On The Edge

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Thursday, July 06, 2006




“Statistics, ‘ya gotta love ‘em”
By Kelly S. Worden

The coming of the New Year is a time for statistics to be reported by our socially conscious news media. Sometimes it seems the news media is really just reporting negative information to create social outcry, instill fear, or shatter the illusions of our lifestyles.

In the local Tacoma News Tribune on January 10, 2004, the front page of the morning paper offered a new title for my hometown of Tacoma, Washington, “Stress City, USA.” It seems a demographic research firm based in Portland Oregon released a list of America’s most and least-stressful cities. Tacoma was launched to the forefront of “On the Edge” cities well beyond Miami in at #2, New Orleans who captured #3 position, #4 going to Las Vegas, and New York pulling down the #5 spot nationwide as the most stressful places to live in America. Now Tacoma stands out in a crowd of other cities that far exceed our own population of 196,300, in comparison New York City demographics compile a total of 19,011,378 people within that city. New York is definitely much larger yet according to this most recent demographic study does not experience the same level of deteriorating social pressures as Tacoma Washington.

Tacoma’s evaluation was based on nine statistical categories: Unemployment, suicide, alcoholism, divorce rates, violent crimes, property crime, commute times, mental health and negative yearly climate.

“ staying on top ?”

At one junction a few years ago when the West coast seemed riddled with gang violence from the “Crips and Bloods,” Tacoma’s level of violence was reported worse than Los Angeles, California and earned the nickname “the most violent city on the West coast.”

Without question Tacoma has established a reputation and status few other cities would care to embrace, or declare. It is no wonder with the high statistics on unemployment, divorce, and property crime, that the youth and young adults of Tacoma have established a reputation for fighting. Off the street and into the squared circle of competition, Tacoma has a long history of turning out Olympic contenders in the sport of Boxing. Growing up, I had the distinct pleasure of being friends with Olympic champions and contenders, Sugar Ray Seales, Leo Randolf, Davey Armstrong, Dale Grant, and others. Those of us who never excelled to competitive levels did our fighting in the alleys and back streets of Tacoma.
“Violence runs deep”

On a multitude of levels fighting was a path to establish status in the neighborhood. Before the ethnic gangs of the late ‘80’s and ‘90’s like the Crips and Bloods, car clubs and biker gangs battled for status in the streets of Tacoma. Above and beyond the territorial impact of urban street conflicts, organized crime in the Tacoma area has also added an aggressive edge to a very volatile inner-city society. Veiled in a cloaked circle of mayhem, Italian Mafia families have even allied with local law enforcement agencies to control nightclubs and local businesses. Without drifting too far from the theme of this article, I would say it is safe to say when it comes to violence or crime in Tacoma, even the supposedly good guys come up dirty! Over the years I have discussed the negative image Tacoma seems to project. Outsiders say, “yeah, there’s a weird energy on the streets of Tacoma!”

There is actually a syndrome called North West Depression that affects people within our communities in the Puget Sound region of Washington State. I’m sure this issue is a direct reflection as to why Tacoma, Washington rolled out at the top of the national list as the least motivating city to live in. Pretty special award to be pinned on you’re hometown. Just that statement alone might offer some insight into why I have evolved into the direction my life has taken.

“Touted in Bold Print”

“I been in a hundred street fights, never lost one!” Ever read or hear that crap before? Makes you wonder don’t it? This must be one “Bad Mo ‘Fo!”

I’ll tell yah… I gotta wonder just where in the hell this “Baaaad Assss Cat” grew up.
We have all heard the legends of street fighters willing to throw down at the drop of a hat, and many of us could no doubt share a tale or two about those individuals who established a reputation while we were growing up and running the streets of our home towns. Without question there‘s at least one “Bad-Bad Leroy Brown” in every city across the United States and beyond. This is just a fact of nature, and the nature of the beast “in man.” In essence the nature of the beast is cultivated within the streets of our fair and not so fair cities. Inner-city conflicts are as old as the social structure of mankind, from primitive cave dwellers to modern day night clubbers. Over the years, fighting as youths was accepted across the board as a part of “sowing the wild oats of manhood.”

