Absolutely I like Tom Brown, he was awesome.
Well, I started martial arts around 5 yrs old at the YMCA’s mainly as a cheap alternative to daycare for my parents. Initially it was Judo and I progressed over the years to competing in international (ie. American-Canadian) tournaments. By that time I was going to one YMCA for Judo and then taking the bus to another for Karate. This was in the days before all that much child-napping and such. By the time I got to college I was pretty good.
Turns out my college had a ‘Varsity’ full-contact Karate program where we would go to Philly every week or two and compete against other colleges. In those days full-contact meant you wore a cup and a mouth guard. No head gear or pads. Head shots were severely regulated however in that you needed to demonstrate you could clearly see your target – no blind shots. I think the two instructors were getting degrees or college credit or something, me, I was in in for the fighting. I trained 7 days a week, 4 hrs a day boot-camp style … do 1000 of this kind of kick, these punches, rolls, take-downs, arm-bars, etc. The best 3 would fight, the next 6 or so would compete in forms. All of the contestants were black belts. Me and another guy alternated in the 3-4 positions right behind the two instructors.
I remember my first tournament. I went in against a guy named Kwame (who later became my good friend). I looked straight ahead … right into his belly button it seemed. I’m a shade under 6′ but he was well over 7′. I felt like those 3 stooges shows where your feet are backpeddaling like mad but someone is keeping you in the ring against your will
I did that for like 4 years before I graduated and had to get a real job.
I kept in it at a much lower level for about 8-10 more years when I just plain got too old to compete at that level.
Big Bears Don't Tree