The End of the Original Karate of Japan
Hank Slomanski. I am sure you have all heard of him. Before this man entered the Karate scene, asians believed that techniques were superior to the opponents size. Well, he proved each and everyone of them 100% wrong.
In 1956 the course of Japanse Karate competitions were changed forever by a man named Hank Slomanski, who began training in Karate in 1955 at a Police station in Beppu Japan and later began training under O-Sensei Chitose, who sought him out. After only a year Hank Slomanski went on to compete in an International Karate Championship in Japan. Hank, who was one of the very first Americans to earn a Black Belt in Karate while training in Japan, was seen by the Japanese as another big, lumbering, dumb and slow competitor who would have no spirit when the fighting got tough. Which is interesting, since he started his training in Judo in 1946. Anyway, this estimation of his ability would go on to prove that old style martial arts was just plain Bullshido when compared to an American competitor.
Hank Slomanski entered the competition floor and waited his turn. The next thing that happened was the complete and utter destruction of the Japanese martial arts myth that size does not matter, because superior technique and spirit will prevail!
After Hank Slomanski bowed in for his match he began to systematically vanquish his opponents one after the other. He fought for 4-5 hours, bowing in, fighting a fresh opponent and then bowing out. He defeated each opponent by a full point, no half points. They were using a system that had no rounds and a match would end with a "ippon", full point, or two half points, regardless of time. Many of his opponents were knocked out, because a 130 pounder does not stand up so well against a 230 pound pure fighter who is in excellent condition. At the end of the first day, he was undefeated.
On the next day of the tournament, the Japanese were scrambling to find someone to beat him. They brought forth their best and biggest fighters, their cream of the crop. By the end of the second day, they had no one left, and Hank Slomanski stood undefeated, inspite of six broken ribs. In all, he had defeated 119 or 126 opponents, depending on which source you go by. He was the International Champion of Karate, and the very first American to hold that title. And before returning to the United States, he was issued his go dan certificate from O-Sensei Chitose.
The Japanese were in shambles, and it would take sometime before they recovered. The situation is best summed up by Shigeru Oyama, a student of Masutatsu Oyama, and also a fighter who had completed the 100 kumite, 100 straight wins in succession. He said, "I studied culture and technique (when I came here) because if I fight a 150-pound man in Japan and a 220-pound man here, the same technique does not work. You have to change how you generate power. Timing is everything. The power changes. I started everything over. If I hit a 220-pound guy -- I kick him in the face -- he is still standing. If I kick the 150-pound guy with the same kick, he is on the floor. My technique changed a lot when I came to the United States. The people are different -- they're big!"
In the wake of Hank Slomanski's destruction of Japan's best and foremost karate-ka, the tournament hosts decided to make major changes in the rules. From that point the rules were restructured to include eliminations, where at the end of each round half the competition would be eliminated. And, even more importantly, weight divisions were established. Hank Slomanski had brought about the end of the Japanese Karate era where a competitor could actually earn more then 100 wins.
Hank Slomanski went on to return to the United States and train students at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. He trained some very familar names as well. Danny Inosanto trained with Hank Slomanski in Chito-ryu while stationed at Ft. Campbell. Also, Elvis Presley received his first Black Belt with Hank Slomanski, and it was a true Black Belt, Elvis kept his sho-dan certificate in his wallet until his death and often sported a Chito-ryu pin on his lapel.
Hank Slomanski passed away on Easter Sunday, April 23, 2000 of pancreatic cancer. He was 71 years old and ended his life as a Reverand. After his retirement in 1966, he entered the Maranatha Eastern Orthodox Bible Seminary earning the Master of Religious Education and Doctor of Theology degree. Thereafter he was ordained as a Priest in the Eastern Orthodox Church of the East. His ministry focused on Christian counseling and Hospital Chaplainry while serving at the New Haven Memorial Church in Wilmington, N.C. and at Henrico Doctors Hospital Richmond Va. He earned a Doctor of Law degree with emphasis on Canon Law from the University of Los Angeles. He was a lifetime member of the National Chaplains Association, a charter member of the American Association of Christian Counselors and a Diplomat in the Association of Biblical Life Educators.
Look him up on the internet and remember his name. He shall forever be the man who changed the face of Asian Martial Arts.