Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Spirit of Martial Arts???

I am just riding the wave of controversy that keeps getting attracted to the making of this film. It sucks that I am being sued, it sucks that Fall River Black Dragon Fighting Society (BDFS) was not able to find away to ask to go into mediation and decided to make this a high profile federal court case. But...I knew what I was getting into when I started this project and will ride it out to completion. I took on the odds of being involved with the characters of Dante's past. Mind you, all of them are NOT like this.

The most unfortunate thing is all the insults and bad feelings that are being generated due to pure ego and obstinance. Fall River BDFS has chosen to engage in an online smear campaign, try the case in the court of Bullshido, as it were. Along the way they have said untruths about some of the veteran Black Dragons. They really need to apologize to the old timers for those unfounded statements. But will they???

Discipline in martial arts is everything. But not all adhere to it. Courtesy is everything in martial arts, but not all belive in it. Respect is everything in martial arts and when you don't show respect to people, you won't get it.

Some people are not wise enough to understand the power of respect. Some people do not acquire the real spirit of martial arts, all they get is the violence in spirit and behavior.

When John Keehan's Chinese teacher dropped him it was because he found John to not be of good character, and he had commercialized what he had learned. Fall River adheres to the dark side of John Keehan's legacy with a lack of the intelligence it takes to walk that road, so they stumble along and merely create chaos in their wake.

The things they have said about Master's Felkoff and Day are not acceptable. Their disrespect of Mr Van Vuuren when he came to them is horrendous. In their emails they show he approached them with courtesy and respect. They then rebuffed and disrespected him with their claims of rank and entitlement. They accuse of everyone of making money off the legacy of Dante because it is their obsession with getting paid, the easy way.

Why am I getting involved in this part? I was taught to respect my elders. That is part of my upbringing. I can yell scream and disagree all I want with them but I must always respect them. There are places I dare not go, that is part of my dna. It is not fear, it is belief in a moral action to honor those who have come before us, especially while they are alive.

As a former martial artist I was taught respect and humility was everything.

We had a hard task master in my first sensei, Gregory Jaco. We were not paying for our lessons. Jaco believed martial arts were essential to the development of a strong character and essential to our survival as human beings in the hostile environment we inhabited. We paid for our lessons in sweat and sometimes blood(literally). Jaco was only one year older than me. But he carried himself like he was 60 and then became 15 more times than not. He was a character.

He taught us early to not talk bad about other styles, that it was the individual who proved the effectiveness of any style. He was old school in big way. He was big, burly and gentle as a lamb, when he wanted to be. He walked with a warriors heart, he had nothing to prove. This is humility.

How easy is it to have peace? Easy, admit to the people you insulted you were wrong, clean up the damage you did in public. What is it they say about Pride going before a fall? Those words should be heeded. I

Take it back to the Tao:
Those who wish to change the world
According with their desire
cannot succeed.

The world is shaped by the Way;
It cannot be shaped by the self.
Trying to change it, you damage it;
Trying to possess it, you lose it.

Tao te Ching

Monday, October 22, 2007

On the Lighter Side...Today's Irony and Getting Ready for Pittsburgh Black Belt Hall of Fame.

In the middle of all this I suddenly get a piece of mail has made me an honorary member of the Black Dragon Fighting Society(BDFS). Nooooo, this was initiated by Mike Felkoff, no remorse on the part of the Fall River claimant. I got an official certificate signed by Dr Lawrence Day and Stoffel Van Vuuren. Dr. Day is a direct student of John Keehan/Count Dante.

Now this is going to rankle some feathers, but what can I say. It is a great distraction from all the motions and counter-motions. How much more crazier can this all get. Damn, I should not even ask. Double irony, Van Vuuren considered an associate of Ashida Kim, presently has no dealings with him whatsoever. I know nothing about Ninjas so I have nothing to say about it. Accusations are being flung about about money changing hands and it just goes to show how the focus is always about what someone else is or is not getting. All I am getting is a headache and have to continue to struggle to get this film completed.

I guess I am in the middle of a guantlet being thrown down while all I am trying to do is make a great film. Now, along the way, I have been made an honorary member of the the BDFS by elder members of the original BDFS who want to send a message that they support the making of this film. It is that simple. After weeks of people trying to impose a lot of stress on me it is good to get a good laugh. Does it effect my ability to be objective about my subject. Please do not ask me this today. I will get deeper into this subject after I get done laughing at the irony of the day.

