A Chronological History of the Martial Arts and Combative Sports 1940-now (rev01/05)

The National Library of Canada provides an authorized mirror of this e-publication. The base document, however, is the one at Most recent update: December 2004. Copyright © 2000-2004 Joseph R. Svinth All rights reserved.




Kronos; A Chronology of the Martial Arts and Combative Sports, represents my idiosyncratic interpretation of the history of the martial arts, combative sports, and associated philosophical topics. If you have suggestions for improvement, please let me know. If you think you can do better, please do so.

The periods covered are:

0000 to 0499:

0500 to 1349:

1350 to 1699:

1700 to 1859:

1860 to 1899:

1900 to 1939:

1940 to present:

The bibliographies are at:




Online references, a summary of recent changes, and general housekeeping information are found at:

If you prefer reading traditional print format, then please see the abbreviated chronology in Thomas A. Green, Martial Arts of the World: An Encyclopedia (ABC-CLIO, 2001). Meanwhile, if you prefer reading articles arranged topically rather than chronologically, then please see the essays in Green's encyclopedia and the chapters in Thomas A. Green and Joseph R. Svinth, editors, Martial Arts in the Modern World (Greenwood, 2003).

Finally, if you want to see how Kronos has evolved over time, then please see the first edition, which appears online at





During a talent show given at Chengtu, China, missionary Margaret Simkin sees some husky young women from Ginling College displaying their skill in dance, fencing, Chinese boxing, and European gymnastics. While describing the show to friends in Canada, Simkin said, "There is abundant hope for China in such as these."

The Hon Hsing Athletic Club is established in Vancouver, British Columbia, and its ch’uan fa classes were probably the first organized Chinese martial art classes in Canada. However, non-Chinese students were not allowed until the 1960s. "It used to be that the Chinese instructors wouldn’t teach Westerners," Raymond Leung told Ramona Mar in 1986. "But it’s wrong to think that if we teach them, they’ll use it to beat us. With every new student, I think we make one new friend."

In Montreal, 19-year old Joe Weider publishes the first issue of Your Physique, a 12-page mimeographed newsletter devoted to bodybuilding. (The difference between bodybuilding and weightlifting is that the former is semi-erotic muscular theater whereas the latter is nationalistic athletic competition.) It sold well, and by the 1960s, Joe and his younger brother Ben were leaders in the health and fitness publishing industry.

Hundreds of English witches gather in the New Forest to send Adolf Hitler the telepathic message, "You cannot cross the sea." According to Gerald B. Gardner, an English warlock who also wrote a noted book on krisses and other Malay weapons, the gratifying results of the Battle of Britain were proof of the continuing power of English sorcery.

The British government hires William Fairbairn to teach British commandos to fight dirty. Fairbairn’s favorite unarmed fighting techniques included fingers in the eyes, palm-heel strikes to the chin, and kicks to the groin, and a subsequent German manual based on these methods was called Englischer Gangster-Methoden. In 1942, Fairbairn left Scotland for North America. The most famous person to view Fairbairn-style training in Canada was novelist Ian Fleming, who saw an exhibition during a day-trip to Camp X, outside Ottawa, in 1943. Many future CIA leaders also took the course from Fairbairn at a similar OSS camp near Camp David, Maryland. Rex Applegate describes the meat of this latter course in his book Kill or Get Killed. Meanwhile, the British also send Lt. Col. J.C. Mawhood to Tidal River Camp, in Victoria, Australia, to teach these methods to Australian commandos. Because there were not many people in Australia who knew any Asian martial arts, most Australian hand-to-hand combat instructors of the era were professional boxers or wrestlers. Pioneer instructors included Alf Volker and Ken "Blue" Curran. However, during the 1950s, the Australian military began teaching soldiers rudiments of Asian martial arts. These instructors included men who had received training in Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, and Vietnam. Following the Vietnam War, the Australian military emphasis shifted to nuclear threats, and as a result, Australian military interest in hand-to-hand combat declined. Then, during the late 1980s, the Australian military began routinely participating in United Nations peacekeeping operations, and so, by the early 1990s, there was increased interest in providing Australian Special Forces soldiers with realistic training in close-quarter fighting. Thus, in 1994, a Military Unarmed Combat Wing was introduced to 11 Training Group. Pioneers included Majors John Whipp and Gregory Mawke. Although Military Unarmed Combat Wing was closed in 1996, the Australian military continued to conduct military unarmed combatives at unit level into the early 21st century.

The Japanese Army intentionally introduces typhus, cholera, and the bubonic plague into Chekiang Province, where it was then involved in fighting the Nationalist Chinese. Although this is the best-known instance of modern biological warfare, this is actually the second verified instance. The first occurred in September 1939, when the Japanese Army Unit 731 dumped typhus bacteria into water that advancing Soviet units were expected to use.

Following Iceland’s declaration of independence from Nazi-occupied Denmark, glima becomes mandatory in Icelandic public schools. This association with school, rules, and supervised competition effectively killed "joy wrestling’s" sense of play, and by the 1980s, there were barely 1,000 members in Iceland’s fourteen wrestling clubs.


Choy Hak-Peng introduces Yang-style t’ai chi ch’uan to New York City. Choy’s students were all Chinese.

Toward instilling martial discipline and patriotism into school children, the Japanese Ministry of Education introduces judo and kendo into its fifth grade physical education programs. At the same time, school gymnastics (tasen) were renamed "physical discipline" (tairen). Under this scheme, which was influenced by Nazi Strength through Joy pedagogy, budo was said to include radio transmission, grenade throwing, close-order drill, and races in armor while carrying sandbags.

A 16-year old Latvian sniper named Elsa Smuskevich makes the Red Army newspapers by killing her first German outside Murmansk. "A woman has to have a reason to fight, a reason to leave her home and go to war," Smuskevich tells an interviewer 45 years later. "If she has that reason she is a wonderful soldier."

Bob Hoffman of York Barbell introduces the idea of women’s weightlifting and bodybuilding to the readers of Strength & Health. His motivation? A middle-aged man’s desire to display his two much younger girlfriends.


During one of the last cavalry charges on record, the Japanese machine-gun a Sikh cavalry unit in Burma. News of the failure causes the United States Army to replace its cavalry horses with tanks and trucks. (Previously it had been hoped that horses would be usable in the Burmese forests. Although the Italian Savoia regiment staged a successful cavalry attack on a Russian unit outside Stalingrad as late as August 1942, such attacks were essentially obsolete. (Even the Soviet newsreels showing Cossack cavalrymen charging Nazi tanks were propaganda pieces, the Red Army having effectively destroyed the Don and Kuban Cossacks in 1920, and the Russians actually used their equestrians as mounted infantry. The South Africans and Rhodesians also used mounted infantry into the 1980s, but mounted infantry and cavalry are not the same things.) That said, the French army continued to teach equestrian skills to prospective tank commanders into the 1990s. The reason was that French saw horses as useful for teaching physical fitness, self-confidence, and the spirit of the cavalry. They also reasoned that a man who could get a 900-pound horse to do what he wanted would have no trouble achieving the same from a man.

Near Cholm, Russia, the Germans introduce the world’s first assault rifle, the MKB42, to combat. Using lighter cartridges (in this case, 7.92 by 33mm Kurz), assault rifles combined the convenience and cyclic rate of submachine guns with the effective range and stopping power of rifles. And, while the German weapon was overly complex, the idea impressed the Soviets, who were working on their own self-loading weapons chambered in 7.62 x 39mm. The result was the Simonov self-loading carbine (SKs) introduced in 1943 and the AK-47 assault rifle introduced in 1947.

The German firm HASAG, which was based in Leipzig and used slave labor from the women’s camp attached to Buchenwald, begins developing a recoilless anti-tank weapon called the Faustpatrone. Throughout the rest of World War II, HASAG developed increasingly powerful versions known as Panzerfaust, and development continued in the Soviet Union afterwards. Thus, in 1961, the Soviets introduced an improved Panzerfaust known as the Raketniy Protivotankoviy Granatomet, or RPG-7. Improved projectiles followed, and by the mid-1980s, the RPG-7 had become the weapon of choice for irregular troops pitted against medium to high technology militaries. Although the launch, with its backblast and rocket trail, invariably gave away the firer’s position, the projectiles were useful for anti-vehicular, anti-personnel, or anti-helicopter missions. Moreover, because pinpoint accuracy was not required, training time was minimal.

The Japanese replace the Dutch colonial government of Indonesia with an Islamic nationalist government. Leaders of the new government included Achmed Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta. With Japanese approval, these Indonesian nationalists then used the dance-like Indonesian martial art of silat as a method for uniting ethnically, culturally, and religiously diverse peoples. This modern usage is behind the subsequent stories about silat having been developed for military use against colonial powers. (If silat has practical value in a post-modern military setting, then it is primarily in teaching students to cooperate and move together in time. Why do I say this? Consider, for example, that eight Malayans trained in silat successfully resisted a Chinese attack on their village in August 1949. Since the Malayans resisted using rifles rather than fists, then what use was their silat? Increased unit cohesion? Greater physical fitness? Improved self-confidence? All militarily useful things, to be sure, but each is more rapidly and efficiently taught using football or close-order drill than silat. So this suggests that the main value is not martial, but instead teaching people to value their own culture and traditions.)

To reduce factional violence between Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs, the British stop all Indian professional wrestling championships. Regional championships resume after Partition in 1947, and Indian national championships resume in 1953. The driving force behind their resumption was a Bombay millionaire named Gustad Irani.

In the city of Yenan, in Shensi Province, 1,300 Communist Chinese athletes compete in basketball, volleyball, track-and-field, swimming, and military events. The military events included equestrian sports, ch’uan fa demonstrations, mass calisthenics, river fording, and wrestling.

Masayoshi "James" Mitose, a Japanese-educated Japanese American ("Kibei"), starts teaching a Japanese martial art at Honolulu’s Beretania Mission. Mitose called his style kenpo jujitsu ("fist law jujutsu"), and wrote in his 1953 book, What is Self Defense, that the art was hundreds of years old. Like many of Mitose’s claims, this has not been externally documented, and photos show something that looks suspiciously like karate. Anyway, between 1942 and 1953, Mitose promoted six students to 1-dan. Among these was William K.S. Chow, who actually trained under Mitose’s student Thomas Young. In 1944, Chow started his own class at the Nuuanu YMCA, and in 1949, Chow began calling his methods "kenpo karate." Chow continued teaching kenpo karate (though not always by that name) until his death in 1987, and his better-known students included Adrianao Emperado, Ed Parker, Bill Chun, Ralph Castro, and much later, Sam Kuoha.

While training a joint US-Canadian commando group, an Irish close-combat instructor named Dermot ("Paddy") O’Neill introduces a new all-in, jump-on-the-testicles theory of fighting into North America. O’Neill’s methods, which included techniques borrowed from Kodokan judo and W. E. Fairbairn’s defendu system, were mentioned in a book and a movie called The Devil’s Brigade. After the war, O’Neill taught close combat to the CIA, and in 1966 the US Marine Corps considered using a modified O’Neill program during its recruit training. Judging from the photographs in the manual (FMFM 1-4 dated November 1966), the O’Neill system taught good takedowns and strangleholds, mediocre kicks and punches, and lousy knife techniques. The latter failing was not O’Neill’s fault, as the Corps remained wedded to its Great War-era theories of knife fighting well into the 1980s.

At the urging of Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal, the United States Navy introduces a 12-week physical fitness program for naval aviators. Known as the V-5 program, its trainers used tackle football to teach teamwork, running and swimming to build endurance, boxing for aggressiveness, and a kind of wrestling called "rough and tumble" for self-defense. Students learned about vital points of the human body, and were urged to forego fair play in order to win. While a well-designed curriculum, the chief fault of the program was that it taught more than anyone could hope to master in 12 weeks. Of course, individual mastery was never a major goal for V-5 trainers. Instead, their job was only to convert pleasant, well-mannered college students into disciplined killers as quickly and inexpensively as possible.

The Union Cutlery Company of Ithaca, New York begins making utility knives for the United States Marine Corps. Known as KA-BARs after a trademark stamped onto their blades, these knives were rarely used for anything more dangerous than opening rations. (Even if 44% of American soldiers surveyed claimed that they wanted to kill a Japanese, probably a lot fewer wanted to slit him open with a knife, then hold him down as he kicked and bled and screamed.) Nevertheless, the hyperbole of the aging but enthusiastic Lieutenant Colonel Anthony J. Drexel Biddle, "the old geezer that knows more ways of killing than any man alive," soon made KA-BARs one of the most famous weapons of World War II. In 1952, John Styers published some improved versions of Biddle’s knife and bayonet methods in a book called Cold Steel.

With so many men off to war, female rassling becomes popular in the United States. The audiences were about half men and about half women and school-age boys. The rasslers were working-class women who viewed rassling as a way of earning good money -- up to $100 a week for a champion -- while staying physically fit. While the most famous female rassler was Mildred Burke, her peers included Clara Mortensen, Mae Young, Gladys Gillem, and Elvira Snodgrass. Promoters included Jack Pfefer and Billy Wolfe.

World heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis is drafted into the United States Army. Because his service helped African American men overcome their doubts about serving in what many African Americans perceived as just another white man’s war, he was eventually promoted to the rank of staff sergeant and awarded a Legion of Merit. Meanwhile, white ex-champions such as Gene Tunney and Jack Dempsey were appointed officers in the Navy and the Coast Guard, and paid more and treated better for doing the same job (e.g., selling war bonds and teaching boxing to recruits). In defense of Tunney and Dempsey, both were good public speakers and successful businessmen. Consequently, they were as deserving of their rank as anyone else. Louis, on the other hand, was a poor public speaker and a worse businessman. Consequently, his rank is also reasonable. Nonetheless, the American military of World War II was strictly segregated, and in 1944, Sergeant Louis found himself pulling strings to get ballplayer Jackie Robinson, an Army lieutenant, discharged rather than court-martialed. Robinson’s crime? Refusing to sit at the back of an Army bus.

According to tradition, second-generation Mexican youths living in the barrios of Los Angeles begin wearing zoot suits and forming street gangs. (The former showed group pride while the other supposedly protected Hispanic women from the depredations of drunken sailors and Marines.) While the story compresses time (both zoot suits and barrio gangs date to the 1920s instead of the 1940s) and confuses causality (the gangs were formed to protect Hispanic schoolboys from other Hispanic schoolboys), the story suggests how social, economic, and political conditions lead to what historians call "invented traditions."


While looking for methods of easing the pain of childbirth, the Swiss biochemist Albert Hofmann discovers the hallucinogenic effects of rye ergot fungus. (The key ingredient was lysergic acid, or LSD.) By 1948, the CIA and KGB had become interested in Hofmann’s discovery, and over the next twenty years their financing caused the development of synthetic hallucinogens such as LSD-25, DMT, BZ, and EA-1475. The uses that the Cold Warriors imagined that they would get from these developments included improvements in brainwashing techniques. What they got was an increase in urban street crime.

At the instigation of S.L.A. Marshall, a Detroit journalist turned military historian, and General Curtis LeMay, a B-17 group commander, the United States Army develops post-combat debriefings. The purpose of these after-action reports, as they became better known, was to learn precisely what happened during a battle, as that way systemic problems could be identified and resolved. The methodology involved getting everyone from private to colonel in one place, then, in LeMay’s words, asking "what went right, what went wrong, and why it went wrong. And each of you is in the act. Everybody has his say. If you think your group commander is a stupid son-of-a-bitch, now is the time to say it. And why." When the questions were asked by someone as frank as LeMay or as insightful as Marshall, observations could be surprising. For example, Marshall’s most surprising (and controversial) observation was that just 20-25% of Army infantry fired their individual weapons against human targets. Ever. Unfortunately, Marshall was not above stretching a fact to prove a point, and many subsequent writers contested the exact percentage of shooters and non-shooters. No matter; during the Korean War, the Army treated these numbers as gospel and went about improving them. In a 1995 book called On Killing, Army psychologist Dave Grossman wrote that the Army did this through desensitization, conditioning, and denial. Desensitization involved teaching soldiers to view non-soldiers and potential enemies as sub-humans, to applaud group violence, and to develop a culture where excessive drinking was strongly approved. Conditioning involved building rifle ranges where soldiers took quick shots at human silhouette targets rather than carefully aimed shots at bull’s eyes. Denial included stressing that individual soldiers fired only upon order, and never upon their own initiative. ("Ich musste," said all the Nazis during the Nuremberg trials: "I had to.") These changes evidently increased unit lethality. (Unverified Army data reports firing rates of 55% in 1951 and 90% in 1971.) Apparently, the changes also contributed to increased risk of postwar alcoholism, suicide, and divorce.

About 1944:

In Pernambuco, Brazil, Paulino Aloisio Andrade teaches a stick-fighting game called maculêlê to a group of local children, and then has the children participate in various regional festivals and folklore shows. Machetes were later added to the act for the sparks that flew when the players’ blades hit. Although maculêlê is taught in many modern capoeira schools, the masters of the art remain Andrade’s sons Valfrido Viera de Jesus and Zezinho.


California bans women from participating in public combat for profit (in other words, from boxing and wrestling). On the other hand, in 1955, Illinois upheld the right of women to wrestle. By 1972, most other states had followed suit. Important trainers of women wrestlers during the 1950s and 1960s included Lillian Ellison and Mildred Burke.

Paul Kaelemakule of Honolulu awards Wally Jay a black belt in judo. Following World War II, Jay moved to California, where he developed a jujutsu-based system that he called Small Circle Jujitsu. The fundamental principle of Small Circle Jujitsu involved using the action of the wrist as fulcrum, lever, and base. Jay credited this understanding of leverage to the teachings of Danzan Ryu teacher Ken Kawachi.

The world’s first bench-rest shooting association, the Puget Sound Snipers Congress, is established at Seattle, Washington. Roy Meister was its first champion, with shot groups that averaged 2.235 inches at 200 yards. By 1993, world-record shot groups measured .147 inches, and US Army contracts required military ball ammunition to shoot 2-inch groups at 200 yards.

New York sportswriter Al Laney finds the Afro-Canadian fighter Sam Langford, arguably the greatest boxer never to win a championship, blind and nearly penniless in a Harlem walk-up. "I got a geetar and a bottle of gin and money in my pocket to buy Christmas dinner," said Langford. "No millionaire in the world got more than that." Meanwhile, in Japan, pre-war judo champion Kimura Masahiko was pasting drawings of food around his room, then staring at them as he slowly chewed the rice balls that formed the bulk of his 900-calorie a day diet. Both cases show how important visualization is to a champion.


The publication of The Male Hormone by Paul de Kruif helps popularize synthetic testosterone use among California bodybuilders.

A firestorm started by the magnesium bombs delivered by US Air Force B-29 bombers kills a quarter million Japanese, and burns Funakoshi Gichin’s original Shotokan Dojo to the ground.

The Japanese Army starts teaching karate to members of its special attack squadrons. According to a Wado-ryu teacher named Nishizono Takatoshi, this training involved little more than teaching highly fit young men to punch to the face and kick to the testicles. As elementary as this sounds, this was also easier said than done, as Allied prisoners-of-war had long ago discovered that the average Japanese soldier punched, in the vernacular of the day, round arm, like a girl.

Hwang Kee, a Korean who apparently trained in Shotokan or Shutokai karate while working for the Japanese Railways in Manchuria, establishes the Mu Duk Kwan, or "Martial Virtue Hall," near the Yong San railroad station in Seoul. (His original students were all railroad workers.) Hwang originally called his own method tang soo do, which was karate written in its pre-1936 characters. However, in 1960, he changed this name to Soo Bahk Do, or "the Way of the Striking Hand." The change was partly nationalistic, as the new name alluded to medieval Korean boxing while the old name referred to Okinawan karate. Mostly, though, it was cold-hearted politics: Hwang was simultaneously resisting making his Mu Duk Kwan part of the government-controlled Korea Taesoodo Association.

After serving as driver (and girlfriend) to the Free French General Marie-Pierre Koenig throughout most of World War II, the Englishwoman Susan Travers is admitted into the French Foreign Legion as a sergeant major.

General Henry Arnold uses $10 million from the Air Force budget to establish a private company in Santa Monica, California. This was not corruption, but instead the beginnings of the Research and Development, or RAND, Corporation, whose missions included designing intercontinental missiles, supersonic airplanes, and nuclear wars. To accomplish the first two tasks, scores of German scientists were hired. (Most US technological advances of the 1950s in jet aircraft and rocketry technology was based on German research of the 1930s.) Toward accomplishing the latter task, researchers at the RAND Corporation invented hexagonal movement tables for military war games. This idea came from a scientifically popular mathematical game created by John Nash of Princeton University in 1948. In 1958, a Maryland company called Avalon Hill borrowed the RAND Corporation’s hexagonal movement tables, and used them in a commercial war game called Gettysburg. The Avalon Hill format quickly generated a closet full of imitators, and in 1991, Coalition planners used a direct descendant called Gulf Strike to rehearse their ground war against Iraq.

About 1946:

Savate enjoys a renaissance in France, in part as a way of restoring national pride. Leaders in this movement included Pierre Baruzy, who won the French savate championship eleven times before World War II. The first postwar French championship took place in 1947. In 1970, this title was elevated to championship of Europe, and in 1991, to the championship of the world. The first women’s savate championship took place in 1982.


The Zuni Indians of New Mexico hold purification rituals for their young men returning home from military service during World War II. The Zuni called their rite hanasema isu waha, or "bad luck, get rid of it." Its purpose was to rid former soldiers of their bad memories. (These included serving in a white man’s army as well as stepping into rotting German bodies.) The Rama Navajo, Teton Lakota, and many other American Indian communities held analogous services for returning war veterans following both World War II and Korea. The absence of such outpourings of community support for non-Indian soldiers returning from Vietnam is often cited as a reason for the Vietnam War’s high percentage of post-traumatic stress sufferers. Yet, the exorcisms and community support did not help the Indian veterans much, either. For instance, Ira Hayes, a Pima Indian who helped raise the United States flag over Iwo Jima in 1945, died face-down in a ditch a few years later. Therefore, medical awareness rather than the absence of parades is probably responsible for the Vietnam War’s high reported rate of stress disorders.

Before his rematch with the fleet-footed Billy Conn, heavyweight boxer Joe Louis tells reporters, "He can run. But he can’t hide."

Robert Trias, who said he learned Shuri-te karate while stationed in the Pacific with the US Navy, establishes the first karate school on the United States’ mainland. Trias’ school was in Phoenix, and many of his early students worked for the Arizona Highway Patrol. Trias’ daughter Roberta Jane was among the earliest female karate black belts in the United States.

