Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Saga Continues, and he called me a "coon!"

I did two more interviews this week for the film. The Green Dragon mystery will remain a mystery but it's history and genesis will be clearly outlined in the film. I have learned who to rely on for some semblance of accurate information. I have people to cross check data with now. I am better off now then I was when I started this project. I have met some great people all across the country. And, as you have witnessed, I have met some people whose conduct speaks volumes.

I am greatful to those who have opened their doors and archives to me and those who continue to do so. It was the late Ken Knudson who opened those initial doors for me. Ken had a few vital numbers I needed, and he was my first interview. Ken's generosity led me to other former students of Dante and I was able to reconnect to a world I left long long ago.

Wherever I have gone, Chicago, Las Vegas, San Francisco, New York, Kankakee, all have been welcoming. Even Fall River was welcoming, but with a wicked agenda.

I have been going through Keehan's FBI Record for any clues and significants things I need to follow up on. Some interesting tidbits have arisen that I missed.

The lawsuit saga continues, and it is in good hands with my representation.

Bullshido.net has become a place where the Fall River Crew are trying the case in public.
It has become a Bullshido soap opera of sorts and no one can tell who the players are without scorecards. I even have two forums dedicated to their gathering information about me and Ashida Kim(whom I have never met) and a whole forum dedicated to the William Aguiar lawsuit.

I have been called a "coon" online by this John Creeden guy, definitely an anachronism of an insult for a guy in Massachusetts showing extremely low self esteem and totally being out of touch with the prevailing changes in popular culture. But then, he redeemed himself of that criticism by continuing to not only use the word "coon," but by venturing to the graveyard of the NAACP and digging up the work they tryin' to bury, "nigger."

One of the other posters on Bullshido replied to his "coon" slur with a very funny, "The 1930s called, they want their insult back!"

You would think a person could get banned for such language. But, hey it is good to know who the bigots are. They should expose themselves more often. Hooray for free speech and all that.

Now, I tried to warn them that burying the word was not going to work. It is a vampire that lives off the lifeblood of racism. When you eliminate racism, the word will cease to exist or have meaning. From the looks of it racism is not going anywhere soon. Hence the word "nigger" will remain and people like Creeden will continue to resurrect such terms at will. For those of you in your 20's see a reference to the word "coon" here.

I am old enough to have passed through that faze where I even took that kind of language seriously. I know who I am and long as you ain't stepping to me I will just laugh in the face of such attempts to undermine my self-worth. I know who I am.

He has even called me a used car salesman, wow, just like John Keehan was.

One thing learned a long time ago in public meetings, never challenge a man with a microphone. And let's add to that, or a video camera.

This is about filmmaking. It's construction, the parts, ingredients that make for compelling subject material. What materials are needed? How do I access and support those materials? It is a process of discovery and does have the potential of adventure, for better or worse. It is a struggle and a hassle, especially if you are an independent.

Just because Michael Moore made millions on his documentary films by being an annoying, yet, compelling commentator on the politics of contemporary popular culture does not mean just anybody can do the same. Money can be made for sure, but how much, that is a crap shoot.

I did not start this film thinking I was going to make millions. I was hoping the film could pay for itself and help me start another film. Along the way I found far more to the story than I imagined. Now I am on a different track and will not be derailed by the interests of others.

The project continues. It is only getting better.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Promise of Power



This morning I was out about 5:00 am, headed for the gym, trying to fat bust.

On the way back I spotted this empty newspaper machine. It was totally empty but for an old muscle advertisement lodged in the display window. I was already thinking about my cutting of the film, my structure of lack of structure. I stopped and looked at this isolated bit of vintage black and white and imagine how this idea sprang into John Keehan's head. The promise of power, seductive, mythic, a search for a magic potion, a talisman. A key to transformation, an appeal to the raging hormones of adolescent boys.