“Cover your ass”

Things are changing quickly in most major cities with laws inaugurated to protect citizens from even verbal abuse let alone physical assault. Shrouded over our society, physical assault laws are meant to detour an aggressor from instigating an attack or convict the offender after a crime has been committed. I hate to say it but sometimes only the victim suffers from criminal acts these days; repercussions leave the victims distraught with fear, injuries, and financial loses. On the other hand, as a criminal if you got nothing to lose, even the judicial system wants to avoid interaction with you. Sad but true, if the assailant is convicted of physical assault the jail time could be minimal and in some cases dismissed due to lack of adequate facilities to incarcerate them.

Now if you happen to have a dollar to your name and you cuss at someone, spit in his or her face, or kick a troublemaker’s ass you run the risk of being criminally prosecuted and/or civilly sued by the very person who instigated the confrontation. No matter how well deserved the ass kicking may have been, with a good attorney the actual offender can turn the tables on you real quick. I often lecture during workshops “once you defend yourself physically, you must be prepared to defend yourself civilly.”

“leroy’s in ‘da hood”

Now getting back to the well publicized street fighter who has fought 100 fights and lost none, wouldn’t the prior mentioned factors come into play somewhere along the line? Well if nothing else, the information is something to consider as the next generation of street fighters begin the long grueling task of establishing a fearless reputation that parallels or surpasses those who have walked the path or back alley’s before them.
Of course, there are exceptions to the rules regarding prosecution for physical assault, a simple fact of reality, “the neighborhood where the assault took place.”
“Yep, I’m talking about ‘da hood!”…. Many times ‘da hood is just outside the reach of, “the long arm of the law.” Now in ‘da hood, you could probably sneak by without getting prosecuted for every physical conflict or bar room brawl. That’s just the way it is, yet other factors come into play when we are discussing a territorial scenario situation such as back alleys, taverns, nightclubs, or even private gatherings that are usually not occasioned by socialites or outsiders. If you are out roaming the streets of smaller urban communities with no direct ties to the people frequenting specific establishments contained within ‘da hood, you are either real stupid or looking for trouble. Either side of that coin could become problematic. Honestly few people within your immediate proximity are going to come to your rescue or call 911 while you are being force fed a “Filet of Boot.”

“negative effects of revenge”

Let’s touch on another verity, revenge! Even if you win the conflict will you be able to make a clean getaway? If you actually live in ‘da hood, revenge is an ever evolving door of accelerating aggression, one conflict can have uncalculated repercussions. Keeping this potential situation in prospective, one physical fight may create three conflicts in the aftermath. Rarely in revenge situations does the level of force or retaliation deescalate, it only gets more violent. I make these statements not from hearsay or rumors but from actual experience. Bottom line, some people protect their neighborhood like a virgin sister, especially in a culturally diverse community. Another issue worth considering is the fact that police officers don’t always respond as quickly to areas where crime and assault run rampant (‘da hood). In most circumstances there are an abundance of emergency calls during an evening and less officers to respond to them.

“what’s up witt ‘dat ?”

Occasionally I get asked as to why I became involved in the martial arts or what has motivated my life study of different fighting systems. Simply stated, “fighting was just a part of growing up.” Getting turned on to or introduced to martial arts after western boxing and catch wrestling opened the door to “fighting and training” in a broader spectrum. Initially just adding the martial art kicking strategies to boxing and wrestling created a dynamic edge to winning street confrontations in the early ‘70’s. Now the level of violence I experienced at different junctions of my life was a result of running with what would be considered “the wrong crowd.” Of course, this prospective is from looking back in time, or possibly from the view of someone who now knows the difference between radical behavior and socially acceptable mischief. Radical behavior can only be considered as such if you have the capabilities to distinguish specifically what personal characteristics represent extreme conduct. Logic and rational judgment do not necessarily govern over the primal instincts of a young testosterone driven street kid. The old adage “you can take the boy out of the street, but you can’t take the street out of the boy,” balances my prospective on growing up as a fighter.

“Remember the good times !”

