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.

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