Top row: Nunchakus, brass knuckle knife, push dagger
Middle row: Ninja claw, throwing stars
Bottom row: Balisong Philippine knife, and my favorite: a razor sharp double-edged dagger made from plastic rather than metal so you could easily sneak it aboard commercial airplanes.
Sotomayor on martial arts weapons
While I don’t agree with Ms. Sotomayor playing the race/gender card or her ruling upholding reverse discrimination in the Connecticut firefighter case (recently overturned by the Supreme Court) we wholeheartedly agree about Martial Arts weapons.
Back in the mid-1970’s (yeah, well before that tank ride with goofy oversized helmet) Governor Mike Dukakis signed "emergency legislation" outlawing double-edged knives, samurai swords, throwing stars, nunchakus and such because they were being used against Boston Police trying to keep order during the tumultuous busing crisis.
A very sad use of the American flag
After I first opened a Karate school in the early 1980’s we did an anonymous survey of what else could we offer to customers, and a bunch of responses craved “weapons classes”. We could tell by the handwriting they came from young children.
I then discovered lots of kids were getting their naïve little hands on dangerous mail-order martial arts weapons. Because, after all, the mail carrier does not check I.D’s. “Latchkey kids” could order anything and monitor the mailbox over the next month before Mom or Dad returned home.
The martial arts industry went from the Bruce Lee era (mid 1970’s) to the Ninja mania craze in the early 1980’s. Now it is of course the Mixed Martial Arts which has better staying power then either of the previous fads (although to this day they don’t come any better than Bruce Lee.)
Ninja’s were Japanese assassins who would kill their grandmother in her sleep if the price were right; not something you want American kids worshipping. And of course they used all sorts of nasty weapons to achieve that ignoble end.
The martial arts media hyped it because they sold advertising and magazines. And the weapons dealers loved it because they sold tons of cheap weapons.
So around 1984 in the middle of my five year run as Top Ten nationally ranked tournament karate competition (and professional writer for the national karate magazines) I started my crusade against mail-order martial weapons into states—like Massachusetts and New York—who had declared them illegal.
My theory was the Federal Government should not overrule state government especially on this public safety issue.
And precisely because of my use of the term “states rights” in a cover letter to all US Senators containing a throwing star with the tag line "illegal weapon legally enclosed" on the outside of the envelope, southern Senator Strom Thurmond (Judiciary Chair) co-sponsored legislation with northern Senator Edward Kennedy. Yikes!
At that point even a novice like me could get the Daily Hampshire Gazette, Springfield Union, Boston Globe and Boston Herald, New York Times and NY Post, and finally LA times and LA Herald (where the karate magazines were based) to do editorials supporting the Kennedy/Thurmond bill.
The Senate Bill 1363 passed the Judiciary Committee 11-1 with only Arlen Specter dissenting. Although Orrin Hatch (grilling Sotomayor on nunchakus yesterday) was a Judiciary member back then, he did not show up to vote that morning.
The bill never made it before the full Congress and thus died. But because of all the national press the industry started to police itself (using the disclaimer “will not ship to where prohibited by law” and something about only “adults” can order.)
I never wrote another word for the martial arts media; and I was blackballed on the national karate tournament circuit. A small price to pay.
The Christian Science Monitor reported (way back then):
Typical ads circa 1985 (click to enlarge)
UPDATE: Thursday 11:40 AM
AOL main page is doing an interesting "poll" about Sotomayor: So far 57% do NOT want her approved but (Question #2) 84% think she "will win" approval. Politically speaking is it a BIG enough deal (I would guess not) for those unhappy campers to vote against their Senator in the next election who approved Sotomayor.