Alfredo San Bartolome, a Peruvian 2-dan, establishes the first permanent judo school in Spain. Other pioneering Spanish judo instructors included Frank Fernando and Yves Klein.

The Allied occupation government of Japan prohibits the teaching of judo and kendo in Japanese public schools and bans the words (and concepts) budo and bushido. Meanwhile, martial art licensing bodies such as the sumo association and the Dai Nippon Butokukai voluntarily disband. The reason was that before and during "the Emergency," as the Japanese liked to call World War II, budo and bushido had become synonyms for Japanese fascism. And there was reason for the belief: during the war, martial arts patronized by the Butokukai included grenade throwing and glider repair, and afterwards, many of its leaders went to jail, some for war crimes and others for racketeering. Still, the Americans had nothing against legitimate sports practiced in a democratic fashion. Therefore, sumo tournaments resumed during the winter of 1945-1946, and in November 1946 an All-Japan Judo Yudanshakai ("Grade Holders’ Association") was organized.

The United States Army announces the development of ENIAC, an acronym for an "electronic numerical integrator and computer." ENIAC calculated range and firing data for artillery, and it replaced a room full of women with slide rules. However, it was a huge device weighing thirty tons, and it had thousands of transistor tubes. Moreover, only the US Army used it. Therefore, it took the development of germanium semiconductors ("transistors") in 1947 and stored-program computers in 1948 to initiate the post-modern era, with its emphasis on digital rather printed communications. (A British machine called COLOSSUS predated ENIAC, but its invention was a military secret for several decades after the war. Therefore, it had little impact on future computer developments.)


Soviet leader Josef Stalin decides that the Soviets should participate in the Olympics, thus making the games a battleground in the Cold War. Stalin wanted his athletes to enter the 1948 Olympics. However, at the time, he could not be guaranteed a large number of gold medals. (Participation was not enough for Stalin; he wanted medals.) Therefore, he decided to postpone Soviet entry until 1952. To ensure that Soviet athletes met Olympic eligibility requirements, top athletes were no longer given cash payments by their clubs. Instead, they received sinecures in government or the military. Schoolteachers also were asked to identify potential athletes, and to encourage everyone to participate in minor sports such as small-bore rifle shooting, fencing, and wrestling. After all, there was less competition in the minor sports, and in the hunt for Olympic gold, a medal was a medal. Finally, as the Soviets had virtually no athletic facilities, coaches started having players swim during the summer, run in the spring and fall, and do cross-country skiing in the winter. In other words, they invented cross training.

A Japanese named Nakano Michiomi -- he later changed his name to So Doshin -- incorporates his martial art school as a Kongo Zen Buddhist religious order. (So said that he taught martial arts mostly as a way of attracting young people to Buddhism, and that it was the latter, not the martial arts, that would make them better people.) However, the tax breaks given religious orders were probably a consideration, too. Until 1972, So said that he was the twenty-first grandmaster of an esoteric northern Shaolin system called Iher Man Thuen. What caused him to change his mind was a Japanese court ruling that his style was not Chinese, but instead a mixture of karate (perhaps Wado-ryu) and jujutsu (perhaps Hakko-ryu). Consequently, the style’s name was changed from "Shorinji Kempo," meaning "Shaolin Temple kung fu," to "Nippon Shorinji Kempo," meaning "Japanese Shaolin Fist-Way."

On Okinawa, Nagamine Shoshin establishes Matsubayashi Shorin-ryu karate. The style used advanced kata created by Matsumora Kosaku and Matsumura Sokon during the nineteenth century and introductory kata created by Itosu Anko and Miyagi Chojun during the twentieth. The name means "Pine Forest Style" and alludes to both Shaolin ch’uan fa and the long life supposedly acquired and maintained through strict self-discipline.

A signals officer named Nam Tae Hi establishes a Shotokan karate club, the Oh Do Kwan, at a Korean Army base at Yong Dae Ri. In 1955, during a demonstration for the South Korean President Rhee Seung Man, Nam broke thirteen roofing tiles with a single blow. This so impressed Rhee that he told Colonel Choi Hong Hi, who was Nam’s commander and an honorary 4-dan, to start a training program for the entire Korean military. As Nam always insisted that trainees shout "Tae Kwon!" ("Fists and Feet!"), his karate style soon became known popularly as taekwondo, or the Way of Fists and Feet.

The Ikatan Penchak Silat Indonesia ("Indonesian Penjak Silat Association") is established in Jakarta. While its leaders said that this encouraged the development of the Indonesian martial arts, it was actually used to further the spread of militant Islamic (and anti-Dutch) nationalism.

Several young men, mostly of Chinese and Filipino descent, create kajukenbo, which is arguably the United States’ first eclectic Asian martial art. The name is an anagram of karate, judo, kenpo, and Chinese boxing, which were some of the styles that it incorporated, and it was introduced to the North American mainland in 1958. Adriano Emperado is probably the most famous practitioner.


Vanderbilt University football coach Henry "Red" Sanders defines good sportsmanship, American-style, by saying, "Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing."

Fear of Communist trade unionists causes the United States government to relax its hard-line opposition to the Japanese political right. (Since it was financed by big business, the Japanese political right didn’t like trade unionists or socialists, either.) This in turn allows yakuza gangs whose members enjoyed strikebreaking activities to flourish. One of the more notorious of these strikebreaking gangs, the National Martyrs Youth Corps, established in 1952. Members started their mornings with an hour of martial art training. Then they spent their days extorting money from shopkeepers, blackmailing schoolteachers, and intimidating labor organizers. Finally, they went to their clubhouses for several hours of singing and drinking before going home at night.

Red scares cause the occupation government of Japan to reorganize the Japanese police. Part of the reorganization involved increased training, and on December 31, 1947, keibojutsu ("police stick") was adopted as the official martial art of the Japanese police. Since keibojutsu included elements borrowed from kendo, this is sometimes interpreted as a partial reinstatement of kendo. However, that is not correct, as bamboo stick competitions and training still received no official funds or government support.

Ueshiba Morihei establishes the Aikikai Foundation in Tokyo, and in the process rehabilitates pre-Pacific War mottoes such as "Budo is not for fighting but for peace" so that they refer to anti-war sentiment rather than submission to Imperial authority.

The Kodokan holds its first post-war All-Japan Judo Championships.

George Grundy and his son Keith introduce judo to Auckland, New Zealand.

Toward making judo more like wrestling, Henry Stone of California’s San Jose State University introduces weight divisions into US judo competition.

In London, Koizumi Gunji organizes what becomes the European Judo Union (EJU). In 1951, Argentina asked to join the EJU. To allow this, the EJU was reorganized as the International Judo Federation (IJF). However, in 1952 control of the IJF shifted to Japan, leaving the Europeans to resurrect the EJU as a way of regulating and organizing their European Championships. Throughout this period, Britain, France, Belgium, and Holland opposed weight divisions in the European Championships, saying that they were not traditional. The Germans, on the other hand, supported the idea.

A Czech immigrant named Imi Lichtenfeld develops krav maga, or "contact fighting" for use by Israeli soldiers. Primary techniques included rear strangleholds, strikes to the neck and throat, and front snap kicks to the groin. Stylistic influences included boxing, wrestling, gymnastics, and Australian-rules judo. Israeli civilians were introduced to krav maga during the early 1970s. The pioneer of this civil movement was Alberto Ayalon, the Argentine-born director of biomechanics at Tel Aviv’s Orde Wingate Institute.

After seeing the FBI Practical Pistol Course, two US Marine officers, Jeff Cooper and Howland Taft, develop an "Advanced Military Combat Pistol Course" for the US military.


The Story of Huang Fei-hong starts Hong Kong’s first martial arts film craze. Based on operatic themes, swords and spears were whirled with abandon, but bare-knuckle boxing was rare. These knight-errant films were also popular in the Chinese communities of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

Feng Wen-pin, President of the All-China Athletic Federation, describes the purpose of Communist Chinese physical education as developing sports for health, nationalism, and national defense. To accomplish this with a minimum of time, space, or equipment, workers were encouraged to practice martial art practice forms. On the other hand, Feng’s nationalism was not extreme, and workers were encouraged to play North American or European games such as basketball, volleyball, soccer, and table tennis.

The All-Japan Judo Yudanshakai is reorganized into the Japan Judo Federation, and then made part of the Japan Physical Education Association.

The Japan Karate Association is established in Tokyo. Although Funakoshi Gichin was its titular head, its actual leaders included a former Vice-Prime Minister, an Air Force general, a former Minister of the Interior, and the president of Japan’s largest security guard company. The chief technical adviser, whose book Dynamic Karate remains a classic, was a professor of physical education named Nakayama Masatoshi. Initiation fees cost ¥3000 ($8.36), while the monthly membership fee was ¥2000 ($5.58). During their first few classes, beginners learned history, traditions, and etiquette. Then, after one month, they began learning heian kata. Students were expected to test every 3-6 months, and learned a new kata at each belt rank. The headquarters dojo in Tokyo was open six days a week. Branch schools were open three to six days a week. Instructors were college graduates with a Physical Education major, held nidan (second-degree) rank or higher, and had a year’s post-graduate education in kinesiology, physiology, and business administration. Upon graduation from this program, students were promoted to sandan (third-degree), and then allowed to instruct under supervision.

A 34-year old pencak silat practitioner named Enny Rukmini joins the anti-colonial forces on Indonesia. Since firearms were scarce, she carried a sword. Following independence, she became the chief instructor at her father's silat school in West Java, and was subsequently a leader of the movement to introduce silat into the Indonesian schools.

Aslam Bholu Pahelwan defeats Yunus Pahelwan to win the title Rustam-e-Pakistan, champion of Pakistan. This made Bholu probably the best professional wrestler in the world. (Not necessarily the best wrestler: even Bholu admitted the possibility of chuppa rustam, hidden champions. But certainly the best active professional.)

Promoter Bill Johnston introduces Gorgeous George to Madison Square Garden. George’s act (born George Wagner, but he had his name changed) featured bleached blond locks, custom dressing gowns, and a fly-sprayer filled with perfume-scented disinfectant. While he was a mediocre wrestler, this act attracted paying customers by the thousands. Why? Mainly it was that television audiences liked watching soap opera more than they liked watching serious wrestling. And, as 1924 Olympic wrestling champion and former professional wrestler Russell Vis said, "To put on a show you’ve got to make faces, jump and up and down, pretend you’re hurt, then come from underneath." Added Sam Boal in the New York Times Magazine on November 20, 1949, "The emotions of the wrestling ring are simple. They are those of the fairy tale. There is always a Hero and a Villain. It is the enactment of ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ a story anybody can understand and respond to."

The Chicago businessmen James Norris and Arthur Wirtz incorporate the International Boxing Club (IBC) in Illinois and New York. Norris and Wirtz then used the IBC to obtain exclusive television rights to the professional boxing matches staged in New York, Chicago, Detroit, and St. Louis. (The IBC failed to control California boxing mainly because George Parnassus, who owned the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles, and his manager, a very tough woman named Aileen Eaton, refused to be bought or muscled by the IBC.) However, from 1957 to 1959, the IBC did control the Hollywood Legion Stadium. There were similar problems in professional wrestling, too, and in 1956 Wladek and Stanislaus Zbyszko of Savannah, Missouri helped convince the United States government to formally charge the National Wrestling Alliance with violating the Sherman Anti-Trust Law. The promoters, though, got out of the predicament by claiming that what they sold was not sport, but sports entertainment.) Then Norris and Wirtz started doing business with the Mafia leader Frankie Carbo, who controlled many North American fighters and fight managers through a combination of bribery and intimidation. The result was such heavy-handed fixing that the US Congress started investigating IBC practices in 1951. Federal judges ordered the dissolution of the IBC in 1959 and the imprisonment of Carbo in 1961.

Norma Graziano, the wife of middleweight boxing champion Rocky Graziano, tells her mother, "I should go to the dentist when he fights. That way I can’t worry about him." Her fear wasn’t so much that her husband would win or lose, she said, but that he would get hurt. Thirty years later, Florence Frazier, wife of former heavyweight champion Joe Frazier and the mother of Olympic hopeful Marvis Frazier, agreed, saying, "Seeing your husband get hurt is one thing. Seeing your baby get hurt is another."

A Seattle middleweight named Harry "Kid" Matthews starts a profitable light-heavyweight boxing career under the tutelage of the veteran trainer Jack Hurley. Said Hurley of his methods, which emphasized slipping punches and counter-punching, "Speed is detrimental. Slow it down to one punch. If you’re moving fast, you’re also moving your opponent fast."


The Communist Chinese occupy eastern Tibet, and during 1954-1955, they move into central and northern Tibet. The Communist introduction of collective farming schemes caused rural Tibetans to revolt in 1957. The Dalai Lama’s calls for divine assistance proved as ineffectual at stopping the Chinese tanks and artillery as the CIA airdrops, and so he fled to India in 1959.

The Zen Nihon Shinai Kyogi Renmei ("All Japan Federation for Bamboo Stick Competition") is organized in Japan. Its first president was Sasamori Junzo, an American-educated Christian educator and liberal politician who believed that kendo could be taught in a democratic fashion. Sasamori’s 1964 book, This is Kendo: The Art of Japanese Fencing, was one of the first English-language kendo texts, and many of his Japanese-language texts remain in print.

Judo returns to Japanese high schools. Due to American pressure, it was now an elective rather than a mandatory subject, and the emphasis was on competition rather than self-sacrifice for the Emperor. To show the difference between prewar and postwar judo, until 1989 Ministry of Education required that it be described as kakugi ("combative technique") rather than budo ("martial art").

Feuding Northern Nigerians hire professional musicians to create scurrilous songs about their rivals, and then spread these songs throughout the neighborhood at night, when the sound of a drum and a good voice could carry for several miles. The rules of engagement were that the singer could not say anything that was not true unless the statement was clearly impossible. In other words, while he could say that a man was really a pig in disguise, he could not say that a woman stole yams unless he could prove in court that she did. Such drumming contests continued for weeks, generally until one side or the other ran out of money for drummers, or decided to go to court or engage in street fighting.

Arthur Berger, a New York dentist who moonlighted as a referee at Madison Square Garden, tells a reporter from The New Yorker: "In boxing, you have to worry about the scoring of points in each round, see that neither fighter is getting banged up too much, holler ‘Break!’ all the time, and insinuate yourself between the men in clinches. Fortunately, my shoulders are just the right height for breaking up a clinch. You break clinches at elbow height. In wrestling, your main worry is not getting rolled on, although you also have to keep a sharp eye out for fouls."

Retired featherweight boxing champion Abe Attell tells sportswriter Joe Williams that the hardest part of professional boxing was making bad fighters last long enough to satisfy the crowd, or mediocre fighters look good enough to justify a rematch. Reigning middleweight champion Ray Robinson agreed, saying that his hardest match was one where he had to carry another boxer named Charlie Fusari: "I had to fight fifteen rounds for me and fifteen for him."

Scholarly articles showing that weight training improves all-round athletic performance appear in the United States. Their findings will not penetrate professional boxing until the late 1980s, when a light-heavyweight named Evander Holyfield uses a weight program to turn himself into a legitimate heavyweight. Holyfield’s program required him to spar six rounds in the morning, do a cardiovascular workout in the afternoon, and lift weights and strain against resistance machines in the evening. Holyfield also ate six times a day. For breakfast, he had grits, four eggs, toast, and a protein drink. For first lunch, he had two turkey sandwiches and another protein drink. For second lunch, he had two baked potatoes and a protein shake. As an afternoon snack, he had two more turkey sandwiches and a carbohydrate drink. For his two dinners, he had chicken breasts, beans, corn bread, collard greens, and protein drinks. When not training, Holyfield said, he also liked peach cobblers and banana pudding.

General Curtis LeMay, commander of the United States Air Force’s nuclear-capable Strategic Air Command, becomes worried about base security. "The Russians didn’t threaten us," said LeMay. "But I was worried about fifth column activity. Sabotage… And the stupidest people we had in the Air Force were put in the Military Police." To reduce this risk, LeMay looked for, found, and publicly fired some incompetent provost marshals and unconcerned wing commanders. Next, he ordered that his security forces be called Air Police, and treated as key members of his personal security team rather than unwanted stepchildren. The easy things done, LeMay then established an Air Police school at Fort Carson, Colorado, that taught Air Police how to be a combination of civilian police and nuclear weapon security rather than simply gate guards. Finally, to make Air Police feel special, he gave them distinctive uniforms and arranged for professional instruction in aikido, judo, and karate. During the 1950s, about twenty Japanese martial art instructors toured Air Force bases, and hundreds of US airmen took month-long courses at the Kodokan. The Japanese were among the best available: karate teachers included Nakayama Masatoshi and Nishiyama Hidetaka; judo teachers included Daigo Toshiro and Kotani Sumiyuki, and aikido teachers included Tomiki Kenji. Air Police were also encouraged to practice their judo and karate in the gyms that LeMay had ordered built on their bases. Following discharge, former Air Police often continued teaching and practicing judo or karate in their home towns; examples include Laverne Raab in Omaha and Bill Reuter in Seattle. Therefore, LeMay’s program helped spread Japanese martial arts throughout Middle America. LeMay’s program also had a profound affect on the modern Japanese martial arts. As Nakayama Masatoshi, a future head of the Japan Karate Association put it, "The Americans simply were not satisfied with following blindly like the Japanese. So, under Master Funakoshi’s guidance, I began an intense study of kinetics, physiology, anatomy, and hygienics." Changes to karate included less emphasis on building callused knuckles and more emphasis on teaching light, natural blocks and strikes powered by fluid, centered movement. (Details appear in Egami Shigeru’s 1976 book called The Way of Karate.) Changes to aikido included the addition of the hard, competitive edge exemplified by Tomiki aikido. Changes to judo included the appearance of large numbers of technically proficient judo instructors who were not of Japanese descent. That in turn gradually changed the prewar Japanese belief that only people of Japanese descent could master judo.


Critics vote Rashomon, a 1950 samurai film by Kurosawa Akira, the best film of the Venice Film Festival. Rashomon also introduces Western audiences to Mifune Toshiro, the Japanese actor whose subsequent films included Seven Samurai, Miyamoto Musashi, Yojimbo, and Shogun.

Ed Parker starts studying kenpo karate with William K. S. Chow. As a boy growing up in Honolulu, Parker had boxed and done judo, and later, while serving in the Coast Guard, he trained in kenpo karate with Chow’s younger brother Frank. Following discharge from the Coast Guard, Parker attended Utah’s Brigham Young University. In 1953, Parker gave a kenpo karate demonstration during the halftime of a basketball game, and in 1954, he started teaching it to some friends at a Provo, Utah gym. Upon graduating from college, Parker moved to Pasadena, California, where in 1956 he opened the first of a series of commercial martial arts schools. At first, he taught kenpo karate as he had learned it from Chow. However, in 1961 he became friends with some local ch’uan fa practitioners, and so over the next few years there began to be significant differences between what Parker was doing and what Chow was doing. Consequently, Parker’s methods became known as American kenpo.

Japanese sumotori visit Honolulu, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago. To avoid breaking city ordinances concerning indecent exposure, the wrestlers had to wear boxer shorts under their mawashi (loincloths).

The first Pan-American Games are held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The United States won half the first place medals in the wrestling events, and John Osako of Chicago was a winner in judo.

Rikidozan makes his American-style professional wrestling debut in Tokyo. His birth name was Kim Sin-Rak, and he was born in South Hamgyong Province, in northeastern Korea, in 1923. At the age of 15, went to Japan to train as a sumotori. Because of Japanese prejudice against Koreans, his handlers started the story that he was a Japanese named Momota Mitsuhiro. However, because his ring name alluded to a mountain in Korea, Koreans always knew he was one of them. In 1950, Rikidozan quit sumo and began working for a gambler named Niita Shinsasku. In 1951, he met (and according to the story, fought) the Japanese American professional wrestler Harold Sakata in a Ginza nightclub, and afterwards, he decided to enter an American-style wrestling tournament that American Shriners had organized in Tokyo. He enjoyed the work, so in 1952 he traveled to the United States, where his trainers included Rubberman Higami and Oki Shikina. After about a year in North America and Hawaii, he returned to Japan, and by early 1955 he was the star of the newly organized Japan Pro Wrestling Association. The promotional angles in Japan allowed Rikidozan to beat most Americans and to draw with "champions" such as Lou Thesz and Walter "Killer" Kowalski. These acts proved enormously popular, and Japanese fans without televisions often stood on streets outside department stores just to see Rikidozan wrestle. In December 1963 Rikidozan was stabbed during a bar fight and subsequently died of infection, but forty years later many Japanese still considered him one of the most influential Japanese of the twentieth century. Koreans also liked the man, and in 1983, the North Korean press reported that Rikidozan was Supreme Leader Kim Il-Sung’s favorite wrestler of all time.

A rassler who called herself Female Joe Louis tells sportswriter Jimmy Cannon, "I like to fight men. The harder I pop them, the better I like it." About the same time, however, another female wrestler, 19-year-old Jeannette Wolfe, died of abdominal injuries received during a match in East Liverpool, Ohio. While deaths in women’s wrestling were hardly common, Wolfe’s death was especially noteworthy because it did not involve a blow to the head or an auto accident. During the 1950s and 1960s, ring-related deaths associated with professional wrestling averaged around one per year. Besides Wolfe, wrestling fatalities included Dennis Clary in 1955, Buck Weaver in 1956, Chris Davros ("Babe Zaharias"; he was a cousin-in-law of the famous golfer) in 1957, Chick Garibaldi and Ali Pasha in 1961, Tex Riley in 1964, and Alberto Torres and Iron Mike DeBiase in 1969. Canadian rassling deaths included Paul Lentre in 1953, Gus Johnson in 1954, and Stanley Mayeshiro ("Oyama Kato") in 1961. Other risks associated with professional wrestling included broken wrists, cauliflower ears, and eye infections that could cause blindness or staph infection. "Did it ever occur to you," said former rassling champion Gus Sonnenberg shortly before his death, "that after two or three years of regular use a wrestling mat is not a pleasant mattress to roll around on?"

Transcontinental television appears in North America. With its close-in action and short, easily packaged rounds, boxing and wrestling seemed made for the new medium. Unfortunately, the television producers failed to put any money into developing new talent. Over the next ten years, a combination of scandals (Senator Warren G. Magnuson suggested that the Mafia was fixing fights), predictable outcomes (the fighter in the white trunks won about 75% of the time), and overexposure (why sit through boring matches between bums when you could watch I Love Lucy instead) drove boxing into technical decline. On the other hand, rassling flourished. Why? Because, said Willie Gilzenberg of the World Wide Wrestling Federation, "In wrestling today, even though it’s on TV, the fan is never shown the match he really wants to see." The decline of the male-only working-class saloon culture that had supported boxing for the previous century probably played a role, too. After all, from 1850 to 1940, boxing had been popular mostly with working-class men, whereas rassling had been popular with women and children since the 1940s.

