Thursday, October 09, 2008

Still Hustlin' The film is coming.

A 3 minute version of the film is being syndicated by It was just featured in on on Wednesday, October 8. It was a feature right along with my man Vladamir Putin's new judo DVD. Thinks ar moving ahead, slowly but surely. I will be bloggiong more in the next few days, I will be out in LA next week getting a few interviews. I will report on that when I return.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

With The Bunnie, After the Hutch

John Keehan/Count Danté, John Danté? Another mystery arises, maybe not. Are Count Dante and John Danté 2 people or 1 person of many personas? He was was known in the hutch, His Bunny Mother girlfriend, Patty Kobe, may have fired one of the women I spoke with. The woman above thinks John Keehan Dante was the one who chose her as a Playboy Bunny when she was 17, in very creepy circumstances. There was a club on Rush Street's called Dante's Inferno, it burned down. It was owned by a this John Dante. No sign of Barbara Kemp. No sjgn of her companion Antinie.

I got some supportive research to do befoe I post anything more. Plus I have convention work due for tomorrow and Wednesday. I am hustlin'.

More later.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Playboy Bunny Reunion 2008

What makes the story of the John Keehan/Count Danté's life so intriguing is the variety of experiences he managed to cram into 35 years of living.

When Keehan returned to Chicago after being in the military in the early 60s, he decided to go to beauty school to become a hairdresser. Art Rapkin explained to me that John chose hairdressing for two reasons. It gave him the freedom to work whatever hours he wanted to, leaving free to train as much as he liked. With few men working as hairdressers it also gave one the advantage of meeting as many women under intimate circumstances as possible for a young man. This was another activity among innumerable business ventures he was already involved in as well as his emerging realtionship with members of the Chicago Outfit.

Keehan's identity change to Count Danté seems to have been a catch-all business decision. For his hairdressing business, it signified the romance of European nobility, classic style. In martial arts it was a way to romanticize his image with a name that spoke of adventure, daring and epic battle. Like the Count of Monte Cristo, and other daring mythical and real characters of Europe's past, he chise a persona through which he could become larger than life.

It has been said he wa a hairdresser for Playboy Bunnies. I have heard it from everyone but an actual Playboy Bunyy whose hair he did. This weekend I will be attending the International Playboy Bunny Reunion 2008 in Chicago looking for Bunnies from that era who might have know him. "Bunny Monique," on of the organizers, has been very courteous and has been nice about me and a camera person attending.

My strategy is to get to registration early and pass out the flyer you see above. Hopefully we will find out what level his hairdressing skills were like and get a few choice anecdotes along the way. I may even have the pleasure of seeing Barbara Kemp while I am there.

Yes there will be pictures. Just don't expect anything racy from this weekend's reunion, this is alllllllllll biznizzzzzzz!!! :-)
I spoke with Bob Wall today at World Black Belt. He has completed his Illustrated History of Martial Arts in America: 1900 to Present. It is a coffee table sized book that covers the entire history of martial arts in America with photos. Chicago gets firmly rooted in that history with photos of Bruce Tegner's judo instructor mom and dad in the 1920s. I helped him located images for the book while I was doing research for the film. World Black Belt is a great site for the marketing of my film. They have about 400,000 members and schools, they offer the kinds of services that professional associations really need. Bob Wall has been very supportive of the film, he has opened doors for me with people he knows and is one of my great encouragers. He also has some GREAT stories from the days of point fighting. I got really impressed with Bob when he flew out the evening of Ken Knudson's memorial and flew right back out that evening. That was the tribute of a true friend.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

In Nashville this past weekend...

I was in Nashville this weekend at the 2008 National Training Camp and United States Martial Arts Hall of Fame to interview Joe Dodaro, Woody Edgell and Tayari Casel. Family issues prevented Sam Lonewolf and Victor Moore from attending.

To talk to all three masters at once was really interting to me in that I saw before me a the net total effect of the teaching and influence of John Keehan. Greatness can be passed on without the baggage. Now don't get me wrong, I don't know enough about any of these guys to talk about baggage or their lack of it. What I do know is that they are all alive, have not robbed any vaults lately and remain atv the top of their game.
Like Dante, they are consumate individuals who march to the beat of their own drum. There is no greater legacy to have that that in my opinion.

This was a stellar event of which I missed too much of, having arrived on Saturday morning due to my work schedule. The IMAC training camp featured 8 hours of workshops a day for three days.

I hear that Prof. Marty Cale, organizer of the event, gave an excellent workshop on Jujitsu Ground fighting and I am sorry I missed that.

Son of the legendary Jame M. Mitose, Grand Master Thomas Mitose of the Kosho-Ryu was there along with Grandmasters Gary Jameson, Pat Hutton, Sifu Jerry Cook, Clarence Smith, Don Wilhelm, Sifu Oj Guerra, Dan Semeraro, Dr. Gary Jameson, Ron Pierce and Katherine Wieczerza.

The awards ceremony that Saturday Evening marked the end of the Training Camp. It was well attended and events like these are important to sustaining local and regional martial arts community. Here in Chicago know how fruitless it can be to wait for recognition from elsewhere based upon criterion that is sometimes, uninformed, fleeting, and vacuous. We need to support our communiites where we are and these events appalud the dedication, work and sweat that people put unto the martial arts.

So I am back. I have been quiet for awhile.The tit for tat reponses to my blog by others does not really bother me personally. But what does bother me is their petty attempts to slander and involve others in an issue that has nothing to do with the lawsuit. It is petty and immature to strike out as others, constanly question credibility just because you can hide behind an internet connection.

In the end it really does not matter what is said. Time has proven the mud-slinging to be ineffectual, it has proven the mud-slingers to be impotent. The attack on Marty Cale and others was unnecessary and all that was accomplished was showing how classless these guys from Fall River can continue to be.

Marty Cale gave a wonderful even this weekend. There are about 5oo people who will attest to that. What did you guys do?

Sorry y'all...I got carried away. I have been holding my tongue for awhile and I guess it just got the best of me. I hate to see good people who are really doing thing get more stress on top of thestress they already have because doing something positive with your life has it own set of obstacles already built in.

I will get back to talking about the interviews I did with Woody Edgell, Joe Dodaro and Tayari Casel later this evening.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Support the film, Buy a T-Shirt

Here is an opportunity to support the film by buying the offficial Search for Count Dante t-shirt.
Just head over to the store . We are amping up the fundraising. We are taking donations for out shooting which will begin again in August. I will let you know where and when as we get closer to the dates.

Meanwhile take a gander at this great 2 minute promo for the film edited and shot by the talented Jim Quattrocki.

Jim Quattrocki's 2 minute masterpiece on the making of my film from Floyd Webb on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Is this John Keehan from Floyd Webb on Vimeo.

I was wondering about the identity of the man doing thre demonstration at the 1964 2nd World Karate Tournament held at the Chicago Coliseum. Can anyone out there tell me who this is in the video above.

