Showing posts from April, 2020

Ulysses Grant vs Bullies

Ulysses S. Grant, 1865, Ohio History Collection,  Introduction In my post Ulysses S. Grant, the Patient Fighter , I dispelled the myth that Grant was a wrestler. I started reading Ron Chernow's biography Grant with the goal of finishing it before the History Channel mini-series starts on May 25. In this brief post I'd like to share two stories I've encountered that demonstrate Grant stood up to bullies, either against himself or others. Both are from Chernow's book . As a Boy "Such a tame boy inevitably became the butt of mockery, and Grant grew sensitive to public humiliation. Never one to initiate a fight, he refused to back down when bullied. He was roused to fury if sadistic boys tormented an innocent child or a defenseless horse, and smaller boys embraced him as their steadfast protector. On one occasion, Grant saw a big, oafish boy named Slifer picking on a much smaller boy.

Mail Call: The Sword Treatise

The Sword Treatise, Jack Chen, 2016 Introduction Mail call! Usually I post these as quick notes on the Martial History Team Facebook site . However, I wanted to share a little more detail on this book, although not a full review. I waited a while for this one. It took six weeks to arrive from Singapore, but I'm pleased to finally have a copy of Jack Chen's book 劍經 (Jian Jing), " Sword Treatise ." It is one section of the book 正氣堂集 (Zheng Qi Tang Ji), "Compilation of Vital Energy". The author is 俞大猷 (Yu Da-You), who lived 1503–1579 and was a Ming dynasty Chinese general. As you can see, this book is printed in the traditional Chinese stitch-binding method, which made it a must-have. I love specialty books like this. It's similar to my judogi-material-enclosed copy of the first edition of Kyuzo Mifune's Canon of Judo. About the Author After a quick search, the best reference I found about the author, General Yu Da-You, appears to be M

Ulysses S. Grant, The Patient Fighter

US Grant at Cold Harbor, May 1864; Photo by Mathew Brady, colorized by from Battlefield Trust collection, Introduction Today, 27 April 2020, is the 198th birthday of Ulysses S. Grant, born Hiram Ulysses Grant, 18th president of the United States and commanding general of Union forces in the US Civil War. To celebrate his birthday, I will take a look at one of the myths surrounding Grant, his so-called "wrestling career." Grant is sometimes listed as one of the "Presidential wrestlers," alongside Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and others. As we will see in this post, Grant there is no evidence that Grant was a wrestler, at least against other men, but there is evidence he was a family man and a patient fighter. Grant as Wrestler, Online If one visits the National Wrestling Hall of Fame web site , one finds the following: "Lincoln certainly did not achieve any national fame as a wrestl

Answering the Top Five Questions on Theodore Roosevelt's Judo

Richmond-Times Dispatch, 14 Nov 1917 Introduction One of the most popular set of myths found in a variety of media involves the association of President Theodore Roosevelt Jr. (1858-1919, 26th US president) with martial arts, especially judo or jiu-jitsu.  According to the Theodore Roosevelt Center : "Teedie [Theodore Jr.'s childhood nickname] battled frequent asthma attacks . In time, Theodore Sr. challenged his namesake 'to make his body' and overcome his infirmities. Eager to please the father he adored, Teedie committed himself to a regimen of vigorous physical activity , a routine that remained with him well into adulthood. After a confrontation with bullies who pummeled Teedie , Thee [Theodore Sr.] encouraged his son to take up boxing." That sounds a bit like other martial arts practitioners and founders profiled earlier on this blog ! So what are the myths and what are the facts? In the following, TR is an abbreviation referring to T

Is Firearm Use a Martial Art?

Morishige Ryu Hojutsu - 41st All Japan Kobudo Demonstration (2018), YouTube, Introduction Periodically on martial arts forums I will encounter debates on whether or not firearm use is, or can be, a martial art. The resistance to firearm use being a martial art usually appears in the more traditional communities. Being "traditional," they see firearms as a modern invention that, logically speaking from this point of view, are not appropriate for armed or unarmed martial arts. Does this make sense, from an historical point of view? Enter Hojutsu Yo Ryu Hojutsu  - Onoue Kiyoe - 42nd All Japan Kobudo Demonstration, YouTube, Today I was watching videos from Japan recorded in 2019 at the 42nd All Japan Kobudo Demonstration. This appears to be an annual event, as I also watched a few from the 43rd event in February 2020. Kobudo means ancient or old martial way, and the event sh

Coming to Grips with the True History of Taekwondo

A Killing Art, Alex Gillis, 2008 Introduction When I read Alex Gillis' breakthrough work A Killing Art in 2016, I was surprised, like most anyone who had practiced Taekwondo for any period of time. My own experience was brief, less than a year in the 1990s while attending Air Force intelligence officer school in San Angelo, Texas. As part of an International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) school, I had heard the standard story that General Choi codified TKD into a coherent system, drawing on heritage that stretched thousands of years into the mists of Korea's distant pass. Dispelling the Fog A Killing Art dispelled that fog, showing that TKD, like most martial arts currently practiced and claiming thousands of years of history, is an "invented tradition," to use the term coined by researchers Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger in their 1983 book The Invention of Tradition . At the time I read Gillis' book, I was not aware that forces were in play that indic