In a strange way my exposure to the social setting of urban warriors became a reality when I was around 15 years old. I used to sneak out of my parents’ house and ride my bicycle around the Sound End of Tacoma looking for Biker parties that I knew my older brother was attending. Serious action and adventure for a little turd trying to blend into a tough man’s world. Hell the women would scare the hell out of me without much effort. Fortunately, I was adopted as a kid brother by many of the club leaders, plus I enjoyed cleaning and asking questions about Harley Choppers, Knuckleheads, Flathead 45’s,and 74’s all with ridged frames, Peanut Tanks, Drag bars, or Ape Hangers, yes the choppers of yesteryear! Interestingly enough, this is the era of many smaller urban Biker gangs, groups like Satan’s Psychos, Outsiders, Justus, Shifters, Comancheros, Iron Horsemen, Cossacks, Devils Disciples, and Banditos, all rolling the streets of Tacoma, Washington.

Reflecting back over the years, I have personally experienced street violence as it has escalated from parking lot brawls with tire irons and knives into shootouts and drive bys. One thing is for certain, the street fighters of yesteryear relied on pure balls to the walls brawling, and in retrospect guns are a “today issue” of dealing with personal confrontations and territorial conflicts. As I have often lectured during my instructional sessions, “If it wasn’t for martial arts I would be dead or in prison. You either find a way off the streets or die in ‘em.”
“Do flexible weapons work?”

Not long ago I was asked if I felt flexible weapons had any true functional value. I responded with the following short stories, the first story I witnessed and the second story I was involved in, and “yes, flexible weapons do have fighting value in the real world!”

One sunny afternoon I was hanging around the “Choppers” at a Biker bar where my brother and other club members frequented. To set the stage, these guys were a tough bunch of ex-military, criminal sorts, and street orientated fighters.

Long story short as possible, I was polishing a Chopper in the parking lot for my brother. The back door of the tavern loudly crashed open with a guy apparently slammed through it. The next thing I witnessed was a big kick to his chest and he tumbled uncontrollably while bouncing off the steel railing and rolling down the concrete stairs! The guy staggered up from the ground trying to regain his balance while pulling a fairly large Buck knife from the leather sheath strapped to his hip. Without question I recognized the Biker stomping out the tavern doorway following the size 12 boot to the chest. His club name was "Dog." “Dog” was a big Greg Allman looking guy about 6’3’’ 220 lbs. with a real bad attitude!

The staggering man with knife in hand began cussing and yelling “come on Mother F_cker.” Dominating the stairway like a wild eyed “Chewy Bocka,” "Dog" advanced to the blacktop, without hesitation "Dog" jerked on his Harley Primary Chain belt wrapped around his waistline, whipped it once around his head (redondo) and stepped into the guy who was brandishing his big bladed buck knife. The Primary Chain belt smacked his elbow with a loud crack, the knife went flying and his arm snapped, appearing twisted in the reverse direction. It was very evident his arm was broken and dangling, before he could complete his scream of anguish, a second similar stroke smacked him up side the head, teeth flew and blood splattered, the guy was out like a light lying in a puddle of blood. Brothers from the club came running out the tavern door yet few witnessed what I did in the brief exchange of belligerent words and violent maneuvers. No one seemed to give a crap about the downed man, but they grabbed "Dog" and pushed him into the cab of a truck and got the hell out of there... as did I...
( Note: a primary chain belt is a single or sometimes doubled motorcycle chain welded together that hangs around the waist and is pinned together with a welded master link slipped into a female link for quick release)