I got this footage from a friend an mentor of mine, filmmaker Tom Palazzolo. Tomwas active shooting film in Chicago since the late 1950s. If you think you know who it is in the film clip please email me at

Friday, June 20, 2008

Thanks to all the people who have donated to the film.

I have been a bit busy with bread and butter work as well as working on the film. So I have not had the kind of time to blog effectively as I would like. I would like to thank all of those who have sent in donations for the film. It is greatly appreciated. I will keep in touch with all of you via email concerning the progress of the film and send out passworded links to previews now and then.

The email support I receive is always welcome and appreciated.

I will be back to blogging regularly soon.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Zohan and Dante? Anything I need to be concerned about here?

Now this is wierd. First Nacho Libre, and Jack Black biting of the California Count Dante, now Adam Sandler and Zohan biting off the martial arts/hairdresser/military intelligence faked death theme. Seems you can't keep a good legend down.

Someone wrote me asking about T-shirts and I had rto say I shut them down while I was in Federal Court. He wrote me back and asked me if I was suing Zohan. What is wrong with me??? I just don't have enough time on my hands. Look at that resemblance. My, oh my.

This is really good for a laugh. Viral promotion anyone. Some days I still manage to have a little fun.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Time for some FUN!!! | Fundraiser Friday at The Occult Bookstore

Meet the Filmmaker live and direct from Federal Court in Boston
FRIDAY, June 13, 7:00 pm | THE OCCULT BOOKSTORE | 1164 N Milwaukee Ave
From the late 1960’s to the early 1970’s John Keehan aka “Count Dante”was the
most famous and controversial figure in the martial arts and was deeply
involved with “the invisible sciences” and was student of Micheael Bertiaux.

Come to a PREVIEW SCREENING of the film, The Search for Count DANTE,
at The Occult Bookstore, Chicago, 1164 N Milwaukee Ave, 7:00 pm
Featuring a demonstration of Count Dante's Techniques by Master Chris Pieschala
I am turning up the heat folks. I am starting my first round of fundraisers for the next 3 months so I can be back to shooting in earnest by the end of August and actually finish the film by Dec.
My findraising goal for Augusrt is $8000.00

Spread the word if you are in Chicago. I will show a few clips, talk and for the special audience at the Bookstore a chat about what Michael told me and what I remember about the occult in Chicago when I was growing up.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Timeline tool

Today I have been making use of a timeline tool I found online. Semantic Interoperability of Metadata and Information in unLike Environments(SIMILIE) is a project at MIT focused on developing robust, open source tools that empower users to access, manage, visualize and reuse digital assets.

Timeline will help me with the film and to give people a look at the process in a scrollable linear manner looking at my involvement with the idea, how I engaged it, pre-history of the character and his influences, what has been happening to me since I started the project. You can get a preview of what I have been doing here

One I master the timeline code I should be able to navigate from the early influences and introduction of martials arts coming to America, the relationship of Jack Johnson to Johnny Coulan and how that might have made an impression on a young John Keehan, events leading up to the court case and it's aftermath.

How I concieved of the idea, the forces that drove me to beginning this with no money and how I "found the film" I wanted to make though interactions I experienced all come to life in the time line.

The interface navigate in the same way Google map does. just hold down the mouse putton on the timeline and pull back and forth. I will refine the interface and the content over the coming weeks.


This is definitely a new world. I was contacted over the internet by Karl Kraft in the UK. He is a graphic designer with a bit of time on his hands so he offered to help me blag the film to martial arts schools and where ever martial arts is being practiced.

Here is an accounting from him of his trip to London.

London trip was good, got to pretty much everywhere I had planned for the days (and added many more as I came accross them en-route). Slightly held back by my train ticket times which had me arriving at 6:30pm on the Monday and going back at 2:30pm on the Thursday, so was really more like two and a half days than four, but can't complain about these discounted tickets.

Still I got round about 35 to 40 places total. As expected, the small grass roots type places were always really cool, and the big chain gyms etc required a bit of cajoling.

Luckily got breaks in a lot of the corporate chain places because one of the staff was 'a martial arts guy' and was intriuged to hear about the Count. Response is always positive as soon as people start to hear just a few of the exploits and sides of the man, sure you know that from your own experience :)

Always pushed a bit to 'save them the trouble' by putting up the poster while I was there as I'd 'brought my own sticky stuff', as I know there is about an 80% chance that it'll never make it off someones desk, especialy if its 'passed on'.

That's why I want to keep doing visits in person, rather than just sending a the poster with a covering letter via 2nd class mail (which I'm also gonna do for some other big UK cities that I cant visit, like Manchester etc..).

I got it put up in two of the biggest comic shops in London too. Next visit, really want to get in some arts/alt cinemas too. I know your not eligible for say UK arts council grants or anything, but people always know people, especialy in this Web2.0 world.

I'm gonna do a little online journal about the places I visit, which will focus on the actual physical spaces rather than clubs or people etc. Works out quite nicely since I'd always wanted to write something about these places (and have taken many pics over the years) but never had a way into it.

Hoping future visits will also yield some meetings with some real characters, the only guy I came accross in my planning was this guy who teaches a VERY ancient Egyptian martial art called Sebek-Kha, to quote ' Sebek-Kha is the oldest martial art in history. It was founded in Egypt by Heru-Ur (Heracles) in 45,000 BC' check out his pics too: Wow!!

Unfortunately I didnt get to meet Dr.Ramses Saleem, the Sai Academy is a church hall nursery from Mon to Fri, but did leave him a copy of the poster and covering letter.

Great to see there are a few of these real characters out there in the martial world :) Anyway, gotta shoot for now Floyd, included a little collage of the poster in-situ.

Massive luck everyday Floyd in everthing your doing. We really must speak one of these days on Skype :) Props & Love from this side of the Atlantic, keep safe, speak soon Karl.

ps. I have a friend with a camcorder so I'll send you the little clip of me hawking round you'd asked for, please let me know when is the latest you'll need it by as I'm tring to get in shape over the summer for my 15mins :)

Karl Kraft

THIS is COOL. He even found a place on WEBB St. in SW1. If the creative process does nothing else, it should be procreative. Thanks Karl. This will be a great extra for the DVD.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Black Dragon Fighting Society Reunion in Nashville

The 9th ANNUAL UNITED STATES MARTIAL ARTS HALL OF FAME will be held on July 31st – August 2nd, 2008 in Nashville, TN "...this year will see a major martial arts reunion of the Black Dragon Fighting Society. The BDFS has been active for decades and is home to some of the worlds greatest martial artists. The 2008 event has been designated as a rendezvous point for all BDFS senior members. Many of these professionals have not been together in one location in over 30 years."

This should be interesting. This will be a great opportunity for me to get to all of these guys at one time. Woody Edgell, Doug Dwyer, Lawrence Day, Mike Felkoff, Samuel Lonewolf, and Victor Moore are people who were associates and trained with John Keehan/Count Dante. The International Black Dragon Society has been gaining a substantial presence this past few years.
I have been told that the film is responsible for some of it. I opened the door to the past to shed a little light and people started finding each other. Dr. Day was keeping the spirit of the Black Dragon Fighting Society alive and it clearly reflects the beliefs in Chinese Internal Arts that Keehan began to express from 1966-1968.