The United States military begins issuing armored vests to its soldiers in Korea. The vests were made from fiberglass and nylon, and were found to reduce casualties from artillery and mortar fragments. So, within a few months, they became standard for UN infantry in Korea. While combat aircrew and naval personnel on landing craft had worn similar armor during World War II, this was the first widespread use of body armor by infantry since the seventeenth century.

The United States Army publishes a study showing that soldiers’ decision to mutiny was a sequential process. That is, it was a long slow process rather than some sudden decision, and invariably involved soldiers losing faith in both the national government and the military chain of command. But of course firing inept politicians and generals wasn’t possible, and so the Army had to content itself with addressing such comparatively insignificant issues as fears about death, frozen feet, and the loss of sweethearts.


A Briton named P.Z. Mackenzie describes a battle between rival Dinka factions in the Southern Sudan. According to Mackenzie, several hundred Dinka men arranged themselves in ragged lines to face a comparable enemy standing or kneeling about 40 yards away. Behind each of these heroes were four or five supporters, whose purpose was to make noise, collect spent spears and throwing sticks, and carry away the wounded. During the battle itself, there was little maneuver except dodging. Tactically, one group threw their clubs high to cause their opponents to raise their shields while another group threw spears low to catch distracted warriors in the legs; hence the jumping, darting motions seen in many warrior dances.

Although Mao Tse-tung’s motto was "keep fit, study well, work well," the Chairman also believed that secret societies, like capitalism and ancient religions, undermined the race and retarded progress. Consequently, the China Wu Shu Association was created. This organization was underneath the aegis of the All-China Athletic Federation, and was tasked with removing all "feudal comprador fascist thought" from the Chinese martial arts. Toward accomplishing this, cadres registered regular boxers and reeducated "arch-leaders" using threats, beatings, harsh interrogations, banishment to work farms, and even pistol shots to the brain.

Yip Man, a refugee from Communist China, begins teaching wing chun in Hong Kong. Since many of Yip’s students were restaurant workers, his methods soon spread throughout the world. While Yip’s most famous student was the Chinese-American actor Bruce Lee, he was not Yip’s best. (When Lee visited Hong Kong in 1961 to show Yip Man how much his martial arts had improved while in the United States, he found, in the words of student James DeMile, that "his progress was zip... He could hit the good Wing Chun men maybe once out of every three times they could hit him.") Yip’s better students included his son Chun.

A Korean known as Oyama Mas (birth name: Choi Yong I) joins the Chicago-based Pro-Wrestling Association and tours North America. From the late 1930s to the early 1940s, Oyama had trained in Goju Kai karate under So Nei Cho in Tokyo. He also trained in Shotokan. During his travels through 32 US states, Oyama reportedly challenged anyone in America to fight him for a winner-take-all purse of $1,000 per match. One suspects that Oyama did not go out of his way to find worthwhile competition. After all, the Pakistani national wrestling champions Joginder and Arjan Singh were also traveling through North America during 1951-1952, and likewise offering $1,000 to anyone who could beat them, and somehow these various parties never met. There are many stories told about Oyama during this period. "The story about Oyama fighting bulls is not true," says Oyama’s student Jon Bluming. "He never met a real bull, for he never visited Spain. [He did apparently visit Mexico.] I also doubt that he was gored, for he never told me about it, and he used to tell me everything. Kenji Kurosaki was there, and he told me what happened. They went early in the morning to a stockyard in [the town of] Tateyama. Workmen prepared a fat old ox for Oyama by hitting one of its horns with a hammer so that it was quite loose. Oyama did not kill the ox, he only knocked off the loose horn. Bill Backhus and I saw the 16mm movie in 1959. Oyama himself showed it to us. I told Oyama to never show this film in Europe because it looked too phony, and everyone would laugh at him. As far as I know, nobody saw that movie again." In fairness, note that a bullfight featuring Oyama was filmed in Chiba Prefecture in 1954, and the footage subsequently shown in Japanese theaters as Ushito Tatakau Otoko ("A Man Who Fought a Bull".) Furthermore, Oyama himself admitted the oxen were old. So, while the story has grown over the years, there is no doubt that he did some bulldogging in his time. Other aspects of Oyama's wrestling career also are not entirely clear. For example, an article in the October 1953 edition of Argosy magazine said that Oyama "left more than of a hundred of America’s burlier, rougher citizens flat on their back." On the other hand, Oyama said in the 1958 edition of his book What Is Karate that he had just three matches with professional wrestlers plus thirty exhibitions and nine television appearances. As all matches between American professional wrestlers of the 1950s must be considered fixed, that leaves Oyama with 33 exhibitions, nine television appearances, and some steer wrestling to his credit.

To reduce the injuries (mostly bloody noses, split lips, and jammed fingers and toes) during free-sparring, the Japan Karate Association introduces corner judges and center referees. A complete set of collegiate karate rules appears in August 1956.

The Zen Nihon Kendo Renmei (All Japan Kendo Federation) is established. As far as is known, this was the first post-World War II public use of the word "kendo." For kendo to be taught in the public schools, however, it had to be described as "flexible stick competition" (shinai kyogi). Moreover, said the Ministry of Education, it was not to be "taught as budo [martial art] but as a physical education sport [kyoiku supotsu]."

The United States fields its first Greco-Roman wrestling team. But there was little interest in the sport outside Minnesota for decades, and American Greco-Roman wrestlers would not place in international competition until 1968, or win Olympic gold until 1984, a year that the Soviets decided to boycott the Olympics. One of the 1984 gold medalists was a cancer survivor named Jeffrey Blatnick. Like many successful athletes, Blatnick attempted to convert his athletic accomplishments into cash. But he soon found that he made more money making public appearances as a former cancer patient than as a wrestler. "I earned more money in the last year than I had in the previous eight," said Blatnick in 1986. "But I lived on $5,000 or less for each of those five years, so making $40,000 in one year is like hitting a gold mine."

A study published by the United States sociologists Kirson Weinberg and Henry Arond reports that 84% of professional boxers never progress beyond the preliminary stage. Just 9% became main-event fighters, only 7% received national attention, and less than 1% became recognized champions. Meanwhile, around twelve per year died of injuries received in the ring. These academic findings were supported by inside opinion. For example, when asked how to rank boxers, the veteran trainer Angelo Dundee provided the following typology: Tomato Can. Someone who’s garbage but can still fight. Bum. Someone who is one cut better than a tomato can. Opponent. Someone you should beat but who still looks good on your record. Journeyman. Someone with modest skills, but hardworking and always in shape. Fighter. Someone with skill and heart; someone you have to fight eventually. Hell of a fighter. A fighter who looks good while he is active. Great. One hell of a fighter who still looks good after he has retired.

The York Barbell Company introduces Hi-Proteen. This was soybean flour mixed with salt and chocolate, and the first commercially successful food supplement. In an era when good nutrition was thought to include Wonder Bread, perhaps promoter Bob Hoffman had a point.


Working separately, Charles Hard Townes of the United States and Nikolai Basov and Aleksander Prochorov of the Soviet Union create the world’s first masers. These devices amplified microwave radiation, and were the direct ancestors of lasers, which amplified visible and near-visible light into intense streams of electromagnetic waves possessing the same frequency, phase, and direction of motion.

While describing Rocky Marciano’s unpolished (but effective) boxing style, Marciano’s trainer Charley Goldman tells an interviewer from Ring magazine, "There’s one serious mistake some trainers make. They try to change a boy’s style. It doesn’t pay to meddle around with a natural style. If a kid is inclined to be a boxer, don’t try to make a slugger out of him. And vice versa. You can improve on what he has, but don’t change it. I’ve seen many a great prospect ruined because somebody tried to make him something he wasn’t cut out to be."

Twenty-two boxers die of injuries received in the ring. While fatalities averaged 12 per year between 1946 and 1965, this was the worst year on record. The exact number of ring deaths is not certain. The British neurosurgeon Macdonald Critchley reported 207 ring deaths before 1950, while amateur historian Manuel Velasquez documented 321 ring deaths between 1946 and 1983. The official count, the one published by Ring Magazine, lists 164 fatalities between 1918 and 1950, and 269 fatalities between 1951 and 1980. Television contributed to the increase in post-war boxing fatalities. For one thing, advertisers and audiences wanted spectacular knockouts rather than boring decisions. (Nationally televised boxing deaths included Ed Sanders in 1954, Benny Paret in 1962, and Kim Duk Koo in 1982.) To keep the shrinking arena crowds, referees everywhere became increasingly reluctant to stop fights early. (Deaths in Madison Square Garden included Georgie Flores in 1951.) In addition, unsophisticated viewers thought that every bout should be a championship fight. This led to the creation of a wild array of weights and divisions, and televised fights between men who had no business leaving their inner-city gyms. (As former champion Jake LaMotta told journalist Arlene Schulman, "I had more fights in one year than many of these guys have in their entire careers.") The bigger purses paid by television sponsors were also a factor. Although managers and trainers had always exploited boxers, televised fights paid more than club fights. Therefore, many managers pushed their charges to fight main events whether they were ready or not.

In return for Japanese support to the United States during the Korean War, the United States returns the Northern Ryukyus to Japanese control. One immediate result is fights between Japanese laborers using judo and Ryukyuan laborers using karate. While the reported fights were over who would unload boats at Naze, on Amami-Shoto, there were probably fights in Naha, too, over who would control the prostitution outside the giant United States military bases that sprawled throughout Southern Okinawa. The point was hardly moot, either, as what the Japanese call the entertainment industry brought in more money than sugar cane, and employed perhaps 10% of Okinawa’s women.

Arvo Ojala of Gleed, Washington introduces metal-lined, forward-raked pistol holsters to Hollywood. Specifically designed for quick-draw, Ojala’s rigs appear in most subsequent cinematic gunfights, and contribute to the establishment of quick-draw pistol competitions in 1956. Ojala, who trained everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Michael J. Fox, spent his sizable income on fast cars, fast women, and fast guns. ("Not necessarily in that order," he says.) In 1996, a reporter asked the old trick shooter what he would do differently if he could. The answer: "I would have bought some land and stuff like that. Investments, more to lean back on today."

Avery Brundage, president of the International Olympic Committee, tells the US judoka Yosh Uchida that he will support Uchida’s dream of getting judo introduced into the 1964 Olympics in return for two things. First, Uchida had to organize judo competition by weight, and second, he had to show that the US could produce competitive national teams. Uchida agreed, and with Henry Stone organized a national AAU judo championship at San Jose State University later that year. Japanese and Japanese Americans generally opposed the weight divisions, but due to the rising numbers of European American judoka, this opposition was soon made irrelevant. Part of the process also involved organizing a national organization akin to the European Judo Union. Toward this end, the Judo Black Belt Federation of the United States (JBBF) was also formed in 1953. The JBBF’s stated purpose was to unify, promote, and stimulate the growth of judo while maintaining high levels of skill and proficiency in discipline and judo. Leaders of the national judo movement in the Washington, DC, area included a US Marine officer named Donn Draeger. To keep the growing sport pure, Draeger encouraged teachers and students to use Japanese terminology and ritual. Unfortunately, many people mistook form for substance, and as early as 1965, Robert W. Smith, a former public relations committeeman for the JBBF, acknowledged that the early emphasis on Japanese ritual had been a mistake. Why? Because the "Japanese ritual injected into a foreign milieu too often becomes mumbo-jumbo mystique for the masses" and "contrives to rob the art of courtesy which it is meant to nurture." Toward eliminating this problem, Smith recommended the following changes. 1. Emphasize maximum efficiency with minimum effort rather than winning. ("Few of us seem to have ever learned that ... [the philosophy of judo includes mutual welfare], which means simply love.") 2. Eliminate color belts. ("Because most frictions pivot on problems of rank, why not attack the problem?") 3. Eliminate meaningless rituals. ("I would replace the bow with a handshake, eschew most of the elaborate procedures (who was it who thought Joseki was a town in Missouri not too far from Peoria?), and – except for international matches – use the prevailing language rather than Japanese.") 4. Design rules to protect players rather than thrill crowds. ("If this sounds sissy, let us remove all restrictions, introduce striking and kicking, rename the thing ‘all-in fighting’, and forget the educative aspects of the art.") "I would urge retention, however, of the kata," concluded Smith, "for I believe they have a legitimate role in the art."

Tohei Koichi introduces aikido to Hawaii. On Maui, a policeman named Shunichi Suzuki helped him arrange demonstrations. Due to Tohei's good work (and returning to Hawaii during 1955-1956 and 1957-1958), aikido soon became popular throughout Hawaii.


In a book called Motivation and Personality, Abraham Maslow, a humanistic psychologist from Brandeis University, proposes a tiered hierarchy of human values. In ascending order these were: 1) physiological needs such as food, oxygen, and water; 2) personal safety; 3) sense of community, to include love; 4) competence and prestige; 5) self-fulfillment; and 6) curiosity and the need to understand. Although religious leaders were offended by Maslow’s thesis that people did not seek self-fulfillment until after other needs were met, his theory became popular with such diverse entities as New Age philosopher Barbara Marx Hubbard and the United States Army. Why? Because each chose to emphasize different stages. Hubbard, for instance, stressed the high-level functions that she called "self-actualization." The Army, on the other hand, stressed mid-level functions such as belonging and competence. As Richard Strozzi Heckler wrote in a book about training Special Forces soldiers, "The institution of the Army wants [soldiers] to achieve deeper levels of power and control, but [does not] want them necessarily to begin thinking and feeling too much on their own."

Swedish neurosurgeons discover that the reason skilled boxers suffered fewer knockouts was not that they were any tougher than other men but that they got hit less. (With greater skill, they learned to duck and dodge rather than absorb.)

Herman Hickman writes in the Saturday Evening Post, "none can compare with the wrestlers for generosity, friendliness, and real straight shooting. This term may sound a little incongruous when applied to participants in a ‘sport’ that was fixed every night. But they never thought of it that way. They considered themselves performers attempting to please a crowd every night, just as a tumbling act might do in the vaudeville circuit." Beginners learned to take a fall without getting hurt, to roll with a wristlock to avoid getting a dislocated shoulder, and to slam opponents without injuring them. (This involved making the feet hit the mat before the head.) Rookies also learned to work loose, which meant to strain their muscles for audiences while not allowing their opponents to even feel the pressure.

John Grimek, Jim Park, and Yas Kuzuhara become the first weightlifters known to have used artificial testosterone in an attempt to increase their strength. Their source of supply was John Ziegler, a physician working for a Swiss pharmaceutical company associated with the CIA. As the athletes did not report much difference, US weightlifters generally ignored steroids until 1959, at which time some began using them haphazardly. Meanwhile, the Soviets, using the same Nazi-derived research as Ziegler, began systematically using steroids. Shortly afterwards, their athletes began dominating international weightlifting competition.

A much smaller version of the Dai Nippon Butokukai reopens in Kyoto. This was much applauded by the Japanese political right, which believed that martial art training provided a good way of instilling character (a.k.a. right-wing nationalism) into young people.

Shimabuku Tatsuo combines techniques from Shorin-ryu and Goju-ryu karate to create Isshinryu karate. While an uncommon style in Okinawa, Isshinryu becomes popular in the United States because Shimabuku specialized in teaching karate to airmen and Marines. The name means "The One-Heart Method," or "Concentration."

Henri Plee establishes Le Karaté Club de France. This is the first karate club in France. Plee simultaneously organizes the Fédération Francaise de Boxe Libre et de Karaté in Paris. While techniques originally came from savate and le boxe française, they became more Japanese after Ohshima Tsutomu of the Shotokan system visited Paris in 1962. Said Ohshima, "My biggest shock was at the number of [French] karate men who were wearing black belts. There must have been forty of them... I decided I had better do something, and do it quick... I then proceeded to go down the line and had every one of those wearing a black belt come out and engage in kumite ["free-sparring"], either knocking them down or driving them around before me. After setting that example, we got down to some serious lessons." Of course, as Ohshima’s victims were all recreational players rather than practicing professionals, his "victories" really say more about Ohshima’s arrogance than European fighting ability.

Mochizuki Minoru introduces aikido to Paris. According to Mochizuki, aikido developed from a style of jujutsu practiced mostly by influential nobles. Its key principles were, in order, contact, pain, and unbalance. The name meant, "grouped together spirit," and described a policy of continuity in both time and space. Mochizuki thought aikido was better suited for self-defense than judo, as judo placed entirely too much emphasis on sporting victories. An advocate of non-violent solutions to problems, Mochizuki was eventually expelled from France for protesting French nuclear testing.

The San Diego Judo Club introduces aikido to the mainland United States. A course description dated October 12, 1954, said that aikido was more effective than judo for self-defense, and easier to master. Students were eligible for their first promotion after just 25 hours of instruction. In 1996, with 42 more years experience with aikido, Al Holtmann (6-dan judo, 4-dan jujutsu, 1-dan aikido) of the Southern California School of Judo and Ju Jitsu explained himself a little better. Said Holtmann, aikido’s spiraling movement and standing wrestling were outstanding. Its philosophy, submission holds, and techniques for controlling internal energy were admirable. However, its ground wrestling was weak and teachers often spent too much time training students to defend themselves from old-style Japanese techniques that no one would ever face outside class. Therefore, "anyone studying Aikido assuming that he is learning realistic self defense is being misinformed."

With the release of a movie called The Seven Samurai, the Japanese director Kurosawa Akira introduces the stylized bloodletting of the bunraku puppet theater to international cinema. While the Italians and Spanish quickly copied Kurosawa’s techniques, similar slow-motion mayhem did not appear in heavily censored Hollywood until after the release of Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch in 1969.

Actress Gail Davis plays Annie Oakley on television, thereby providing a generation of North American children with their first female role model having significant martial art skills. (While earlier heroines had simply stood screaming in the corner until some man saved them, Oakley routinely shot the gun from the bad guy’s hand.)

Japanese television begins broadcasting professional wrestling. Not many Japanese owned televisions, so they stood looking in department store windows to watch Rikidozan and Masahiko Kimura defeat giant "American" opponents. (In this particular case, the foreigners were actually Canadian, but to most people, one foreigner looks pretty much the same as another.) Meanwhile, in the United States, the major television networks were refusing to syndicate wrestling shows. The reason was that political action groups such as the Japanese American Citizens League threatened the networks with boycotts and lawsuits unless they eliminated shows that perpetuated blatant racial stereotypes. This in turn led to rassling acts showing mostly on local stations until the advent of national cable networks during the 1980s.

About 1955:

Toward instilling national pride and self-discipline in young people, the South Korean government starts organizing martial art organizations and subsidizing martial art tournaments. While ssirem, or traditional belt wrestling, remained popular in rural areas, Japanese-influenced martial arts such as karate proved more popular in the cities, in part because they were closer to the types of fighting seen in American movies. The styles taught were mostly Japanese. "After the liberation of Korea at the end of World War II," says taekwondo pioneer Kim Soo, "the martial arts instructors who began teaching in Korea were primarily Korean nationals; some who had learned Shotokan, and some who had learned Shudokan karate during their stay in Japan. It is these styles which are the genesis of modern Tae Kwon Do." Although for decades Korean nationalists loudly denied the Japanese parentage of their national combative sport, it is obvious that the practice forms kijo 1-3 and pyongan, for example, are variants of the taikyoku and heian series kata.

Despite resistance from male instructors, increasing numbers of North American women start studying judo. This prejudice against female judoka reflected mid-twentieth century American society more than the limitations of judo itself. For example, when Professor Yamashita introduced judo to Washington, DC, in 1904, his students included the wife of the Democratic candidate for Vice-President of the United States. In 1937, Arthur Grix published a photo showing three Japanese women practicing judo at the Kodokan. Said Grix, "Swiping knives is especially practiced by women practicing judo." In 1954, Robert W. Smith wrote in the Budokwai Quarterly Bulletin that two female judoka, Fukuda Umeko (a 5-dan from Japan) and Helen Carollo (a Danzan Ryu 2-dan from California), demonstrated ju-no-kata and randori. Smith added that their technique appeared both elegant and effective. Unfortunately, many middle-class Americans viewed encouraging female athleticism as tantamount to encouraging lesbianism, and therefore discouraged it in their daughters. Their sons were no better: as recently as 1988, 36% of North American girls aged 7-18 believed that boys made fun of girls who played sports.


On the subject of martial arts in Hollywood, fencer Aldo Nadi wrote, "Whereas it cannot be firmly stipulated that in order to have any success in Hollywood, i.e., to be employed by the studios, one must be a mediocrity, it can however be firmly stated that quite often such is indeed the case." Why? "Producers are literally shy of real and universally recognized talent."

George Wilson establishes an after-school judo program at Kent, Washington’s Kentridge High School. This was the first secondary judo program in the United States. The most athletically successful graduate of Wilson’s program was Doug Graham, a Kent-Meridian High School graduate who went on to become a Pan-American champion. However, success in competition was never Wilson’s goal. "Judo is a means to an end, not an end to itself," Wilson told a Seattle reporter in 1989. "That end is making a complete person."

A group of Korean military officers and businessmen decide that taesoodo and Tang Soo Do are insufficiently patriotic names for the karate styles practiced in Korea, and therefore decree that in future all Korean styles should be called taekwondo. Toward this end, ahistorical links were made between the popular name of the military style and a nineteenth century Korean kicking game called taekkyon, and by 1966 taekwondo had become the Korean standard. Why? "Because I was a ROK Army general," said General Choi Hong Hi, an honorary 6-dan in the style.

About 1956:

Heavyweight boxer Floyd Patterson starts using what his trainer Cus D’Amato called The System, and his detractors called the peek-a-boo defense. The System, which was probably invented by an amateur bantamweight named George Colon and his trainer, Joe Fariello, involved keeping the hands near the cheeks instead of extended, moving sideways instead of straight ahead, and attacking using flurries of punches thrown from every conceivable angle. Of course, every system has its flaws. For Patterson, the flaw of D’Amato’s system was learning to box with his feet parallel (+---+) rather than oblique (+\+). Consequently, he was knocked down more frequently than necessary.

During a show at the South China Athletic Association in Hong Kong, a Chinese boxing instructor takes a stance, finds his center, and then signals a student to drive into him with an automobile. Fortunately, the car was a Morris Minor rather than Detroit iron. Said an observer (Timothy Mo), "The car leapt rather than rolled smoothly forwards over the master and snagged on the fender, he was dragged a few yards forward before his startled disciples could disentangle him."


