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PostPosted: Fri Jun 14, 2002 1:28 pm 
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Location: Brockton, MA, USA
Alan:
I have received a special request from a parent of a student of mine. This student is 16 years old and is moving back to Bermuda next Friday. His mother told him to ask me to write a letter explaining that he is a martial artist and is checking in his weapons for travel. He has sai, in a case, and a hibben claw knife. I told him to pack these weapons in the same "check in" bag with his uniforms and belts. In case they make him open the bag they would see that he was a martial arts student and not just someone who is carrying weapons. He is concerned that they will give him a hard time because of the weapons. If not in the states maybe in Bermuda.

I have never written such a letter before. What does this letter have to say? Who do I write it to? Would, "To whom it may concern" be enough? I assume that it should be on stationary that includes the letterhead of my dojo. Will this be enough to convince any customs agents or airline personnel that he is just an average traveler and not a highjacker.

Also, will I be called to see if this letter is real and not contrived?

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Len


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 17, 2002 2:30 pm 
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Location: Framingham, MA USA
Len,

I am not certain of the new rulings adopted by airline security, however I think the test would be as to whether or not the student would be trying to export dangerous weapons.

My advice would be to do exactly what you suggested but to be certain that the bag containing the MA weapons was a check in and not a carry on.

Clearly the sai would be an unusual weapon to the uninitiated and I cannot visualize the claw knife. Was the the "hibben" term in reference to the Master knife maker of that name?

Getting back to the letter, I would address to Whom it May Concern and Any Air Carrier.

My only personal experience involved a couple of trips to Jamaica and the Domincan Republic. I had about six Al Mar folders in a carrying box and had never been questioned.

The letter and the bag packed with the MA uniform and equipment should explain the intent of the student.

Their may be some readers who have had some experience with transporting MA equipment and weapons, since 9/11.

I doubt that there is any special law in this case such as there may be in an attempt to import antique Katana from Japan.

Have you talked to Al Wharton (sp) in Bermuda?

He could be of some help and GEM would have his email or other address.

I am sorry that I cannot give you a more specfic answer.

Regards,

Alan


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 17, 2002 3:13 pm 
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Location: Brockton, MA, USA
Thanks Alan

Van just forwarded to me a letter from Gordi Breyette about this subject.

Gordi states that he has had many American students come to and leave Okinawa with martial arts weapons. He stated that instead of having a letter to explain the weapons, they carry a rank certificate in thier carryon bag to identify themselves as a martial artist. He said that the airline personnel accept this as being ok.

My student will be tested for his Sankyu Rank on Tuesday. He will be carrying his new certificate of rank in a tube in his carryon bag.

I have advised him to put ALL of his martial arst gear into a check in bag. I will also tell him to not offer any information about what is in the bag. And to only show his certificate if the contects of his bag is questioned.

BTW the Hibben Claw knife may get it's name from the manufacturer. It is a pretty nifty little claw type knife. Fits into the hand like brass knuckles but has a hooked blade. I can not find a picture of it anywhere though. It is pretty scary looking especially if someone tried to carry it on the plane.

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Len


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2002 5:06 am 
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Joined: Mon Nov 20, 2000 6:01 am
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Location: Framingham, MA USA
Len

I figured that you would get a more definitive reply very quickly on this one.

It is good to know that customs inspectors recognize MA certifications. Once that is settled, the intent of the passenger is established.

I feel compelled to issue a warning about the claw knife only as it pertains to Massachusetts law. Once cleared by customs, if that particular weapon were to be legally inspected by state police in Massachusetts, it would fall into the statutory definition of dangerous weapon (same one prohibitng switch blades).

This should not be a problem in your student's case.

Our thanks to Van for his timely report.


Alan


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2002 5:12 am 
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FYI:

Gil Hibben is a master knifemaker and 5th Dan in Kenpo in LaGrange, Kentucky.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2002 8:48 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 20, 2000 6:01 am
Posts: 493
Location: Framingham, MA USA
Student,

Thanks for the memo on Hibben. I have known of his craft for some time, but had no idea that he was an MA

I hate to even report on the Massachusetts Weapons statute because it is an unforgiving
creature created by fear and ignorance.

It was drafted originally at a time when the Bruce Lee era attracted kids to go to the streets with nunchuk, manriki, studded cuffs, shoriken and just about every weapons seen in the MA films of the day (circa 1972 +).

What was needed was a cohesive action on the part of MA's to hire lobbyist in order to get a method for MA exemption, but many MA's would not even talk to others in the sense of banding togther to raise funds to lobby.

In fact, they would rather be invisible for fear of licensing requirements by state authority.

I would love to see these laws amended as they are in many states, permitting the use of these martial arts weapons to be carried to the dojo.

Martial Arts is now accepted by soccer moms as part of family curricula, along with hockey and all the other sports. It is no longer feared as a cult of occult savages

MA as an industry does not appear to have a cohesive political counterpart or repesentative such as the NRA for the gun community.

Well I am off the soapbox.

Cheers,

Alan


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