Mike Harkins, who used to live across the street from Gene Wykas's School(the one that people seem to have been blown up, it was not) sent me a page from the 1967 World Karate Championship program booklet. He announced the coming publication of The World's Deadliest Fighting Secrets at this tournament.

I am planning on being there. I look forward to doing a group photo of all of these guys together.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Trying to Make Online Fundraising Work

I have already recieved donations from about 10 people. They know who they are, I will be doing something very special for them in the next couple of weeks. The support is greatly appreciated.

I am working on developing a good online strategy for fundraising. I have joined indieGoGo to see how social networking in their style works for what I am doing.

There is a bit of hype around the indieGoGo site that I am hoping to take advantage of. It is still about the people I know, my immediate network and how they feel about the project that makes the fundraising viable. Will total strangers be motivated by the idea because of the compelling content? Will people with no knowledge of martial arts "feel" it as well as "Get it?" I have 45 days to find out.

The $8000 is a quarterly goal to get a round of interviews done and to hire a motions graphics person to help with some of the scenes where I am dependent upon stills to help tell the story.
I am trying to perfect the look of the film as I shoot.

There is travel and equipment rental as well as the hiring of a camera person for about 5 days of shooting to be done. That will be covered in the next quarter's budget.

On away I go.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

May 25, the Death of Dante

John Keehan, aka Count Dante died May 25, 1975 in Chicago reportedly of bleeding ulcers. He had recently testified before an Illinois Grand Jury regarding his knowledge of the 1974 Purolator Robbery.

Only 15 years before he had begun a bright career and was one of the key figures in the development of martial arts in the Midwest. He had opened his doors to everyone who wanted to learn and invoked the ire of less progressive thinking martial arts instructors. He was never equaled as a promoter of martial arts in Chicago. There were none so audacious as he in attracting an audience. The threats to kill bulls with bare hands, the pet lions, the show stoppers like "empty hands versus gunslingers." He held some of the the first mixed martial arts events from 1967-1975. He became very unpopular because of these things. He was too much too soon.

His death certificate is in some ways puzzling, maybe it is not. Pictured above is the Death Certificate of Juan R. Dante "aka" Keehan. There was no autopsy. There is a grave but no headstone. There is no official record of a name change for John Keehan. This is how rumors start.

Keehan's father, John Hagar Keehan died at a young age also, apparently of the same ailment. But then, I get rumors of a Keehan cousin, someone who looked very much like John, being run over in strange traffic accident. I am told they may have mistaken him for John. As far as what I believe to be true...almost three years later, I only believe I have a serious mystery on my hands. Now that the

There were questions from the press about his connection to the robbery after he died. Questions about his relationship to the crooked stock broker, Luigi DiFonzo. It seems enough time may have passed and I am getting even more information about these associations. It is looking like some people may be ready to shed some truth, or close to it, about some of these events leading up to John Keehan's death.

There is an interesting bit of information about the robbery. The judge who issued the search warrant that recovered a large amount of the stolen money ordered the identity of the informants is sealed "for the lifetime of all involved."

What does it all mean? Maybe nothing. Maybe this will all lead to nothing in the film itself. It is another lead to pursue, I only have 90 minutes tontell this tale. 58 minutes for some broadcast venues. At least I have the DVD extras to count on for things I cannot use in the actual film.

He died at the height of the martial arts film craze. Cheaply produced Black actions and Hong Kong Kun-fu films were everywhere. Dante could have been part of all that, especially with the cult knowledge of his comic book add. Who would not pay to see the "the real Count Dante' is an action film back then? Something had gone very wrong.
There are people who remember him and will only speak of the good he did. I respect that. He effected the lives of thousands of people, he helped a lot of people. He was a great friend some, indifferent to others and marched to the beat of a seriously different drummer. His spiritual teacher, Micheal Bertiaux explained to me how John was motivated by great literature and schlock films. How he saw himself as a transforming, elusive character. His spiritual life needs some more examination, that's for sure.

Some people write me to say they never bought the book but credit the ad with their getting involved in the martial arts. Others write me periodically to say they remember the add and can' wait to see the film.

Hell, neither can I, folks! So much to do to finish. So much more to the finished product.

Friday, May 23, 2008


It is now time to pull out all the stops and get busy as I can. I am pushing to get this film finished by December. I need to raise money to continue shooting. On Friday, June 13 I will be having my first local fundraiser at an occult bookstore here in the city to talk about the trials and tribulations of making a documentary film about a man dead 33 years this coming Tuesday.
I will post all the pertinent information next week. We are pulling out all the stops to do this.

There are about 15 people I need to interview and travel expenses to cover. This law suit has not diminished my spirit but it has effected my pocketbook.

You can go to my website and donate through PayPal. Donations of any amount will be accepted. If you donate over $25.00 I will send you an autographed DVD when the film is finished. I am also starting a newsletter. You never know, you may even recieve some occassional goodies by snailmail if I have your address.

Send me those email addresses . I will let people know when the film is playing at festivals and people who donate will get a special party thrown for their pleasure in whatever city we are in.

I am getting into third gear. You will see one of these images once a week on the blog. Sorry for the hard sell, but it has to be done. Thanks to those who donate, and to those who would if they could.

I have really appreciated those emails of support during the court case. They are invaluable. Now it is time for me to put the beg on. Court is not over, but I do want to be done shooting this year.

More news coming this week.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

1968 Convention Martial Arts Class

I remember the class went on for several days before the convention started. I never knew who was teaching the class. My friends and I kept in motion the whole day anxious to get out before dark.

Here are some stills from film footage taken at the convention. The guy is the beard is clearly NOT John Keehan. When I first saw the film footage of this from another angle I was not sure. I never knew Keehan to wear a full beard. Seeing it closer in this footage I highly doubt it. But as I said before, the footage has some value for archival purposes. As it was several days, maybe he was there. I heard it from more than Ashida Kim, but then again, where did the rumour start? Was it with Ashida Kim in the first place?

I know Blackstone Rangers he taught, but I also know of a Doctor he taught. It is clear that Keehan liked to teach and was very good at it.
How will I use this in the film? Wheather it is Dante or not is unimportant as there have been rumours he was there teaching and maybe someone will be able to cooraborate his presence theere during this time.

It is all part of the mythology. Was he wasn't he? What is the significance of the claim. I will just kick it around a little and see where it leads. First thing is to identify who is actually teaching the class in this footage.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Still Reading, New facts, and the Same old S--t!

I am still reading Bob Calhoun's Beer, Blood and Cornmeal, his personal memoir of 7 years of Incredibly Strange Wrestling. I have been reading it on the bus, I am always laughing when I read it so I get a lot of people asking me about the book. It keeps a smile on my face due to Bob's absolutely unbridled sense of humor allowing absolutely NOTHING to be sacred.

