Top row: Nunchaku, brass knuckle knife, push dagger. Middle row: Ninja claw, throwing starsBottom row: Balisong Philippine knife, and my favorite: a razor sharp double-edged dagger made from high impact plastic rather than metal, so you could easily sneak it aboard commercial airplanes.
A martial arts instructor who ineptly led a band of Ninjas into a late night breaking and entering that turned into a sadistic murder was sentenced to death by a Florida jury.
As I mentioned last year with a post concerning Supreme Court Justice Sotomayer during her confirmation hearings, my first extensive brush with The Media as a "source" started around the fall of 1983 when I undertook the Sisyphean task of getting a federal law passed to ban mail order martial arts weapons into states--like Massachusetts-- that had declared them illegal.
My main concern was the safety of children, who were indeed getting their naive little hands on dangerous weapons. I figured if it was happening in the bucolic, venerable Amherst schools what the hell was happening in some of the tougher inner-city urban districts?
The crusade started about this time of year as I remember one of the first follow up press releases I issued after the more urgent SOS about the easy availability of the ninja weapons--a byproduct of the karate media's fascination with the Ninja fad--was just before Halloween, warning parents not to let their children dress up as Ninjas, since the black outfits were designed to merge with the night and the last thing you want is kids going around the neighborhood invisible to traffic.
My secondary concern was the image and reputation of the martial arts industry--specifically the thousands of karate schools nationwide that were teaching the true tenets of the martial arts and exposing hundreds of thousands of children to the proper aspects and benefits the discipline offers.
Nunchakus (two billy clubs connected by a chain) and multi-pointed throwing stars had become a hot item with street gangs, and with industry leader Black Belt Magazine glorifying Ninjas on the cover about to behead an opponent with a sword, I figured it was only a matter of time before some impressionable nitwit did it for real.
Sure enough, along came California mass murdered Charles Ng (1985) a self-described "ninja warrior" who used the weapons in a most sadistic way on terrorised kidnapped victims, all while he videotaped the mayhem. And sure enough, Newsweek Magazine (back when they ruled supreme) put his haunting face on the cover with the banner headline "Karate killer!"
I hate it when history repeats itself.