“ ex-girlfriends and revenge “

Rollin’ along on autopilot I strolled soulfully into a friend’s house to party down on a Saturday night. I was a dancing fool on the prowl and looking forward to some downtown Jammin’. No sooner than hitting the scene I was hitting the floor in a rough and tumble scrap with an old girlfriend’s new husband. As I walked into the kitchen to see what all the action and noise was I noticed a younger kid getting his ass handed to him on a platter. No one stepped in to stop the kid’s ass whooping so I said from the sidelines, “Hey, I think he’s had enough!” Barely clearing the words from my lips the guy doing the face pounding yelled “Well I’ll just take a piece of your ass then!” The dude tore off his shirt and the game was on. I was holding my own as we exchanged blows in a flurry of fists and elbows. Slam bam baby we hit the floor slipping in spilled beer, the scrapple was on when I felt someone putting the boots to my ribcage. Covering up from the kicks I ended up in a guillotine choke while getting punched in the face. I took several shots and the last thing I really remember was seeing a boot coming in from the side kicking me twice in the face. Somehow I pushed past all the people and got out of the kitchen, out of the house, and into my car. Bleeding like a sacrificed pig. Pissed off and humiliated all I could think about was that no one in the house made any effort to make it a fair “one on one fight.” I was probably being called a chicken -shit as I ran from the scene, once inside my car driving away from the house I tore off my shirt and wiped the blood from my face. In a blood soaked shirt, with a broken nose and severely cut swollen lips I stormed into my brother’s house.

He had a gallon jug of beer between his legs and an empty one on the floor (read probably drunk). Incoherent to anything around me bloodied and in a screaming rage I just started yelling, "Let's go get those "M F" dirty "Cx-x0" blaaaa blaaa blaaa SOB's.” My brother was up and on the howl. I retrieved a 22-caliber revolver from the cupboard in the basement and we headed back to the house of action. This next section is almost funny in a real sick way: Disoriented and still snorting blood with my eyes swollen almost shut I jump from the car taking what I thought was lead position. Revolver in hand, I opened the door of the house and started screaming something to the effect of where are those SOB’s. No sooner than the words rolled out of my mouth I realized I was in the wrong house. Facing me sitting on a couch was a couple middle aged women and several young children, dumbfounded I said, “sorry wrong house” slammed the door shut and ran back over to the house next door. By the time I had gotten into the right house, people were running out holding their face. My brother had just walked through the house hitting people and asking why they didn’t help me. He grabbed me and pulled me outside stating that the two guys had left the party. Once outside, I put the revolver under the seat of my car, just then a vehicle pulled up shouting that the two guys from the house were out looking for me. The next thing yah know my brother was dragging one of the guys out of the car and kicking his ass. As his friend jumped out to assist his buddy, I jumped into the game and we were all throwing down in the middle of the street. Just then the girl who was still in the car slammed the vehicle in gear and was ramming my car and trying to run us over. Without hesitation and as police sirens rang in the darkness of night we all jumped into our cars and split in opposite directions.

“ Fast forward, no reverse ! “

It’s tough being cool sometimes. Most people reading this article might not appreciate my choice of wheels, then again it would certainly be a classic today. I owned a 1960 Super Fury with big fins, a bright red paint job, black diamond tuck interior, dropped front end, chrome wheels, and a punched out 318 c.i. with a torque flight pushbutton tranny. Fast ‘60’s custom but the reverse pump on the transmission was gone, out, blown, you get the picture. Side street cruising and “Flash”, there they were! The chase was on. Weird because I thought they were looking for me? We chased them down a dead end street and two guys jumped out of their car, the bigger guy who apparently was the one kicking me in the face came out swinging a tire iron! The other ass that was my ex-girlfriend’s current husband, leaped out of the car with a four-way lug wrench. My brother had his heavy leather belt wrapped around his right fist with the four-inch square buckle swinging down about 12 inches like a single ended nunchaku. The fight was on again, remember I had the 22-caliber revolver and it was now tucked in my waistband. As soon as the asshole came running towards me, I drew down on him and he stopped dead in his tracks. Words were exchanged and he put the lug wrench down on the ground and took off running. I surely didn’t want to shoot him so I picked up the lug wrench and pursued him. In a rage I threw the lug wrench and hit him square in the back. As he was getting off the ground from a running stumble I kicked him in the head. He took off running again and I was close behind. Jumping over a hedge, he slipped in the grass and I followed up with another kick to his head. We both tumbled onto a concrete driveway and the ground pound was exchanged, I cleared the ground and started kicking him while he was still down. I swear as I kicked him in the head again, the force lifted him off the ground and all I saw was his heels running down the street. We had run and fought about three quarters down the block from where the cars were left. When I ran back to the car, my brother was swinging the belt like a nunchaku - he cut this guy up like a basketball. The guy with the tire iron was bleeding profusely, cut all over his head and face. He had crawled up to someone’s door and was pounding while screaming in anguish. Hummm, I guess flexible weapons do have function. Honestly I don’t have a clue how long this battle took place maybe five or six minutes max, bottom line on this exchange we came out on top and those assholes hit the hospital. Trapped on a dead-end street, I had no reverse in my Plymouth Fury, we pushed the car back a couple feet punched it in low and peeled off across a couple peoples yards.