My interest in the Rock and Roll Count is based on my need to track the overall cultural influences of this man John Keehan, dead 33 years and still a significant underground figure who has affected cultures from the US to the UK and Japan. New facts are being added to Count Dante's Wikipedia page all the time.

Someone recently added an item in the trivia section that says, "Martin Kove, who played the character "Kreese" in the film The Karate Kid, ad-libbed his famous "Pain does not exist in this dojo..." monologue based on his time as a young student and Count Dante was his sensei." They did not cite the origin of this quote, but I am looking at the name of his character, John Kreese and see how John Keehan is not too far a distance to stray from if you are fictionalizing or using an influence. Only Kove himself can tell me this so I have added him to my wish list of final interviews. John Keehan/Count Dante's impact on popular culture is firmly established as far as I am concerned.

As I come to the final quarter of the book the Black Dragon Fighting Society comes up again. This time Bob reprints yet another email he received from someone at the Black Dragon Fighting Society in about 2000. This is from the chapter titled "Hot Man on Man Action," read on:
"I walked out of the Mexican restaurant and found my '63 Catalina wrapped around a Mission Street telephone pole. In the time it took me to down a plate of chorizo enchiladas, some asshat in a Grand Prix had done a hard U-turn into my parked car and pushed it onto the curb and into the pole. Unlike the Starfire, I had a half
decent policy on this baby. The insurance company gave me nearly $4,000 for my totaled four-door sedan with two-tone vinyl seats. It was finally time to put out my record.

The Deadliest Man Alive by Count Dante and the Black Dragon Fighting Society was recorded in a couple of days by Bart Thurber at House of Faith Recording Studios in Oakland. Bart is the Mother Theresa of rock bands with no money. His life's mission is to give the Bay Area's oddest bands that big analog sound on shoestring budgets. Craig Martins did the cover art. He made Ed, Andy and me all look like Jonny Quest-era Hanna Barbera cartoons. Suzy Ming posed with me on the back cover to make me look good.

Around this time, the Black Dragon Fighting Society of Fall River, Massachusetts, crawled out of the woodwork again. They had gotten a lawyer this time but they hadn't gone and filed anything in court yet. I had 1,000 discs spread out between my practice space and my mom's garage (which was a lot for me). I couldn't really turn around and change the name now. Fortunately, I had an attorney friend from one of my downtown temp jobs. She took on the case pro bono and sent some letters back and forth with the Massachusetts lawyer. We were locked in a legal game of chicken. It costs about $100,000 to pursue trademark cases in court and none of us had it. In the end, their attorney agreed with my attorney and thought that something could be worked out. I didn't hear from the Fall River Black Dragons for quite a while until I got the following e-mail...
From: Subject: YOU PHONEY BASTARD I challenge you to fight to the death, hand to hand, I was a student of Count D'ante, second generation, You should have respect for the dead, FOR HE DIED IN THE 1970'S Name the place and time winner take all, And the name that doesn't belong to you, I'll prove it with my techniques Sincerely: William E. Maine 3rd

William E. Maine really hated using periods, but he loved commas. I thought of copy-editing his hand-to-hand death match challenge and sending it back to him but I was just happy to be done with these guys."

One day soon, Bob, so will I.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

John Keehan teaching self-defense at the 1968 Democratic Convention???

Photo above: "Manzanar, Calif.--Henry Ushijima, formerly a sound engineer in Hollywood, plays dance records at a dance given by the Girls' Recreation Committee. Henry received permission from the authorities to bring this, his own, public address system to this War Relocation Authority Center. -- Photographer: Stewart, Francis -- Manzanar, California. 5/29/42"

At the end of World War II Chicago was one of the few cities to have a resettlement program for Japanese American. This is cited as one of the reasons that classic Japanese martial arts was so strong in the Midwest from the 1950s to 1970s. Henry Ushijima was one of the people who was moved to Chicago from Manzanar. It was difficult for them to resettle in their old homes after the war due to continued animosity against the Japanese as a group. Ushijima was able to restablish himself in Chicago staring a film production company and doing work for the City of Chicago.

I went to see a film program given by the Chicago Film Archive on Friday titled Out Of The Vault - Year Of Confrontation. The program of old black and white films by The Film Group, headed then by Mike Grey, revisits "the turbulent week in August 1968 when the Democratic National Convention turned Chicago into the frontlines of a larger political and social conflict."

Like now, these were interesting times. We had just lived through the assassinations of Martin Luther King, April of 1968 and Robert Kennedy, June of 1968. Something was REALLY wrong in America. The war was escalating war in Viet Nam, there were the May uprisings in Paris, the brutal supression of Prague Spring.

The protests and riots in Chicago shocked the nation and the world. It really should not have. It was in the air for months. I remember the plans, the press, the Seed Newspaper, the call for people to come to Chicago. we were already under seige by the Police and the national Guard had left the Chicago only weeks before the convention having been there to control the riots after the death of King.

This is a few days in history I am throughly familair with. I was there, I was involved. I was 15 , looking for answers and almost down with anything that would bring about some changes in this country. If anybody every told me that 2008 could be almost as problematic as 1968 I would have told them they were crazy. We were on the move and change had to come.

I told my close friends who would not come with me that I would leave before it got dark. I did the first few days, but then another friend and I I got caught got caught downtown the night of the riot. We barely got to Dearborn St to get the train home and it did get violent, but luckily neither of us got hurt.

I was especially interested in seeing a film by Henry Ushijima called "Whats Trees Do They Plant?" Here is the synopsis:
What Trees Do They Plant?
Henry Ushijima Productions for the City of Chicago, 1968, 60 minutes, DVD from original broadcast 2” tape
In response to a perceived imbalance of the media’s coverage, the City of Chicago hired Henry Usijima, an industrial filmmaker in Park Ridge, to make this film for television distribution in a hurried 5 days. Barely two weeks after the end of the convention the program screened on 140 stations across the nation. Appealing to the moderate middle of the road viewer shocked by the images of the convention, it focuses on the violent intentions of the protestors and ties them to international communist forces through interviews with police officers harmed in the disturbances, news footage intended to indict protesters with their own words, and secret police surveillance films.
Included on these surveillance films was a record of a bushy haired and fully bearded man, about 6 ft tall and of a wiry frame teaching martial arts. He was filmed teaching how to throw a kick to the groin.

Now I am not saying it was John Keehan, but the forehead was familiar in the films. I have never seen a picture of him with a full beard, on Monday I will get a copy of the DVD and do a still.

If nothing else, I can use the stock footaage of 1968 to illustrate this point. If it is him, then is is a great find and I have Ashida Kim to thank for the lead.

I will upload that image when I get it.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Nganga Tolo-naa

Back in the early 70s I did some minor local competing just for the hell of it. I would go with friends to Chicago Heights, IL to the school of Ray "The Chicago Tiger" Cooper. Cooper is a legendary early competitor on the regional scene who was also one of the early students of John Keehan. Like Keehan, Cooper eventually changed his name to Tolo-naa, reflecting his African origins and traditions. Later N'ganga, a Ki-Kongo word, a title that is earned and presented by one's community usually granting leadership and Mfundishi, a Swahili word means masters of arts, were both added to his name as honorific titles.

