Moderator: Art Rabesa
In 1963 the 1st World Karate Championship was help in Chicago, jointly sponsored by Robert Trias and the late John Keehan (aka "Count Dante"). "AlGene Caraulia won it as a brown belt," Burleson states.
"Allen was there, myself, Jim Harrison and a few others. In those days there were no belt division; in fact, no rules to speak of. That first time in Chicago you saw the marriage of kicking and punching.
We went up there with only our kicks, but we dropped everyone we hit. After seeing the hand techniques on those guys, however, we went back to learn some punches.
In spite of his own reputation, Burleson says that the three top fighters of that period were Allen Steen, Mike Stone, and Jim Harrison.
"They were totally awesome," claims Burleson, "Because if you didn't defend yourself against these three you could be seriously crippled for life.
A lot of guys were intimidated by them and didn't fight that kind of fight, but if you intended on beating them then it turned into a life or death thing."
"As I said, there were no rules in those days," remembers Burleson. "The rules in those days were kind of made up in those first few tournaments. And they were quasi-rules at that. That was the terrifying part--anything could happen."
This period of competition is justifiably called the "Blood-'n'-Guts Era" of American martial arts.
Although the rules stated certain grounds for disqualification most competitors and officials alike ignored them.
Fighters were constantly kicked out of the rings. Broken bones and the drawing of blood were commonplace.
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