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 Post subject: ALONG THE WAY
PostPosted: Tue Jan 27, 2015 1:53 am 
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I'd like to share some of the "Along The Way" section of my KUMITE book I wrote in 1984. I will post a small section from time to time. All senior Uechi Ryu people will know the individuals mentioned. Those of you who do not know who they are ,will still be entertained by the story - I hope.Lets start with a Van Canna story.---------------Van did not like to fight in the early tournaments of the early sixties. "Too many rules" he'd say. As a result, not many people got the chance to see him fight. As time passed. we drummed up enough interest in kumite to field a dojo team. One night a visiting kumite team from another part of the country came to Boston. We needed another fighter to round out our team and asked Van. He still didn't care for tournaments, but this was a matter of dojo pride. We matched him up with a fighter ranked in the U.S. top ten. A major martial arts magazine ranked fighters from around the country. They never seemed to travel far enough east when they were putting their top ten together. I'm sure this team of good old boys never heard of most of us. I know they didn't know anything about Van.Van's match began with his opponent feeling very confident, I'm sure. Within ten seconds Van was on him like ugly on an ape. You'd think he had said something nasty to Van. It went like this for the rest of the match. Van won the match easily and his opponent just kept repeating, "Who the hell is that guy"?

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 Post subject: Re: ALONG THE WAY
PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2015 4:08 am 
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Fond memories Art, Thanks.

True, some of those tournaments got to be a real drag for me with the ridiculous rules format that went against the grain of Uechi Ryu's training concepts.

The one standing-most ridiculous- uppermost- in mind - was a match, lasting 30 minutes, I had with one of Henry Cho's TKD fighter at the All American in New York. In the picture here you see me in the foreground with my opponent behind me with his arms crossed after it was over.

I kept catching his kicks, spinning him around, taking him down and either punching him or chopping him as he landed. All to no avail as the ref would not award me any points because of TKD rules. He was a good fighter but the match went scoreless for 30 minutes even after the officials changed the referee twice. Very frustrating rules.

Image

I found it a bore having to fight rules instead of an opponent.

But some tournaments were good, like the one we had against that out of state challenging team...good solid fighters and more liberal rules of engagement.

That top ten fighter was very strong and skilled...I think he was a student of Ed Daniels, the King Kong of Karate.

I knew that to have a chance against him I'd have to attack with speed before he got a chance to get set and get off any technique.

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 Post subject: Re: ALONG THE WAY
PostPosted: Tue Feb 03, 2015 5:15 pm 
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Tournaments were very new in the early sixties. I learned by trial and error. Actually, it was more like error and error. I remember sensei Mattson saying, "Rabesa, your a one man clash". That meant that I did a lot of grabbing and rolling along the floor with my opponents. Or it might have meant that I didn't know what the hell I was doing. Anyway, I remember the first Madison Square Garden tournament in N.Y. city. I never saw so many gis in all my life. I was a brown belt back then, and was still a one man clash. I just couldn't get football out of my system. I watched hundreds of fighters with various styles of fighting. I took notes on various techniques, using stick figures to illustrate key points. I also made notes on some of the fighters ,"Playing The Game". Giving the officials what they wanted. These guys would play the line and referees like a finely tuned instrument. They would do anything to get that "Point". If a fighter made facial contact, the other fighter would be awarded a point. I've never been to the Oscar presentations in Hollywood, but I watched performances that should have been considered for one. I saw fighters actually bite their lip to draw blood. They would run to the referee showing the blood to get a point. ----------- Another Oscar went to the fighters who perfected what I called the "New York Punch". This takes a great deal of dramatic training. Picture two fighters with all the referees and judges and hundreds of screaming spectators. They move in quickly and one starts back peddling with his fist held high screaming wildly. What you did not see was the actual punch. Was this fighter that fast, or did we just miss it? Neither!!! No punch was was ever delivered. He just made a slight shoulder movement and began screaming and back peddling. The officials would never fall for something like that right? Wrong!! More often than you would believe, they did give this Hollywood bound fighter the point. This is fact. I never learned that "N.Y. punch".--------Happy Trails -----Art

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 Post subject: Re: ALONG THE WAY
PostPosted: Tue Feb 03, 2015 5:47 pm 
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:lol:

Some of those were a sham as you say Art, but then there were others, the ones you fought all over that were like 'full contact'...the good ones.