These advertisements remain a curiosity for me. I remember the advertisments in black publications when I was a child, especially black oriented romance magazines.The ads there promised transformation also. Lighter skin, straighter hair to make your life better, to help you feel more confident to win in the game of love. A pathway to acceptance by the dominant culture.

Media dictated and continues to dictate these standards in ways I still question in my full-blown media literacy. The medium is the message? I need you guys to help me on this. What do you think? Like I said, making a documentary is a journey of discovery.

I never ordered Dante's book because I did not believe he was the world's deadliest man. I had seen Gregory Jaco catch an arrow. I had seen unnamed martial artists in public park matches in fights that lasted 12 seconds or less. I had seen a lesbian neighbor of ours, I just knew her as Ms Jess, fight off 2 guys with a straight razor in front of a bar and left blood all over the street and got none on her suit.

I knew deadly.

I did not need a comic book to sell me deadly. It was a cool advertisement. I had my first experience with learning martial arts from Mas Oyama's book, This is Karate. It was a beautiful oversized hardback edition I got at the Public Library at Fort Benning, GA when my dad was an instructor at the Ranger School. I remember the smell, the beautiful black and white photography. It had a gold embossed zen brush stroke in the cloth cover. It was a beautiful book. And it was chock fill of information, easier to follow pictures. Lots of strobe photography movements. Oyama's book was the one to learn from it you had to do use a book.

I think the first edition was like 1965 or sometime around then. It is definitely a classic.
After seeing a book like that, I had no faith in mail order $3 deals by mail. But Dante's advert looked cool as hell and hell yeah I wanted one of the membership cards. But I held to discipline and did not got for the oki doke. I was surrounded by too many powerful guys then. And they were powerful because of working kata, attending Shiai, long workouts and street fighting.

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.

Friday, September 21, 2007

What's New is old...info keeps coming

More info has made it's way to me regarding the Dragon/Dojo Wars. Info is constantly filtering through, some of it credible and believable and some not. I am going to show excerpts of a letter I recieved below. I have changed the names to protect the informant who now lives in a far eastern location, a former resident of Chicago.

----- Original Message ----
From: Floyd Webb
To: Chingzhang
Sent: Wednesday, September 19, 2007 9:48:45 PM
Subject: Re: Hello I would like to speak with you if possible

Chingzhang,

Thanks for getting back in touch.

I did not realize how sensitive this issue has remained. Please answer the following questions as you do not want to be interviewed in the film.

1. Could you tell me some of your background first of all.

"I COULD TELL YOU....BUT THEN".....(you know how the rest of the saying goes.....IT'S CLASSIFIED!!)

2. Were you a member of the Green Dragon Society (GDS)?

Never an initiated member....I trained with an instructor on a private basis.

3. I am looking to understand how John Keehan managed to enter the Chinese martial arts in Chicago. Who were the Chinese groups and how long had they been established here.

Keehan never entered the Chinese martial arts community in Chicago. It was a "closed door" sector at the time. 1964 was when the first Chinese masters began to publicly teach non-Chinese, Chinese martial arts. There were those who received instruction in watered down versions of these systems....but, they were never initiated into the true version of the Chinese arts. They were taught what could best be described as "Chinese Karate".

The first Chinese to openly teach Gung Fu in the USA was the late Bruce Lee. he got into a lot of trouble for that. The Tongs were furious with him for revealing the secret knowledge of the chinese fighting arts. It eventually cost him his life. Ark Y Wong, Venerable Grand Master of the Fiva Family system (Ng Gar Kuen) was the first to officially teach (with permission) the American public true gung fu....but he gave it out in small portions.

John Keehan studied American Kempo (then known as Chinese Kempo) under Ed Parker for an uncertain time. The late, John McSweeney (10th Degree black belt, White Tiger Kempo) student of Ed Parker, was the first to document Keehan's presence in Ed Parker's school.