Since the 1980’s the Eastern U.S.A. International Martial Arts Association, Inc. has been sponsoring the U.S.A. International Black Belt Hall of Fame. I will be there when it convenes this year to see Mike Felkoff's reunion with Lawrence Day who last saw one another the day of the Black Dragon/Green Dragon incident in April, 1970. The event will take place in Pittsburg, PA Nov 9-11. Felkoff will be inducted into the International Black Belt Hall of Fame.

What does this mean, this ascension of a new "international" Black Dragon Fighting Society headed by Felkoff, Dr Lawrence Day and Professor Stoffel Van Vuuren? These old heads have come together to revive the Black Dragon Fighting Society and have an impressive list of international affiliate instructors. It means I want to film this event and this reunion.

I have heard rumblings of Keehan's association with a real Japanese Black Dragon who settled in the Indiana area and was teaching judo. I am being told that this choice of a name was not an arbitrary choice. I will be exploring this more. I have given some interesting background on the Black Dragon Society in my earlier blogs. I am not making any assumptions, all I can do is explore possibilities and intent.

When Mr. Aguiar III heard about my "honorary" certificate he called Dr. Day to read him the riot act. All these vitriolics will come to naught. Time moves on, situations and conditions change. A sense of humour is what we all need about now.

I thank the elders for their show of support. This is some adventure I am on, fromNat Cole to an empty grave, to Federal Court, to honorary membership in the Black Dragon Fighting Society. It looks gooooooood on me! :-)

New Discoveries afoot...

Some very odd things have happened this past few weeks besides the lawsuit. Regarding the lawsuit, there have been motions and counter-motions and allies of the opposition are still arguing the case on Bullshido. Everyone is asking me what is going to happen. Hmmmmmm...we will see. :-)

I am grateful to my legal team at the Stanford University Fair Use Project for Documentary Film and Foley Hoag for all the hard work they have put into representing me. At Stanford they are: Anthony Falzone, Julie Ahrens and Brandy Karl.

It is very important that I acknowledge Lawrence Lessig, the founder and director of the Center for Internet and Society and the C. Wendell and Edith M. Carlsmith Professor of Law at Stanford Law School. He was named one of Scientific American's Top 50 Visionaries for arguing "against interpretations of copyright that could stifle innovation and discourse online.”

At Foley Hoag in Boston I would like to thank Mike Boudett, David Kluf, and Walead Esmail. They have all done a great job!

Meanwhile, my work goes on. As part of my investigation of John Keehan's "San Francisco Period," I have spoken with a real Grandmaster, one whose credentials will never be in question, Ralph Castro. We spoke about his coming to Chicago in 1963 with Ed Parker for the First World Karate Tournament that was organized by John Keehan on behalf of the Robert Trias and the United States Karate Association. One of the joys of working on this film is being able to talk to singular personalities like Great Grandmaster Castro.

His first martial arts training was as a boxer at the behest of his father Boss Castro, in Honolulu. Mr Castro began his training under Grandmaster William S Chow in Hawaii in 1955 when he was 21 years old. Chow is considered by many to be the founder of the modern day kenpo system. I spoke with the 75 year old after one of his classes by phone last week. I was trying to get a line on his knowledge of John Keehan back in those days. He meet him but did not know much about him except that he organized the 1963 tournament.

Mr Castro was not a student's of Ed Parker's but he did attend the Chicago Tournament with him as a contemporary and fellow instructor back then. He speaks of it as one of his most exciting trips to the city.

This is the substance the film needs. This is an opportunity to explore other origins and migrations that gave us martials arts in America.