Ohshima Tsutomo establishes a karate club at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. The style taught was Shotokai karate, an offshoot of Shotokan karate that the 26-year old Ohshima had learned while attending Waseda University in Tokyo. Ohshima’s early students were mostly Japanese Americans, and he supported himself and his dojo by announcing at a Japanese-language radio station in Los Angeles. In 1959, Ohshima’s organization became the Southern California Karate Association, which in turn became Shotokan Karate of America. The first two Japan Karate Association instructors in the United States were Nishiyama Hidetaka, who opened a school in Los Angeles in 1961, and Okazaki Teruyuki, who opened a school in Philadelphia that same year.

Carlton Shimomi opens Honolulu’s first commercial karate dojo. Ten years later, he closed the Shorin-ryu school for financial reasons. This shocked student Mike McAndrews, who had started training with Shimomi in 1964: "I hadn’t realized that even a karate sensei needed to make a living. To me, it was simply high art... an art than enabled one to transcend mediocrity." Meanwhile, thousands of miles away, in New York City, judo teacher Jerome Mackey introduces franchise martial arts to the United States. The Mackey clubs remained influential in New York and New Jersey into the 1970s, when a stock swindle forced their closure.

In a special supplement to the June issue of Atlantic Monthly, an Indonesian Muslim named Asrul Sani describes training in Sumatran silat circa 1905. According to Sani, pentjak was a dance performed during fairs, whereas silat was a divinely inspired method for solving problems. Training was done between eight in the evening and one in the morning. During the training, lamps were usually dimmed, supposedly to teach the youths to fight by sound and feel rather than by sight. One suspects, however, that fuel conservation was also an issue: while teachers said they worked purely for the joy of passing on traditions, students also were expected to provide masters with "gifts" including chickens, cloth, knives, tobacco, and money.

The Soviets start showing soccer, hockey, and other national sports on national television. The theory was that this would inspire urban audiences to take up physical culture and healthy exercise. Ironically, a 1986 Soviet study found that the more a person watched sports on television, the less likely he was to do sports or exercise.

Toward simplifying public education and political indoctrination, the People’s Republic of China introduces sweeping language reforms, including a simplified script. While the changes made publishing and teaching easier, they also made it harder for young people to read old books. Whether that result was an unintentional side effect or a deliberate government policy is unknown.


The All-Japan Karate Association (a Wado-ryu group) hosts Japan’s first-ever sport karate championships. Fourteen different university teams participated. Despite breaking bones in his hand during the semi-finals, Kanazawa Hirokazu of the Japan Karate Association (a leading Shotokan group) became the first grand champion. This sanguinary example set the stage for the American karate tournaments of the 1960s, where competitors were expected to be kicked into the spectators’ chairs, and come back swinging. In Japan, Kanazawa’s example was touted as representative of the samurai spirit, but elsewhere it was simply part of a boxer’s everyday existence. (Examples of hands broken during amateur boxing include Joe Frazier, who won Olympic gold after breaking his right thumb during the 1964 Olympics, and Sugar Ray Seales, who won Olympic gold after breaking a left knuckle during the 1972 Olympics.)

Louis Kowlowski of St. Louis, Missouri opens the first karate school in the American Midwest. Kowlowski’s style was Matsubayashi Shorin-ryu.

Following service in Okinawa, a US Marine named Don Nagle introduces Isshinryu karate to North Carolina. Following his discharge in 1959, he opened a commercial school in New Jersey.

Lee Tinn Chan becomes the first person known to teach t’ai chi ch’uan classes to non-Chinese people. An electrical equipment repairman, Lee started studying Wu style t’ai chi ch’uan in China in 1937. He introduced the art to the Mun Lum Chinese Language School in Honolulu partly because he had nothing against haoles, and mainly because he thought of t’ai chi as a life-extending exercise rather than a lethal fighting art.

Maegashira Tamanoumi XIV becomes the first important sumotori to publicly wear a gold mawashi, or groin wrap, instead of a navy blue or purple silk mawashi. As the new wrap looked spectacular on television, it established a new tradition for sumo.

Although judo teachers had historically taught that a thorough understanding of the principles was more important than strength, the Kodokan installs a well-equipped weight room on the fifth floor of its new headquarters in Tokyo. Donn Draeger of the United States was a key proponent of this innovation. Draeger’s Japanese support for this innovation came from Daigo Toshiro and other Japanese judo champions who had spent time wrestling against much larger foreign students such as Anton Geesink of the Netherlands. Bulk and power were sought rather than definition, and favorite techniques included squats, incline and bench presses, and curling exercises.

Placido Yambao and Buenaventura Mirafuente publish Mga Karunungan sa Larung Arnís ("Knowledge in the Art of Arnis"), the first book about the traditional Filipino martial arts.

The accidental venting of extraction wastes by a Soviet plutonium factory near Kyshtym, Russia forces a twenty-year evacuation of nearly 500 square miles of Western Siberia. US government efforts to monitor the activities of this site were responsible for the U-2 overflight that resulted in the capture of Francis Gary Powers.


The Chemical Defence Experimental Establishment at Porton Down, Britain, develops the binary nerve agent VX. VX was more stable in storage than Sarin and Soman, and soon became the mainstay of North American and Western European chemical warfare stockpiles. The patents for the agent were published in 1974. The Soviets, meanwhile, continued to prefer using thickened forms of the older German agents until the early 1990s, when they began replacing their aging Sarin stocks with the more stable (and lethal) Novichok ("Newcomer") series of binary biotoxins. To date, none of these military agents has proven as lethal or persistent as the four million gallons of Agent Orange dumped on Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War.

A Korean immigrant named Jhoon Rhee introduces Ji Do Kwan karate, a Shotokan-based system that is one of the root arts of taekwondo, into San Marcos, Texas. An indefatigable promoter, Rhee was also responsible for getting foam-dipped foot and hand pads introduced to the North American tournament karate scene in 1973. Unfortunately, all this did was reduce the visible bleeding, as a Canadian study completed in 1986 showed that foam-dipped hand and foot protectors did not appreciably reduce karate stylists’ peak accelerations. A similar study done at the University of Oregon in 1988 showed that members of international-class taekwondo teams were 3.2 times more likely to receive cerebral concussions than were members of North American collegiate football teams.

George Mattson introduces Uechi-ryu karate to Brookline, Massachusetts.

Karate schools open in the Philippines. Pioneers included Latino Gonzales and Meliton Geronimo. Gonzales was a Manila physical culturalist who taught himself karate by reading books but subsequently trained with Okinawa’s Iha Seikichi. Geronimo was a captain in the Philippine Air Force, and he learned his techniques from Japanese instructors working for the United States Air Force. It is possible that modern karate’s reverse roundhouse, or heel kick, shows Filipino influence, as the kick was not part of pre-war Japanese or Okinawan karate, but was allowed in a Filipino boxing game called sikaran.

Mas Tsuruoka introduces Chito-ryu karate to Toronto, and in 1966 Tsuruoka’s wife Kay becomes the first Canadian woman to receive black belt rank from the All-Japan Karate-do Association. Chito Ryu karate combined kata from Goju-ryu and Shorin-ryu, and was created by a Japanese medical doctor named Chitose Tsuyoshi during the 1930s.

During Nisei Week in Los Angeles, Ohshima Tsutomu sponsors North America’s first Shotokan karate tournament.

Mitsugi Kobayashi, George Miyasaki, and Kenneth Murakami introduce Izumikawa Kanki’s Senbukan Goju-ryu karate to Honolulu. Kobayashi had learned karate while stationed in Okinawa as part of the United States occupation government, while Miyasaki and Murakami had learned it while stationed in Japan as members of the United States Air Force.

A medical study identifies the leading cause of death among professional boxers as subdural hemorrhages caused by repeated blows to the head. As such deaths were often delayed for several days following the fight, they are a likely source for the "delayed death touches" reported by masters of the Asian martial arts. The fighters knew these risks. So why did they fight? Mostly for reputation, and the hope of maybe making some money. (Boxers tend to come from working-class backgrounds.) Unfortunately for their dreams, there isn’t much money in semi-professional boxing. For four televised rounds at Madison Square Garden in 1952, unknown fighters received $150 each, while by the 1980s, that rate had increased to just $2,500.

The Kodokan sells its old building to the Japan Karate Association, and moves to a new seven-story building that had a weight room and a 500-mat main floor. To celebrate, the Kodokan introduces 21 new techniques known as Kodokan goshin jutsu, or "Kodokan self-defense techniques." Twelve of these techniques were designed for use against unarmed attackers while nine were designed for use against armed attackers. This new interest in practical self-defense was encouraged partly by urban dwellers’ fear of attack by teenaged hoodlums, and mainly by the interests of Kodokan leaders who belonged to the Japanese military, police forces, and security guard companies.


The United States Army adopts a new riot control agent, o-chlorobenzylidene malonotrile. Commonly known as CS, it was both easier to disperse and more effective than CN. Unfortunately, CS-based irritants were ineffective on about 10% of the population. Furthermore, they could be fatal if used in enclosed spaces. While neither of these posed unreasonable risks during military situations (the Americans used a million pounds of CS in Vietnam in 1969, and always backed the irritant with snipers), it was a problem during police operations. Accordingly, in 1974 British researchers introduced a new agent called dibenz-(b,f)-1,4-oxazepine. Known as CR, this was about five times more effective than CS, and less toxic. Unfortunately, it was also very persistent, and therefore it is rarely used. Working separately, researchers in Maryland developed an equally powerful irritant called oleoresin capsicum, or OC, in 1978. OC was soon fielded to police departments and militaries, and was widely heralded as a breakthrough in non-lethal weapons technology when United Nations forces used it during 1993 peacekeeping operations in Somalia. Actually, it was nothing of the kind. Instead, it was simply a hot pepper powder put into an aerosol spray or mixed with soapsuds.

A crippled Argentine youth named Carlos explains why he liked watching rassler Antonio Rocca: "When I see him in the ring, I become Rocca. He gives me the feeling that I am living in the ring with him. I am big and strong. I am a conqueror. My legs are jumping with him." Added Rocca, who was a much better showman than wrestler, "You put a guy in a position to smile, and that is greatness. In the ring, I try to transmit the desire to smile." If this was a true statement of Rocca’s philosophy, then he probably did not kill a Brazilian rassler named Okitaro in 1949 as his New York press agents sometimes claimed.

Mike Yuhasz, a varsity wrestling coach at the University of Western Ontario, organizes Ontario’s first high school wrestling tournament. Until 1972, the Canadians wrestled according to NCAA rather than international rules, and all wrestlers were male. Then, during the early 1970s a few girls (generally daughters of coaches) started wrestling. However, girls’ wrestling did not become an official Canadian sport until 1993. The reason was not that the girls couldn’t beat most boys their own weight, but that the losing boys (and their coaches and teammates) often could not cope with the defeat.

Advocates of aikido tell the publisher of Today’s Japan that aikido was an outstanding defensive art. (In aikido, the expert practitioner moves in a 360-degree arc, while "in Judo movement is usually limited to 90 degrees and in Karate to little more than a straight line.") The same sources added that true masters could dodge pistol bullets. (How? "If you watch the eyes of your opponents carefully, Ueshiba said, it is possible to judge an instant before they fire where they will shoot.") The article then qualified the preceding statements by concluding, "Rikidozan, a leading professional wrestler, possesses a thorough knowledge of Aikido. He is famed for his use of the ‘karate chop’, which he learned from the Aikido master Oba."

With the publication of Goldfinger, British novelist Ian Fleming introduces European and North American readers to karate. Although Fleming watched a demonstration of women’s judo at the Kodokan in Tokyo in 1959, most of his knowledge of the Japanese martial arts came from talking to Japanese journalists and watching professional wrestling on television. Japanese villains were popular in Britain and North America during the 1950s, and in 1964, the Hawaiian professional wrestler Harold Sakata was recruited for the role of Oddjob after the film’s producers saw him performing in London.

Peter Urban introduces Yamaguchi-style Goju Kai karate to Uniontown, New Jersey. "Many beginners in Karate would rather spend all their time fighting than endure the discipline and hard work necessary to perfect the katas of their style," said Urban in his 1967 book, The Karate Dojo. "But not until they become fine kata performers do students have an inkling of what Karate really means and what is meant by the phrase ‘coming out of the dance.’"

Jürgen Seydel introduces Shotokan karate into the Federal Republic of Germany. Seydel was a judoka, and his karate was based on some training with Henri Plée in Paris. One of Seydel’s first students was an American serviceman named Elvis Presley. Following Presley’s return to the United States, the entertainer continued his training, this time in Ed Parker’s kenpo karate, and via Presley’s patronage, Parker’s kenpo karate begins to appear regularly on US television shows. Other early TV fight coordinators included Bruce Tegner, whose on-screen karate students included Robert Taylor (The Detective; the show aired in January 1960) and Rick Nelson (The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet; the show aired in March 1961).

Bruce Lee starts teaching wing chun in the covered parking lot of a Blue Cross clinic in Seattle, Washington. According to his early students, Lee had good speed and better sticky hands, and trained like a demon. But, as for the stories he told, well, Lee liked hearing himself talk. When pressed, he would admit that Gung Fu did not mean fighting, but "speed," as in the speed of slicing vegetables in Ruby Chow’s restaurant. Moreover, he was frequently pressed. His longtime girlfriend Amy Sanbo, for example, once told him, "Maybe you can impress those thugs you run around with this yin and yang bullshit, but we both know you don’t believe a damn word you’re saying." "One thing the guy’s done, though," said Seattle attorney Mark Chow, whose mother once sponsored Lee in the United States, "is that nobody takes lunch money away from Chinese kids anymore because they assume they won’t fight back."

About 1960:

The two-handed pistol stance known as the Weaver (after its pioneer, Jack Weaver) develops in California. The idea was to develop a stance that would allow shooters to control a .357 Magnum revolver during rapid fire. Vocal advocates of the Weaver stance included John Plahn and Jeff Cooper, and by the early 1980s, academies routinely taught police officers to shoot from a Weaver stance. Nonetheless, the Weaver stance had its critics. For instance, Rex Applegate advocated the "instinctive" (e.g., one-hand point-and-shoot) method espoused by W. E. Fairbairn in the 1930s, while Elden Carl and Massad Ayoob advocated what became known as the Modern Isosceles, or Triangle, method. Part of the disagreement, Cooper admitted many years later, was the "basic divergence in purpose between the amateur and the professional. The amateur seeks excellence. The professional seeks adequacy. The hobbyist shooter wants to be better. The cop wants to be good enough."


Theodore Maiman of Malibu, California’s Hughes Research Laboratories makes the first working ruby laser. A few months later, Donald Herriott, Ali Javan, and William Bennett of New Jersey’s Bell Laboratories unveil the first helium-neon lasers. The former are the type of lasers subsequently made into artillery rangefinders, while the latter are the kind subsequently used in supermarket checkout lines.

North American walk-and-draw pistol shooters hold their first national championship. This leads to rapid improvements in pistol holster design and combat firing techniques. The sport had its beginning when some stuntmen working for a California amusement park known as Knott’s Berry Farm decided to see how fast they could get.

In an article published in True magazine, a Spokane, Washington boxing promoter named Jack Powers describes the club fighting of the late 1940s and early 1950s, the kind you never saw on television. "We had no license to put on fights, but kept alive by calling ourselves a private club, for members only; you could become a member by paying two dollars at the doors. We could cram 600 people into the place, and there was never a vacant seat. Drinks were served up and down the aisles, and the announcer usually had a glass in one hand and the microphone in the other… If the boys fought like hell we would cut the rounds down to two minutes. If they were dragging, we let them go four or five. On the good fights, we gave them an extra minute or two between rounds to rest up. Most of the matches were made in the dressing room immediately before the show." As for the fighters themselves, Seattle’s Bob Wark once wrote, "These are not great fighters, and they may lose as many bouts as they win, but I guarantee that they will fight and bleed all the way."

Lee Joo-bang and his brother Lee Joo-sang open the first Hwa Rang Do academy in Korea. Although the name commemorated the ancient Silla hwarang ("Flowering Knights") groups, this should not be construed as implying actual historical connection to the ancient methods. Instead, the Lees learned their yu sool, a Korean art perhaps related to jujutsu and certainly related to hapkido, from a Buddhist monk named Suahm Dosa, who lived at the Yang Mi Ahm temple near Seoul.

Anthony Mirakian introduces the Okinawan Goju-ryu karate of Yagi Meitoku to Watertown, Massachusetts.

A former Marine named Steve Armstrong introduces Isshinryu karate to Tacoma, Washington. Armstrong had not originally planned to teach women and children. One day a woman walked into the garage where he held his classes, and asked him why her sweat and money should be different from a man’s. Said Armstrong, "She began lessons that day."

US physician John Ziegler puts weightlifter Louis Riecke on a program of isometrics and anabolic steroids, and within a few months, Riecke approached world-class performance, narrowly losing to Tommy Kono in the US Nationals. "We can't have this," Bob Hoffman of York Barbell said upon discovering how Riecke made his gains. "We have to sell weights." Nonetheless, because Ziegler's research methods were shoddy, the credit for developing steroids in the US actually should go to more systematic researchers such as Louisiana State University’s Francis Drury.


New Jersey’s Bell Laboratories introduces the first high-energy gas laser. High-energy gas lasers drilled holes through steel at nearly light speed, and caused industrialized nations to spend billions of dollars researching direct-fire laser weapons. Unfortunately, such weapons required batteries storing several megawatts of energy, and those were not especially portable during the twentieth century. (By contrast, the most powerful turbine at Washington State’s Grand Coulee Dam generated .815 megawatts, while the most powerful nuclear reactors in the world, including the Ignalina reactor in Lithuania and the CHOOZ-B1 reactor in France, generated around 1.4 megawatts.)

Black Belt magazine enters production in California.

After a woman named Rusty Glickman defeats a male opponent during an AAU-sanctioned judo meet in New York City, the AAU bans women from participating in judo tournaments. (The reason was not that the male-dominated AAU leadership believed that women couldn’t wrestle, but that it believed that women shouldn’t wrestle.) Under pressure from women’s groups (including one led by the by-then Rusty Glickman Kanokogi) the AAU finally relents in 1971, and allows women to compete against women using special "women’s rules." The women kept pushing for equality, and women were allowed to compete using standard rules in 1973. While a blow for equality, there remains little interest in having women compete against men. Yet, if judo is everything that its proponents claim, namely an activity where skill matters more than size, then shouldn’t women compete directly against men of the same age, experience, and weight?

The 6’6" Dutchman Anton Geesink shatters the myth of Japanese invincibility in judo by winning the world heavyweight championship.

Oyama Mas establishes formal links between board breaking, Zen, and Kyokushin Kai karate.

Richard Kim begins teaching Shorinji Ryu karate at the Chinese YMCA in San Francisco, California. (From the late 1890s to the late 1950s, YMCAs were often segregated.)

While attending college in San Francisco, Yamaguchi Gosen (a son of Yamaguchi Gogen) introduces Goju Kai karate into California. Early students include Rodney Hu. In 1963, Gosen returned to Japan, but in 1964, his older brother, Gosei, replaced him in San Francisco. Yamaguchi Gosei stayed in the United States, where he became the head of Goju Kai USA.

Following a South Korean military coup, Martial Law Number Six orders the karate styles known as Chung Do Kwan, Chang Moo Kwan, Song Moo Kwan, Moo Duk Kwan, and Ji Do Kwan reorganized into a unified system called taesoodo. It also ordered that Korean soldiers receive taesoodo instruction as part of their regular training. Leaders from the Moo Duk Kwan and the Ji Do Kwan disagreed with the new system’s promotional policies, and resisted this consolidation as best they could. The government steamrollered the opposition, and by 1965, the association was firmly in place under its new name of Korea Taesoodo Association (KTA). (The modern name, Korea Taekwondo Association, only dates to 1966.)


Honor Blackman becomes the first actress to win theatrical fights using techniques borrowed from the Asian martial arts. The reason was that Ray Austin (Blackman’s fight arranger on The Avengers) believed that judo throws and aikido wristlocks were more visually exciting than .25 automatics. Austin also choreographed some of the first karate fights on television using Diana Rigg, Blackman’s replacement on The Avengers, and a stunt double named Cyd Child. Austin’s choreography invariably favored form over function. This was partly because Rigg, unlike Blackman, had little martial art experience, and mainly that the show’s lawyers feared that British schoolchildren would copy Rigg’s techniques and use them during their schoolyard fights. Child, by the way, was also a model for the comic book character Modesty Blaise.

John Leong introduces hung gar and t’ai chi ch’uan to Seattle, Washington. Leong’s patrons included Ruby Chow, the head of Seattle’s Chong Wa Benevolent Association, and with her support, his students included many non-Chinese people. Leong’s instructors in Hong Kong included Wong Lee.

Cheng Man-ch’eng publishes an English-language text called T’ai Chi Ch’uan: A Simplified Method of Calisthenics for Health and Self-Defense.

The Ministry of Education authorizes the use of the word "kendo" in Japanese public schools; it had previously been in disfavor due to unpleasant associations with WWII-era militarism.

Taesoodo becomes part of the Korean National Sports Festival. (Its first public appearance at the games was actually in 1963; this was just the announcement.) For political reasons, the style’s Japanese origins were minimized and this in turn led to the development of new ethics, philosophies, and techniques. For example, while karate emphasizes single punches, taesoodo started emphasizing kicks thrown in rapid combination. Furthermore, it prohibited hand techniques to the face or any attacks below the waist, and eliminated all grabs and throws. Additionally, sparring rules were modified to emphasize continuous action, and pads were developed that allowed heavier physical contact between players. Finally, emphasis was placed on developing character through athletic competition rather than through contemplation of self-defense applications. Consequently, as Herb Perez wrote in Black Belt in February 1998, competitive taekwondo "is actually traditional taekwondo by virtue of the fact that it was developed wholly in Korea."

