Thread: Phil Elmore Takes On 52 Blocks
6/17/2010 11:10pm, #51
Considering that he also wrote this book, it's fair to say that Elmore has spent some long nights rolling twenty sided dice.The fool thinks himself immortal,
If he hold back from battle;
But old age will grant him no truce,
Even if spears spare him.
6/17/2010 11:15pm, #52
- Join Date
- Mar 2009
6/18/2010 7:18am, #53
Always a need for more research...
I was actually expecting Mr Elmore to be on a basketball court with Lyte duke'n it out against 52! But alas, I did not.
With no disrespect to Mr Elmore I would like to point out that there is a bit of misinformation in his thesis. Because he is unaware of a thing's precedence does not mean it does not exist. Because there are some who still cling to the idea of some knowledge remaining limited to members of the group, i.e., "I ain't teaching you ****, white boy!" is not reason to attempt to trash it as a "martial art." What makes an art "martial." Is Asia the only place that can have them? Is it our continued fascination with "Orientalism" that defines our knee-jerk reaction to anything considered "martial arts? as illegit if there is no Asia at it's roots? Or is it something more insidious and benign, rooted in our collective psyches?
Let me give you a clear historical example.
There is a scene in a 1964 Brazilian film by Carlos Diegues, Ganga Zumba (1964), here: http://mais.uol.com.br/view/60896
In the darkness of a slave hut, young man is being taught the basic movements of what would be called capoeira Angola during slavery times. The thump of the large stick was used to teach him the slow rhythm and perform the movements in Tai-chi slowness. Not many here people are aware of the early origins of Capoeira Angola or it's actual practice. So, there goes Mr Elmore's argument about the inabilty of African Captives to practice or develop fighting skills in that captivity.
In Brazil, capoeira was outlawed by federal statute in 1890 and more than 600 suspected capoeiristas were arrested by the Rio police. Capoeira had become the music of resistance and helped the young African enslaved to prepare for rebellion through the stealthy acquisition of fighting skills. It was seen as undisciplined and wild, the very antithesis of European rationality and order, and therefore threatening.
For years anything like capoeira was outlawed in Brazil and discredited as a tool of ruffians. A formal system was only created 20 years after the Lei ┴urea ("Golden Law"), adopted on May 13, 1888, the law that abolished slavery in Brazil. After 1988 Capoiera was a mythology, it was discredited orally by law enforcement and challenged by the best boxers and foreign sailors constantly. The docks of Salvador, Bahia los todos dos Santos, ran with blood because the "maladragem" (gangster) capoierista did not play.
Manuel dos Reis Machado, aka Mestre Bimba, born in 1900, started learning capoeira when he was 12 years old in Salvador while capoeira was still outlawed, the dirty fighting style of ruffians and tool of gangsters. The Brazilian government actually waged war on the capoierista. In the post slavery period capoeira was "marginalized." The black lower class was pushed to the periphery of the society, and therefore the artform that was popular among this class was also marginalized because it was practiced by the undersireable element of the community.
Capoeira remained illegal in Brazil until about 1937.
"At 18 (in 1918), Master Bimba felt that capoeira had lost all its efficacy as a martial art and an instrument of resistance, becoming a folkloric activity reduced to nine movements. It was then that Bimba started to restore movements from the traditional capoeira fights and added movements from another African fighting style called Batuque - a vicious grappling type of martial art that he learned from his father (of which his father was a champion), as well as introducing movements created by himself. This was the beginning of the development of capoeira regional."
So was capoeira a martial art before or after Bimba systematized it with the approval of the local government?
I have been this verbose to enlighten folks to how a good knowledge of history can help bring a little understanding of this subject.
Mythologies often have origins in realities. I am 57, born in Mississippi. I never heard of 52 blocks until I was about 10 starting to learn Martial Arts. But before this, as I grew up in the delta of Mississipi there was something simply called "jack." Older men would say "George got 'jacked-up'" implying that "jack" was used in the beating. Later in life I came to know a security guard born and raised in the Delta and transplanted to Chicago who claimed to be a practitioner of "jack" and showed me it's animal styles. Key to this discovery of mine is the fact that there was a community of Chinese who lived in the Delta and had been there since the building of the railroad in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and has integrated and married into the black communities. I don't have any film footage of jack, the Security Guard was always cagey about me shooting him doing it. Now he is elderly, I will ask him again.
But before this I heard about "Knockin' and Kickin'" in South Carolina. It's last master died at the age of 97 in the 1980s. K&K I have actually seen. This was before I was a filmmaker. What is not known generally is that whole plantations moved to the US from Brazil during the time of the Palmares, when Brazil was close to losing the war against a nation of quilombolos, runaway slaves lead by Ganga Zumba and then Zumbi.
In that migration to North America, the plantation owners brought along their slaves as property , thus injecting a viral presence of the early principles of capoeira into the the North America captive population.
52 Blocks even as a mythology, has some real historical basis. The real question is whether it works as a fighting system. When Bodhidharma got to China and found those lazy ass monks at the Shaolin Temple, did he make some **** up or did he bring Indian martial arts with him like, Adithada? There's a new argument for you.
Hope I did not waste too much bandwidth with this...I gotta go to work.
Last edited by floydwebb; 6/18/2010 7:25am at .