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Friday, April 25, 2008


Some of you may have been wondering about our recent offline experience. To clear up any misperceptions. We offer the following explanation:

On 6 October 2005 William V. Aguiar III filed a Cease and Desist order with our internet provider alleging copyright infringement. To wit, any and all references to a certain well known Chicago martial artist, his self created Hung Gar Kung Fu martial arts form, his 1966 booklet on the subject, the name of said book plus any all references to the infamous fan clubs of this individual or membership in same. Quite a lengthy complaint, complete with registered documents to substantiate his claims.

The server suspended our accounts without notification and for several days would not even tell us the name or nature of the complaint. They wanted us to fax them a notarized statement disputing these allegations so that they could cancel the account and get out from under whatever legal complications might ensue.

So, we had a meeting. Many of the Dojo crew were for taking the complainant up on his earlier offer to settle the matter by personal combat. Others argued that one could not “copyright a kata.” That would be like Jack LaLanne saying no one could do a push-up without his permission. Some said ignore him. He came in with the same whining a few years ago and we took down all references to the fan clubs. All that remained were mentions in the personal history and instruction in the Hung Gar form itself. Here he was, back again, demanding more unreasonable omissions because he simply refuses to believe that I actually learned this form, whether at a seminar or from the booklet and the fact that I could perform it within the allotted time span, or that it would have been completely lost and forgotten if not for publication in my books, was insignificant. All of these copyrights were obtained AFTER I had created an interest in the subject. Some said that he wasn’t even a real martial artist, just the son of a friend of one. That no one even liked. All wanted to duke it out in some manner or form. But I said, No.

When they asked why, I told them this:

“For twenty years I tried to get the FBI, numerous State attorneys, and Attorneys General, Congressmen, Senators and private lawyers to intercede on my behalf against copyright infringement of my intellectual property. So flagrant in fact as the chutzpah of Ethan Ellenberg to change the cover of Book of the Ninja into Ninja Training Manual and call it his own, not even notify me of any sales and keep all the royalties for himself. All to no avail. Not to mention all the people who steal and sell the PDF versions of my books on E-Bay, who will also do nothing to stop them. So, I know how much trouble the complainant went to in order just to bring this issue up. Before that, it was just “dojo politics,” one instructor arguing with another. But, because of my own experience in this regard, I am well aware of the frustration and anger involved in such a demand. And, I admire the fact that he made it farther than I did.

So, to demonstrate that we are more reasonable men than the internet trolls who have made a career of bashing me who have allied themselves with the complainant in this matter in order to further their efforts at the politics of personal destruction through their blog-o-spheres; the complainant in fact hosts such a web forum, the top of the page of which states clearly: “Yes, Ashida a whole forum set up just to bash and slam you…”; my instructions were to comply fully with the Cease and Desist order and remove every offending remark, passage, reference or suggestion that is required to do so. Simply because we asked the same of the Wikipedia slam and bash bloggers and they refuse. And WE are better men than that.

Ninjitsu is not about fighting, I have said so many times. It is about keeping the peace. If this is what the complainant thinks will make him happy, then it is my great pleasure to provide it to him and wish him the best of luck in continuing the martial arts tradition of the controversial Chicago martial artist in question and his father, who has recently passed away. Another reason for not continuing an unnecessary battle over nothing.

Meeting the this man and training in his form was one of the most exciting experiences of my life. He was an inspiration for a lot of people, myself included. It wasn't until much later that I learned he was kicked out of the USKA by Robert Trias and Jhoon Rhee; arrested for being drunk and trying to tape dynamite caps to the window of a rival Karate school; was famous for extorting money from other Dojo in Chicago at the time and was responsible for the death of his best friend in a notrious "dojo war" involving this extortion. As well as being implicated in the infamous Purolater armored car robbery. Some people thought that made him a "bad ass." Others said he was just a thug and a bully.

I told the complainant’s father that when we spoke by phone in 1995. We had only recently set up our webpage at that time and hade begun receiving e-mail from a certain “Father John Paul” of the Vatican Guard who was going to have the Pope put up the $10,000 so he could “meet my challenge.” This individual eventually morphed into a supposed student of the complainant’s father, who demanded that I appear before them and commit seppuku for daring to claim that I was in their club. (I later produced an ID Card issued and signed by the well known Chicago martial artist to prove my membership, but this item was rejected out of hand by those who had demanded to see it because some people could get them free through the mail by buying the booklet in question.) He then moved on to issuing challenges from the complainant’s father, to which I replied that surely the Grandmaster did not need someone speaking for him. Whereupon a phone number was provided and I called and spoke with said Grandmaster.

