License to Kill

Karate Bully…


(June ‘96/#20)

When it comes to handling a Karate Bully, here is the comic book attitude for you.

‘Guess what, Al!’

‘What’s that?’ I responded to my excited student.

‘The guy down at XXX Dojo is giving his students ‘licenses to kill!’

I have to say that I actually blinked.

I blinked, but I have to admit that such a thing as my student had just told me was not unreal to me. When I was first starting out, fresh faced and wide-eyed, my dojo pals and I used to joke about a card certifying ourselves as ‘unbeatable.’ Or maybe it would be great if our instructor gave out cards entitling us to call him in case we wanted a bully taken care of. Can you see it?

This card entitles the bearer to


Call 1-800-for-beat

And I know that I wasn’t alone in my youthful fantasies. There was an ad that ran for years in the mags that offered a registry service.

‘Register your hands as deadly weapons!’

As a matter of fact, that was one of the big rumors I heard before I began the martial arts, and which I have encountered time and again over the years, that one had to register their hands with the police.

Funny thing about rumors, they are the one thing that is certifiably fueled by hot air.

I know there is a lot of behind the scenes joking at a dojo. Heck, considering the intention with which most people practice their art there almost has to be some sort of release valve.

But before I pass on this subject let me make a couple of points.

1) There has been an escalation of intent within the rumor. By this I mean that the rumors first dealt with registering hands, then with ‘bully beating,’ and now it appears that kids are more than willing to play with the idea of killing somebody. This doesn’t speak well of society, and sure doesn’t look good for the quality of dojo that inspires such things.

2) When I joined a real school (emphasize ‘real!’) I found myself quickly abused of such mindless joking. It turned out that the school where I first entertained the idea of ‘Bully Beating Cards’ really was a Brand X school. I sometimes use Brand X in a joking manner, but in this instance Brand X refers to an inferior product. One which preaches harming people instead of getting along with them. At the risk of doing a little preaching myself, if you are going to a school which claims you should use the art first and talk later, don’t. The true art espouses values of virtue and honesty and patience and that sort of thing. The art that isn’t an art sells violence.

3) If you ever hear such a rumor, recognize that the rumorers are usually people for whom the art hasn’t ‘bit’ yet. Be patient with them. Work with them so they will mature.

I guess what I am trying to say about all this is that the real trick is to recognize the link between rumors and the insubstantive personality. By the way, I have a few ‘Karate Bully Beating Cards’ left if you wanted to order one…

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