Revenge and paybacks are a real shitty way of street life. This was not a malicious premeditated attack; it was only paybacks for the tag team ass whooping I took only an hour earlier. Of course looking back, I should have just dropped it and licked my wounds, but that was not the way things were done when I grew up. Rumor was they both went to the hospital and had plans on getting even sometime later. We covered our bases and maintained a high alert status for several months, nothing happened.

“tequila courage strike again !”


Almost a year later, I crashed at my mom’s house, dad had passed away and I occasionally racked out on the couch. Three a.m. on a Saturday night, Tequila courage found five guys pounding on my mom’s front door. With my revolver hidden behind my back I cracked the door open. Yes, it was the same assholes I had rumbled with in the street a year earlier. I told them “if you want a piece of my ass come back in the daylight one on one.” They started yelling, I didn’t listen any further and shut the door. My mom and younger sister were freaking out and called the cops. No sooner than the door was shut, bottles, rocks, and flowerpots came crashing through the windows shattering almost every window in the front of my mom’s house.

I almost started shooting back as the glass stopped flying. Just then I saw the cops coming up the street with the lights flashing. Everyone started to scatter; I ran outside and tackled one guy climbing into a truck, hitting the blacktop the ground pound was on. Disoriented and bloody I found myself being dragged out of the fight and was thrown over the hood of a police car, cuffed and eating a hood ornament. Lying on the hood of a cop car bare footed, with no shirt, in a pair of Levis, I felt like “Kunta Kintai” handcuffed and waiting to be somebody’s whipping boy. The cops caught all five of the assholes that spend a few days in jail prior to a court hearing. The cops let me go. In actuality I would have rather gone to jail then face the verbal wraith and the tears of my mother and sister as we cleaned up all the broken glass, her house was trashed and in reality it was my fault.

I guess I never intended this article to go this long, nor did I ever expect the first fight to turn into a series of revenge fights that could have easily gotten someone killed.. I may share the third conflict with this group in the future; right now I will just say things didn't get any better.

When people tell me they have been in 100 street fights, I just say to myself, “Not in my ‘hood yah didn’t.”

JUST SOME FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Respectfully, Kelly S. Worden


Wanna learn more about what I do?
Travel to http://www.kellyworden.com/

11 Comments:

Blogger Don said...

Great to see you here! I think it will be a medium you will enjoy.

The chain belt story brings back memories. The two incidents I witnessed with people using them unfolded basically in the same way and ended badly for the people that were on the receiving end of the belt.

Excellent article!

11:52 AM  
Blogger thamer581 said...

Very nice. Boy do I miss the West coast, especially Tacompton! Great article, and I think you hit on all the factors of just simply walking through most cities. At the end of the day, I think violence through necessity seems to be at the core of every good fighter.

2:55 PM  
Blogger Ken Cook said...

You're off to a great start with your blog, articles like this one are difficult to top.

It occurs to me, the only real difference between a "war story" and a "cautionary tale" is the mental accuity of the reader.

Eh, the spirit of a blog is to say what you think and let people take from it what they can.

Looking forward to your next entry!

3:22 PM  
Blogger Robertlk808 said...

This is great avenue for you Datu, I remember the story in which two guys were following you and your family. You came to a stop light, hopped out opened the driver side door, proceeded to punch the passenger, while your bicep keep hitting the driver in the back of the head... ha-ha.

I look forward to reading more, you made a great point in stating "revenge is an ever evolving door of accelerating aggression, one conflict can have uncalculated repercussions."