The South Korean Army sends four taesoodo instructors -- Nam Tae Hi, Kim Seung Kyu, Jung Young Hwi, and Choo Kyo -- to the Republic of Vietnam. Over the next decade, the Koreans send another 657 instructors and another 40,000 more heavily armed soldiers to Binh Dinh, Phu Yen, Khanh Hoa, and Ninh Thuan provinces. In Korean units, martial art training was widespread. For example, in 1967, the Korean Capital Division had 15,000 men. Of these, three were fourth-degree, 29 were third-degree, 57 were second-degree, and 115 were first-degree. There were also 600 red belts (red is higher than black in Japan, so General Choi made it lower than black in his system) and 2,300 blue belts. The principal style taught was the Shotokan derivative known as Chung Do Kwan, and about 1,250 Vietnamese and 150 Americans attended the month-long course at Qui Nhon Air Force Base. Foreign instruction was often in English, and the primary trainers included Captain Yoon Dong Ho and Sergeant Jun Jae Gun. Other than making the soldiers physically fitter, there is debate concerning the military value of the training. Lieutenant General Chae Myung Shin, Commander of the ROK Forces, Vietnam, said, "Through Taekwondo, the soldiers’ moral armament is strengthened, gallantry to protect the weak enhanced, courage against injustice fostered, and patriotism firmly planted." Unfortunately, this was not demonstrated in combat. For example, Major General Charles P. Brown, Commander of I Field Force, Vietnam, said that the Korean military frequently failed to show initiative when conducting military operations or sympathy when dealing with civilians. General Brown’s predecessor was less kind, saying that the two Korean divisions were less use than one US brigade, a unit ten times smaller. Finally, General Creighton Abrahms told Vice-President Spiro Agnew that the Korean forces were militarily no better than the South Vietnamese, for whom Abrahms had nothing but contempt. As for the art’s reported effect on character-building, tactical uses included the beheadings of a woman and her eight children following a sniper attack, and a beating delivered to a US Army major who complained about a Korean Marine colonel’s involvement in black market profiteering.

The Soviet Union sends its first team to the European Judo Championships. Although trained solely in sambo, the Soviets’ Anzor Kiknadze captured the grand championship and the team itself took third. This got the attention of European judoka, and started changing the face of competition judo. Specific changes included increased emphasis on bodily lifting opponents and then applying leg and arm locks to gain submission and less emphasis on proper form, spectacular throws, and etiquette. Aesthetically the new methods left much to be desired, but they were brutally practical.

Los Angeles County coroner Cyril Courville publishes a study showing that dementia pugilistica, or punch drunkenness, is caused by the severe atrophy of the frontal lobes of the brain and the premature loss of huge numbers of nerve cells within the hippocamus and cerebellar cortex.

In The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, a Berkeley physicist named Thomas Kuhn uses the word "paradigm" to describe the model problems and solutions that communities of practitioners used to define their science. New Age writers quickly misappropriate and misuse the term, causing Kuhn to wish that he had used the word "exemplar" instead of "paradigm," and to complain that he was fonder of his critics than his fans.


As part of a post-graduate project at Oxford University, a retired Marine Corps general named Samuel Griffith publishes a heavily annotated translation of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. Reasons for the translation included Griffith’s belief that the United States could no more win a war against the Chinese without understanding Sun Tzu’s thirteen chapters than it could win a war against the Nazis without understanding Mein Kampf. Nevertheless, other Western generals until do not come to appreciate the wily Chinese until after the US withdrawal from Vietnam in 1972.

A New York woman named Kitty Genovese is slowly knifed to death in front of her apartment. None of the 38 witnesses try to help her, or even call the police. "I was tired. I went back to bed," explained one of the witnesses afterwards. Quickly exploited by media and academic philosophers, the story continues to be cited as an example of the callousness of modern urban dwellers. Still, given the response of the coal miners living in Audenried, Pennsylvania to a street killing in 1862 (one man locked himself in his cellar, another carefully finished his drink, then turned around and went home by a different route, while a third looked out his window, then shut his window and went to bed), the suspicion arises that discretion is the normal human response to unexpected situations requiring individual acts of moral and physical courage.

The massive muscle bulk of the Soviet judo team causes a French judo team to start demanding weight divisions. When the Japanese officials in charge of the International Judo Federation resisted the suggestion, the French gathered support from the Australians, Swiss, Spanish, and several African countries, and then voted the Japanese out and the weight divisions in. All of which proves the point of Indonesian President Sukharno, who simultaneously said of Olympic posturing, "Let us declare frankly that sport has something to do with politics." Ironically, while steroids may have enhanced the size of the Soviet players, their successes owed more to good nutrition, sophisticated national-level training programs, and directed visualization. Furthermore, despite their emphasis on identifying athletes at an early age, the Soviets never encouraged youths to do gymnastics before the age of eight, to wrestle before the age of ten, or to box before the age of twelve. Finally, they did not disburse steroids except under medical supervision. This was rather different than in East Germany, where in 1989 Hans-Jürgen Noczenski, a former chairman of the East German judo federation, told the newspaper Bild am Sontag that East German Olympic athletes were virtually force-fed performance enhancing drugs. These allegations were supported by the East German ski jumper Hans-Georg Aschenbach, who told reporters that athletes who balked were not allowed to compete internationally, and were harassed in their private lives.

An interviewer asks Vincente Ferreira Pastinha, the elderly doyen of the Angola players, how many strikes there are in capoeira. The mestre replied: "They are without number. For every strike which is launched, there are two defenses already prepared, and for those two defenses, four more strikes. One is [always] improvising and thinking while fighting." However, for the edification of the literal-minded, a group of capoeiristas decided in 1969 that there were 141 defensive movements, 238 takedowns, and 400 strikes. Afterwards, says Bira Almeida, who was there when this decision was rendered, "We found nothing had changed. Nobody agreed with anybody."

An article in China Sports reports that doctors at the Shanghai No. 1 Medical College had found that elderly people who practiced t’ai chi ch’uan regularly were one-third stronger and six times more flexible than elderly people who did not. The Chinese government, however, was not entirely happy with t’ai chi chuan, as it encouraged workers to leave productive jobs to teach students in parks, or to become infected with the "ideological poison of many feudal superstitions."

Chuck Norris opens a Tang Soo Do school in Torrance, California. Norris had studied at Osan Air Force Base in Korea, and his successes in California open tournaments soon allowed him to turn his school into a major Los Angeles-area franchise operation. Norris later quit this business to become a film and television performer.

Ed Parker’s students Jim and Al Tracy open a commercial kenpo karate school in San Jose, California. It made a lot of money, so in 1966 the Tracys decided to begin franchising their operations. The salesmen for the system included the Tracys and a man named Tom Connors, but the man they hired to show the effectiveness of their system was the famous tournament fighter Joe Lewis. (Lewis did karate rather than anything related to kenpo, but to the Tracys, that was an unimportant detail.) Anyway, the way these franchises worked was that the Tracys would help someone establish his own storefront school, and then pay the initial rent, advertising, and other expenses. In return, the instructor had to pay the Tracys about $4,000 a month. To pay these franchise fees and eat, an instructor needed two things: high monthly fees and several hundred students. While some instructors had the charm, charisma, and skills needed to maintain both high monthly fees and several hundred students, others did not. Consequently, many individual franchise owners soon found themselves faced with the choice of lowering standards or going out of business.

Stan Schmidt introduces JKA (Shotokan) karate to Johannesburg, South Africa.

Mervyn Oakley introduces Goju Kai karate to Sydney, Australia.

About 1964:

Religico-magical hunting rituals, many of which involved dances mimicking the actions of the hunt and its aftermath, begin dying out among school-educated Africans. The reason had to do with independence from colonial rule. While the colonialists had restricted black Africans’ access to firearms and found magic entertaining, the new Western-educated African elite encouraged people to own shotguns and hunting rifles, and believed (publicly, if not always privately) that magic was old-fashioned.

So that children who were physically or temperamentally unfit for sports such as gymnastics or basketball could have their own after-school sport, the Chinese introduce t’ai chi ch’uan into their middle school pedagogy. (The Chinese government expected all children aged thirteen to fifteen to participate in after-school sports.) Class structure followed Soviet pedagogical models, and included five minutes of attendance-taking, ten to fifteen minutes of warm-ups, about half an hour of actual instruction, and a five minute cool-down and closing. A Confucian aspect of the instruction was that the teacher was expected to take an active role in the child’s private life, and to mingle with the students before and after class.


To improve its submarine-launched ballistic missile target acquisition, the United States Navy launches a global positioning satellite called Transit. In 1967, global positioning system (GPS) technology becomes available to civilians. For the next fifteen years, GPS was used mostly by the airline industry. However, over time prices dropped, and in 1991, GPS-using soldiers involved in the Desert Storm campaign became the first soldiers in history to know where they were without compass, map, or previous experience in the area.

A Yale University psychology professor named Stanley Milgram publishes experimental data showing that cruelty is usually a function of people obeying orders or reacting to peer pressure rather than a characteristic unique to sadists. Indeed, follow-on studies found that 60-80% of the populations studied would grudgingly engage in personally distasteful levels of violence whenever directly ordered to do so by someone in authority. As a rule, middle-aged males were more likely to disobey authority than adolescent males or females.

Former heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson explains courage to writer Gay Talese using the following words: "We’ll find out what he’s like after somebody beats him, how he takes it. It’s easy to do anything in victory. It’s in defeat that a man reveals himself." Meanwhile, trainer Cus D’Amato increases the speed of boxer José Torres’ combinations by having Torres punch according to the numbers. Not just the ol’ one-two, but a whole series of numbers. Step one: punch and move. Step two: punch, move, punch. And so on, until by step six, Torres was throwing six punches to predetermined areas in two-fifths of a second. This punching was not done in the air, either, as D’Amato believed that punching the air was worthless. Instead, it involved hitting a target made from mattresses wrapped around a pole, and struck according to the numbers called out by the coach or planned by the fighter. The numbers used in this system were: 1. A straight left to the head. 2. A straight right to the head. 3. A left uppercut to the chin. 4. A right uppercut to the chin. 5. A left hook to the body. 6. A right hook to the body. 7. A left jab to the head.

The Summer Olympics take place in Tokyo, and judo is one of the exhibition sports. (It only became an official sport in 1972.) As expected, the Japanese dominate the event, but to the horror of the Japanese public, the giant Dutchman Anton Geesink wins the gold medal in the unlimited division. The secret of his success, Geesink said, was not his size but his training: "I defeated the Japanese because I know judo better than the Japanese. The secret is to train every day in the basics. This will make you unbeatable."

Pat Burleson and Allen Steen of Fort Worth, Texas, introduce belt-goal karate classes. These guaranteed promotion upon payment for a set number of classes, a trick that increased enrollment and lowered dropout rates.

Angel Cabales of Stockton, California opens the first school to teach Filipino martial arts to non-Filipinos. Cabales, who moved to the United States from the Philippines in 1939, learned his stick and knife fighting skills on the Manila docks from a man named Feliscimo Dizon.

By teaching t’ai chi ch’uan and other Chinese martial arts to non-Chinese people, Ark Yuey Wong and Cheng Man-ch’ing upset the Chinese communities in, respectively, Los Angeles and New York. One cause of the unhappiness was their willingness to teach women, blacks, and long-haired white males.

Lee Chong introduces taekwondo to Montreal, and subsequently becomes a leader of Canadian Olympic-style taekwondo.


DuPont researcher Stephanie Kwolek invents a polyaramid fiber called Kevlar. It was first used to make steel-belted radial tires. Then, in 1971, a version called Kevlar-29 was found to provide good resistance to handgun bullets, and in 1974, this in turn led to the introduction of soft body armor that was resistant to pistol and shotgun fire. In December 1975, an off-duty Seattle police officer named Ray Johnson became the first person known to have survived a shooting because of Kevlar armor, and by 2000, Kevlar armor had reportedly saved about 2,500 US police officers from death or serious injury. The US military was following these developments, and so in 1982, it began replacing its steel helmets and nylon ballistic vests with helmets and vests made from Kevlar. Research continued, and during the 1990s, lighter, stronger, and more flexible vests were introduced that had pockets in front and back to hold ceramic armor plates made of boron carbide. These plates were capable of absorbing direct hits from rifle fire, and so their use in Afghanistan and Iraq was credited with saving the lives of British and American soldiers. Unfortunately, the helmets, vests, and plates still did not provide any protection for limbs, and so the next research goal was to develop a flexible cloth that would change its molecular structure when struck by projectiles.

A South Vietnamese entomology professor named Ngo Dong combines Shotokan karate with aikido to create his own martial art known as cuong nhu. Cuong nhu becomes quite popular with the urban middle classes of South Florida during the 1980s. This is somewhat ironic, inasmuch as the Vietnamese street gangs of the region preferred MAC-10s and other self-loading firearms.

The Korea Taekwondo Association establishes a committee to design distinctively Korean practice forms (poomse) with which to replace the Shotokan/Shudokan kata traditionally taught. Over the next few years 25 (eight palgwe, eight taeguek, and nine yudanja) forms were developed, and in 1972 these were promulgated in a Korean-language textbook called Taekwondo Kyobon. There were known errors in the text, but according to Im Chang Soo, the errors were allowed to remain because the grandmasters weren’t willing to take the time or spend the money to make the corrections.

Paula and Pauline Short open Karate for Women in Portland, Oregon. In 1968, LaVerne Bates started a women’s ch’uan fa class in Los Angeles, and in 1971, Py Bateman established a Feminist Karate Union in Seattle, Washington. A stated purpose of all three schools was to teach women that it was not only permissible, but also desirable, to assert themselves during physical confrontations.

In Pakistan, important wrestling matches were not taking place as often as in the past. Karachi journalist Anwer Mooraj said reasons why included inexperienced promoters, inadequate facilities, and complaints about "a certain understanding among members of the fraternity not to break one another’s limbs too often." Pre-match publicity always followed this pattern. First, photos of the wrestlers appeared in the newspapers. Then, for the next several weeks, the wrestlers boasted in the sport pages about what they planned to do to the other once they got into the ring. Thus, by match time, thousands of fans would cram into the National or Railway Stadiums expecting an exciting match. And if they didn’t get it, said Mooraj, only half in jest, bookmakers "started offering odds on the referee’s chances of surviving the match."

An author for the Chinese periodical Hsin T’i-yu ("New Physical Culture") notes that "low practices and illegalities in taking fees" were a problem in Mainland Chinese t’ai chi ch’uan classes. According to workers from a Peking automobile manufacturing plant, some teachers had not been reformed by Socialism. Therefore, toward keeping workers following the discredited road of feudal superstition, the youth group called the Red Guard orchestrated attacks on traditional martial art instructors. The Red Guards also pillaged the Shaolin Temple at Chang-shao, and drove away the handful of remaining monks. Photographs taken by the Japanese visitors Tokiwa and Sekino show that the Shaolin Monastery was run-down by 1920. In 1927, it was burned during the Northern Expedition. A handful of very passive monks lived inside the ruins from the mid-1930s to the mid-1960s. Consequently, there was probably little, if any, martial art instruction at the Shaolin Monastery from 1927 to 1980.


The United States military fields its first man-portable atomic bombs. These were .2 kiloton devices delivered by three-man Special Forces or Underwater Demolitions teams. The smaller implosion bombs weighed 42 pounds, while the larger gun-type bombs weighed 120 pounds. Inexplicably, the weapons’ timing devices were only accurate to plus-or-minus five hours, and most of their blast went into the air instead of the target. So, except for making a place lethally radioactive for a couple weeks, the devices were almost criminally impractical. Consequently, they were reportedly deactivated after laser-guided smart bombs and radar-guided cruise missiles became available during the early 1970s. Equivalent Soviet devices do not seem to have been any more practical.

While sitting around the house in Berkeley, California, a group of fantasy writers and college students including Diana Paxson starts wondering what it would be like to really live in medieval times. The result is the Society for Creative Anachronism, or SCA. The original purpose of the SCA was to recreate life in medieval times. (Selectively, though -- no SCA members wanted to recreate plagues or the lack of indoor plumbing.) Many members liked sword-and-buckler play. Early weapons and armor were crude and tended to build a high tolerance for pain. (Armor consisted of padded jackets and fencing masks, while weapons were rattan singlesticks.) By the late 1970s, armor manufacture had improved, and metal armor started appearing. Along the way, many members’ training methodology began tipping toward a sporting attitude rather than antiquarian research.

In Toledo, Ohio, polyethylene foam wrestling mats are used for the first time during international competition. Although expensive, foam mats were softer (eggs bounced rather than broke) and more easily set up and sanitized than the traditional canvas over horsehair mats. This contributed to the spread of high school wrestling programs throughout the United States and Canada.

Bruce Lee appears on a short-lived American television series called The Green Hornet. Lee’s getting this role was due in part to his friendship with Ed Parker, whose students included various Hollywood stars and producers. Unfortunately, because the studios refused to believe that North American audiences would ever like an Asian hero, Lee could not get starring roles in Hollywood. Consequently, he returned to Hong Kong, where he met Raymond Chow of Golden Harvest, who was starting to use hand-to-hand fights in his action films instead of swordplay. The result was a series of low-budget chop-socky flicks including The Big Boss and Way of the Dragon. While the fighting shown in these movies was more spectacular than practical, the anti-authoritarian themes of the scripts appealed to working class audiences everywhere and the result was incredible box-office success.

About breaking boards and bricks with the fists, Ohshima Tsutomo of the Southern California Karate Association says, "People who do that, I think, are perhaps subconsciously strengthening their ki ["spirit-energy"]. They think they have to toughen up their hands by bruising them to make them strong and irresistible… [However,] if the ki had been developed and strong enough, [they] could have done these things all along, instead of having to rely on such hand toughening methods to convince [themselves]."

Peter Urban breaks from Yamaguchi Gogen to establish the U. S. A. Goju-Ryu Association.

Matsuura Hiroshi introduces Shito-ryu karate to Mexico.

Fujita Seiko dies. Fujita claimed to be Japan’s last practicing ninja, but that claim has since been disputed. Anyway, during interviews, Fujita always deplored the commercialization of ninjutsu in the movies, and added that people such as Hatsumi Yoshiaki were not describing true ninjutsu, only interesting aspects of the traditional Japanese martial arts. These statements correspond with what Richard Bowen wrote in the Budokwai quarterly Judo in October 1957. "I saw in a [Japanese] newspaper to-day that in Veno Mie Prefecture a group of young office workers had come across some old books dealing with a defunct school – Nin-jutsu. They became so interested that for fun they decided to try some of the methods… The idea is to break into fortifications, etc., do what you were going to do in the way of murder, abduction, spying, arson, and such like pleasant pastimes, and then get out again without being slaughtered." However, they are not what Hatsumi’s students believed, and so to this day the actual history of modern ninjutsu remains a contentious topic.

Cheng Man-Ch’ing and Robert W. Smith provide the first English translations of the classics of t’ai chi ch’uan. (It is hard, if not impossible, to do t’ai chi ch’uan well without an understanding of these classics.) The essential t’ai chi exercise known as pushing-hands is described below. The translation is by Liang T’ung-ts’ai.

In Ward-off, Rollback, Press, and Push,

You must find the real technique --

If he goes up you follow;

If he goes down, you follow --

Then he cannot attack.


Although you would never have guessed that there were such things as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders by watching the year’s movies, which included The One-Armed Swordsman and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, the World War II hero Audie Murphy admits to suffering recurring war-induced nightmares.

Bruce Lee names his martial art, which combined wing chun with boxing, fencing, and arnis, "Jeet Kune Do," which means "The Way of the Intercepting Fist."

The James Bond movie You Only Live Twice introduces Western audiences to the black-clad super-warriors called ninjas. Unlike most subsequent movie ninja, the Bond ninja are ultimately destroyed by automatic weapon fire. Extras included Donn Draeger and Oyama Mas.

When asked about the quality of his European and North American opposition, which he routinely destroyed in a matter of minutes, an outstanding Pakistani professional wrestler called Aslam Bholu replied, "They are making a living, my friend; life is hard." Packing 300 pounds on a 6’3" frame, Bholu said that his diet consisted of six pounds of curd and two pounds of almonds for breakfast, and eight pounds of chicken mixed with a couple of loaves of bread for lunch and supper. However, he didn’t drink milk.

About 1968:

African American martial art practitioners begin developing Black Nationalist ("Afrikan") martial arts. Most of these practitioners, such as Moses Powell and James Cheatham, taught reasonably orthodox Asian or eclectic martial arts, but some, such as Dennis Newsome, instead started studying African heritage arts such as capoeira. In addition, a few practitioners, notably Nganga Tolo-Naa (Ray Cooper) and Shaha Maasi (William Nichols), developed their own arts (in this case, Kupigana Ngumi, which includes techniques from karate, t’ai chi ch’uan, and Maung Gyi’s American Bando). African American street versions also developed. The latter are known today by the generic term "Jailhouse Rock." Influences on these street versions included Black Islam, rap music, popular dance, and kung-fu movies.


In Vietnam, military lawyers boast of winning 200 convictions for a crime that they called "assault with explosives," and that GIs called "fragging." While popularly attributed to poor leadership in the field, most fraggings actually involved poor leadership in garrison. Explained one unidentified officer to a reporter, "Given beer, whisky or drugs, mixed in with a crowd of blacks and whites, and you can have trouble. But you never know which came first -- the booze, the drugs, or racial disagreements." The problem was not unique to Vietnam, either. For example, Dr. Joseph W. Owen, the head of a psychiatric section in the Solomon Islands during World War II, has described the case of a Marine captain who routinely ridiculed a lieutenant in front of his men. After a few weeks of this, the lieutenant planted a mine in the captain’s tent and detonated it from the bushes.

For crippling two American M-48 tanks and leading two successful attacks against a South Vietnamese military base near Saigon, the North Vietnamese Army awards a 17-year old woman named Vo Thi Mo its Victory Medal Third Class. "The first time I killed an American," Vo told an interviewer twenty years later, "I felt enthusiasm and more hatred." After a while, however, her enthusiasm waned, in part because, after watching American soldiers look at pictures and cry, she realized that most American soldiers were not faceless baby burners, simply scared young men far from home.

The University of California publishes Carlos Castaneda’s doctoral dissertation as Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge. While the book was later shown to be a sociological hoax, it still helped popularize the idea of the chemically dependent warrior in Europe and North America.

Californian Pat Johnson introduces the penalty-point system to North American karate. Under this system, fighters who hit their opponent too hard gave up one point to that opponent, and lost if that opponent could not continue. (Previously, fighters who couldn’t continue were disqualified.) While encouraging karate tournaments to become games of tag instead of realistic fights, the "Johnson ruling" also solved the problem of excessive bloodshed during North American amateur karate tournaments. Today, however, Johnson is best remembered as the fight arranger for The Karate Kid, a Hollywood movie that portrayed excessive contact and unsportsmanlike conduct as the norm rather than the exception during tournament competition.

The Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA) starts sending taekwondo instructors overseas. Several of these men were subsequently arrested in Germany, where they were charged with assaulting anti-government protesters. The Koreans probably were not assassins, however, as in 1991, General Choi’s son Choi Choong Hwa was sentenced to six years in a Canadian prison for attempting to hire some Canadians to assassinate a serving South Korean president.


After deciding to admit women undergraduates, Yale University stops requiring (not allowing, requiring) nude swimming in its pool. The official reason for the nudity? The wool used in bathing suits clogged pool filters.

