Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Black Belt Magazine (late 80's/early 90's)

Good morning! Things you (or I, or my friends and family, or anyone else on the planet) didn't know I was apparently into: vintage martial arts magazines! In my never ending pursuit of Google books to loot and plunder for your entertainment, I happened across Black Belt magazine. While the publication's history stretches back into the sixties' (and some really cool graphic design of samurai-looking dudes totally destroying other samurai looking dudes in stop-motion photography), what really caught my eye was the mullet-dominated field of martial-arts-in-the-80's. Yes, we're talking your Patrick Swayze in Roadhouse, your Jean Claude Van Damme in whatever movies JCVD was in, and most importantly, Chuck Norris pre-Chuck Norris jokes. Lord, the inherent humor.

How will I sell you, the vintage lover, on martial arts training? I wish you would first off look at what brought me down this strange and twisting path in the first place:


Things I would like to point out about this picture:

  • Stevie Nicks is doing some kind of martial arts.
  • Stevie Nicks is doing some kind of martial arts with a guy who looks like an illustration by Bakshi.
  • Stevie Nicks is doing some kind of  martial arts with a guy who looks like an illustration by Bakshi WHILE WEARING FIVE INCH PLATFORM BOOTS.

I don't know what more you want from the universe. Maybe the caption "Has her limited martial arts training made her any less appealing?" Ah, yes. That actually did send it over the top (PS Stevie I love you in that way where I kind of want to be you).

When flipping through the same mid eighties' publication, and then checking out issues that went up until the nineties', I was actually bowled over by some of the seminar ads. They may LOOK like things Tony Alamo followers would leave under your windshield wipers, but if you were underwhelmed by the mystical promise of nineties' televangelists, don't lump Grand Master Young Moon Kwon into that category, because he is excitement itself!

No, seriously, take a look at the things that were taught at his March 10, 1990 seminar:

I really need you to read the first twenty or so entries here out-loud to yourself, and tell me they are not the most awesome things you have ever heart in your life. "A piece of burning red steel is broken in half with teeth...burning red charcoals are walked on barefooted...a blowing fan is stopped with one finger...two people spar behind a curtain and their shadows are visible. After the curtain is removed...the people have disappeared". Do think this guy does weddings? Because Bab and I could just skip doing a reception altogether if we got a couple cases of champagne and this guy.

In a similar vein, the hearthrobby video martial arts skills of Paul Vunak, who is pictured with hair beautifully coiffed, biceps on healthy display, and KNIFE IN HAND (sure, normal, whatever), are presented below. Paul Vunak owns the impressive website domain www.fighting.net and is still workin it, though he has not aged too well. Well, tell me how well you'd age if most of your life was murdering people with your bare hands in secluded alleys while Whitesnake plays in the background! Thought not. Check out the descriptions on these tapes:

Please also note how expensive the video cassette training tapes are. Good Lord!

Last but not least, there are these merchandise tie-in advertisements for Chuck Norris, when he was just a young dude:

Being a fan of celebrity memoirs of any kind, in this revelatory post, I'll assume you probably didn't know that I have not only Chuck Norris's The Secret of Inner Strength, but also Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder. They're both on the same shelf as Richard Simmons's Never Say Diet, and honestly, having read all three, they're pretty inspirational! What impressed me in all three of these weird memoirs were how hard the people worked, just be taken halfway seriously. Chuck Norris is fighting freakin' Bruce Lee at the peak of his career, and working with Elvis, and starting up his own production company, and he's still "just Chuck Norris" outside the martial arts community. I'm glad he at least gets a financial sense of reassurance from these authorized "Chuck Norris brand products", such as the karate suits above, and the "action jeans" below. Action Jeans. "Won't bind your legs". For when you want to dress up for a Friday night at the local honky tonk, but still might have to do some kung fu at some point to defend your Debra Winger looking girlfriend (hint: Chuck Norris, John Travolta, and Patrick Swayze are the only people on earth who have these kinds of problems).

Back to vintage stuff of an earlier era tomorrow, I just couldn't resist! Which Tae Kwon Do feat would you have most like to have seen Young Moon Kwon perform in his 1990 seminar? How proficient do you think Stevie Nicks really is in martial arts? If you're so inclined, I also found this slideshow of celebrities who practice martial arts, and some of the entries may surprise you! Robert Downey Jr?! Ed O'Neil...?! I'm too afraid of breaking my ankle/having my face kicked off to partake, but it does seem to be a kind of neat sport.

See you guys tomorrow!


  1. I'm convinced! I couldn't love this post any more than I do. I want to see that baby chicks/eggs/safety pin thing.

  2. I looked at the modern day picture of Paul Vunak! It looks like he is now the master of Taekwon-meth!

    1. Haha, mister, you're funny! (no, seriously, he looks hungry)

  3. Gratuitous Chuck Norris-related info: I had a yard sale and a guy showed up wearing a T-shirt that said "After a night of partying Chuck Norris doesn't throw up, Chuck Norris throws down!" After I lauded him on his excellent sartorial choice he bought a lace tablecloth. Which goes to show that Norris fans are comfortable both kicking ass and setting up for fine dining.

    1. The duality of man, in two perfect choices. :) I love it!



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