Now, back to writing, interviews, reenactments and animation. The beat goes on....and there is an end in sight.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Stanford Law School’s Fair Use Project and Foley Hoag Defend....my rights to fair use

We are anxious to get tis over and done with:

Stanford Law School’s Fair Use Project and Foley Hoag Defend Documentary Filmmaker’s Fair Use and Free Speech Rights; Seek Damages for Wrongful Takedowns

STANFORD, Calif., October 11, 2007—The Fair Use Project of the Center for Internet & Society at Stanford Law School and its co-counsel Foley Hoag LLP filed an answer and counterclaim in Massachusetts federal court Tuesday on behalf of filmmaker Floyd Webb, who is being sued over material he is using on the Internet to promote a documentary about Count Dante, an enigmatic, Chicago martial arts legend from the 1960s who founded the Black Dragon Fighting Society. The society’s current “Grand Master,” William Aguiar III, alleges that Webb’s promotional website and film trailer infringe copyrights and trademarks that Aguiar now controls. But Webb believes he has the right to use the disputed material under the “fair use” doctrine and seeks damages against Aguiar for misrepresentation of copyright under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Chicago-based filmmaker Floyd Webb is making “The Search for Count Dante,” a documentary chronicling the real-life odyssey of martial arts master John Keehan who introduced a self-styled version of martial arts to America in the 1960s and 1970s. Keehan changed his name to Count Juan Raphael Dante, described himself in popular comic books as holding the “world’s deadliest fighting secrets,” adopted the moniker “Crown Prince of Death,” and founded an organization he called the Black Dragon Fighting Society.

Count Dante played a role in launching the first "world Karate tournament" in Chicago in 1963 and was reputed to have trained Black and Latino students at a time when rival dojos would not. His students dominated the competitive karate scene in the 1960s. Dante was a pioneering advocate of no-holds-barred mixed martial arts (MMA) in the 1960s, and he was rumored to have once challenged Muhammad Ali to a boxing match.

Dante was also reputed to be a hairdresser for Playboy models, a classically trained singer, and made claims to have been a U.S. Army Ranger who helped arm Fidel Castro in a 1959 mission called “Operation Water Buffalo.” In addition, Dante is alleged to have been the mastermind behind the Purolator Vault robbery—one of the most notorious heists in Chicago history—as well as the instigator of the infamous "dojo wars" that resulted in the death of his colleague and friend.

Webb’s documentary seeks to separate fact from fiction, and he created a trailer and website to raise awareness about the film, and to track the progress of his research into Count Dante’s life. Webb posted the trailer to his website, www.thesearchforcountdante.com, and to YouTube (www.youtube.com). Aguiar, the son of a Dante protégé, sent takedown notices and cease-and-desist letters claiming that Webb’s trailer and website infringe copyrights and trademarks that Aguiar owns—specifically images and logos of Count Dante and Black Dragon Fighting Society.

In September, Aguiar filed a lawsuit against Webb in United States District Court, District of Massachusetts, alleging copyright and trademark infringement. Webb denies Aguiar’s claims, and in his counterclaims Webb seeks injunctive relief and damages for misrepresentation of copyright under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Webb also seeks declaratory judgment that his use of certain images and logos in the trailer and on his website does not constitute infringement of any copyrights or trademarks that Aguiar is authorized to assert against him.

“It’s unclear that Aguiar owns any of these rights in the first place,” explained Anthony Falzone, the executive director of the Fair Use Project at Stanford Law School. “What is clear is that Floyd Webb has every right to use the material at issue under the Fair Use Doctrine. His First Amendment rights are at stake here.”

“The infringement claims are not valid,” said Brandy Karl, Residential Fellow at the Center for Internet and Society. “We intend to make sure that Floyd Webb and other documentary filmmakers are not silenced by such threats and baseless takedown notices.”

In February of this year, the Fair Use Project (FUP) launched a collaborative insurance program to provide critical support for documentary filmmakers who rely on the “fair use” of copyrighted material in their films.

“The case against William V. Aguiar III is perfect example of why documentary filmmakers need to have legal help in their corner—so they can stand up for their ‘fair use’ rights because their films depend on the inclusion of copyrighted material they seek to comment on, discuss, and contextualize,” said Lawrence Lessig, founder and director of the Center for Internet and Society and the C. Wendell and Edith M. Carlsmith Professor of Law at Stanford Law School.

In addition to lawyers from the Fair Use Project, three lawyers from the Boston office of Foley Hoag LLP are serving pro bono as local counsel to Webb in this matter—Michael Boudett, David Kluft, and Walead Esmail. Foley Hoag has an extensive practice in intellectual property litigation and a demonstrated commitment to pro bono activity in support of artists and first amendment rights.