The Swiss-born psychologist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross publishes On Death and Dying. This book introduces the theory that human responses to death and other unpleasant realities go through a continuum comprised of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. In 1995, US Army psychologist Dave Grossman modified her schema to identify the human responses. These responses are 1) concern about the ability to kill, 2) the actual kill, 3) exhilaration ("It is vital," says Grossman, "that future soldiers understand that [exhilaration] is a normal and very common response to the abnormal circumstances of combat, and they need to understand that their feelings of satisfaction at killing are a natural and fairly common aspect of combat"), 4) remorse and revulsion, 5) rationalization, and 6) acceptance. Grossman adds that most people (he says 3 out of 4) are emotionally unable to personally kill another human being. As many societies worship aggressive behavior, an individual’s discovery that he or she is personally unable to kill can be as traumatizing as an actual first kill.

A British study finds that while professional boxers’ vocabularies were below normal, their intelligence levels were equal to or higher than the general population. As for amateur boxers, a separate Finnish study completed in 1982 found that amateur boxing champions tended to have better average education and higher social status than their parents or siblings.

In Evanston, Illinois, an amateur wrestling organization known as the United States Wrestling Federation (USWF) holds its first Freestyle Senior Open tournament. The USWF did things for wrestlers that the AAU never considered, such as run clinics and pay travel expenses. (Under AAU auspices, international-class wrestlers hitchhiked to tournaments, and faced banning for appearing on television shows or accepting speaking engagements.) The USWF also pushed for rules changes that would allow athletes to be coaches without losing their amateur status. Obviously, such changes were popular with wrestlers and coaches, and so in 1982 the USWF replaced the AAU as the arbiter of United States amateur wrestling. To reflect this change, the USWF changed its name to USA Wrestling. USA Wrestling became part of FILA in 1986. Meanwhile, Canadian amateur wrestlers were making similar changes; in their case, the new organization was called the Canadian Amateur Wrestling Association.

Lee Haeng Ung establishes the American Tae Kwon Do Association (ATA) in Little Rock, Arkansas. In 1992, this organization claimed 80,000 members in 250 schools, making it the largest taekwondo organization in North America. Explaining his own initiation into the martial arts, Lee told Tae Kwon Do Times in an interview published in March 1992: "After the Korean War, Korea started to import a lot of American Western and gangster movies. As kids, we loved to watch them fight, and all of us wanted to be able to fight better. I tried Judo when I was nine or ten, but I couldn’t throw the big guy. Then I took up boxing and I got hit too much and got lots of headaches. I looked for something better and found Tang Soo Do. Most people back then didn’t think martial arts were good; they thought ... only gangsters and hoods did them."

Smith & Wesson begin offering practical shooting instruction to police officers. The chief instructor was a retired FBI agent named Charles Smith. However, for civilian shooters, Jeff Cooper’s American Pistol Institute ("Gunsite"), which opened in Arizona in 1973, was probably more influential.


The United States Army fields low-energy ruby laser rangefinders in Vietnam. The American artillerymen found the weapons’ point-of-aim, point-of-impact, accuracy so fascinating that both officers and enlisted began pulling out lawn chairs and cold beers to better view the action. International television audiences joined these fascinated American soldiers during the Gulf War of 1991, when Coalition forces fired 12,000 laser-guided munitions at the hapless Iraqis.

While watching Joe Lewis (a karate stylist who relied heavily on punching) knock out Greg "Ohm" Baines (a San Jose kenpo karate stylist who relied more on kicking), a ringside announcer invents the phrase "kick boxing." Lewis was an excellent puncher. Nonetheless, the competition in karate in those days was hardly as stiff as competition in professional boxing, and when Lewis boxed against a Honolulu preliminary boxer named Teddy Limoz in July 1975, it was Limoz in three.

Cho Sang Min opens Brazil’s first taekwondo school, the Academia Liberdade, in São Paulo. His peers included Lee Woo Jae, Oh Ju Yul, and Lee Bo Tee, all of whom opened Brazilian taekwondo academies in 1972. That said, Brazil’s most famous taekwondo teacher was undoubtedly Kim Yong Min, who, after starting a school in Rio in 1975, did extensive advertising on television and in comic books.

Heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali shows his trademark backward-stepping "Ali shuffle" to the 62-year old New York fight trainer Cus D’Amato, and says that the shuffle was so fast, that no one alive could touch him. D’Amato laughs and says that wasn’t true. Prove it, replied the Champ. So D’Amato does, twice, bending his body to the right while jabbing with his left the first time, then bending to the left while jabbing with his right the second. The secret, said the beaming D’Amato, involved timing rather than speed.

Because NCAA wrestling rules did not apply to international competition, the Canadian Intercollegiate Athletic Union votes to change from NCAA free-style wrestling to international freestyle. Although the FILA rules committee had an annoying habit of changing rules in mid-season, the result was nevertheless better overall Canadian performance during Olympic and World Championship events.


After winning a bruising fifteen-round decision over former champion Muhammad Ali, the reigning heavyweight champion Joe Frazier finds that the only way to keep his head from hurting was to stick it into a sink filled with ice water. Ali evidently felt about the same, as he went to the hospital for X-rays of his jaw, and then told the press, "I guess I’m not pretty any more."

The British anthropologist E. E. Evans-Pritchard claims that the acrobatic dances done by the Nubans, a Nilotic African people living in southwestern Sudan and northeastern Zaire, were originally designed to simulate short-ranged individual combats. Perhaps. On the other hand, a Masaai man named Tepilit Ole Saitoti said in his 1986 autobiography that the Masaai warriors of the late 1960s danced mostly to attract female attention. Either way, both the Masaai and the Nuba wrestled to enhance personal and clan reputation. Training included wrestling, dancing, and abstaining from beer and sex.

A Department of Defense study finds that 69% of the United States military personnel queried used marijuana while stationed in Southeast Asia. Another 29% used barbiturates or amphetamines, and 38% used heroin or other opiates. These staggering levels of drug abuse were motivated by the soldiers’ desire to chemically escape stress and fear. In the words of one Vietnam veteran, "We’d sit around smoking grass and getting stoned and talking about when we’d get to go home." This said, alcoholism was an even bigger problem. In the words of another veteran, "You can’t forget... but booze makes it go away for awhile."

A Canadian environmental group called Greenpeace launches its first Rainbow Warriors. While the Rainbow Warriors originally espoused non-violence, they soon turned to spiking trees, vandalizing bulldozers, and ramming whaling ships, for, in the words of the Arizona environmentalist Edward Abbey, "What’s more American than violence?"

Japanese organized crime syndicates become actively involved in kickboxing and female professional wrestling in Thailand and Singapore.

Yamaguchi Gogen defines Japanese Goju karate using the following words:

Quick decisions.

Calm heart.

Strong and swift.


By creating a television series called Kung Fu and a movie called Return of the Dragon, Warner Brothers introduces Hong Kong-style kung fu movies to Hollywood. Bruce Lee starred in the latter movie, and he was originally offered the starring role in Kung Fu. However, after auditioning, Lee was turned down for the role because the producer, Jerry Thorpe, didn’t think that Lee spoke English well enough. The result was that dancer David Carradine, whom Chuck Norris has said does martial arts about as well as Norris acts, got the role instead.

A Hungarian-born Australian named Joe Meissner becomes the first non-Japanese to win the world karate championships.

The French national karate champion Dominic Valera introduces Western boxing’s one-two punches to international karate competition. While this revolutionizes European karate, single attacks (generally reverse punches and front snap kicks) continued to dominate Japanese tournaments until 1982. Why? Rules. The Japanese rules only awarded points for single attacks, therefore discouraging combinations.

With the support of the Brazilian Air Force, capoeira Regional becomes an official sport of the Brazilian Boxing Confederation. In return, the capoeira schools involved agreed to add tournament rules, ranking schemes, and colored belts. The colors chosen for those belts (green, yellow, blue, and white) were those of the Brazilian national flag.

Twenty-year old Teófilio Stevenson wins the first of three successive gold medals in Olympic heavyweight boxing. While "El Gigante" was Cuba’s national hero throughout the 1970s, his goal was to become a well-rounded boxer. "As athletes grow older," said Stevenson, " they learn and develop more technique." Other outstanding Cuban Olympic boxers included Angel Herra (gold in 1976 and 1980), Andrés Aldama (silver in 1976 and gold in 1980), and Felix Savon (gold in 1992, 1996, and 2000).

Men’s judo becomes a permanent Olympic sport. Although Japanese won the most Olympic gold medals, by the late early 2000s the French, South Korean, and former Soviet teams were not far behind in total medal count.

Taekwondo becomes part of the official curriculum of South Korean public schools.

A Hawaiian named Jesse James Walani Kuhaulua (but known as Daigoro Takamiyama) becomes the first foreigner to win the Emperor’s Cup in sumo. The congratulatory telegram by the United States President Richard Nixon marks the only time that English has ever been officially spoken in a Tokyo sumo ring. (When the Samoan American sumotori known as Konishiki became the second United States citizen to win the Emperor’s Cup in 1989, the diplomat sent to read President George Bush’s congratulatory telegram read the President’s words in Japanese instead of English.)

The Japanese government imposes minimum education requirements on sumotori. The idea was to keep rural teenagers from dropping out of junior high school to become professional wrestlers.

Dan Gable of Iowa, who won 180 consecutive matches in high school and college, becomes the first Olympic wrestler to win a gold medal without his opponents scoring a single point. "I expected to win all of these matches," Gable told reporters several years later, "but only one at a time." According to Gable’s teammate Ben Peterson, Gable funded his wrestling by saving the money he earned by teaching seminars. Still, said Peterson, a devout Christian, the hard work and low pay beat wearing T-shirts advertising beer companies, as became the norm following the appearance of corporate Olympics in 1984.


The World Taekwon-Do Federation (WTF) is established in Seoul, Korea. The An official organ of the South Korean government, the proximate cause of its establishment was that General Choi Hong Hi, head of the existing International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) was planning to move to Toronto, Canada. ("The WTF," says American taekwondo pioneer Henry Cho, "is not a martial art organization, it is a political organization… They have been successful from the standpoint that they have developed Tae Kwon Do as a sport, and I can appreciate this... but it hasn’t had much to do with promoting Tae Kwon Do as a martial art.") A second and dispute was over who pocketed the money collected through proprietary ranking systems.

A Polish study finds that most elite male athletes came from working-class rural backgrounds. Elite female athletes, on the other hand, usually came from upper-class urban backgrounds. Both male and female athletes viewed athletics as a hindrance to marriage, and rural working-class women evidently viewed this as a larger problem than wealthy urban women. Contemporary East German studies showed that women, regardless of social class, were just as likely as men to do morning calisthenics, but were far less likely to participate in strenuous physical competition.

About 10,000 Cambodians jam into Phnom Penh Olympic Stadium to watch Khmer kick-boxing. Bouts consisted of three rounds, each of which was three minutes long. Winners received payment via the crowd stuffing bank notes into the winner’s gloves. Although fights supposedly were not fixed, the only way that Cambodian players ever lost to foreigners was by knockout. Khmer boxing is similar to muay Thai, and the Cambodians say that their method is the older. Favorite techniques include a left jab followed by a right knee or shin to the body. There are both male and female divisions, but in the female divisions, there is less kicking and more wrestling.

International physicians begin studying pain during their symposiums. Nevertheless, as late as 1989, no medical school included the study of pain in its curriculum.

Reports of cadet abuse cause prisoner of war training at the United States Air Force Academy to come under congressional scrutiny. During the investigation, an Air Force staff psychologist reports that "some [cadets] become psychotic [during the training], but they snap out of it."


Gary Gygax self-publishes a fantasy role-playing game called Dungeons & Dragons. The game was popular with high school and college students, and this in turn inspired academic research into the history of European medieval and renaissance martial arts.

The Canadian national wrestling champion Gord Bertie describes his competition regimen. First, he ran four miles every morning while wearing three sweat suits. Second, he ate nothing but vitamin pills and fluids (especially tomato juice). Third, he wrestled every afternoon. Finally, he ran again in the sauna at night. The advantage of this program was that it allowed him to wrestle at a lower weight, where he was stronger. Its disadvantage was that it sapped his physical and emotional reserves and gave him violent diarrhea.

To give audiences the impression that its leaders were more worried about the health of athletes than television market shares, the International Olympic Committee adds anabolic steroids to its list of banned drugs. The ban did not deter many strength athletes from taking the drugs. Why? In their own words, "Die young, die strong, Dianabol." Put another way, why should a little thing like a rule or possible liver damage deter athletes obsessed with winning? Said Elliott Gorn and Warren Goldstein in A Brief History of American Sports, "Nothing in the socialization and training of first-rate athletes, nothing in the culture of athletic boosterism encourages honor over victory or rule-following over rule-bending." Of course, by taking steroids, the athletes actually reduced their ultimate potential. Explained Hal Connolly, a United States Olympic hammer thrower who took steroids during the mid-1960s, "I think I was just spending too much time getting strong and not enough time improving speed and technique."

Sociological studies reveal that the people most strongly opposed to female athletes were female non-athletes. Female non-athletes also were the quickest to accuse female athletes of harboring homosexual tendencies.

As part of the International Women’s Year, the Women’s International Boxing Federation is created. The organization’s first president was former professional boxer Barbara Buttrick of Yorkshire, England. Carol Polis was the New York Athletic Commission’s first female boxing judge. To satisfy legal requirements, each boxer was required to sign the following declaration: "I understand and appreciate that participation in sport carries a risk to me of serious injury including permanent paralysis or death. I voluntarily and knowingly accept this risk." Meanwhile, Pauline Short and Py Bateman celebrated International Women’s Year by holding the first all-women’s karate tournament in Seattle. "It was exciting to see what the ‘woman’s touch’ could do in the male dominated world of karate tournaments," said Seattle karate teacher Judy Duleba. Duleba added that it was refreshing "to be with other women in an atmosphere devoid of emphasis on clothes, hair styles, and make up." Once the novelty wore off, however, bra-less sparring and hand-made trophies showing women on top instead of men were about as far as the "woman’s touch" went in Northwestern all-female karate tournaments.

Following the normalization of political relations between the United States and the People’s Republic of China, the Chinese national wu shu troupe tours the United States. A year later, it toured Europe. Chinese medical concepts, including those of acupuncture, acupressure, and ch’i-kung, started filtering west about the same time.

"Worker-peasant-soldier students" of the wu shu class of the Peking Physical Culture Institute appear for the first time at the national wu shu tournament. Two-thirds of the players were between 17-18 years old.

Taekwondo becomes an official AAU sport. Although women were allowed to compete, there were usually no weight divisions and sometimes not even belt divisions. Therefore, many women felt uncomfortable competing, especially if they had not been raised to play aggressive games.

Using Elvis Presley’s money, Ed Parker and Steve Armstrong introduce North American free-style sparring to Europe. Featured fighters included Benny Urquidez and John Natividad.

In Los Angeles, Masayoshi "James" Mitose (by now known as James M. Mitose) is convicted of murder and extortion, and in March 1981 he died while still in prison. Because Mitose had introduced kenpo karate to Hawaii during the 1940s, his conviction for murder caused considerable shock in the US martial arts community. That an individual stylist might go wrong was one thing, but the pioneer of a system? This shattered the old theory that martial arts built character in boys, and the repercussions continued to haunt karate for decades.

The Okinawan Karate Association awards a retired public schoolteacher named Kina Shosei a tenth degree black belt in karate. The reason was that when Kina had retired from teaching karate and kobujutsu in 1938, Okinawan karate men had used belts only to hold their pants up.

Tohei Koichi breaks with the Aikikai to establish Shishin Toitsu Aikido.

Mike Anderson, a taekwondo instructor from Texas, introduces brightly colored uniforms to North American tournament karate. The idea was to add visual excitement to the sport; previously karate uniforms had been black, white, or a combination of black and white. The innovation was popular with crowds, and by 1988, competitors such as Britain’s Jeoff Thompson were calling for this crowd-pleasing innovation to be added to international karate competition, too. To increase contrast on black-and-white television, the European Judo Union introduced blue uniforms in 1988, an innovation that even the Kodokan reluctantly accepted in 1997.


University of Maryland mathematicians James Yorke and Tien-yien Li give the name "chaos" to a new theory that suggested that simple systems give rise to complex behaviors while complex systems gave rise to simple behaviors. (The older Newtonian assumption was that simple systems gave rise to simple behaviors while complex systems gave rise to complex behaviors.) The computer models they used to argue their case caused academics to begin questioning whether linear models are as useful for explaining the way things work in nature as multi-dimensional models. If Yorke and Li are correct, they are not.

California’s Ray Chapman wins the first World Combat Pistol Championships, which were held in Zürich, Switzerland.

Inspired by tales of Korean ferocity in Vietnam, the commanding general of the United States Army’s 25th Infantry Division brings a high-ranking taekwondo teacher to Hawaii for the purpose of teaching unarmed killing techniques to his soldiers. The plan fails after the Korean is shot to death in a Honolulu nightclub.

A study done by some United States engineers reveals that the impact of a full-power boxing blow to the head exceeded current road safety guidelines by a factor of four.

A Brazilian immigrant named Jelon Vieira introduces capoeira Regional to New York City. Vieira trained dancers, some of whom appeared in Hollywood movies, and according to some students of the African American movement arts, these influenced the short-lived dance craze known as break-dancing. That is not so. For one thing, break-dancing was not short-lived. Instead, it simply evolved into hip-hop. Furthermore, break-dancing lacks the underlying sense of trickery that exemplifies capoeira. Finally (and probably most importantly), the assertion does injustice to the New York street groups (examples include Rock Steady Crew and High Times Crew) that actually popularized "b-boyin’" ("break-boying") during the late 1970s.

An article in the China Post reports that after two Americans who spent a year-and-a-half studying boxing in Taiwan returned home, they opened schools and called themselves "masters of kungfu." The article added that "Local martial artists puzzle over whether the two young men gained a deep understanding of kungfu during their brief stay in Taiwan, and are offended by their emphasis on earning money rather than perfecting their skills."


Mel Tappan, a former investment banker turned survivalist, publishes Survival Guns, the most thorough look at defensive firearm selection produced to date. Nevertheless, neither the advice, the money, nor the arsenal ultimately did Tappan any good -- his death in 1980 at the age of 47 was owed to congestive heart failure rather than hordes of crazed San Franciscans storming Rogue River, Oregon.

The International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) is formed. Organizers included Richard Thomas and Franklin Brown, and they left "pistol" out of the title so that in future they could include long guns in their programs.

The People’s Republic of China reports that Chiang Ch’ing, the actress wife of the late Chairman Mao, wanted to replace military bayonet training with techniques borrowed from the Chinese theater. The Red Army resisted the innovation, saying, "Amidst heavy gunfire, who would want to enjoy the dance posture of swordplay?" (The generals’ idea of military sports (chün-shih t’i yü) included marksmanship, mountaineering, signaling, bayonet-fighting, grenade throwing, knife-fighting, and first aid, and Korean War veterans taught such "sports" in middle school physical education classes from 1952 to 1968. Rifle range targets included photographs of Lyndon Johnson and Chiang Kai-shek.)

The Japan Sumo Association rules that only sumotori possessing Japanese citizenship could be managers or trainers following their retirement. The purpose of the ruling was to keep big foreigners such as Jesse Kuhaulua from taking over the sport.

Khmer Rouge soldiers in Cambodia are reported collecting human livers. Sometimes they put the livers on sticks and hung them in front of their houses, as a way of scaring people, and sometimes they ate them, as a way of gaining magical power. The eyes of the soldiers who ate those livers were said to be fierce and red, like those of a tiger.


The Martial Arts Commission is established in Britain. This leads to the publication of the first books aimed specifically at training Western teachers of Asian martial arts.

Benny Urquidez becomes the first United States citizen to win a Japanese kick-boxing championship.

Oakland sportswriter Ralph Wiley asks former heavyweight boxer Lou Nova what it felt like to be hit by Joe Louis. "Louis?" said Nova. "Why Louis didn’t hit me near as hard as Baer did. Not even close." Fine, says Wiley. Baer was a champion once. So how did it feel to get hit on the button by Max Baer? "Well, I’ll tell ya," replied Nova. "My nervous system was on hold. For weeks after the fight, I was afraid to move my head for fear my neck was broken."

Boxing promoter Don King and Ring magazine are caught faking records in order to secure better matches for fighters under contract to King. The net effect of the discovery is a muckraking article in SPORT magazine and the cancellation of a television contract between Don King Productions and ABC Sports. Lost profits aside, the discovery wasn’t a big deal to the world boxing fraternity. Partly this was because, in his own words, King had "just the right combination of wit, grit, and bullshit" to survive. Mostly, though, it was because the revelation was used to advance the interests of a rival South African fight syndicate headed by Bob Arum.

Fifty-seven-year-old Cacoy Canete of Cebu City takes first place in stick fighting during the Philippines’ first national eskrima tournament. Canete repeated the feat two years later, without being hit by anyone either time.


During the Fifth All-Japan Shukokai Championships at Osaka, women’s sparring events are introduced into Japanese tournament karate. Ishimaru Yumiko, who took second in the kata division, won this fighting division. The winning technique was a front kick followed by a left hook.

A West German study finds that female wage earners were more likely to play competitive sports than were homemakers, and that homemakers were more likely to play competitive sports than were unemployed women seeking work outside the home. Said historian Allen Guttman, "The most likely reason for their non-involvement is that they fear a further loss of self-confidence as a consequence of poor performance in sports."


The Peoples’ Republic of China reports that several thousand Chinese children aged 8-14 were capable of telepathy, clairvoyance, X-ray vision, or psychokinesis. Touted examples from the Asian martial arts include ch’i kung exhibitions, in which men awed audiences by withstanding spear thrusts to the throat, supporting themselves on the prongs of forks, and receiving hammer blows on their bodies that smashed the stone slabs underneath them. Two years later, the Chinese Academy of Sciences admitted that its initial claims were unfounded.