Tolo-Naa's school would host seminars on tournament competition. He has always had a commitment to teaching and is one of the best. In the 4 hours I was there I felt I left prepared for some serious battle. He was a patient but stern teacher in my memory very soft-spoken and remains so to this day. There has always been a quiet, peaceful aura of power around him.

He was one of my first interviews when I started working on the three two years ago. I was happy to reconnect with him and to see he how he had evolved out of the external martial arts and become one with the internal systems, becoming a devoted student of Prof. Huo Chi-Kwang.

Nganga Mfundishi Tolo-Naa began studying martial arts when he was twelve. He was first taught by his brother, an Army Ranger who had served in Korea. He later met and became a student of John Keehan when he attended a shiai at his school.

Tolo-Naa competed in Karate tournaments in the United States and Canada and in 1964 he took second place in the World Karate Championship in a controversial decision against Mike Stone in a match refereed by Robert Trias.

Tolo-Naa has studied Jiu jitsu, Judo, Karate, Tae kwon do, Akido, Shao lin, Bando, Tai Chi Chuan, Hsing-yi Chuan, Pa-Kua Chang, and many long and short weapon routines.

He is the originator of the Shackle Hand Style of self-defense and is a student of many meditative disciplines including Taoist Yoga; Kundalini Yoga; Tantra Yoga; and Hatha Yoga. He received his initiation in Tibetan Tantra meditation from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. For the past 29 years, Nganga has concentrated on the study of Chinese internal systems with Professor Huo Chi-Kwang and the late GrandMaster Lu Hung-Ping.

Nganga Tolo-Naa founded the All-African Peoples Art and Cultural Center in the 1960s. In the 1980s he started the Maat Center for martial arts in Chicago Heights (Ill.). He is co-founder of the Kupigana Ngumi Martial Arts Federation and founder of the Martial Arts Research Society/Systems. In 1987, he founded QuieScience Sacred Science Temple (QSST), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting personal development through the martial arts.

Tolona-Naa currently teaches a seminat in Chicago one a month and teaches at the QuieScience Sacred Science Temple in Maryland.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Back to Court Today, May 9th...A history of litigation

We go to back to court, today May 9 in Boston. For those of you who don't know, I am being sued for copyright infringement by William V Aguiar Grand Master, of the Black Dragon Fighting society. This case is concerned with the making of the film and my lack of interest in committing $10,000 dollars for access to an archive that may or may not exist. I claimed Fair Use for the materials on my website and in my film and Mr Aguiar decided to take me to Federal Court. After several months of delays and problems with timely filings we asked for a default judgement.

Mr Aguiar, originally filing his case against me Pro Se, on his own behalf, has at the 11th Hour, today obtained counsel through the Lawyers for the Creative Arts in Boston. This is after he filed with the court to continue his case Pro Se, having failed to obtain a lawyer this past 7 months.

How this will fly with the Federal Judge remains to be seen. He told the judge he was proceeding Pro Se, then shows up to court last minute with a lawyer potentially further delaying the case. I will know the outcome by end of the day tomorrow.

2008 is the anniversary of the Aguiar family's attempts at extracting finances and claiming copyright ownership and dominance over the name, image, likeness and movements of Count Dante.

In 1998 they went after the rotund, well-trained Wrestling Rock Musician Bob Calhoun, who called himself Count Dante. Back then he was a well known member of the Incredibly Strange Wrestling League. He writes about Ashida Kim and Willim Aguiar, Jr., the father in his new book, Beer, Blood and Cornmeal: Seven Years of Strange Wrestling.

With permission I have excerpted it below.
The World Wide Web and the information age, which had beet touted by Al Gore and trumpeted by Wired magazine throughout the 1990s, had finally arrived during the decade's waning years. The Internet and the Clinton-era prosperity that came with it slammed San Francisco's club scene like an 8.5 quake on the Richter scale. It was called the end of history, and for people in the local music scene.. it felt like it.

People used to relocate to San Francisco for the purpose of being eccentric in a way that whatever red state hellhole they hailed from wouldn't allow. They came to come out of the closet. They came to bang on amplified pieces of scrap metal in art noise bands. They came to protest something - anything. They came to shake their bare asses in suspended cages at the Folsom Street Fair. They came to drive as many pieces of metal into their faces and genitalia as they could stand and still be able to get a job serving the public while looking like an H. R. Giger etching. The dot-corn boom changed all of that. In 1998, people came to San Francisco to get rich.

The Count Dante web site had only been up for a short time before we started getting some really strange e-mails. Of course, that sort of thing is to be expected when you claim to be the "deadliest man alive" and take your name from a comic book kung fu master. The web was still a new and unfolding universe in 1998. Its ability to put you in touch with people that you would otherwise never want to talk to was just being discovered. Its capacity for enabling unending harassment was largely unknown.

The first odd e-mail came from somebody calling himself Yoshi. "Master Dante," it opened, "Master Ashida Kim is under attack and needs your assistance!"

I thought that it was just a joke and filed it away in a received messages file without sending a reply.

A little while later, Yoshi wrote me again and better explained himself:

Greetings from the _REAL_ Black Dragon Fighting Society! We are pleased to see you keeping the name of Count Dante alive. Would you like to meet with us and become an officially sanctioned member of the BDFS? Ashida Kim is the current Grandmaster, and he says he would be happy to appear with you on stage (he judges a number of wrestling events himself). Looking forward to your reply. Yoshi - Black Dragon Tong of Retribution

Yoshi included a hypertext link to Ashida Kim's website at the end of the e-mail. Kim's web page was one to envy for its combination of utter lunacy and P. T Barnum self-promotion. Ashida was only pictured in full black ninja regalia with most of his face covered. Like the original Count, he was racially ambiguous. He could have been Asian but may have been just a strange looking white guy underneath all of those hoods and cloaks.

He was the author of several sensationalistic martial arts manuals with lurid covers that recalled the spirit, if not quite the verve, of Count Dante's comic book ads. Most of the books had the word ninja in the title. There was Ninja Death Touch, Ninja Mind Control and Ninja Secrets of Invisibility. Kim also republished the original Dante's World's Deadliest Fighting Secrets. Ashida no doubt used his heightened psychic awareness via ninjitsu to sense the work's public domain status.

While his treatises on mental manipulation were plenty provocative, his most boffo title had to be X-Rated Dragon Lady. The cover photo depicted a naked Asian woman mounted on a white guy. In this indispensable volume, Ashida claimed to show you "how to use having your clothes ripped off into an advantage."

Not to be outdone, however, was Kim's own sexual memoir titled The Amorous Adventures of Ashida Kim. The cover photo looked like it was taken during the same session as the cover for X-Rated Dragon Lady. The web copy boasted that the book was soon to be a major motion picture. If only.