About the Fair Use Project

The Stanford Center for Internet and Society's "Fair Use Project" ("the FUP") was founded in 2006. Its purpose is to provide legal support to a range of projects designed to clarify, and extend, the boundaries of "fair use" in order to enhance creative freedom. The FUP represents filmmakers, musicians, artists, writers, scholars, and other content creators in a range of disputes that raise important questions concerning fair use and the limits of intellectual property rights. In doing so, it relies on a network of talented lawyers within the Center for Internet and Society, as well as attorneys in law firms and public interest organizations that are dedicated to advancing the mission of the FUP. The FUP provides an expanding array of assistance to content creators. It has advised prominent creators and distributors of documentary films concerning fair use, defamation, trademark infringement, and other issues relating to the appropriate bounds of free expression. While is impossible to eliminate completely the risk of a dispute, this analysis helps reduce and identify liability and litigation risks before the fact, so that informed decisions can be made.

About the Center for Internet and Society

The Center for Internet and Society is a public interest technology law and policy program at Stanford Law School and a part of the Law, Science and Technology Program at the law school.

About Lawrence Lessig

Lawrence Lessig is the founder and director of the Center for Internet and Society and the C. Wendell and Edith M. Carlsmith Professor of Law at Stanford Law School. Professor Lessig represented website operator Eric Eldred in the U.S. Supreme Court case Eldred v. Ashcroft, a challenge to the 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act. He was named one of Scientific American's Top 50 Visionaries for arguing "against interpretations of copyright that could stifle innovation and discourse online.”

About Anthony Falzone

Anthony Falzone is the executive director of Stanford Law School’s Fair Use Project. He is an intellectual property litigator with more than eight years of experience and has represented technology and media clients in a wide array of intellectual property disputes including copyright, trademark, rights of publicity, and patent matters. Prior to joining Stanford Law School, he was a partner in the San Francisco office of Bingham McCutchen LLP.

About Brandy Karl

Brandy Karl joined Stanford Law School in 2007 as a residential fellow at the Center for Internet & Society, where her work includes public interest litigation and other projects related to technology and intellectual property regulation. Karl's research interests focus on developments in copyright law and the application of the fair use doctrine. Her publications include topics ranging from the politics of the Supreme Court to trademark dilution. Prior to joining the Center, Karl practiced copyright and trademark law in Boston as principal of her own firm. She is a 2001 graduate of MIT and a 2004 graduate cum laude of Boston University School of Law, where she was a Paul J. Liacos Distinguished Scholar and an articles editor for the Journal of Science and Technology Law.

About Stanford Law School

Stanford Law School is one of the nation’s leading institutions for legal scholarship and education. Its alumni are among the most influential decision makers in law, politics, business, and high technology. Faculty members argue before the Supreme Court, testify before Congress, and write books and articles for academic audiences, as well as the popular press. Along with offering traditional law school classes, the school has embraced new subjects and new ways of teaching. The school’s home page is located at www.law.stanford.edu.

About Foley Hoag LLP

Foley Hoag LLP is a leading law firm in international law, litigation, and arbitration of disputes among sovereign states and between sovereign states and foreign investors. Foley Hoag also represents foreign governments in litigation before the federal and state courts of the United States. The firm’s 250 lawyers are located in Washington, DC, and Boston. For more information visit www.foleyhoag.com.


Stanford Law School:
Judith Romero
Associate Director of Media Relations

Foley Hoag LLP:
Meghan Magner
Public Relations Manager


Stanford Law School:
Anthony Falzone
Executive Director, Fair Use Project

Thursday, October 04, 2007

There once was a lion...

On a lighter note, I have discovered the fate of John Keehan/Count Dante's pet lion.

When last seen, the lion had taken a bite out of the mayor of Quincy, IL at a Lion's Club convention. John and a buddy had taken the lion there. The owner of a Buick dealership bought the lion from John under circumstances I have not yet determined. The Buick dealer was living at home at the time. He arrived, tied the lions leash to the kitchen door and went to bed. Next morning, his mother woke up and discovered a lion in her kitchen, to her dismay.

The Buick dealer would get a kick out of driving the lion around in a Buick Opal station wagon. The lion was sold again to another Buick dealer in St. Louis, then the Lion was sent to a zoo in Texas.

I will update this entry as pictures and more information comes available.

I am sure glad I can have at least a little fun with this film..... :-)

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