The United States Army publishes a concept paper called "The First Earth Battalion." Its assumption was that soldiers of the 1990s would be involved in more peacekeeping operations than wars. Despite his New Age rhetoric, the author, Lt. Colonel Jim Channon, had a crystal ball that was surprisingly clear. Among his predictions were personal stereos ("body vest music"), heads-up map displays, a global communication system called "The Net," and a scenario that involved soldiers who "parachuted in that morning and stood in a long line facing each opposing army. The EARTH BATTALION satellite above beamed this image to the globe. The earth watched as this potential catastrophy [sic] awaited the conscience of one of the two army leaders to set. For they would have to bloody the EARTH BATTALION people in their path before they could attack -- and the world would know." Replace "EARTH BATTALION satellite" with "CNN," and you have the foreign policy of the United States during the 1990s. (The global communication system described, by the way, was ARPANET. The Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency established the system to provide military personnel and contractors with a redundant communications system that might survive a nuclear attack. The name "Internet" dates to ca. 1973.) Channon also believed that soldiers should learn esoteric aspects of the Asian martial arts. For example, he believed that training in t’ai chi ch’uan could teach them to heal or hurt using touch while training in aikido could teach them spatial awareness. Although the Army was not institutionally interested in meditation, martial arts, or biofeedback, during the 1980s Special Forces hired outside contractors to provide two A-teams, a total of 25 men, with training in biofeedback, aikido, and "mind-body psychology." The trainers for this project included former Marines Jack Cirie and Richard Strozzi Heckler, and a typical training day included running, swimming, "industrial-strength" calisthenics, and 1-1/2 hours of aikido practice. After six months, the soldiers were not aikido masters but were considerably fitter than when they started. (On average, 75% fitter.) Navy SEALs received an abbreviated version of the same course in 1988, as did a company of US Marines in 2000. Army Rangers, on the other hand, adopted Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in 1994, and the program that the US Marines adopted in 2000 was based on judo and karate. Whatever the method taught, the idea was not to create great hand-to-hand fighters, but instead to instill the warrior ethos.

Soviet émigrés report an outbreak of pulmonary anthrax near Sverdlovsk. While the CIA said that this was the result of an accident at a Soviet biological warfare research center, the Soviets blamed it on people selling black market meat. Who was right? Probably both, since the Russians admitted testing genetically engineered biotoxins as recently as 1992.

West German officials charge several highly ranked British, Dutch, and US judoka with using hollowed-out judo mats to smuggle LSD into Britain and the United States. United States officials also linked the US judoka to four California homicides. But, as the killers used knives rather than bare hands, the suspicion arises that the lethality of the unarmed Japanese martial arts is somewhat overrated. That suspicion is supported by FBI statistics indicating that the typical victim of an unarmed homicide was not a healthy adult, but instead either an infant or an invalid.

New York fight trainer Cus D’Amato decides to make Mike Tyson, a physically gifted 12-year old street hood, into a future heavyweight boxing champion of the world. Besides teaching Tyson his "System" and getting him good coaching and professional sparring partners, D’Amato built the youth’s low self-esteem by having him repeat every morning and evening, "Day by day in every way, I’m getting better and better." D’Amato also lectured the youth on his need to confront and control his fears. Fear, said D’Amato to Tyson, is your best friend. So what if you can’t sleep the night before a fight; your opponent can’t, either. So what if your opponent looks calm on the outside; he’s burning up inside. In the end, said the professor, "the fight itself is the only reality that matters. Learn to impose your will and take control over that reality."

An American Ph.D. candidate named Edward Powe describes dambe, or Hausa boxing, in detail. According to Powe, most dambe players were poorly educated members of the butchers’ guild. Rural matches were associated with post-harvest festivals, and were held during mornings and evenings. On the other hand, urban boxing matches were associated with bars, gambling, and prostitution, and were held year-round except during Ramadan. Both village and urban boxers wore shorts or charm-festooned loincloths, and fought barefoot. They wrapped their strong side hands in cloth and cords, and used their unwrapped weak side hands as shields. Their goal was not to beat the one another senseless, but to knock the other fellow to the ground. Meanwhile, other rural Nigerians were reported using wrestling as a way of instilling community pride into young people. As with boxing, the wrestling matches were associated with harvest festivals and adolescent rites of passage. Youths practiced by wrestling with other youths in sandy streambeds during the day, or by wrestling with their uncles and fathers in courtyards at night. They learned endurance by harvesting yams, by running hills barefoot, and by learning the old wrestling dances that taught rhythm and respect for tradition. Young women also participated in these matches, partly by cheering for their heroes and partly by vying among themselves to see who had the best clothes or the most acrobatic dances.


Jackie Chan makes his North American film debut. Chan’s martial art background included training for the Peking Theater.

Stephen Hayes introduces the Togakure-ryu ninjutsu of Hatsumi Masaaki into the United States. Although Togakure-ryu is a relatively mainstream Japanese martial art, its popularity in the United States was owed mainly to the unrelated (but essentially concurrent) publication of The Ninja, a novel by fantasy writer Eric van Lustbader that portrayed ninja as bulletproof, black-clad sadists.

The Amazigh ("Berber" or "Tuareg") dominated government of Mauritania declares slavery to be illegal, and orders the emancipation of hundreds of thousands of black African slaves. Yet, as the emancipation was qualified by the requirement for the freed slaves to compensate their former owners for the owner’s financial loss, the proclamation was more symbolic than real.

Tom Waddell, a former United States Army decathlete, decides to organize a Gay Olympics. Outraged, the US Olympic Committee took Waddell to court. The judge agreed with the Olympic Committee and told Waddell that he could not have a Gay Olympics. Undeterred, Waddell changed the name to the Gay Games. He then said that the name change was probably best, as "the Olympics are racist, the Olympics are exclusive, they’re nationalistic, they pit one group of people against another, and [are] only for the very best athletes. That doesn’t describe our Games." Instead, in the Games Waddell had in mind, "Winning’s not important, doing your best is important." Although just a few thousand people attended the first Gay Games in 1982, the fourth Gay Games in 1994 boasted more participants and nearly as many spectators as the 1992 Winter Olympics. Nonetheless, the Gay Games received almost no television coverage, corporate sponsorship, or celebrity endorsements.


Due to the commercial success of kung fu movies, the People’s Republic of China repairs the damage to the exterior of the Shaolin temple at Chang-shao and replaces its four aged monks with dozens of politically reliable martial art teachers. From a commercial standpoint, the move was wildly successful, and by 1996, there were nearly 10,000 Chinese and foreign students attending wu shu academies in the Shaolin valley. Meanwhile, in rural Hupeh, Hunan, and Kwangtung Provinces, villagers hired less politically correct instructors to improve youngsters’ fighting capabilities during land use and genealogical disputes. Knowing the worth of fists during gun fights, a clan on Hainan Island bought some pistols from a bank guard, only to discover a few weeks later that the same bank guard had sold assault rifles to its rivals.

Park Jung Tae, a senior instructor of the ITF living in Canada, introduces taekwondo into North Korea. The South Korean government is outraged.

During a full-contact karate match in Tijuana, Mexico, a 15-year old Mexican named Alfredo Castro Herrera dies. "The death failed to calm the audience down," said a local newspaperman. Instead, it had the 2,500 fight fans "jumping from their seats yelling for the match to continue."

At Fort Lewis, Washington, the United States Army unveils MILES, the first military training system to simulate bullet strikes using low-energy laser pulses. Meanwhile, outside Henniker, New Hampshire, a dozen middle-aged middle-class men invent the Survival Game, a.k.a. paintball wars. Because several of the original players were writers, their games received national media exposure, and tournaments, prize money, and a host of paintball-related products followed in 1983. What was paintball’s fascination? "I thought it was silly at first," admitted one urban executive. "But once I got started, it was a fantastic experience. I never thought it was so much fun shooting people." Police and militaries were also intrigued, and by the mid-1990s, this led to the Canadian arms manufacturer SNC developing Simunitions, a non-lethal projectile that could be fired from .38 caliber and 9mm weapons during force-on-force training.

"As [the other wrestler] was easily pinning me he was inadvertently choking me very effectively," former NCAA wrestling champion Les Anderson told journalist Mike Chapman. "The coach who was looking for the fall didn’t notice or take heed of my plight. I can remember waiting for the coach to help me. When he didn’t the thought flashed through my mind as I was weakening that I had better help myself instead of depending on someone else. I came off my back and pinned him. Subsequent tryouts also ended in my beating him. As I pieced it together many years later as a coach, I truly believe that a subconscious factor registered -- that one must make his own breaks in a match and cannot depend on others."


During the South Atlantic (or Falklands) War, the British use "dazzle sights," or direct-fire laser weapons, to flashblind attacking Argentine pilots.

To set a Guinness record, fifteen members of a Canadian karate club use their kicks and punches to demolish a seven-room wooden house. The destruction took 3 hours, 18 minutes.

The Canadian ethnobiologist Wade Davis finds that voodoo sorcerers create zombies using puffer fish poisons. He also found that the process was not diabolical, but part of a system of judicial discipline imposed by politically powerful secret societies.

Professional boxer Earnie Shavers auditions for a role in Rocky II. As Shavers kept pulling his punches, actor Sylvester Stallone told Shavers to punch a little harder, to make it look real. Shavers did. Stallone "stopped the workout and the camera and went to the bathroom for a little while. When he came back he tol’ me he was sorry, but they couldn’t use me… Only thing, people come up to me now, they know who I am, and they say, ‘Hey Earnie, think you could beat Rocky?’"

With 50 million admissions a year, rassling becomes the third most popular spectator sport in North America. (Football and automobile racing were number one and two.) According to rassler Adrian Adonis, this was because the "American people are sickos who love violence and the sight of blood." Perhaps. But if so, then how to explain the horror that millions of people expressed after seeing boxer Ray Mancini beat to death a Korean club fighter named Kim Duk Koo in November 1982? Approaching the question from another tack, academics such as Theodore Kemper claimed that watching rassling released testosterone in viewers, thereby giving them vicarious thrills that they didn’t get in their dead-end jobs. (According to his theory, most rassling fans are elderly or working class.) Perhaps. But then how to explain the sales of wrestling action figures to children, or the opinions of academics such as Gerald Morton and George O’Brien who equate rassling with folk theater? In short, there is still no easy answer to explain why many people enjoy watching professional wrestling and dislike watching amateur wrestling.


A Korean boxer named Duk Koo-Kim is beaten to death on national television. About the same time, a medical study reports that about 15% of professional boxers suffered long-term brain damage that was directly attributable to boxing. Consequently, Dr. George Lundberg, editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, calls professional boxing an obscenity rather than a sport, and says that it should not be sanctioned by a civilized society. Lundberg’s cry was met with the response that he neither understood the use of pain as a means of self-expression, nor the aspirations of working-class men who preferred the risks of brain-damage to the certainty of a life without hope. The counter-argument does not show causality. (Those young men might have become doctors or teachers instead of auto plant workers or dishwashers had their social class or educational levels allowed it.) Nor does it show much understanding of economics. (No more than 10% of professional boxers makes after-tax profit.) Nonetheless, it does reflect the attitudes of the boxers themselves.

The United States starts building high-energy lasers designed to shoot down aircraft and missiles. Similar programs began in France and West Germany three years later and probably also in the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China. By 1988, such lasers were concentrating 2.6 megawatts on pinhead-sized targets for 9.5 x 10-11 seconds, which was supposedly enough time to vaporize incoming nuclear warheads.


The US Secret Service commissions the development of foam-padded training suits. The idea was to allow for opponents in training scenarios to provide more resistance, thereby increasing training realism. People involved with the original suit design included John Desmedt, and early makers included Macho Products, which already manufactured a line of foam-dipped taekwondo sparring gear. Meanwhile, bulkier custom suits were also under development by people interested in allowing essentially full contact to the head, body, and groin. Pioneers of these "pumpkin-head" or "bulletman" suits included Matt Thomas and Mark Morris of Model Mugging.

University of California anthropologist Gilbert Herdt reports that some warrior cultures living in Papua, New Guinea require their prepubescent boys to regularly fellate adult warriors, as it was believed that boys could only become men by swallowing their seniors’ semen. As for the adult warriors, while they enjoyed sex with women, they also feared it, as it exposed their precious male substance to female pollution and stole it from the next generation of warriors. The societies described were some of the most homicidal on earth, with murder rates approaching two per thousand.

Concerning the risks of describing the great wrestlers of the past, the former Canadian Olympic wrestling coach Glynn Leyshon warns, "The older we get; the better we were!"

About 1985:

The growing popularity of capoeira among North American women, particularly those with dance backgrounds, causes the deletion of many of the macho songs previously sung in capoeira classes. What did these women see in the historically chauvinist sport? Said one to the teacher Bira Almeida, "The beautiful movement, the use of space, sense of ‘play,’ qualities of motion, and the rhythms -- it was the dance that captured me."

Professional boxing moves from smoky sports arenas into swank Las Vegas and Atlantic City resorts. The reason, explained casino owner Donald Trump, was that he had observed "a direct relation between a high roller in the gaming sense and a boxing fan. Boxing, more than any other sport, brings out the highly-competitive person." What that meant to Trump’s casinos was an extra $15 million a week in business, and almost $2 million a week in profits.


Kilindi Iyi of Detroit publishes a paper called "African Roots in Asian Martial Arts," in which he argued that the martial arts developed in Africa rather than China or India. Although the theory proved popular in Afro-centric circles, elsewhere, it was widely dismissed.

Ranking sumotori including Hawaii’s Saleva’a Atisanoe visit Washington, DC, where they are greeted by Secretary of State George Schultz. However, President Ronald Reagan’s wife Nancy refused to see them, saying she didn’t want to see semi-naked wrestlers trampling through her garden.

The International Wrestling Federation (FILA) introduces an upper weight limit of 286 pounds to international free-style wrestling. While the change was announced as a way of protecting mere 200-pounders from being hurt by larger opponents, it was actually designed to keep 400-pounders from competing.

Nintendo introduces a computerized first-person shooter game called Hogan’s Alley, in which the object was to distinguish between good guys and bad guys, and only shoot the bad guys. The following year, the FBI began construction on a "Practical Applications Unit" at Quantico, Virginia, that was known popularly as Hogan’s Alley, and in which actors portrayed civilians and bad guys while trainees went through training scenarios.


In Tokyo, the Ministry of Education proposes allowing kendo and judo to be termed budo ("native Japanese techniques that constitute martial ways") rather than kakugi ("combative technique"). Although intellectuals protested, pointing to abuses of the term during World War II, the Japanese public failed to react to the complaints, and in 1989, the Ministry of Education formalized the conversion.

A medical study finds that many of the men renewing professional boxing licenses in New York City were hiding vision-threatening injuries (mainly posterior subscapular cataracts and retinal tears). While there was no statistical correlation between handedness and prevalence of right and left eye injuries, there was direct correlation between the number of bouts and losses, with the risk of injury jumping noticeably every six bouts or two losses.

Mayan peasants are described as waiting for December 23, 2012, on which date great wars would reduce the world’s armies to fighting with sticks and machetes, and the Mayans would again rule Central America. The date and the theory are a combination of Cold War propaganda, Christian eschatology, and the end of a Mayan Great Cycle.

Female Jell-O wrestlers working in Chicago bars describe their motivation as the high that they got from doing whatever they damn well wanted. Said one of them to a Washington Post reporter, "It took me two years to get aggressive enough to be a good wrestler. I’d never hit anybody before. I had to learn to be aggressive and that’s hard for a woman because we were taught to be sweet and nice and cute." Replied General Foods, the manufacturer of Jell-O®: "It’s disgusting to have people swimming around in food."


The Soviet defector Viktor Suvorov reports that Red Army studies had found that when a soldier fired his rifle at an armed enemy during hand-to-hand combat, the enemy generally fired back. On the other hand, when the same soldier threw his entrenching tool at the enemy instead of shooting at him, then the enemy usually dropped his weapon and ran away. Suvarov offered this curious detail as an explanation of why meter-long entrenching tools remained popular with Soviet Special Forces soldiers, despite their not having to dig many holes with them.

Although theorized during the 1940s and developed in laboratories during the 1970s, the first well-documented "wild" computer viruses emerge. Originally, amateur "hackers" mostly designed viruses. However, by the early 2000s, there was growing evidence that governments (primarily the United States and China) were also designing computer viruses for the purpose of attacking the computers used to control each others’ weapon systems.


The United States Army purchases 100,000 pairs of polycarbonate-filled wrap-around sunglasses for use as ballistic and laser protective spectacles. While these provided much more protection against debris than lasers, that was hardly an insignificant consideration, as 6-10% of modern battlefield casualties are the result of rock, bomb, or shell fragments in the eyes.

In Seoul, taekwondo is introduced to the Olympics as a demonstration sport; it became an official sport of the Summer Games in Sydney in 2000.

Aurelio Miguel becomes the first Brazilian to win an Olympic gold medal in judo. He was not the first Brazilian to win an Olympic medal in judo, however, that being Chiaki Ishii in 1972. Since Ishii had no hopes of making the Japanese national team, he took a job working in Brazil. There he continued doing judo, and after becoming a Brazilian citizen, he had no trouble making the Brazilian judo team. Ishii later won Olympic bronze, and in 2000, his daughter Tania was an Olympic judoka for Brazil.

After the Japanese judo team turns in a disappointing showing at the Summer Olympics (well, disappointing by Japanese standards -- the team still won one gold and three bronze medals), its coaches announce their intent to return to the fundamentals. Publicly, this meant that in future the Japanese judo team would put more emphasis on character-development than winning. However, in practice it mostly meant that the team’s financial backers supported the change of terminology from kakugi ("combative technique") to budo ("martial way").

West African wrestling matches are described as allowing head butting and thumb gouging, but not joint-locks or body slams. This said, the wrestlers’ usual objective was to use their upper body strength and dance-like movement to force their opponent’s knees or back to the ground. As the first fall usually decided the bout, few matches lasted longer than five minutes. Thirty or more matches comprised a Sunday afternoon fight card. This said, the real entertainment went on between the matches, when the amulet-festooned wrestlers strutted about the ring, pausing after every second step to boast of their previous victories or to do gymnastic tricks. The West African wrestlers were also flanked by praise-singers and squads of chanting female admirers, and made their money by accepting presents from the crowd. According to novelist Buchi Emecheta, the charms used in Southern Nigerian wrestling included crocodile teeth (to prevent the wrestler from becoming breathless) and nut kernels (to ensure that the wearer was hard to crack). Wrestlers also took herbal baths to protect their spirits from evil intentions, and drank special potions to avoid becoming faint-hearted in the ring.


During harvest festivals in Southwest Bolivia, local champions are seen donning leather helmets and breastplates, then using sticks and knuckle-dusters to beat one another senseless. Similar ritual battles were also reported in villages north of Quito, Ecuador. Beer flowed freely before and after such battles, which combined elements of faction fighting, rites-of-passage, and goddess (Pacha Mama) veneration. Says archaeologist Michael Moseley, "Ritual intoxication is a very ancient Andean tradition to judge from the quantities of libation vessels found in prehistoric graves." Probably the battles are, too.

A retired US Army colonel named David Hackworth claims that fratricide caused at least 20% of the United States casualties during the Vietnam War. Hackworth offered no proof of the allegation, and the Army only admitted to a fratricide rate of around 3%. Probably truth lies somewhere between these extremes.

"We receive hundreds of letters from all over the world," a monk at the Shaolin monastery in Honan Province tells a reporter named Michael Browning. "Some are written in blood. All beg to study here." The real monks Browning met were a handful of wrinkled old men who "don’t do much kung fu anymore." Nevertheless, movies made Shaolin kung fu worth $270,000 a year in video sales. That didn’t count souvenir sales or martial art instruction. In 1996, Craig Smith of the Wall Street Journal reported that the streams near the temple were filled with shampoo bottles, dirty socks, and old underpants, and that the temple’s wu shu instructors wore long hair and Harley-Davidson T-shirts. Rooms for foreign students cost US $35 a night, and ordination certificates cost US $500. A discouraged Belgian student named Daniel Reul told Smith, "I wanted to make a life in which money isn’t important, but I fell into a place where money is even more important than at home."


The US Army deploys Stingray, a vehicle-mounted laser weapon, to Saudi Arabia. Stingray was designed to knock out targeting devices, but if you were looking through those binoculars at the time, you would go blind. Human rights groups were appalled, but official Army publications were more blasé, saying that enemy soldiers looking at the world through their own blood were likely to panic, and so contribute to overall victory. Five years later, a much less powerful rifle-mounted laser, Saber 203, was sent to Somalia, where it was used to put large red dots on potentially hostile civilians, reportedly discouraging them from attacking. This reportedly chased off a few people, but the general consensus was that the main thing the weapon accomplished was giving away the shooter's position.

The first Internet user’s group dedicated to martial arts, rec.martial-arts, is established. Early e-mail lists devoted to individual martial arts include Aikido-L, established in 1993, and Iaido-L, established in 1994.

The Canadian sociologists Philip White and James Curtis find that Protestant women participate in competitive sports almost as often as Roman Catholic men, and three times more often than Roman Catholic women.

The Afro-Venezuelan martial art of broma ("just joking") is described by a teacher named Bernardo Saenz as "using whatever you’ve got." Its moves included some karate learned by watching television, a little wrestling, and a lot of Afro-American sweeps, head-butts, and spinning kicks.

Tatsuhiko Konno, one of three professional sword polishers in the United States, tells a Seattle reporter that it takes about ten days to properly sharpen and polish a Japanese sword. "Sure, the first stages are hard work, especially if there’s much rust," Konno says. "But then it’s fun watching the pattern of the grain and tempering emerge. I keep going to see what’s there. And every blade is different." The cost for Konno’s work, which he freely admitted was not museum-grade, was about $30 an inch. Museum-grade work was only done in Japan, where the best polishers had a three-year waiting list and charged about $90 an inch.

An Irish rassler named Pat Barrett writes that he had always been fascinated with unconventional holds. Therefore, during a bar fight in Germany he tried one. It involved thrusting the first and second fingers in behind the bottom teeth of the victim’s mouth. The thumb then pressed under the chin while the hand squeezed and twisted. "Getting the grip was child’s play," said Barrett. "Then I started to exert pressure. That’s when things went wrong." [Namely, the other man’s jaws closed like a vise on his fingers.] "Understanding came quickly. I simply didn’t have enough power." [Actually, Barrett, who wasn’t much of a wrestler, had his hold wrong. Done correctly, the hold requires virtually no hand power, and is excruciatingly painful.] At any rate, Barrett realized the technique wasn’t working, immediately quit trying to be cute, and solved his problem by simultaneously squeezing and twisting his opponent’s testicles. (Like plucking figs, said Barrett.) The story offers three lessons that all self-defense classes should teach. First, fights are not places to experiment. Second, many techniques work better in theory than in practice. Finally, and probably most importantly, if Plan A fails, then you need to immediately try something else.


With funding from the National Park Service and the Bishop Museum, lua classes begin to be taught publicly in Hawaii. The teachers were former students of Charles Kenn named Jerry Walker, Richard Paglinawan, Mitchell Eli, and Moses Kalauokalani. Students had to be aged 21 years or older and be at least part Native Hawaiian. In these classes, the idea was not to teach a modern hand-to-hand combative, but to help preserve ancient Hawaiian culture. "As in ancient times," Betty Fullard-Leo wrote in August 1998, "battle begins with chants that give way to insults, threats and gestures to show strength. The warriors begin their challenging haka, or dance, lunging and dodging from side to side. As the battle commences, it is not a fight ending in death, but an event that promises life -- life for an ancient art that is just one more piece of the puzzle being assembled to save the Hawaiian culture."