At first he was angry, but eventually he realized that I was so proud of having learned the Hung Gar form and met its creator that all I was trying to do was keep alive the tradition, in accordance with what I had been taught in that regard. I told him that I was equally honored to be speaking with him and would very much like to set up a webpage for him and help him to do the same. He declined, but we parted friends.

A few years later such a website was launched. They even stole our “history” page to make part of their package. We didn’t mind, we even tried to link to them and cooperate in promoting them. But, they were not interested. Some years later, as mentioned above, they demanded we stop using their copyrighted logo, even to indicate my quite real and official membership in that and many other martial arts organizations. We did so.

In the case of this complaint, no notification was made to us, even though they claim to have the names and addresses of all my “secret identities” and continue to publish them (the names of my friends who out of the kindness of their hearts have established DOJO Press for me so that the publishers wouldn’t get all the credit) on the web in several places so their cronies and steroid pumped up wannabes can sneak up on them and have a shot at “making a reputation for themselves” by “taking out the big dog,” even if they are not sure who it is. We informed them of an Australian punk who approached one of our authors "down under" and informed him of his intention to make the pligrimage and do just that. Didn't bother them a bit to put these lives in danger.

They have already admitted to hiring private detectives to covertly videotape my friends on their own property, which, of course, constitutes stalking. But, they still insist that somehow I am the villain because I refuse to fight them. If they had all the money they spent on the internet and attorneys and private detectives and stalkers trying to assassinate my character and person, they could just as easily pay the fee and have me get in the ring with one of them.

They claim to have the cash, But, they won’t send it to me. They claim to be MMA and UFC fighters but they can’t seem to put a match together. Not that such a contest would prove anything. First, because on any given day, any champion can be beat. That is why they have re-matches. And, those don’t settle anything either. Second, because Ninjitsu is not about fighting in the ring. It is about simple self defense.

Instead of spending two years or more bowing and paying dues and being forced to fight others in tournaments to get a Black Belt. Most people just want to be able to “get even” or “settle the score” or “protect themselves from possible future attack.”

That is why the home-made Hung Gar form was so good. It could be learned in a single day. It had all of the vital and fatal points of the human anatomy and it contained every major fist and striking technique used by most martial arts. It was a complete system in itself. But, so are many others. Not all styles have hundreds of kata. Some only have a few techniques that work most of the time for most people. Not everyone wants to break their knuckles like Mas Oyama so they can kill mad bulls with their bare hands. Not everyone is patient enough to master the intricacies of such subtle arts as Tai Chi. So, there is Ninjitsu.

The single hallmark technique is to throw sand in the opponent’s eyes and run away.

The first rule of Karate is “Martial Arts are for self defense ONLY!”

My critics, however, insist on picking fights and instigating challenges and accuse ME of not living up to martial arts standards of combat and honor by refusing to fight them.

When I began in the martial arts it was because I was little and I got beat up a lot and I didn’t like it. That was one of the reasons I learned the Hung Gar form of the well known Chicago martial artist. I found a bunch of neat ways to hurt people, but I really didn’t want to do that. Nor be hurt myself.

After a while I got pretty good and was able to hold my own against most opponents in the Dojo and tournaments we went to. But, even then, I didn’t take it as seriously as some of the other fellows. I didn’t care if I won or lost, what was important was playing the game, participating, demonstrating good sportsmanship, and so on. Lots of guys fought too hard or cried when they lost. But to me, it was just a trophy. Important, but not worth dying for, or injuring some other poor student from some other school who was also required to participate. See, back in those days, self defense was only a small part of the curriculum.

Eventually I began looking for the “one-punch” that would be able to defeat any opponent. It is a common quest among martial artists. It usually takes them away from their first art to explore other methods and styles. Most martial arts include anatomy, vital and fatal points and restraint holds. In their syllabus. Some just stress these things more than others. Often the advanced techniques are not taught until a certain level of skill and rank are reached.