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 Post subject: Re: ALONG THE WAY-
PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2015 7:34 pm 
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Montreal Canada was a stop on the tournament circuit in the sixties. It is a beautiful city but the fighting was hard. One vivid recollection comes to mind from one of those Montreal outings. I was head referee in the brown belt matches. During a very heated fight, there was facial contact. One fighter blocked a hard punch with his face. As a result, his lower lip traveled through the air and landed at my feet. I stopped the match and brought the fighters back to the starting point. I then picked up the lower lip and handed it to the fighter. He was covered in blood at this time. I went to my side judges for verification of contact. I received a slight contact judgement from a Japanese judge from N.Y. After I checked on the lipless fighter, I apologized to his instructor for what had happened. I was trying not to laugh at the side judges "Slight Contact" decision.After order was restored, I disqualified the fighter who threw the uncontrolled punch. To this day, I still laugh at that Slight Contact call. -----Happy Trails ---Art

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 Post subject: Re: ALONG THE WAY
PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2015 7:55 pm 
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Yeah, I remember fighting in the tournaments arranged by Jean Gi Angell and George Pesare...lots of fun though.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2015 3:50 pm 
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My first dojo was in Brockton Massachusetts around 1966. Brockton -- Home of Rocky and Hagler. Like so many city karate schools, this one had its drawbacks. The thing that comes to mind first was the bar right under the dojo. There was no barrier between the bar and the stairs leading up to the dojo. It was a simple matter of just strolling right up the stairs to the school. Being young and single with not much money, I actually lived at the dojo. I always had my samurai sword right next to my bed. It was a habit I had acquired from living at some of the places I lived in Boston. One night I was awakened by a noise in the lounge. I listened for a moment and decided to take a look. I grabbed my sword and opened the door of my tiny room. I spotted a very drunk bar patron examining the trophy case quite intently. I'm sure he meant no harm. Being February, I wore a heavy black gi at night. I walked up to my visitor and asked if he was lost. Now I've been told that there is no way to sober someone up except sleep, but my visitor disproved that. He fell to the floor and got to the stairway very quickly. He half ran and half tumbled, down the stairs yelling something about the devil. I walked down to the bar and informed the owner that one of his customers had lost his way, and I had escorted him from my dojo. I quess I might have looked kind of funny standing there in my black gi holding a sword. It must have made an impression though. I was never bothered again by a night visitor. I did inquire about my visitor with the bar owner. He has never returned to the bar. ---Happy Trails ----Art

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 Post subject: Re: ALONG THE WAY
PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2015 4:50 pm 
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:lol:

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2015 9:51 pm 
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We had a fighting team from New England back in the late sixties. It consisted of Bob Campbell, Jim Maloney, and myself from Uechi Ryu, and three Kempo fighters from R.I. We were in Oklahoma City to fight the South Western team. Before we took on the Texas boys, we took part in the main tournament that day. I term this as a psychological match. I heard the next two fighters up. Bob Campbell was one and the other fighter was a name I recognized. He was ranked in the countries top ten. If you remember, the fighter Van fought was also ranked in the top ten and we know how that turned out.FYI number one at that time was Chuck Norris. I grabbed Bob and asked him if he ever heard of his opponent. He said he had never heard of him. Bob threw two roundhouse kicks. One to each ear, and that was that. I've seen reputations and a name win matches. It was not happening on this day. "That guy is ranked fifth in the country", I said to Bob. He looked down at me(Bob is 6'4") and said, "Really". Not a question like "Really"? Just - Really. ----Our team competition coming up -----Stay tuned. -----Happy Trails -----Art

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 Post subject: Re: ALONG THE WAY
PostPosted: Mon Mar 16, 2015 4:42 pm 
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Most of my time on Okinawa was spent training or resting up for the next class. There were occasions when we went out for a good time with some of our Okinawan hosts. Jim Maloney joined me on this trip to Okinawa. There was a very nice dinner which was attended by Master Uechi and many high ranking teachers. The conversation was friendly and rather formal, until a very large fish was brought to the table. The talk then turned to fish and how to catch them, and the many different kinds there were on Okinawa. We all dug in. It was quite good and I commented on that fact. Jim decided to up the mood somewhat. He asked, "Do Okinawan's eat the eyes of the fish"? This made everyone laugh and the mood lightened even more. That wasn't enough for Jim. He reached over and plucked out both the fish eyes, and popped them in his mouth. "Well, Indians do", he stated. That did it. The Okinawan's laughed for most of the evening after Jim's little gourmet exhibition. I had told Jim when we arrived on Okinawa, that I wanted them to remember us. I quess he was doing his utmost to assure that.-----Happy Trails -----Art

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 Post subject: Re: ALONG THE WAY
PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2015 5:23 pm 
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After a very hard class with Sensei Yonamine, my shins were in pretty bad condition. The next day, Jim Maloney and I were at Master Uechi's morning class. He noticed me favoring my left shin, and went upstairs and brought down a glass of what appeared to be ointment. I had seen something like this in the past when Bob Campbell would return from Boston's China Town. It was applied externally to the injured area. I was very flattered that Master Uechi would do this for me and I thanked him many times. As I started to put some in my hand to rub on my shin, Master Uechi stopped me. He motioned for me to drink it. I looked at Jim with a look of , "Oh no, what do I do now"? Jim said, "Master said drink it. Not only that, you'd better like it". What could I do? I drank it. I smiled and thanked Master Uechi once again for his kindness. I thought I was next in line for a stomach pump, but I made it through the class. Sure enough, the next day the shin was OK. My mother used to say "It can't be good medicine if it tastes good". I quess she was right. ----Happy Trails ----Art