In California and New York, "karate aerobics" and "executive boxing" becomes the rage among working women looking for a new form of aerobic exercise. An advertisement for the activity claimed that "the only pain you inflict is on yourself." The ad then went on to say that the activity "sorts out the women from the girls," and that "after the first few rounds of training you’ll start to lose weight and gain... long, lean muscles, not bulk." Sniffed British boxing historian Jennifer Hargreaves, "This introspective approach reflects widespread insecurities about the body and self, but also reveals how anxieties are mediated and perpetuated through dominant modes of consumption such as advertising." Of course, the idea was not new, for as early as the 1930s Philadelphia Jack O’Brien had been offering "Boxing without Punishment" to both men and women at his gym in New York City. ("Philadelphia Jack doesn’t say that boxing can be learned without punishment – just taught," explained A. J. Liebling, who liked O’Brien.) Either way, both karate aerobics and boxing without punishment were better for muscular conditioning and weight reduction than practical self-defense.

David DeLaittre of Seattle, Washington, becomes one of the few blind people in the United States to earn black belt ranking in judo. "Everyone has some problems," DeLaittre, a law judge, told a Seattle reporter. "That’s what life is all about – how to deal with the problems we have."

To reduce factional violence, the apartheid-era government of South Africa prohibits blacks from carrying traditional weapons such as iwisa (knobkerries) and iklwa (assegais). Although the Zulus got the most publicity, Xhosa, Ndebele, and Swazi men also practiced stick fighting. Due to the white-supremacist South Africa Police ignoring the "cultural weapons" retained by Zulu supporters of the Nationalist regime, the ban only leads to increased violence inside racially segregated townships.

Just before Operation Desert Storm, a US Marine Corps attorney provides this description of the laws of war: "All the laws of war boil down to these three fundamentals. One. If it needs to be killed, kill it. Two. If it doesn’t need to be killed, don’t kill it. Three. If you see somebody killing something that doesn’t need to be killed, try to stop them. Any questions?"


Camel racing is described as the favorite sport of the desert Amazigh ("Tuareg") of Niger. One rider would grab a scarf from a woman, then the others would chase after him and try to get it away while the women screamed, danced, and clapped to the accompaniment of drums. While outsiders often thought these races had hidden ritual meanings, it seems just as likely that they were simply races, and that the chief prize was the attention of willing females.

After being a demonstration sport in 1988, women’s judo becomes a permanent Olympic event, and a second-place finish allows 25-year old Yael Arad to become the first Israeli to win an Olympic medal. As a rule, however, the world's best female judoka trained in Japan, France, Korea, or Cuba.

Douglas Coupland's novel Generation X, which defined McJob as "a low-pay, low prestige, low-dignity, low benefit, no-future job in the service sector," appears in paperback, and within weeks, the term "McDojo" appeared at rec.martial-arts as a description of franchise martial art schools run by people with more ego than talent. Coupland did not invent the term McJob, however, only its popular definition, as published articles indicate that the term was used, in print, at least five years prior to the publication of his novel.


Inspired by a 1959 science fiction novel called Starship Troopers, the United States Army announces plans to use satellite feeds and computers to link individual infantrymen to their peers and commanders. Army press releases neglected to mention concurrent research into robotic devices designed to completely replace human infantrymen. However, when the Army did mention these devices during 1995, its reports emphasized only those devices that would supplement humans rather than replace them. The Marines, on the other hand, decided to place increased emphasis on developing warrior spirit in humans.

Iran hosts the first Islamic Countries’ Women’s Sports Games. Eleven countries sent teams to compete in eight sports. Men were permitted at events such as shooting in which women could be decently attired, but were barred from watching basketball, where the women wore clothing that was more revealing. The organizer was Faezeh Hashemi, the 30-year old daughter of the president of the Iranian Olympic Committee.

New York music promoter Robert Meyrowitz organizes a pay-per-view Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in which competitors were free to punch, kick, or wrestle their opponents. At first, most participants were trained in styles that emphasized either striking (e.g., punching or kicking) or grappling but not both, and during such contests, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, which emphasized groundwork, proved most successful. Then both strikers and grapplers began cross-training. Within a few years, champions had to be competent at both striking and grappling. Then, as the Dutch trainer Jon Bluming put it, "What I was teaching was neither Kodokan judo nor Kyokushin Kai karate, but instead a mix of one-third karate and Thai boxing, one-third throwing techniques – I teach seven different throws – and one-third groundwork. That altogether is the full circle of unarmed fighting. That is not arrogant, that is the truth." Yet even this greatly expanded vision represented only a portion of the story; the circle was really a sphere, and inside it, intangibles such as spirit, stamina, and strategic insight continued to play leading roles. Anyway, because the UFC name was a licensed trademark, training in the new mixed methods went by a variety of names. Examples included all-round fighting, extreme fighting, hybrid martial arts, submission fighting, No Holds Barred (NHB), Vale Tudo (Brazilian Portuguese for "anything goes"), and shoot fighting. Comparable rival organizations also went by a variety of names; among these were Pancrase, PRIDE, and RINGS. Noted mixed martial art champions of the 1990s included Brazilians Royce Gracie and Pedro Rizzo, Americans Ken Shamrock and Mark Coleman, and the Japanese Sato Rumina and Sakuraba Kazushi.


U. S. News and World Report estimates that the fear of crime caused United States citizens to spend $78 billion a year on criminal justice and $64 billion a year on private security. Yet, as the same United States citizens were simultaneously spending $55 billion a year on sports and $10 billion a year on illegal drugs, they cannot have taken the fear of crime all that seriously.

Kamengen, or youth wrestling matches, are described as the keystones of the dry season harvest festivals of the Diola people of Senegal’s Lower Casamance region. Their importance was due to the matches giving unmarried men the chance to develop their reputations while simultaneously meeting and impressing prospective wives. Therefore, although the wrestling was often good, the drinking, dancing, and singing that preceded and followed the wrestling events were probably more important to everyone but the wrestlers themselves.

The Hawaii JuJitsu Kodenkai, a Danzan Ryu club in Honolulu, becomes the first martial arts club known to have established a permanent presence on the Internet. The same club also pioneered "Underwater JuJitsu," a course aimed at helping lifeguards and dive instructors deal with panicked swimmers.


From a bumper sticker seen in Miami, Florida, reportedly the most violent city in North America: "Thank you for not shooting."

Rob Redmond of Atlanta, Georgia establishes the Internet web site that later becomes Shotokan Planet. That same year, Neil Ohlenkamp of Camarillo, California created the online Judo Information Site. As far as is known, these were first martial art web sites designed to be information-intensive rather than advertisements. About the same time, an unrelated Chinese martial art discussion group called Dragon’s List goes online. In 1997, Dragon’s List started publishing articles, and in 1998, it became the first web-based martial art publication known to have obtained an International Standard Serial Number, or ISSN. This is the eight-digit number that libraries use to identify periodical publications, and it is (in part) what distinguishes e-publications such as EJMAS from web sites.


The International Olympic Committee holds its first world conference on women and sport. It was notable for being the first women’s sport conference to be attended by women from Islamic nations such as Iran.

A junior varsity wrestler named Jessica Salmeron tells a reporter from a Lynnwood, Washington, newspaper that she was not at a disadvantage wrestling against males, as "muscles aren’t the point. Strength and skills are the point. If they [women] want to wrestle, they should go for it."

For knocking out a badly outclassed opponent named Bethany Payne, female boxing champion Christy Martin receives a purse of $75,000. This sets a record for female boxing championships. "By contrast," said the Associated Press, "Ricardo Lopez, who defended his 105-pound title for the 17th time earlier on the card, was paid $50,000." Martin worked for promoter Don King and fought on the undercard of Mike Tyson title fights; by 2000, her record was 40-2-2.

To circumvent the problem of not being able to find enough physically fit young people to fill its ranks the British Army lowers its admission standards. In 1997, the US Army followed suit.


The International Defensive Pistol Association holds its first defensive pistol championship. The idea behind these contests was to use duty weapons and holsters rather than specialized equipment. Early leaders of the IDPA included Richard Thomas, Ken Hackathorn, and Bill Wilson.


The US government passes legislation prohibiting anyone from using the name "Olympic" or the symbol of five rings (interlocking or otherwise) unless they had been using that name or icon prior to September 1950. Two years later, the International Olympic Committee files a lawsuit in US Federal court asking for an injunction against anyone using the word "Olympic" in an Internet domain name.


Licensed Ultimate Fighting Championship video games are released.


The US Air Force tests a directed energy weapon system known as Active Denial System in Iraq. Basically, this was a microwave device that made your skin feel as if it was being burned. Originally developed to protect US nuclear weapons, it was being tested in Iraq to see if it had potential for crowd control.

Kronos Updates

Kronos Updates


December 2004

About 550:

During an exhibition held at the court of the Liang Dynasty Wu Ti emperor, a Buddhist monk called Tung Ch’uan ("Eastern Fist") uses unarmed techniques to disarm armed attackers. What these techniques were is unknown. Therefore, while this exhibition has been cited as proof of the early existence of Shaolin temple boxing, it could as easily have been a religico-magical preparation for a Liang Dynasty attack on some enemies living north of the Yangtze River. Meanwhile, in Western China, artists commemorate Chinese victories over Avars, Uighurs, Mongols, and other nomad groups ("bandits") by painting murals on the walls of Dunhuang Cave 285. The story of the 500 Bandits' conversion to Buddhism is a popular theme in later Chinese theatricals, and so represents a possible source of inspiration for Chinese boxing styles.

About 1595:

Dutch Republican soldiers develop the marching and musketry drills that eventually become military close-order drill. The popularity of these Dutch drills had several roots. One was that they greatly reduced the risk of clumsy soldiers accidentally bayoneting their neighbors, or soldiers causing their neighbor’s powder charges to explode through the careless use of matches. Another was that the Dutch drills greatly increased sustained rates of fire, thus allowing regiments to be subdivided into smaller, more manageable sizes. More importantly, wrote historian William McNeill, "drill created such a lively esprit de corps among the poverty-stricken peasant recruits and urban outcasts who came to constitute the rank and file of European armies, that other social ties faded to insignificance among them." Therefore, the Dutch infantry fought as teams instead of individuals. The idea of moving soldiers together as disciplined units is attributed to Count Louis of Nassau and his cousin, Maurice of Orange. Their sources of inspiration reportedly included translations of ancient Greek and Roman military texts. Meanwhile, Jesuits observe the Japanese developing kata (forms) with which to train their firearm-toting soldiers. Although outwardly similar to the European developments, the kata are probably concurrent rather than related developments, as the Japanese use kata to teach everything, and the Dutch did not arrive in Nagasaki for several more years.


After his Janissaries refuse to support proposed military reforms, the Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II orders his European-trained artillerists to shoot them down with grapeshot. (Grapeshot consisted of one-inch iron pellets packed into mesh bags like grapes, and then fired from cannon.) Mahmud then set about organizing military academies to train European-style infantry and cavalry officers. The first opened in 1835, and the modern Turkish Military Academy, established in Ankara in 1936, is its descendent. Noted graduates of Ottoman military academies included Nuri as-Sa’id and Yasin al-Hashimi, both of whom were leaders of the post-World War I state of Iraq.


An English squire named William Coke designs some close-fitting, hard-domed black hats for his gameskeepers to wear while hunting poachers. Manufactured by Thomas and William Bowler of Southwark Hill Road in London, the hats quickly become known as "Bowlers." Given a steel rim, bowler hats were then used as weapons in the 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger and the British television series The Avengers. Meanwhile, another English squire, William Penny Brookes, convinces the Wenlock Agricultural Reading Society that it should promote the "moral, physical and intellectual improvement of the inhabitants of the town & neighbourhood of Wenlock and especially of the Working classes" by awarding prizes for athletic prowess. The subsequent games, known as the Olympian Class, were held annually. Brookes corresponded regularly with the Greeks involved with the revival of Olympiads in Athens, and in 1889, Brookes and Baron Pierre de Coubertin also entered into correspondence. Originally, Coubertin was not too interested in Brookes' idea of organizing international games similarly devoted to promoting the moral, physical, and intellectual development of the working classes, but by 1908, he was claiming to have invented the idea.


Howard Garis, a New Jersey newspaperman writing under the pseudonym Victor Appleton, publishes a novel titled Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle. Swift's rifle could shoot through walls, and stun or destroy whatever it touched. The idea was not original with Garis, Jules Verne having posited a similar underwater weapon in Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, first published in 1875. The idea left fiction, however, in 1969, when a California-based physicist, Jack Cover, began developing an electronic weapon called the TASER, after Thomas A. Swift's Electronic Rifle. A baton-shaped weapon using pistol powder to launch two electric probes was introduced in 1974, but it did not work especially well, especially on motivated individuals or people under the influence of cocaine. New investors became interested in the product in the mid-1990s, smaller, more powerful compressed air variants were developed, and by 2004, many police forces and military organizations were including TASER X26s as part of their less-lethal weaponry.


A Norwegian diplomat named Lauritz Grønvold undertakes judo studies at the Kodokan in Tokyo. Upon leaving Japan six years later, Grønvold receives his black belt at a ceremony attended by the Emperor, making him the first (and perhaps only) European to be so honored. Other Norwegian judo pioneers included Haakon Schonning, who started teaching Fairbairn’s defendu system to Norwegian policemen in 1929. In Sweden, pioneers include Viking Cronholm, who introduced jujutsu to Stockholm as early as 1908, and his students Alex Wiemark, Arthur Lidberg, and Ernst Wessman. Jacques Rigolet introduced Kawaishi's methods to Stockholm in 1948, and in 1957, the Dutch judoka Gerhard Gosen also started clubs in Sweden. Danish pioneers include Knud Janson, who established a judo organization in Copenhagen in 1944. Finally, in Finland, Torsten Muren established a judo club in Helsinki in 1958. Early Scandinavian instructors were usually foreign: British at the Norwegian clubs, French at the Danish clubs, German, French, or Dutch at the Swedish clubs, and Japanese at the Finnish clubs.


Bishop Bernard Sheil of Chicago pioneers the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO), which was a relatively non-denominational program designed to get urban youth involved in sports. Basketball and boxing were particularly emphasized in the clubs serving Chicago’s black neighborhoods, and in 1936, three of the eight boxers on the US Olympic team were from Chicago CYO clubs. While the CYO itself evolved into the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry, its muscular Christian boxing programs faded into obscurity following Sheil’s retirement in 1954.


Pierre de Coubertin asks the crowds at the Berlin Olympics to remember that "the important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part. Just as in life, the aim is not to conquer, but to struggle well." The old man’s loudspeaker-amplified voice is lost amidst the audiences’ excited chant of "Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil!" The Berlin Olympics were the first to feature closed-circuit television, electronic timing devices, and a Chinese national team. One hundred and seven Chinese athletes and officials participated in the Berlin Olympics, and their number included a Muslim named Chang Wen-quang who exhibited taijicao, a variant of t'ai chi ch'uan developed by the French-educated Chu Min-yi during the early 1930s. In 1940, Chu left the Kuomintang to join the Japanese puppet government in Manchuoku, and so after the war, both Nationalists and Communists pretended that particular system never existed.


The British government hires William Fairbairn to teach British commandos to fight dirty. Fairbairn’s favorite unarmed fighting techniques included fingers in the eyes, palm-heel strikes to the chin, and kicks to the groin, and a subsequent German manual based on these methods was called Englischer Gangster-Methoden. In 1942, Fairbairn left Scotland for North America. The most famous person to view Fairbairn-style training in Canada was novelist Ian Fleming, who saw an exhibition during a day-trip to Camp X, outside Ottawa, in 1943. Many future CIA leaders also took the course from Fairbairn at a similar OSS camp near Camp David, Maryland. Rex Applegate describes the meat of this latter course in his book Kill or Get Killed. Meanwhile, the British also send Lt. Col. J.C. Mawhood to Tidal River Camp, in Victoria, Australia, to teach these methods to Australian commandos. Because there were not many people in Australia who knew any Asian martial arts, most Australian hand-to-hand combat instructors of the era were professional boxers or wrestlers. Pioneer instructors included Alf Volker and Ken "Blue" Curran. However, during the 1950s, the Australian military began teaching soldiers rudiments of Asian martial arts. These instructors included men who had received training in Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, and Vietnam. Following the Vietnam War, the Australian military emphasis shifted to nuclear threats, and as a result, Australian military interest in hand-to-hand combat declined. Then, during the late 1980s, the Australian military began routinely participating in United Nations peacekeeping operations, and so, by the early 1990s, there was increased interest in providing Australian Special Forces soldiers with realistic training in close-quarter fighting. Thus, in 1994, a Military Unarmed Combat Wing was introduced to 11 Training Group. Pioneers included Majors John Whipp and Gregory Mawke. Although Military Unarmed Combat Wing was closed in 1996, the Australian military continued to conduct military unarmed combatives at unit level into the early 21st century.


The German firm HASAG, which was based in Leipzig and used slave labor from the women’s camp attached to Buchenwald, begins developing a recoilless anti-tank weapon called the Faustpatrone. Throughout the rest of World War II, HASAG developed increasingly powerful versions known as Panzerfaust, and development continued in the Soviet Union afterwards. Thus, in 1961, the Soviets introduced an improved Panzerfaust known as the Raketniy Protivotankoviy Granatomet, or RPG-7. Improved projectiles followed, and by the mid-1980s, the RPG-7 had become the weapon of choice for irregular troops pitted against medium to high technology militaries. Although the launch, with its backblast and rocket trail, invariably gave away the firer’s position, the projectiles were useful for anti-vehicular, anti-personnel, or anti-helicopter missions. Moreover, because pinpoint accuracy was not required, training time was minimal.


Alfredo San Bartolome, a Peruvian 2-dan, establishes the first permanent judo school in Spain. Other pioneering Spanish judo instructors included Frank Fernando and Yves Klein.


Carlton Shimomi opens Honolulu’s first commercial karate dojo. Ten years later, he closed the Shorin-ryu school for financial reasons. This shocked student Mike McAndrews, who had started training with Shimomi in 1964: "I hadn’t realized that even a karate sensei needed to make a living. To me, it was simply high art... an art than enabled one to transcend mediocrity." Meanwhile, in New York City, judo teacher Jerome Mackey introduces franchise martial arts to the United States. The Mackey clubs remained influential in New York and New Jersey into the 1970s, when a stock swindle forced their closure.


DuPont researcher Stephanie Kwolek invents a polyaramid fiber called Kevlar. It was first used to make steel-belted radial tires. Then, in 1971, a version called Kevlar-29 was found to provide good resistance to handgun bullets, and in 1974, this in turn led to the introduction of soft body armor that was resistant to pistol and shotgun fire. In December 1975, an off-duty Seattle police officer named Ray Johnson became the first person known to have survived a shooting because of Kevlar armor, and by 2000, Kevlar armor had reportedly saved about 2,500 US police officers from death or serious injury. The US military was following these developments, and so in 1982, it began replacing its steel helmets and nylon ballistic vests with helmets and vests made from Kevlar. Research continued, and during the 1990s, lighter, stronger, and more flexible vests were introduced that had pockets in front and back that held ceramic armor plates made of boron carbide. These plates were capable of absorbing direct hits from rifle fire, and so their use in Afghanistan and Iraq was credited with saving the lives of British and American soldiers. Unfortunately, the helmets, vests, and plates still did not provide any protection for limbs, and so the next research goal was to develop a flexible cloth that would change its molecular structure when struck by projectiles.

About 1968:

African American martial art practitioners begin developing Black Nationalist ("Afrikan") martial arts. Most of these practitioners, such as Moses Powell and James Cheatham, taught reasonably orthodox Asian or eclectic martial arts, but some, such as Dennis Newsome, instead started studying African heritage arts such as capoeira. In addition, a few practitioners, notably Nganga Tolo-Naa (Ray Cooper) and Shaha Maasi (William Nichols), developed their own arts (in this case, Kupigana Ngumi, which includes techniques from karate, t’ai chi ch’uan, and Maung Gyi’s American Bando). African American street versions also developed. The latter are known today by the generic term "Jailhouse Rock." Influences on these street versions included Black Islam, rap music, popular dance, and kung-fu movies.


The US Secret Service commissions the development of foam-padded training suits. The idea was to allow for opponents in training scenarios to provide more resistance, thereby increasing training realism. People involved with the original suit design included John Desmedt, and early makers included Macho Products, which already manufactured a line of foam-dipped taekwondo sparring gear. Meanwhile, bulkier custom suits were also under development by people interested in allowing essentially full contact to the head, body, and groin. Pioneers of these "pumpkin-head" or "bulletman" suits included Matt Thomas and Mark Morris of Model Mugging.


Kilindi Iyi of Detroit publishes a paper called "African Roots in Asian Martial Arts," in which he argued that the martial arts developed in Africa rather than China or India. Although the theory proved popular in Afro-centric circles, elsewhere, it was widely dismissed.


The US Army deploys Stingray, a vehicle-mounted laser weapon, to Saudi Arabia. Stingray was designed to knock out targeting devices, but if you were looking through those binoculars at the time, you would go blind. Human rights groups were appalled, but official Army publications were more blasé, saying that enemy soldiers looking at the world through their own blood were likely to panic, and so contribute to overall victory. Five years later, a much less powerful rifle-mounted laser, Saber 203, was sent to Somalia, where it was used to put large red dots on potentially hostile civilians. This reportedly chased off a few people, but the general consensus was that the main thing the weapon accomplished was giving away the shooter's position.


Douglas Coupland's novel Generation X, which defined McJob as "a low-pay, low prestige, low-dignity, low benefit, no-future job in the service sector," appears in paperback, and within weeks, the term "McDojo" appeared at rec.martial-arts as a description of franchise martial art schools run by people with more ego than talent. Coupland did not invent the term McJob, however, only its popular definition, as published articles indicate that the term was used, in print, at least five years prior to the publication of his novel.


Rob Redmond of Atlanta, Georgia establishes the Internet web site that later becomes Shotokan Planet. That same year, Neil Ohlenkamp of Camarillo, California created the online Judo Information Site. As far as is known, these were first martial art web sites designed to be information-intensive rather than advertisements.


The US Air Force tests a directed energy weapon system known as Active Denial System in Iraq. Basically, this was a microwave device that made your skin feel as if it was being burned. Originally developed to protect US nuclear weapons, it was being tested in Iraq to see if it had potential for crowd control.

kronos 2005