When I came upon Ninjitsu, I didn’t like it at first. It was so totally different from every other art I had encountered. It was completely relaxed, required no training, and was absolutely non-violent in its technique. The practice forms were more like dancing than stomping on a battlefield. The other techniques were simple magic tricks and mental conditioning. Exactly what I said I was looking for, but it didn’t fit my “definition” then either. Because my mind was closed.

I thought all those legends of honorable Samurai facing each other on the battlefield applied to modern times. Many was the time I fought some bully and had to kick his ass because he “cheated” by kicking me in the knee or similar “dirty trick.” Since I was always hesitant to fight I was still an easy target and often “held back” and tried to “get away" instead of just punching the guy out. After he hurt me or cheated, I got fired up enough to really fight back. Lots of professional boxers are like that. Not that I consider myself in their league. Just drawing a comparison.

In fact, I had had a guy throw dirt in my face and kick my butt one time. When I protested to my teacher that this sort of thing was dishonorable and a dirty trick he just laughed in my face.

“There are no rules in a knife fight!” He exclaimed.” The other fellow is trying to kill you. And you are worried about fairness?” Never had thought of it quite like that before.

“Ninjitsu is not about fighting. It is about keeping the peace. It takes two to make a fight. If there is only one person there, then he is just practicing alone, and may yet see the folly of his ways. That is why we vanish and leave any attacker to ponder why he was even trying to strike us. For we are the most peaceful and kind hearted people of the world. Our primary law is, ‘First, do no harm.’ We are men of peace who can fight like ten tigers. But, we seek only peaceful co-existence. We are not soldiers or warriors, although we can be and the same principles of combat apply to those lifestyles as to simple self defense; because that is the nature of martial arts. Part of that is giving you the confidence to know you can fight and win every time. Sometimes this is a long process, sometimes one need only open one’s eyes. You say you had this dirty trick pulled on you?”

“Yes,” I replied meekly.

“Well, it worked didn’t it?”

I nodded.

"What more proof do you need?” he laughed again.

The clouded mind sees nothing…

Of course, my critics claim that I never studied this Art either. Against such closed minds it is always a “no-win” situation. Like the loaded question: Have you stopped beating your wife yet? If you say Yes, it implies you did beat her in the past, but have now stopped. If you say No, it implies that you are still beating her. Silence or refusal to answer is also taken as a sign of guilt. That is how the McCarhty Hearings of the fifties condemned so many innocnet people to prison and ruined their careers.

No one could live up to such a standard. If you fight, you are not living up to the true Karate is for Self Defense Only rule. If you don’t fight you are a coward. If you do not respond to the personal attacks and character assassination, you are eventually destroyed. If you do respond, especially with justified anger, you are not being “grandmasterly” enough.

The thing to remember is to be true to yourself and do what you know is right. There will always be yapping dogs, no matter what you do.

The only thing to do is to leave them alone with their misery. If you ignore them, they wear you down. If you hit them, you are a bully. If you feed them or try to be nice to them you just get bit. Any kindness is seen as weakness. But, kindness is the only true Way. Because all these other things are merely manifestations of ego, blinded by the delusion that this moment is the reality of all moments. Time and karma are the great equalizers.

But the real problem lies in trying to “define” what MY Ninjitsu “is.”

To me, it is the ONLY non-violent martial art known to man. Tai Chi may be considered almost non-violent, since it is primarily for good health and longevity and the martial applications are not specifically taught except in those schools who engage in friendly competition using the “push-hands” exercises.

There is no competition in MY Art, only cooperation. It is solely for self defense. The single technique upon which the entire system is based consists of throwing sand in the enemy’s eyes and running away. EVERY martial arts starts out telling its students that it is better to run away than to stand and fight, that only when all avenues of escape have been exhausted are you allowed to used deadly force. The, they spend about two years teaching you how to stand and fight. And give you a Black Belt whether you know anything or not. We don’t do that. In one lesson we teach you how to overcome any attacker without training or skill and run away and hide so that there is no conflict.

Feudal Ninjitsu was also based on this “keep the peace” principle. That is why the ancient Ninja assassinated the enemy warlords; so the draftee troops on both sides would not have to kill each other on the battlefield.

But, somehow, self defense does not qualify as a “true martial art” to my critics.

