3/02/2010 3:23pm, #761
If I can figure out how to do it, I will post the vids of abbate kicking the crap out of his guys at that demoWhen You absolutely have to hide a body...try Alaska.
3/02/2010 3:45pm, #762
3/02/2010 4:24pm, #763
5/16/2010 8:41pm, #764
- Join Date
- May 2009
- PT/considering harakiri
What a shame I'm late to the party....I found this by accident, I trained with Abbate. Corniness to the extreme, when you get a black sash they give you a supposed Chinese name which I'm sure would get puzzled looks from the average native speaker. Looking back I wish I had gone to jiu-jitsu instead and not wasted all that money on well, B.S. I never was kicked or hit while doing warm ups but I remember taking a few good shots during sparring class. I trained in the mid 90's I guess they toned things down, I remember so many of the students being the biggest LARPING douches in the world. Classic stuff this thread was a real pisser so glad you guys do what you do!
7/26/2016 1:56pm, #765
- Join Date
- Dec 2007
- northern shaolin
It's been years since I was on this site. I'm not sure why I took a look again, but I found your thread. We must have known each other. Thanks for setting the record straight.
It's good to know that someone out there had some real training also.
These people just haven't been exposed to that level of training, and think it wont work, or has no point.
I feel sorry for them.
They probably wouldn't have lasted for more then a month anyway.
You mean Tsai, right?
From Kung Fu Magazine Forums http://ezine.kungfumagazine.com/foru...d.php?p=740382
and note that the instructor broke larry's nose when he was maybe 14!
larryc larryc is offline
Join Date: Mar 2007
Cobra Kai, Steve Abbate, Gangi
I see this thread and I can clarify a few things for some of you, since I trained with these guys and knew them pretty well years ago. Keep in mind, they might have changed over the years and I am recounting a period from the mid 1970's to the late 1980's.
First and foremost, both Abbate and Gangi deserve respect.
Abbate and Gangi did not train together. They happen to have co-existed long enough in the Chicago area to become acquaintances and probably friends, but they did not learn together, they do not train together (that I am aware of), and what they teach/practice are miles apart from each other.
John Tsai is who Abbate has regarded as his master or teacher over the years, but I think Abbate's training started in his childhood before he met Tsai- I think Abbate boxed in the Boy's Club and studied TKD or karate as a youth. Gangi did not train with Tsai.
Starting with Steve Abbate. First, this guy is a veteran of the Vietnam War and, like all veterans including our men and women fighting in Iraq, he deserves the utmost respect for voluntarily risking his life and suffering physical and emotional hardship. There are newspapers columns - maybe Chicago Sun Times or Tribune- no problem verifying truthfulness here- he served in the Marine Corps and was awared at least one Purple Heart and, I believe, the Silver Star. He had a brother, Richard I think, who was killed in action and whose name is on the Wall in Washington, DC- saw it on on the Wall with my own eyes.
I can understand some of the cynical reactions that I read from some of your posts in this thread. I realize both Abbate and Gangi do not reflect the humble, monk-like images we form of traditional martial arts masters. And they wear flashy uniforms with bright colors and sinister logos, and they claim to have ranks in obscurely named styles etc. So you think maybe they made this stuff up and awarded themselves ranks, like some people do, don't you? I don't blame you for thinking that if you never met them, but read on.
The first time I saw Abbate was around 1974 or 1975, when I just started karate (my teachers learned Okinawan Kempo from Eizo Shimabuku while serving in the US military and being stationed in Okinawa- i.e., Shobayashi Ryu or Shorin Ryu). Abbate came as a guest to spar with a guy in our school who was testing for black belt. What a show-- I was nine years old and I remember it like yesterday. A few years later, after my school closed so my instructor could become a full time attorney, my brothers and I joined the famous "Cobra Kai" in Palatine IL, run by Steve Abbate.
Abbate's classes were designed for one purpose: to teach you how to kill or maim someone who is trying to kill or maim you. Period. He was not trying to teach you how to win point tournaments, how to kickbox, or how to recite art history of Asian culture and to kneel or serve tea properly in accordance with tradition. If you are interested in that, and I respect you if you are, or if you care about having the right number of pleat folds in your uniform, join the JKA shotokan club or take Aikido.
Cobra Kai was extremely intense and violent and there were many injuries. We did not learn or practice forms, we did not spend much time executing basics or combinations, Abbate did not correct students' form/posture etc. Instead, it was a brutally fast-paced session of conditioning, HARD contact self-defense drills of attacking/responding in flurries and finishing almost always with hair-pull take-downs-- on a concrete floor. No pads. Just pain and occasional blood. My brothers and I had good technique from the karate training, but his students lacked in technique except for the more experienced guys who learned by doing enough repetitions and mimicking off visual clues. There was some "sparring"- basically full-contact with "kempo" gloves- wearing your gym shoes, forget foot padding. At one point he introduced headgear which did not prevent noses, lips and ribs from getting crushed. Had my brothers and I not been well-trained in sparring, and had we not been robust teenagers so that we could avoid injury against his students, we might not have lasted. And make no mistake, we could beat some of his guys in "sparring"- but a real fight is a much different deal. Cobra Kai guys were plain dangerous, so just because you could handle one in a sparring session-- even a crazy sparring session - it does not mean you would defeat one for real.
Abbate was(probably still is) an absolutely ferocious fighter. He stands about 5'7" and is thickly built, but he moves like a bolt of lightening. He attacks with rapid-fire flurries of hand strikes that you honest-to-goodnessly cannot see with your eyes. You just hear the sound of flesh being rapidly and repeatedly hammered in staccatto fashion. On a number of occasions I've seen him chop apart much larger and stronger men- and not just his students. His sparring and his self-defense drills blur without much distinction. He was really into iron palm and in class when he would block your arm or "tap" you with a strike it truly felt like a rock hitting you. I think there is something to that iron palm training.
