NOTE: No demo in the COBRA-Defense system is EVER rehearsed. We always pull a stranger from the audience/class and see how things play out naturally rather than a fake fight and fake responses.
Also, notice Chris is not using any special physical skills. 90% of the COBRA curriculum are mental strategies, understanding, and planning. The other 10% are skills you have to use if your prevention measures are breached.
What do you think? Please share and comment.
* Maybe that’s why my new book is titled, Unarmed and Dangerous.
One of my mentors, John Corcoran passed away on May 16, 2019. Seven days later, serial killer Bobby Joe Long was executed. 35 years ago, he killed at least 10 women in the Tampa Bay area during an eight-month span in 1984.
How are the two related? John Corcoran’s girlfriend was the first victim of Bobby Joe Long. It happened on May 13, 1984.
After working for virtually every martial arts magazine, John was living in Los Angeles in 1984, when he got a job offer as a writer for a new movie production company founded by his instructor, Glenn Premru.
A movie buff who never missed seeing a James Bond movie on opening day, John was excited about this opportunity. John and his girlfriend, Ngeun Thi Long, whom he called Lana, made the three-day drive to Tampa, Fl.
Unfortunately, the production company failed and the job vaporized.
John and Lana ended up living in a hotel in Tampa. John often told me what a great girl she was. He said, “Sometimes we’d have popcorn for dinner because that was all we could afford. She never complained. She would just say, “It’s okay baby. We’ll get through this.”
Lana got a job as a dancer in the Sly Fox Gentleman’s Club. However, when she quit the job, John hit the roof. He lost his temper to the point that she left the hotel to go for a walk.
Click image to see a one minute story on the murder of Lana Long.
When she didn’t return that night, John was concerned. The next day he called the police to file a missing person’s report. As if this was not enough stress, John’s car was stolen a few days after.
I first learned about all of this when Mike Anderson called to tell me he would like me to meet him, John, and Joe Lewis that night at Clancy’s, which was a popular Walt Bone pub before he died two years earlier. Joe was living in Mike’s big house on Madeira Beach and John was moving in as well.
I was excited to meet John. I am an avid reader and John Corcoran was the premier journalist in the martial arts world. I was amazed that the world I read about in the karate magazines was coming to me. Mike Anderson, founder of the PKA, Joe Lewis, a true legend, and now John Corcoran.
During dinner at Clancy’s, John told me that he had to be at the Tampa Police station the next day to file a report regarding his stolen car. I offered to drive him there and he gratefully accepted.
When we arrived, we were told to go to the fifth floor. We stepped into the elevator with a big guy in a suit. This guy glared at John with psychic daggers piercing from his eyes. His disdain for John was so palatable that I mentioned it to John. He told me that the guy was the lead detective on the murder case of his girlfriend. The detective thought John was the number one suspect. Of course, John’s story was solid and he was not a suspect for long.
There were nine more killings before they arrested Bobby Joe Long leaving a cinema showing a Chuck Norris movie.
I made a number of similar trips to help John over the next few months. Because of the emotional level of this experience, John and I became really close fast. John called me his brother and, as a sign of gratitude, he said he would help me become the local martial arts celebrity, which he did. That was the first of many projects we collaborated on.
John was a producer on my USA Karate cable TV show.
He was also the editor of my magazine, Martial Arts Professional (MAPro) for the first few years.
When kickboxing promotor, Howard Petschler purchased Fighter International magazine from Mike Anderson in 1987, he hired John to be the editor. John then recruited me to be an assistant editor and included me in many of the interior photos.
I distinctly recall an editorial meeting with them where I pitched them on a revolutionary idea. “There is a computer called Macintosh. You can layout the entire magazine in the computer with this software called, Adobe Pagemaker.” They were blown away. Up until that transition, we had to lay the pages out on cardboard and paste them in order. I learned a ton about the magazine business and really enjoyed working with John.
A few years later, I bought John his first computer, a Mac Powerbook 100.
John loved to share his knowledge and he gave to me in abundance.
After living in my Clearwater Beach condo and also with my brother Jim, John moved back to Los Angeles in about 2000, but his help for me only increased. A few times, I flew out to shoot magazine covers that he arranged.
John Corcoran was helpful in getting me my first couple of cover stories.
John also cast me in two films he was involved in. The first was with my brother Jim in the Don Wilson movie Black Belt and the second was Sworn to Justice. There was nothing cooler for me, at the time, that when the person next to me on a flight asked, "What takes you to L.A.?" Me, "Oh, I'm shooting a magazine cover." or, "Oh, I'm going to be in a movie."