Keehan may have studied with Bruce Lee and James Lee in Oakland California, in the early 1960's. This is a very real possibility. During that time period, there were only two places that you could purchase the books of James Lee and Bruce Lee: the Green Dragon Society...and, Van Boskirk's sports store. Mrs. Van Boskirk, was a close personal friend of John Keehans. She admired him immensely and supplied his WKF, the later the BDFS, with all of their supplies, manuals, books etc.

Now: this next item is not speculation...it is fact. John Keehan had been trying for quite some time to infiltrate the Green Dragon Society. He offered to pay for the classes for anyone who would be accepted in to the GDS, so that he could learn the fighting art of the GDS. He tried several times with young black recruits. But they never made it in side the GDS, or past their screening process....which was extremely thorough and violent, if they discovered that you were a "mole".

Keehan succeeded in getting a white guy to infiltrate the GDS. His name was either Garret, or Garrison. This "mole" became an instructor within the GDS. I know this from several of my personal con "tacts" within the Black Dragon Society. I will not reveal their names, so as not to compromise their positions. They never knew of my connections with the GDS.

What John Keehan, portrayed as being Black Dragon arts, were actually GDS basic techniques. The Black Dragon emphasis on grunting, snorting, intimidating tactics, are just the superficial methods of developing, what is called, the "animal spirit" that is taught in the GDS.

Keehans BDFS techniques were all just basics extracted from the GDS syllabus of basic techniques.

What really started the feud between the GDS and the BDFS....was that Keehan used the dragon symbol/logo of the GDS, used the exact same art logo, and just had it painted black. The GDS went ballistic. The war was on!!!

4. Can you give me a hint as to why there is so much apprehension about what I might find.
One thing I have been told is that the person who was accused of killing Konsevic was probably not the person that actually did it.

SIMPLE...."STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS".....in a case such as the dragon wars...if the real info came out....people could be charged, prosecuted, and maybe even go to jail. It's a hot issue.....my advice....LEAVE IT ALONE!!!

4a. What is the version you heard as to what happened when Keehan went to Black Cobra Hall?

THAT IS CLASSIFIED...."I COULD TELL YOU......."

5. Is there anyone who would talk to me on film about this event and the circumstances surrounding it.

NO TRUE MEMBER OF THE GDS WILL OPENLY SPEAK ON THIS MATTER.....FOR THE ABOVE REASONS.....ALSO....THE PERSON(S) INVOLVED WANT TO LEAD QUIET, LOW KEY LIVES...THEY DO NOT WANT TO "STIR THE POT"....."LET SLEEPING DOGS LIE".....again...my advice.....LEAVE IT ALONE!!!!

I hope this does not take up too much of your time. I appreciate you taking the time out to answer my questions.

I debated for a long time whether I should contact you. Decided to give you a "heads up". Remember, or maybe you are not aware of this....both the GDS and the BDFS....have connections with the "underworld"...and the "intelligence community"........"they"....are also very concerned about how deep your project may go and where it may lead.

Chingzhang
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This gives me a bit to think about. It links to other information I have heard. I have never heard of the "logo conflict." This is truly new information. We are gonna have fun with this one!!!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Shooting and recording narratives....

I am busy this week with the recreations for the film and writing and recording narrative. Not much more to report than that. If you are curious about the coming lawsuit in Fall River, you will have to wait. They will get the attention they so badly crave in a courtroom at some point.

The pressure is on to get completed by end of the year. I found an informant far afield in a remote location. He may have some surprising information. And I do mean SURPRISING.
No hints.

I am deep in concentration about the film. Letting those who are capable deal with the attempts at troubles. I will let the Tao speak for a minute:

" Those who know don't talk.
Those who talk don't know.

Close your mouth,
block off your senses,
blunt your sharpness,
untie your knots,
soften your glare,
settle your dust.
This is the primal identity.

Be like the Tao.
It can't be approached or withdrawn from,
benefited or harmed,
honored or brought into disgrace.
It gives itself up continually.
That is why it endures."