Conditioning was crazy...probably illegal nowadays. He would line us up in horse-stances with our hands behind our backs and side thrust kick us to the ground telling us to tighten up and yell. We had iron palm and large piece of telephone pole that we had to strike bare-handed. He stood with his face a few inches from it to make sure you hit it hard. Sometimes we had to lift the telephone pole as a group and carry it or bench press it etc. He did not tolerate slackers. His barking and insane look in his eyes made you push out those last few pushups, leg lifts etc when you would otherwise want to quit. He would swing a sword as we ran laps and you had to jump the sword-- he made it higher with each lap. We stomped across each other's abs while the other person was lying down. We did self defense only with real knive and real sawed off pieces of steel pipe. And people got real lacerations and had real stitches. Class was stressful and nerve racking- like being in a fight for 2 1/2 hours five days per week. You never knew what was going to happen each class, but you expected pain and possible injury. Saturdays were special--- long runs outside, up a hill. Those of us who stayed were addicts - probably addicted to the overwhelming confidence you would feel walking out of the school. Despite his physical demands on us, he was an affectionate and fatherly personality, very charismatic. He was a great motivator and coach. We would follow this man into battle if he asked.
Abbate himself was most certainly trained in a more formal style of kung fu than he was teaching us. He would do beautiful forms at demonstrations or in tournaments, but never once taught them to us. I used to think he was holding out on us. But, in reality, he was intentionally running a SELF-DEFENSE and CONDITIONING class. And he most effectively achieved his goal. Anyone who lasted a month or more would definitely be able to defend himself in a real situation. No- you would not do well in a point tournament, kickboxing match or a forms/kata competition. And you deservedly could not claim to be trained in any recognizable system of kung fu. But Abbate definitely was.
(continued in next post)
Join Date: Mar 2007
Abbate and Gangi continued
Master John Tsai would occasionally visit Abbate's school and we got to learn snippets of self-defense from him. Tsai was incredibly fast with his hand strikes and his kicks. He could hit you before you could blink. He seems thin in profile but the guy appeared to be rippled like Bruce Lee and I have no doubt his is/was a well-conditioned and skillful fighter. I truly doubt Abbate would pay deference to him or compliment him in any way if that were not the case. So Tsai is most likely for real. I see on Tsai's website that Tsai's son, "Johnny", is running Tsai's old school. I don't know Johnny, but if he trained with and hung around with guys like his dad, Abbate, LeBron and others-- I think Johnny is another person you should have tons of respect for.
Like some of you, I also think Abbate was the inspiration for the Cobra Kai character in "Karate Kid"- only the movie watered down the character so much- made him seem like a creampuff compared to the real Abbate. Maybe nobody would believe such a guy exists so the movie had to lighten him up.
I lasted at Cobra Kai for less than two years before I got a fractured nose that needed surgery (Abbate himself palm-striked me at my blue sash test). He apologized and felt bad, and I eventually accepted it. In fact, a few years later when I was 16 he hosted my Okinawan Kempo black belt test at his school. Of course that meant that I had to "spar"with him. I did well, though like I said earlier, if it were a real fight that would be different. In the next few years I then started to show up at his school occasionally as a guest to spar with his students. I credit him with inspiring me with the intensity and rage to train and condition like a freakish animal preparing for a world title fight, and with instilling large amounts of confidence in myself. Think about it-- those are valuable characteristics and they are hard to cultivate in people. But he could do it.
So- in a nutshell: Abbate is for real, he is skilled in formal kung fu as taught by Tsai, and nobody, under any circumstances, should insult this man.
Both Abbate and Gangi are trained and skilled in more formal styles than what they were teaching when I knew them. For whatever reasons, they deliberately chose to teach the way they did and it is obvious that they achieved their own successes...
....I personally have spent the last 15 years doing nothing but kata, makiwara, and conditioning 5 days per week. I also had the good fortune of learning the Yang style Taiji form about 8 years ago and I still practice it daily. I am currently in contact with my Wushu master about more Taiji lessons. That type of training works for me and, combined with conditioning and makiwara, should adequately provide a self-defense capability. And I haven't had any bleeding or broken bones in a long time. I cannot stress the makiwara enough-- perhaps a more experienced Gongfu practitioner can comment regarding whether or not there is a Chinese equivalent to Okinwan makiwara training. I would appreciate the education.
I heard Abbate was sick and I sent a card to him and my friend contacted him. I live out of state, so it's hard to get around to visiting him. I will sometime say hello to him again and maybe let him know some web bloggers were curious about him. While serving in the Vietnam War he was involved in a particularly hairy event that left him hospitalized. The articles I read about it and his re-telling of it indicate he had to engage in hand-to-hand combat. He said that while laying in his hospital bed he made a decision to teach to others the same skills that saved his life that day. He made good on his promise. He was not selfish-- he did not run a commercially appealing school that drew dozens of students to keep him in the money. He had only a few students willing to stick it out and he had a regular day job to pay the bills. Cobra Kai was not about money for him--- it was about sharing this life-saving gift. Some of us learned not just to fight, but to be confident and hard-working. Don't believe negative things about this man. He's a war hero and a giving teacher.
7/26/2016 2:37pm, #766
7/26/2016 7:48pm, #767As a beginner we would do knucle push ups, and he was kicking us in the face.There were many times I would go home with lace marks on my face, and loved every minute of it.
Here's a novel idea: Maybe he should've just let you finish your push-ups so you could've gotten the full benefit of the exercise, and then waited until sparring so he could've kicked you with some degree of actual force.
7/26/2016 8:03pm, #768
I'm always really skeptical when people talk about their "oldschool, hardcore" TMA training.