Sunday, November 25, 2012


Billy Blanks surprised by a hook kick 

They say surprise is the secret to humor, or at least the Facebook meme says it, and some of them are pretty funny.  But I'm even more certain that surprise is a key component for victory in combat. 

Pearl Harbor, and our payback six months later at The Battle of Midway, Israeli liberation of hostages at Entebbe, or the unsurpassed devastation inflicted on our country that clear blue 9/11 morning, all relied on the element of surprise.

I was always known on the karate circuit as a strategic counter fighter -- letting my opponent make the first move and then catch them on the way in -- although the more derogatory term used by the blood and guts fighters was "runner".  But I could stand my ground or blitz with the best of them when necessary.

In the opening seconds of my match with Billy Blanks, fighting for the division title, I hit him with a clean quick uncharacteristically offensive hook kick, which was sort of like waving a red flag in front of an already angry bull.

So for the next few minutes I revert back to my counter offensive style and catch him a few times to the body (although the judges missed it, the sidekicks still probably hurt enough to get him thinking about protecting his body). Thus setting up the coming-full-circle final move.

The exact same kick I scored with in the opening seconds of the match.


Anonymous said...

Is that the Tae Bo guy? It was great seeing the "home movie!" How old were you then? It looks like the 80's from the announcer's glasses ... What else ya got?

Larry Kelley said...

Yep the Tae Bo king himself. This was 1983, a couple years before he founded that Tae Bo gold mine, but he was far from a starving athlete.

The frumpy woman in black standing at the far side of the ring was his "manager". She was paying him $25,000 per year to train and covered all his expenses to karate tournaments nationwide.

That year I went on to be ranked #3 in the nation and Billy came in at #4.

His manager threatened to suit the sanctioning magazine, Karate Illustrated, because he was regionally ranked #1 to my #2, but I had beaten him in head-to-head competition and later at a major "A rated" tournament in Florida, where I won my only Grand Championship.

I have a few more tournament fights, and my 15 minute segment with ABC 20/20 (also circa 1982) when they did a major national expose of dangerous martial arts weapons getting in the hands of kids via mail order.

Anonymous said...

I always try to be a gentleman on this comment page Larry... but I'm gonna say it like it is in this case; you are a bad motherfucker!
And I cannot wait to see the haters chime in on this video. I can see it now, "you're full of yourself", "you are a caveman", etc.
I find it sad that, in general, Valley men have lost, or choose to suppress in order to conform to the politically correct climate here, that we have an innate desire to to fight, defeat, and conquer an opponent, both for sport and self preservation. The prevalence of SNAGS (sensitive new age guys) in our area has served to relegate "regular guys" to the margins. I am a native of Springfield, a blue collar city, and I can tell you that this dynamic is palpable in Northampton and Amherst, though not so much in our centrist buffer, Hadley.
But I try remember that this is an anomaly, and that the vast majority of our nation is far more balanced and reasonable in terms of male identity, and this knowledge gives me the impetus to bear the slings and arrows of the lefties, and extract the elements out of this area that move me. Richard Marsh

Anonymous said...

Oh does this bring back memories or what?

As a student of Larry's for almost a decade, first at the Karate Health Fitness Center, and then later at the Amherst Athletic Club, I can definitely say...this man is competitive.

I made a casual comment that I had passed him on King Street in Noho one evening, and his quick reply was, "...No one passes me!" Of course, I was referring to passing him in my car...and yes, it was a joke, but it spoke to the very nature of the man. He doesn't like to lose.

Good memories...

Anonymous said...

This is one of the most famous Karate KO's in history. Have seen it on ESPN more than a handful of times.

Larry was a great teacher in the 90's when he was teaching Kempo with Kirik, before the gym had to get more streamlined with weights, equipment to compete with competition that all died out in just a couple years.

It's still amazing that an old school family style gym could survive 25+ years, and only closed after UMass and Amherst college both got new state of the art gyms that were free to students/faculty that likely made up over 50% of the towns gym using population.


Tom Porter said...

Larry kicks booty! BOLD!@!