Sunday, September 09, 2007

As the Shoe Drops 2...a humorous look at Copyright

To give my readers a better idea of the challenges I am facing, I post a video that examines the concept of copyright and fair use through some humorous multimedia.



This is really funny and informative. I found this on the Fair Use Project FAQ page

As the Shoe Drops....Aguiar v. Webb et al

Aguiar v. Webb et al
Plaintiff: William V. Aguiar, III
Defendant: Floyd Webb, Barron Sheppard, Wendy Sheppard and Ashida Kim

Case Number: 1:2007cv11673
Filed: September 7, 2007

Court: Massachusetts District Court
Office: Boston Office [ Court Info ]
County: Bristol
Presiding Judge: Chief Judge Mark L. Wolf

Nature of Suit: Intellectual Property - Copyrights
Cause: 17:101 Copyright Infringement
Jurisdiction: Federal Question
Jury Demanded By: None

So here we go. People have been wondering why the blog has been quiet. I just got done with quite a few little summer projects that I normally do. I have been doing pre-production of re-enactments for the doc, specifically the dojo war and a few other things that will be useful to the story. I should be in production in the next three weeks on those re-enactments.

I want to give the story some heart. The story is not only about the wild antics of John Keehan. It is about the world of martial arts up to his death in 1975. It is also about the people who came before him and influenced him and helped built a martial arts presence in America.

On the way to accomplishing this enormous task I have fallen into the litigation zone. As you can see from the above data, Willliam Aguiar III, Supreme Grand Master of the Black Dragon Fighting Society has filed suit against me for copyright infringement in the matter of my using materials he claims he owns in the making of my film, the posting of trailers on the internet and the use of images on my website.

Meanwhile, I have been engaged as a client by the Fair Use Project for Documentary Film at Stanford University. They have the situation in hand and under control. The film is being made, nothing has stopped, I am actually engaged

So how do I feel about this? Indifferent. I am out to make a movie. This is more grist for the content mill as far as I am concerned. The real issue is money. They want as much as they can get for holding possession of images of John Keehan and want to stick me up for it. Their point is to cause me distress in the making of the film. The point is to tied me up and cause me enormous expense to prevent the making of the film without them being paid tribute. That is my interpretation.

I have claimed fair use for certain materials I am using in the film. I asked his lawyer for a visual catalog of materials they claimed ownership of over a year ago. I tried to speak to Aguiar over a year ago to remove the lawyers from this until we could assess what he actually had and what I wanted to use. I was willing to make a fair market offer for archival footage of John Keehan he owned free of any other disputes, that had clear ownership. I also wanted to indemnified against other claims by other parties for any footage he claimed that I wanted to use. William Aguiar III wanted to be paid for an interview, while he never actually knew John Keehan, his father was the business partner of Keehan and had recently died.

In walks a character by the name of John Creeden III who sells my newly aquired business partner film footage of John Keehan that he claims is owned by his father John Creeden, Jr.
My business partner paid out $1,000 for unlimited rights to use the film footage of Count Dante showing moves from the Dance of Death and wrestling. Creeden shot the film footage directly from a TV monitor and not from digitized 8mm footage as was discussed and agreed upon. Out of about 5 minutes of footage there is about 2 minutes I would be interested in using.

In a classic scenario of why I was not making agreements for upfront payments for anything, pending some kind of certification of and right to ownership, Aguiar claims copyright infringement.

Several weeks ago William Aguiar III contacted me by Yahoo Instant Messenger, initially as "Tom Souza." Upon my refusal to speak to this stranger he revealed his true identity. He was offering to do make a deal without the lawyers. There was no way i could trust thse guys so I told them to contact the attorney of record on my counter of their website takedown. John Creeden was the icing on the cake of distrust as far as I was concerned. If they wanted to come to some kind of agreement they needed to communicate that to the attorney.

There is not a whole lot more to say about it. I am concentrating on getting much needed footage done. No time left to spend playing with Fall River.

The attorney's have it in hand. I got a deadline to meet.