So, to quiet these loudmouths, in the tradition of Bruce Lee, who also met with a lot of unnecessary criticism and bigotry, I invented a “21st century martial art” called Mugei-Mumei no Jitsu. It is a Japanese phrase that means “No Name, No Art.” But, what it really MEANS is what Bruce Lee was talking about. Not to get “hung up” on names. It is MY style, whoever ME might be. Eventually all martial artists find a few techniques that work well for them and they tend to stick with those because they are proven. There is nothing wrong with that. So, no matter how many styles they might study or how long they practice a single art, eventually everyone’s style, be they neophyte or master, is a “my” style.

Of course, since Japanese is a language of infinite subtlety, these same ideograms can be translated to mean “without credentials, and not too bright.” This is in no way intended as an insult. It is simply because to be a master of the basic technique of throwing sand in the enemy’s eyes so you can run away and hide, does not require great skill or training; just a little common sense. Anyone can do it. Therefore, anyone can be a Ninja because anyone who can duplicate their famous “fight or disappear” legend, especially with their hallmark technique is qualified. And, this simple technique enables anyone to win every time against any opponent without injury to either. When you KNOW you can win, you have confidence. That is a lot of what martial arts are all about. It’s not just one thing, not just fighting in the Octagon or tournaments, not just board breaking, not just self defense, not just meditation and philosophy, not just being a soldier or a warrior, it is all those things and more. And the name, doesn’t matter.

The legendary last Grandmaster of all the “legitimate Ninja,” in Japan, Masaaki Hatsumi, recognizes this simple fact. When students approach him for grading and certification, he gladly hands them over a scroll saying they are qualified Ninja, whether they are or not. After all, how qualified must one be to execute so simple a technique? Because he knows that if they are not qualified, the certificate won’t help them. And that, if they are qualified, the certificate will not hold them back.

A lot of people think I am a fake and a fraud because I do not conform to their definition of what a “true’ martial artist should be. Either they think I am not skilled in the ring, or I refuse to accept a challenge, or I made up and stole all the techniques I have so successfully taught over the last thirty-five years and that have been welcomed and accepted by everyone I have met, except my critics. Who are themselves self-confessed well known liars who use their internet stage to discredit and demean anyone who is not in their cult of hate mongers and slimy smear tactic character assassins known in the 21st century as “bloggers.” They have gone to great lengths to spy on me. Hiring private detectives and attorneys to “track me down” so I can be “exposed”; publishing the names and addresses of my friends so they can be attacked and harassed; even filing false complaints against us so our website is taken offline to disrupt our meager commerce.

Most of this is because of jealousy. But some of it is because they, and others insist on having a “one definition fits all” world. One of their complaints about me is that “McDojos like Kim use tricks like board breaking to make themselves look impressive without really knowing anything.” This sort of statement is usually made by someone who cannot break a board and has never even been told why he should. Besides, we don’t do that. We teach you how to step out of the way andlet your opponent fall down without hitting you; or, how to creep up on him when he isn't looking and scare himto death. "Darkness is your friend...Fear is your weapon..."

That is why we call our “no name style” the Invisible Fist. Looked for it cannot be seen, listened for it cannot be heard, felt for it cannot be stopped. That way my critics can no longer make the claim that I am not a true Ninja. Because Ninjitsu was only one of the arts I have studied, and I no longer use their names, logos or terminology.

Of course, this will not stop the hate mongers or their bashing. But, it will keep the peace. Because it is the right thing to do. Namely, not stealing from me or US or anyone else. That is anti-social behavior and should not be tolerated in a civilized society. And we are civilized, we must work together for the benefit of all, because we are all on this planet together. Even though I do not feel that my attempts to keep alive the tradition of John Keehan were any sort of theft. If the complainant feels they are, that is enough.

Sometimes the needs of the Many outweigh the needs of the Few. The needs of the self elected Few have taken precedence for far too long. That is why we live in a country where the elite can flaunt the law and the peasants are taxed to death. To this problem I have a simple solution, NO MORE! Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country, and it is OUR country, not the princes'. We are not sheep who can be fleeced and eaten with no regard for the much touted "human rights" of political speeches. There is injustice here, granted these examples are somewhat personal, but all you have to do is look around to see it happening in your own lives. Let us not contribute to it ourselves. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I hope this will be a step in that direction. In every revolution there is one man with a dream, and all of us have it within us to change the world and make it a better place.

Let's start now...

I remain,
Ashida Kim