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2015 4:37 pm 
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When I had the Brockton dojo, the fighting class followed the regular Uechi Ryu workout. I had a very good group of fighters that usually walked out of most tournaments carrying quite a few trophies. I was still competing in tournaments at that time, so I gave this class a great deal of attention. I was not thinking about the time at all. We had an elevated platform that everyone would sit on waiting their turn to fight. A clock hung on the back wall of the platform. I'd glance at it every now and then to check the time. It was already after 9PM when I took a quick peek at the clock. After many matches I noticed that it really wasn't that late yet, so we continued to fight. Funny, but I couldn't understand how early it was after all the fighting we've been doing. I mentioned this to the class bringing quite a bit of laughter. "What's going on" I said. "It's actually almost 11PM Mr. Rabesa", said a waiting parent. "Your troop has been turning the clock back when you were not looking" he continued. I dismissed the class and had a good laugh on me. They knew I wouldn't be upset with them for turning the clock back. Turning the clock ahead would be a different story. ------Happy Trails ----Art

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 Post subject: Re: ALONG THE WAY
PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2015 4:23 pm 
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After a while I got to the stage where I was allowed to spar. This was 1963 at George Mattson's dojo on Columbus Ave, in Boston. You must realize, that back then free fighting was in it's infancy. The only thing we knew was what came from our kata, and old cowboy movies. The first fighting class was formed -- sort of. Sensei Mattson gave Van Canna the class to run. Actually, the class consisted of Van and myself. Many peeked in, but no one entered. There were no heavy bags hanging back then, so Van just used me. He would say " OK Art , I want to practice my back kick. I want to see if I have the right distance". After I picked myself off the floor, he'd say - "OK that was good. Lets try it again". He would refer to me as the human makiware. There are two ways to learn to fight. I learned the plan B way. When we moved into the bigger dojo in Boston, the kumite class did start to attract more people. However, those early days were brutal. -----Happy Trails-----Art

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 Post subject: Re: ALONG THE WAY
PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2015 6:36 pm 
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Bob Bethoney was one of my best fighters way back when. The New England championship was being held in Western Massachusetts and the best fighters from all over New England were there. This was a contact competition and the new rules were still a little fuzzy. Bob met some tough competition and needed one more win for the championship.His opponent looked like a soda machine with arms and legs. He was winning his fights by running at his opponent and pounding them on the head. I figured Bob had only one way to beat this truck, so we had a little talk first. It went something like this. "You know what you have to do right"? "Yeah, knock him out". "Okay, here it is. When the official drops his hand to begin, he'll come at you like his butts on fire. Keep the right hand cocked and be ready. When he begins his run at you move into him and let that right hand go. No time to think - just fire it at his head. If you back up you're dead. I'll be standing right behind you, so if you back up you'll meet me. Him or me, choose." He came at Bob just the way we figured. Bob slide forward and unloaded his right hand . Point-set- and match. I had a New England Grand Champion. The ride home was real nice that day. Bob has a very successful Uechi Ryu school in Hanson Massachusetts which I visit from time to time.

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PostPosted: Sat May 02, 2015 1:40 pm 
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Way back in the early years, going to tournaments was just what we did. It was the norm for the fighters to fight just about every weekend. We fought everywhere. One evening, as I walked into Walter Mattson's dojo, I was met by Walter before I put my gi on. "Hey Art, wanna go to a tournament". I just looked at him and smiled. "Where are we going"? Walter was putting on his coat and moving toward the door. "Atlanta -- lets go". I grabbed a few things from my apartment, jumped in his Buick, and we were off. Twenty hours later we rolled into Atlanta. We were so tired we didn't know if it was night or day. We grabbed some sleep and went to the arena. We won our first few fights and wondered if we were going to have to fight each other eventually. That has happened before. I lost that final match needed for the finals. I was not a happy man. Walter won his match and was placed in the finals. Back then, the finals were fought at night. There were a few hours between the eliminations and the grand championship matches. We dragged ourselves back to our room to catch up on some rest. Now, Walter said that he tried to wake me but I just didn't move. He went to the finals with me still out cold. The next morning we gathered up our things and got ready to head north. Here is what happened while I was in la la land. Walter won the grand championship that night. I saw the big silver spun cup on the chair. "I won", said Walter. "We have to swing by the arena and make arrangements to ship up my bike". The bike was a Honda motorcycle that went with winning the tournament. All this happened while I was in a dead sleep. I felt real bad about missing Walter's fight. I still do. Hell of a fighter that Walter. He now lives ten minutes from me on Cape Cod. -----Happy Trails-----Art

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