Tag Archives: Karate

I Did the Crane Kick. Yes, I did!

I’m still going to do a review of “Cobra Kai” on YouTube and then post it here on my blog, but first, this

The Karate Kid

Did you go see “The Karate Kid” back when it came out? I did! As a matter of fact, I went on opening day, June 22, 1984. Believe me when I say it made a profound impact on my life.

“Cobra Kai” just came out on YouTube last month (May 2), and it is worth subscribing to YoutTube Red just to watch all 10 episodes of the first season (I’ll talk more about that in the video). But before my youngest daughter was able to appreciate “Cobra Kai,” she needed to watch “The Karate Kid.” After that, she got a better sense for why “Cobra Kai” got me so pumped.

But what my daughters can never fully understand is what I felt when that movie came out. To them, it’s just a movie, but to me, it was a lot like real life…because I was a Karate Kid.

The Karate Me

Back around 1982, I think (maybe ’81), I started taking martial arts. My first lessons came from a man who worked at the hospital with my mother. As a favor (even though he did charge a fee), he took me on as his only student. For several months I trained with him at his house in a big room where he also sewed sails for sailboats.

The first style of martial art I studied was not Karate, but Hawaiian Kenpo. Training would start with a run through the neighborhood and then some wooded area, then some stretching. After that, we would work on various techniques meant to harm one’s attacker. Enough said.

After a few months with my initial instructor, he moved away and left me starting over. It was shortly after that that in 1983, a new Karate dojo opened up about two miles from my home. Walter Ward, a Marine combat veteran from the Vietnam War, became my new instructor (sensei). He was affiliated with Ben Kiker’s United Karate Studios in Dalton, Georga (Great people, btw. Highly recommend them).

I was Mr. Ward’s first paying student. The only other students at the time were his niece and another kid (if I remember correctly), and they went for free. This is one reason why “Cobra Kai” resonates with me, but you’ll need to watch the first episodes on YouTube to understand.

Real Tournaments

You may not have known this, but in order to make the movie set appear more realistic, the people who made “The Karate Kid” actually held a real Karate tournament during the filming of the last scenes. The “extras” in the crowd not only came to see a movie be made but to watch their own kids participate in a real competition!

Therefore, when I went to see the movie, so much of the tournament part struck a chord with me. You see, I had already been competing in martial arts tournaments and had won several awards. And, as a matter of fact, I had already been training for a tournament that was to take place the very next day!

Now, About That Kick

According to the directors, producers, actors, and stunt coordinators (including the guy who played the part of the main referee, Pat Johnson…9th-degree black belt in Tang Soo Do and affiliate of Chuck Norris), the “crane kick” was totally “bogus.” In other words, it was a made-up kick meant to look good on screen.

In other words, it wasn’t supposed to work in a real-life competition.

But it did.

Remember that tournament I was supposed to go to on Saturday, June 23, 1984? The tournament that took place one day after the opening day for “The Karate Kid”? Well, evidently one of my opponents hadn’t yet seen the movie… mwwahahaha!

Sooooo… Right off the bat, as soon as I squared off with my opponent and the judge said, “Fight!”, I made use of what has now become cinema legend. I took the position of the crane stance, one leg lifted, then waited for the unsuspecting fool to walk right into a front snap kick to the chest (no, I didn’t kick him in the face – that would have been illegal).

I scored the point and later won the fight! It was awesome!

Then everybody saw the movie.

Oh, well. It worked once, though 🙂


NOTE: As I mentioned above, I did most of my martial arts training with United Karate Studios. My dojo was in Chattanooga, but the main dojo was/is in Dalton, GA. I wanted to give them a shout-out. With UKS I learned respect and self-control. I learned how to fight, but I never had to – because I also learned how to walk away from one. It’s been over 30 years since I’ve worked out like back in those days, but what was instilled in my mind can be drawn upon in an instant.

It’s been a long time, but people with true character never change. I’ve got a feeling that Ben Kiker’s United Karate is still every bit the real-life “Miyagi-do” it was when I did that fantastic crane kick 🙂

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Focusing On Jesus, and the Art of Throwing Kicks and Punches

Physical Therapy

About a week and a half ago I hurt my foot – my Achilles tendon, to be precise. I was mowing grass with a push mower on this deity-forsaken hill (the front part of the same yard where I fell three years ago and tore my right rotator cuff) when I strained the tendon where it inserts into the right part of my right heel. The pain woke me up from my sleep.

And this is what the front yard looked like until someone else came and mowed it for me. Did you know the grass in Tennessee could grow to 30 feet?

Because I could barely walk, even with crutches, I had to go to the orthopedic doc to find out how bad I was hurt. Long story short, I ended up going to physical therapy to strengthen my ankle and receive treatment for the tendon. As of today, praise God, everything is going well and I’m back on my feet with little or no pain.

But I’m NEVER mowing that yard again! I’ll make my daughters do it!

Physical Observation

Well, as I was sitting with an ice pack on my foot, there was a woman across the room throwing a weighted ball onto a slanted trampoline. The object of this exercise was to strengthen her ankle and increase her balance.

Earlier, not long after I got to physical therapy, I, too, was doing something to strengthen my ankle and help with my balance. So, as I was waiting for the timer to go off so they could remove the ice pack, I had time to ponder something.

Martial Arts

I began a conversation with one of the physical therapists standing close by and asked a few questions similar to the following:

“Are you familiar with martial arts? Have you ever noticed how martial artists have great balance? Have you ever considered teaching people how to balance the way I learned?”

The physical therapist was not too familiar with what I was talking about, so I explained.

Amateur artist’s rendering of actual martial artist named Anthony.

“When I learned how to fight, I learned to keep my eyes focused on my opponent. I never looked down, or around, only at the person I was fighting, usually in his eyes. As long as I kept my eyes on the one I was fighting, straight ahead, I could kick, punch, do whatever, all the while keeping my balance.”

“That’s interesting,” the therapist replied.

And here’s the thing. In my therapy I had to stand on a soft cushion, putting all my weight on the heel of my right foot. As long as I focused on an object in front of me, I could stand there with no support on that one foot and never fall. As soon as I looked around or looked down at my foot, I would lose my balance.

And when I eat at Chinese restaurants I catch all the stray flies with my chopsticks.

Focusing On Jesus

If you are already a believer, and if you’re familiar with Peter and his stroll across the water, then you’ve probably already figured out most of what I’m about to say: When we keep our eyes on Jesus, we are less likely to fall.

However, I never thought about Peter when my foot was being iced; I just thought about Jesus. You see, I don’t get to ride in too many boats, and I’m not likely to get out of one once I’m in it. On the other hand, this old flesh gets distracted and falls every chance it gets, even when the ground is solid and flat.

Instead of glancing around at what’s going on in the world; instead of looking down and wincing at what causes me pain; instead of looking at the clock and wondering when it’s all going to end; maybe I should keep my eyes focused on my Heavenly Sensei (Jesus), bring this body under control, keep it in balance, and train it for the fight.

After all, I’d like to land a few more good ones on the Devil, wouldn’t you?

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