I was in L.A. so much that John suggested I buy an apartment that he could live in so I would always have a place to stay. While I considered that, I never did. John ended up in an apartment building where Don Wilson also lived.
I love the creative process and Hollywood is the epicenter of creating wealth from creativity.
My death scene in Sworn to Justice. That's John Corcoran behind me.
It was in the Hamburger Hamlet on Sepulveda Blvd that I mapped out this idea to John that I had for a professional association dedicated to helping school owners run their schools. He thought it was brilliant. The following year, I launched Martial Arts Professional magazine and hired John to be the editor.
NAPMA grew to over 2,000 schools and an annual convention until Century sued us into bankruptcy in 2003.
This is the first NAPMA ad in 1994.
Much of this would have never happened had John stayed in Tampa after the murder of Lana. I'm sure Joe Lewis or Mike Anderson would have introduced us, but I'm also quite sure that many of the projects I've described would not have happened had we not been thrust into a surreal set of circumstances. There may have been no NAPMA, MATA, Martial Arts Professional magazine or USA Karate TV show. There certainly would not have been a MAIA, MASuccess, or MA Supershow since Century testified they were forced to create them to provide another voice than mine.
I find it amazing how my timeline would be different if it was not for the lessons my mentor John Corcoran taught me and the chain of events that were set into motion after a tragic loss of life.
Thank you, John, and may you rest in peace.
One the set of my first USA Karate TV show. Click to see John's segment on the state of the martial arts film industry.
I recently posted this “Fighting Form” from our Empower Kickboxing program on Facebook. I designed the forms in the late 1990s to replace the traditional TKD forms I practiced and taught since 1974.
While the video didn’t quite go “viral,” it did stimulate over 100 comments and a number of “debates.”
I loved kata. I won more trophies in kata than fighting. I was the first center judge for the WAKO World Kata Championships in Berlin in 1986-ish. I was the US Open Korean Forms Champion in 1982. Just like my instructor Walt Bone, I was a kata guy.
However, after opening and running my school for a few years, I had a few revelations that I’d like to share with you.
Traditional kata creates confusion and contradiction.
1. It makes zero sense to teach my students to pull their hand to their hip during basics and kata in the first half of the class only to yell at them to put their hands up during mitt work and sparring.
2. It makes zero sense to make students memorize and perform a clunky series of skills in stances that are way too deep and static only to yell at them to keep their legs under them and move during mitt work and sparring.
3. Each form and skill has an Asian name that students had to remember. For instance, one brown belt form was named Kwan Gae after the 15th Empower of some Korean dynasty.What do I care?
Why was I teaching Korean history in class? If I was going to teach history it would be American history. Remember, we won the war.
I wanted forms that taught the skills of sparring and self-defense.
Today, we can see what really works in self-defense because YouTube has hundreds of thousands of security and iPhone videos of real self-defense.
Do you know what I’ve never seen in a real self-defense video? I’ve never seen an attacker in a deep stance holding his arm out with his other hand on his hip.
Why on earth would I spend time teaching what is clearly decades old impractical theory?
Some will argue that the deadly skills of self-defense are hidden in the kata. Maybe they are, but people do not pay tuition to learn tedious forms in the hopes that one day they might figure out how it really works or, even worse, doesn’t work.
Think about it. Of all the skills that can be taught in a martial arts class, why would you pigeon hole yourself into the limiting jail cell of a style?
How often have you had a prospect contact you can say, “I want to learn traditional kata.” Never.
When I replaced my TKD forms with these fighting forms, the students loved it and retention skyrocketed. I replaced basic TKD blocks and lunge punches with dynamic boxing and martial arts based combinations that they could apply that night in sparring.
The reason that most of us are so emotionally attached to a style is only because that’s what the school nearest taught. If the school taught a different style, you’d be just as attached.
Attachment to any style is limiting. It’s limiting in what you learn and what you teach. Style attachment is like a brainwashing experiment reminiscent of The Manchurian Candidate.
In my first white belt class, my 14-year old brain was ripe for influence when my instructor Walt Bone said, “We teach Tae Kwon Do. It’s the best style because it emphasizes kicking. Your leg is a much longer and stronger weapon than your arm. An attacker has to get past our kicks and then our punches in order to get to us.”
Three years later, a dad of one of the students didn’t think karate worked so he challenged Mr. Bone. Bone put sparring gear on the guy and bowed him in. After an initial clash, the guy tackled Bone. It was not pretty.
So much for the power of the style. Walt Bone is facing the camera in the dark grey gi.
Grab a copy of The Dark Side of the Martial Arts at WaltBone.com