I wrote back to Yoshi and was nice enough. Although having Ashida Kim appear onstage with me was mighty tempting, the guy was just too weird to be entirely harmless.

Barely a week went by before Ashida Kim himself wrote me:

Most Honorable Count: So very good to find your webpage and know that you are alive and well. Gee! We all thought you were dead, Ha! Of course, you are not the original Count Dante, the one I met in 1968 in Chicago, but, since we of the Black Dragon Fighting Society do strive to carry on his tradition, we are honored that you have chosen the paths of professional wrestling and music and wish you the best of luck in both of these endeavors. As Grandmaster, I have some other wrestling contacts in South Africa and Australia I could place at your disposal. We have put on several Kick-Punch-Throw, win by Pin-Submission- or Knockout, bouts here and overseas. Or, perhaps there are some other projects we might find to be mutually agreeable. If I may be of any service, please do not hesitate to ask. I remain, Ashida Kim, the NINJA.

I continued my correspondence with Ashida Kim but remained non-committal. He wrote me back and used the word "HA!" a lot to punctuate his sentences. He claimed that he had fought side-byside with Count Dante against the Chicago police force during the 1968 Democratic Convention. His ability to render himself invisible helped him survive although he was outnumbered and outgunned. He commended me on discovering the "value of rhythm in combat and entertainment." Kim also talked about Dusty Rhodes' epic feud with the ninja Kendo Nagasaki in the Florida wrestling circuit during the 1970s as if the fights were real. Ashida Kim was amazing. He was nuts.

It wasn't long before another faction of the Black Dragon Fighting Society e-mailed me. They weren't nearly as nice as Ashida Kim:

Subject: The Illegal Use Of The Name Count Dante To Who Ever You Are! I am writing this letter to inform you that you are using copywrited [sic] name. You must stop this illegal activity or the Black Dragon Fighting Society will be forced to take legal action against you. If you have any questions about the allegations, you may reach Grand Master Agular of the Dan-Te system at: Bill Aguiar's Self Defense Institute 281 South Main St Fall River, MA 02720 (508) 679-8188 Marcus W. Black Dragon Fighting Society Honorary Member

I wrote back to Black Dragon Fighting Society Honorary Member Marcus W. and politely explained to him that the web page was a parody and that parody was protected speech. Three days later, he wrote back:

Dear Mr. Dante?, As you may know, the real Count Dante died in 1975. After his death, a close friend of mine and his, Bill Aguair, was given the write [sic] to carry on his name. A name in which is copywrited [sic] through his school. Grand Master Aguiar trained with the Count and became the one to carry on and teach the Count's sytle [sic] of fighting, Dan-Te. The Count and Grand Master Aguiar started the Black Dragon Fighting Society. They also puplished [sic] a book called "The Worlds Most Deadliest Fighting Secrets" Something else that is copywrited [sic], which you use. Also might I add that Master Aguiar has been aware of who you are for some time now. When I talked to him on Friday, after I saw your Web Page, he instructed me to inform you of what you are doing. Master Aguiar told me to inform you that you are to stop using the name or he will be forced to seek legal action. Marcus W.

It struck me as odd that this Bill Aguiar, who was reportedly so tough that he could deflect arrows with his bare hands, delegated his dirty work to hapless karate students who were in severe need of a spell-check program. I decided to ignore them, but this only made them more pissed off. They wrote me again. This time they got even nastier:

The Black Dragon Fighting Society located in Fall River MA and headed by Supreme Grand Master William V Aguiar, whom was just nominated to the martial arts hall of fame, is the only official and authorized BDFS. You are a liar and a thief. If you were here now Master Aguiar would rip the skin right off your face. His book Worlds deadliest fighting secrets is copyrighted and any proceeds you are making from it is [sic] illegal. Get a life instead of trying to steal someone else's. Master Aguiar is always accepting challengers for no holds barred death matches. Do you have the guts to accept his challenge? You can use the money you are stealing from him to pay for your plane fare and headstone in advance. TROY CITY Specialties & Gifts Your Gift Super-Store in a Catalog.

Now this was getting seriously stupid. Even dumber than all the lame third-party threats was the fact that it was signed "Troy City Specialties & Gifts: Your Gift Super-Store in a Catalog." I clicked on the link that they so conveniently included at the end of the e-mail and found that Troy Cities Specialties sold gaudy home decor, potpourri collections and Beanie Babies out of somebody's house in Maine. I wasn't all that menaced by any Black Dragon Fighting Society that also doubled as a dealer in crochet toilet paper covers.

I e-mailed them back to tell them just how stupid they were. "The next time that you go and threaten somebody with death and dismemberment," I wrote, "please remember not to include the link to your home mail-order gift store. You still have no idea who I am but I now know where you live and how you make your money." I wasn't going to drunkenly try to affix blasting caps to their front door or anything like that, but the level of sheer idiocy of whoever sent me that e-mail deserved a slap in the face.

I quickly received the following back-pedaling reply:

Look, I do not want to be your enemy. In fact I wish all people including you the best of luck in their lives. I did not threaten you. I only stated what I believe Master Aguiar would do to you himself. I am not associated with the BDFS and really it is none of my business about what goes on as far as the BDFS but it upsets me greatly to see people ripping off someone who put their blood and guts on the line to achieve what Master Aguiar has only to have it stolen. Your page and act may be a parody but you do not state that on your page, and lam sure you are representing yourself as the genuine Count Dante whom has been dead for over 20 years. My words may have been harsh and for that I apologise [sic] but come on, do you not see my point. Master Aguiar has in the past put his life on the line fighting by the real counts [sic] side to achieve what he has. He doesn [sic] deserve to be ripped off. Ashida Kim has especially gone to [sic] far as he even is selling Copies of the worlds deadliest fighting secrets that he is not authorized to. Its [sic] just unjust.
He still included the link to Troy City Specialties and Gifts at the bottom of this e-mail.

The Fall River, Massachusetts, sect of the BDFS soon erected their own website. It was adorned with lame blinking text and twirling skulls. They promised that you could become a member of their BDFS by passing through a "trial by fire" in a "ritual of blood." They had a merchandise page that was decorated with clip art of balloons and clowns from which they sold stun guns, paint guns, swords, knives, $ o copies of World's Deadliest Fighting Secrets and something called the Dead Book. In short, the site looked as if was designed by a severely disturbed thirteen-year-old.

Ashida Kim and Bill Aguiar's crew were locked in a vicious dispute over who was the real heir apparent to the Dante legacy. Unlike in Dante's time, when dojos were stormed, lives were lost and arrests were made, the dojo wars of the postmodern era were fought exclusively in cyberspace. Ashida Kim and Bill Aguiar chose to settle their differences like the true followers of an ancient warrior code that they purported to be: they endlessly flamed each other's message boards.