One time a guy hit my niece, it was about a year later when her cousin Falaniko Vitale caught up with him and gave him a severe ass beating. Im not sure if it spurred any further event but.. like you said revenge can come now or it can come later... much later.

Robert

5:27 PM  
Blogger PAUL BAX said...

Kelly, you need to visit my site: www.baxtard.com

Thanks!


BAX

7:31 AM  
Blogger John Vesia said...

Many people don't realize (or forget) that weapons came first in the martial arts. Your post is a reminder that revenge is never sweet.

5:28 PM  
Blogger KarateCritic said...

Kelly, good to have you out there Blogging.

Your experience will be invaluable to everyone wanting to learn about real, effective methods of personal protection. Your experiences are funny, thought provoking and insightful. Keep up the great work.

10:53 AM  
Blogger AnJaka said...

Great Work!!!
this is a good link you can refer Art Collection

4:51 AM  
Blogger thrust magazine said...

Datu,
I love your site and your blog. Nice work. All the best to you and yours this September.

10:03 AM  
Blogger 2spiritseeker said...

Hey Kelly;
I was totally appalled and aghast when I saw your travel(er) wrench on BKBoteach's website. This is aggredious. I was even more shocked when I found out he wears a keepah, or yalmuke, the small cap on the head that orthodox jews wear. There seemed to be some controversy regarding Kelly's somewhat visceral reponse to all of this. I've known Kelly for a few months now via telephone and e-mail. I feel we are rapidly becoming friends and I would like to address all of this as firstly a jew, and secondly a friend of Kelly's. I don't know how and with whom Kelly grew up, his early belief system or what he struggles with on adaily basis but I do know this; Kelly is a good man, an honest man. Honesty is a basic pillar, a tenet of traditional Judiasm; it's what love is to Christianity. I'm second generation holocaust survivor; yiddish is my first language. My grandmother who lived with us, arose everyday at 5.a.m to do the brucha's(blessings and prayers. I know what goes into a life that chooses to "represent" with that head covering. You had better be serious. That you don't steal from people; their ideas/property intellectual or otherwise is a given. The rules start small. But when you as a jew go up into the sin hierchy of the ten commandments, then dude, don;'t even bother with the keepah, you're way beyond redemption at that point. It takes a lot less then stealing to be a sinner in our religion; I'll use the following example to draw a perspective.
There is a book by radio talk show host Dennis Prager that I think everyone should read. It's called "Think A Second Time" and it's a book of 44 essays about various sundry things. One chapter is called the shopkeeper law and it's from the Talmud which predates the bible. It goes something like this; If I go in your place of business and I'm not sure if I will buy from you, I can ask you questions about your products and/or services. I am them not obligated to buy from you. If however I know in advance that I will not patronize your store or place of business, then I am not allowed to ask you anything or take up your time for then I am in effect stealing from you, and that according to the great book of jewish law is a sin. It's really a beautiful law. So if that's a sin, imagine what outright stealing someone's product and/or concept is. You are not only stealing a material thing, but if you steal or copy something someone has created, you are stealing their soul. I imagine that must really piss god off. And I imagine what pisses him off even more is if you wear a yalmuke or "keepah" while doing it; if you purport to extol and practice the virtues of Judiasm and you do that, wouldn't it stand to reason that god would be doubly pissed? Remember the old cowboy movies, when a man was proven to be a coward he was required to put down his gun and not to wear it until he could prove otherwise? I think any jew who is a "ganef"(yiddish word for thief) should not even bother to put on his yalmuke. What favor would it curry with god if you are aleady breaking a major commandment "thou shalt not steal". It won't do you any good; if you do that, you effectivly forsake your religious standing. Shame on him! I'm not sure, but if his synagogue found out about what he did, the would be ousted until he made some kind of amends. Take Kelly's stuff off off your website BK, or take off your keepa---Charles Telerant, student and friend of Kelly's.

10:24 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Mr. Worden, I would like information about training with you. I have not been able to get the stated phone numbers to work. Please call me at 253-653-2780 or email me at paul@fightingarts.org Thank you.

12:52 PM  

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