12. I bought my gi's and belts and my first pair of nunchakus from them. I got books, magazines and manuals from them also. I knew Mr. and Mrs. Von Boskirk. I would be late sometime and they would be closing but Mrs. Von Boskirk, annoyed as she might be, always let me into their little crowded shop on South Halsted Street near 63rd St. They were always very kind to me.

I never knew how Mr Von Boskirk died. When I heard years later that Mr Von Boskirk had died stopping a fight in front of the store I was very sad. I had asked Mrs. Von Boskirk where her husband was once and she just said he had died. She keep the store open for years after that.


Sa Bum Nim Pieschala said...

Good post,
I still think it's James Lee that taught Dante. Just like we had talked.

I think the timing of what James Lee was teaching, and in conjunction with how incredibly small the martial arts community was at the time is worth noting.

I'm sure you have some good information.

I hope you have time to follow leads before the time runs out.

Best wishes,
Master C. C. Pieschala

Dojo Rat said...

Keep going Floyd! It just keeps getting better!
John At Dojo Rat