As a staggering barrage of hypertext insults flew between Kim's and Aguiar's underlings, a letter from the man himself, William V. Aguiar, arrived at my band's post office box. The missive was composed on Black Dragon Fighting Society stationary that I would kill or die for. The original Black Dragon logo from Dante's comic book ads was centered on top of the page. In the upper left corner was Dante's unimaginative coat of arms from one of the opening pages of T[he World's Deadliest Fighting Secrets. Underneath the Dante family crest, small but bold text read: "House of Dante, WILLIAM V. AGUIAR, 2nd Patriarch." Aguiar considered himself to be more than just the inheritor of a forgotten fighting system. If his stationary was any indicator, he thought of himself as a regal heir.

In the letter, Aguiar informed me that he had obtained a federal trademark on the BDFS logo and its clip art dragon as well as the exclusive rights to teach something called "The Count Dante Fighting System." He even gave me the courtesy of supplying me with the registration numbers. The letter was a formal cease and desist order that didn't come from an attorney but from a man calling himself "Supreme Grandmaster of the Black Dragon Fighting Society"

That letter had the potential to deliver a financial death blow to my meager musical operations. I had invested a serious amount of time and energy into perfecting my version of the Count Dante persona. I thought of changing the name to Lord Dante or King Dante but nothing really had the same ring to it. Everything else just sounded incredibly lame. I wished that I had just called myself El Dante, which was what everyone seemed to call me for the first year or two I played around San Francisco. I wished that I had been endowed with the foresight to come up with a name that sounded vaguely like "Count Dante and the Black Dragon Fighting Society" when I first started out instead of opting to lift the name wholesale. I wished I had done those things, but I hadn't.

As the information economy advanced, intellectual property became the coin of the realm. Even the dimmest among us were aware of this new reality. During this time, it seemed as if every band in San Francisco was getting hit with cease and desist letters from somebody. This little hard rock band called Mack Truck was served with some especially nasty papers by the attorneys representing the Mack Truck corporation. I guess that this major freight vehicle manufacturer didn't want to risk being confused for a bunch of short guys with Gibson Les Pauls. One band called the Stitches sued another band called the Stitches. Band fliers for Stinky's seemed to be littered with disclaimers underneath the current names explaining what the bands were called before the legal papers came. It was getting out of hand.

Ashida Kim, William V. Aguiar and I were all set to play a legal game of chicken over what was in reality a piece of found art. None of us created the Count Dante name. None of us stormed the dojos or placed the comic book ads. We were all just pretenders to the throne and keepers of the flame at the same time. The hairdresser who transformed himself into Count Dante through sheer marketing genius and martial arts mastery was buried in Chicago in what I would later find out was an unmarked grave.

I kept on wrestling women and playing with the band. I didn't take the bait. I didn't flame anyone's chat room and figured that if I was going to navigate through this mess, then placing myself above the fray was the only way that I was going to do it. No matter what, I wasn't going to cave into some badly spelled c-mails. Aguiar was going to have to drop some money on a lawyer before I changed a thing.

And this is where it all began. 10 years later they still struggle to claim copyright and intellectual property ownership over the name, trandemarks and movements of a man dead 33 years. More news to come this weekend. Buy Beer, Blood and Cornmeal. It will have you in stiches. I read it on the bus and I am always laughing out loud making people stare at me.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Count Dante and Incredibly Strange Wrestling

His name is Bob Calhoun and he is also known as Count Dante, west Coast rock and roll star. He is an extraordinary writer who has collaborated with Gene LaBell on his biography and written for numerous online publications.

His new book, Beer, Blood, and Cornmeal: Seven Years of Incredibly Strange Wrestling was just released last month and I have been having a great time reading it.

Bob spent seven years of his life living deep inside one of San Francisco's bizarre counter cultures, The Incredibly Strange Wrestling League(ISW) and lived to tell about it. ISW featured a cast of lucha libre-inspired characters who would step into a makeshift ring and battle it out, while bands like NOFX, the Dickies, and the Donnas provided the live soundtrack.

Fight spectacles included bizarre wrestlers likethe Ku Klux Klowns in heated battle against Hasidic Jews, and a flock of Christians being "fed" to the lions. Count Dante would battle the Poontangler over paternity of her soon to arrive baby. It was some way out stuff wrote with humour, affection and a keen eye for the absurd detail and histories of all involved.

Meanwhile, I got some great assistance in England from a young man name Karl Kraft.who wants to help me with the film. So he had designed some posters to be distributed to Dojos tracking down people for stories about buying the World's Deadliest Fighting Secrets. I have a way to record stories about the buying the book online.

Some of video testimonies will be included in the film and others will be in a section of the new website that is presently under construction.

Things are moving forward. We are back in court May 9th. Aguiar notified the court he would continue to act Pro Se, on his own behalf, asked for a jury trial and said he is open to mediation.

The film moves forward....

Sunday, April 06, 2008

The Hall of Kung-Fu: McVicker's Masters

I was walking down Madison Street past the site of the old McVickers Theater at 25 West. In the 70s the McVick was where we got to see triple-feature Kung Fu and Blaxploitation films for $1.50 and $2.00. In the 1980s I would have an office in the Chicago Building on State and Madison.

I ran into yet another acquaintance from those martial arts days. George, whose name I did not remember, reminded me about how people would get into fights during these really badly done films. The excitement was just too much for some people, it seems.

We called the joint McVicker's Masters Hall of Gung-fu back in those days. Some folks came to see the films, some came to be IN the films. The inherent contradictions were sometimes resolved by a beat-down. "Southside Boxing" tended to reign supreme in those situations. No real masters hung out at Kung-fu movies all day, right?

There were few of these Hong Kong films I grew to love. I liked 5 fingers of Death, but it was more for the curiosity than quality. It was not until Brice Lee came along that the action got more exciting and stylish in Hong Kong films for my taste.

I was wild about the chambara films presented at the monthly Japanese Cinema screenings. Omar Kaihatsu, a Japanese American Insurance salesman, did the programming at Francis Parker High School , an independent private school on the North Side that had 35mm projectors in the auditorium.

Kaihatsu-san played the best of the Samurai Cinema as well as classic Japanese arts films and family films like Tora-San. I usually had to sit through the occasionally enjoyable, tear-laden Toro-san film series to get to Zatoichi's madcap bloodletting adventures.

This is where I saw Kurosawa's Sanshiro Sugata and Masaki Kobayashi's Samurai Rebellion.

I saw Shohei Imamura's Vengence is Mine and Hiroshi Teshigahara's Woman in the Dunes, all are films that influenced the ways in which I saw and interpreted cinema.

I was always disappointed that the Hong Kong films of the late seventies never matched the Japanese action films in look and feel. What was great about them was the scene itself. I got a real education and introduction to global cinema by going to Kaihatsu's programs. By the time Hong Kong Kung-fu came along I was throughly jaded by the stylizes images and well choreographed action of chambara.

Our conversation went back to who is still working out, teaching, alive and sane. Of course the name John Keehan arises, per usual. He asks me if I heard about this film being done about Count Dante. I guess the word is really out.

He gave me the names of some people to talk to and went on his way, but not before offering me his provate detective services should I so need them in future.

Meanwhile I have been hearing of a black Shao-lin Society based someplace on the Southside. They held an event a few months ago and I am a bit curious about them. From the description I got of the event they seem to practice a type of cultural immersion. It will be interesting to find out more about them. I put George right on it.

Friday, April 04, 2008

A Note From Master Woodrow Edgell

The following letter from Reverand Woodrow Edgell is in response to claims made on the Fall River Black Dragon Fighting Society Blog regarding Master Joe Dodaro. Mr. Edgell was a long time student of John Keehan who split with him when he became Count Dante. Edgell is Joe Dodaro's teacher and they were both student of Shaolin Poison Hand Master James Lee(not James Yimm Lee) in Chicago's Chinatown when few non-Asians were accepted for training. My whole purpose with my film is to present an accurate history of John Keehan and the world of martials arts in Chicago and America during the 1960s to mid-1970s. The following letter from Rev Edgell is a great help in doing that.

April 2, 2008

Floyd Webb,

A person studies Martial Arts for protection, health and to understand his purpose in life. A Master will only advance him to a high-level if he believes the student has good intentions and respect for the Art. When the student becomes a Master, he takes on great responsibility and sets a good example for his students.

Credentials and reputation are what makes the Master successful. I have been with Joseph Dodaro for forty years, I watched him take his Sandan (third degree black belt) in Aikido after thirteen years of hard study. Joe and I studied Aikido for several years together and Joe was advanced to Yodan (fourth degree black belt) after twenty-five years.

We both studied under Grandmaster Hsu Fun Yuen for several years and I witnessed him receiving his level of Master after twenty years. I helped him open his first school and taught some classes. He was required to teach for five years and have over 100 students each year before he was given his certificate. I have advanced Joe to sixth degree black belt in Shaolin Kempo Karate and Grandmaster James Lee advanced him to Master of Shaolin Chuan-Fa.

Joe is the only one I taught the entire system of Shaolin Chuan-Fa, Shaolin Kempo Karate and Ju-Te. I gave Joe permission twenty years ago to run the Ju-Te system and he has taught it to only a selected few over the past twenty years. Once I retire Joe will be the sole Master and hold all rights to the Edgell Ju-Te system in the United States. He has taken many styles to great levels and never used his skills in an unlawful way. He is hard working, honest, and is successful in business.

It hurts to see people foolishly say he is not real, they have no idea of his dedication and the cost he has incurred. He is being judged entirely by his performance a You Tube video of basic techniques.

It has come to my attention that people have high rank in Ju-Te, the system I created, and it is a combination of Aikido, Jujitsu, and Karate. I did not give them rank and do not know who these people are. The only rank I gave out was about five first-degree black belts in my school. I taught Ju-Te for only five years and gave John Keehan a black belt in Ju-te and kibo. I was a sixth degree black belt in Ju-Te because I based it on my Karate rank. When I met Grandmaster James Lee I dedicated all my time in Shaolin Chuan-Fa a more superior Art than Ju-Te.

The main reason students of John Keehan never knew John studied from Grandmaster James Lee was because one of the conditions to be excepted by James Lee was it must be kept behind closed doors. John was wealthy and went to James Lee and paid him a tremendous amount of money to learn. I on the other hand was beaten for two weeks to pass a test to be accepted as a student. I found out later from one of James Lee’s six disciples that John had no test. Chinese Masters did not teach Americans at that time. I found out recently not even Doug Dwyer was not aware that John and I were studying under Grandmaster James Lee. Besides the fact that John had to follow James Lee’s rules, he felt as a businessman that students would go to James Lee instead of him. John trained in one of a more beginning system of Poison Hands and he transferred them to a Karate version because although the original version that I learned is more effective, it does not have the flash John needed to make himself look more deadly.
John did not want to be thrown, use chokes, or practice takedowns, only use fast strikes, while ripping and clawing his victim. James Lee was against John doing his book, because it had techniques that can be related to his system, and expose James Lee as his teacher. John’s short career ended with James Lee when he received unfavorable publicity.

I stayed on for several more years and completed the Shaolin Chuan-Fa System with the Deadly Poison Hands. I was allowed to work with James Lee’s disciples, three liked me and three hated me, but since James Lee accepted me, they followed his orders. When James Lee advanced Joe to Master of Shaolin Chuan-Fa, he make it clear that Joe was my responsibility for life. He said Joe and I were to continue our training with Hsu, Fun Yuen and that Joe must attain a level of Master In Tai Ji.

Joe was at Master Level with Hsu Fun Yuen, but did not receive his certificate yet. Joe was told not to say anything about James Lee or teach the Poison Hands advance levels. After twenty years in secret, he then elected to release the first five at a basic level. I disagreed that he did this, but he explained it was for Law Enforcement and only the first Five at a basic level were released. It took a few years, but I agreed because of how Joe was presenting his system. The system also included health, KI, and promoted long term study.

When John Keehan was teaching students to fight mainly in tournaments, he had the top winners in the nation. Black Belt Magazine recognized him as one of the best Karate instructors. He had an excellent style with many great fighters. When he became Count Dante, he organized the Black Dragon Fighting Society and taught a more mixed Martial Arts Style. Black Belts disapproved this new system and began to leave his organization. He lost his intensity as a teacher, and changed his life style. I did not want any part of the Black Dragons, or Count Dante, but stayed loyal to John Keehan. I always would teach classes for him when he needed me, but at that time I had my own school and style.

I have the responsibility to watch over Joe and want to see his name cleared up. He has worked full-time over the past thirty-eight years, this is not a part-time job, and it is his life. I do not care about the problems of the Black Dragons, nor do I want to argue with them. Joe approached me about contacting you to be in the Documentary film, I was against it because all the problems with Count Dante and I felt it would open a can of worms. He felt that we just show the good John Keehan by stating a secret that has been kept for over thirty years. If people knew he studied under an actual Shaolin Warrior Monk, it would bring great pride to his students and give him the respect he deserves. Joe also felt it would benefit me to have some recognition for all the years I studied the Arts, and help promote his Poison Hands. I are not trying to argue with anyone, only stating the truth. I will repeat this at an interview, but as you know I do not do well speaking live. A simple solution to end all controversy is success.

Thank You for your time
Master Woodrow Edgell

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Recent research developments.

Plans for several more interviews have solidified for this weekend and over the next month.
I have a childhood friend and a relative of Dante's to speak with as well as a scholar who has written on martial arts and popular culture.

It has been hard to get an interview arranged in Japan with Akira Toriyama, creator, writer and illustrator of the Dragonball Z manga series. He seldom gives interviews.

I may be able to score an interview with one of the producers at Toei Animation in Tokyo. There is a character in DragonBall Z, Mr. Satan, or Hercules, who seems to be styled after Count Dante, cape, afro and specially carved facial hair. The appeal of the comic add is definitely the key to the global awareness of the legend.

The additional interviews will allow me to flesh out my themes and give substance to the idea of an urban legend who has achieved a global underground notoriety.