By AIDAN TRIMBLE
Dave Hazard Interview Part 2 of 3 – Traditional Karate Vol 6, Num 1, September 1992
Vol 5, Num 12, August 1992
Following on from last month Dave Hazard continues about the time he was a bodyguard to a Saudi Prince in Houston, Texas.
TRADITIONAL KARATE: Did you ever get any hassle over there, i.e. did you have to use your superior command of English again?
DH: A couple of times he would hire a nightclub, or an area of a nightclub, for him and his entourage.
TK: You had to go before and check security?
DH: Yes, in the beginning we would find out about the nightclubs. We would then inform them that he would like to come and could we check it out and could they show us around and what type of facilities did they have and would they be able to provide him with enough room for his entourage in a little area to be cordoned off or whatever. The cost was then negotiated, so that would be sorted before we went.
Everything would be ready for when he turned up, there would be no waiting at the door, no problems with finding tables. They would know how many people would be there and that was it. Sometimes we took a party of twenty and other times it would just be four or five people.
You made sure you were at a table near to them and that you were situated in the right area and that you could see what was going on. If they wanted to go onto the dance floor, you let them, you didn’t walk along and stand behind him all the time. It was quite relaxed in that sense, he did want you around and things had to be sorted, if needs be.
TK: Did you have any problems? I mean, I’ve met some Texans and they’re big beggars!
DH: Yes! A couple of bits and pieces, you have to bite your lip every now and again.
TK: Do you alter your techniques when you fight a big guy, as opposed to fighting someone your size? If so, what sort of techniques did you alter?
DH: I’m fond of any technique I can hit them with, whatever is available at the time. Even if they are 7’6”, their crotch is normally a good chudan. If I can slap them first, that’s my initial contact, either spit or slap. It gives you time to put your big ones in. I normally keep it pretty simple. One problem I did have was when I found a place to train. It was called the ‘Blackbelt Academy’ (!) and was run by a Gary Lee. He was a Hawaiian with typical American patter but he was a tough old nut.
He was Kempo trained, and very good. I ended up teaching there for a while and he asked me to do a demonstration with him, a traditional Kata, and perhaps apply it with one of his students. I said “Yes, great!”.
Little did I know, when I went with him, it was a bar. It wasn’t just a bar; it was one of those places where they do mud wrestling, women fighting anyone who wants to get in the ring and have a scrap.
We were to go along and do the martial arts and a little wood breaking. I did my Kata. My bit done, I was off to the changing room and I left him there, not knowing what was going on or what he was doing.
He puts some gloves on and does some exhibition sparring, kicking and punching with one of his students. When that ends, he turns around and says “OK, we are going to have a five minute break before the second half of the demonstration. In the meantime any of you lads that want to come in and do a little bit of sparring with me, we will do a little bit!” (He was game to take on all comers!).
Now remember, I know none of this is going on. He gets out of the ring and comes into the changing room for a drink. I’m getting changed and digging around in my bag, the changing room is a little narrow passageway to a bigger room. I’m by the edge of the passageway, all of a sudden the door has opened, and in comes one big Texan, a good six foot plus. He walks towards me and says, “Ok, which one of you I got to fight?”.
I’m thinking he’s come to knock us around, so I’ve lifted my head up out of my bag and Bang! I’ve hit him, dropping him. Gary Lee is on my neck, going “What are you doing?” I said “Well, you heard him, I was the nearest to him and I was the first one that was gonna get it, so I thought rather than get it, give it!”
Gary said “No! I’ve just invited them, if they wanted to do some sparring to come and tell me in the changing room!”
All hell let loose once the Texan came round, because he had two mates at the bar that were bigger than he was and they all had guns. Gary had paid me for doing the demonstration and it cost me that and again, buying drinks all night to stop them from shooting me! It ended up a giggle, but it wasn’t that at first because the Texan had a few nasty lumps on his face. I could have been in a bit of trouble there, because what they were going to hit me with, I couldn’t block!
TK: I remember when you first went there, there was someone who came around who was quite a handy full-contact fighter?
DH: It was Gary Lee’s place, and he said he had this guy that comes and trains with him sometimes. He goes around the State training and he is the Middle Weight Full-Contact Champion. I went “Oh, great!”. I went down there to train one day and he was there. He said “I hear you’re Mr Hazard, pleased to meet you!”. Then he told me he was a fourth degree black belt and asked me if I wanted to do some sparring. I said “Yes, OK if you want to.” He starts putting his gear on and I was there in my Gi bottoms and he was going to start working on the bag. He told me “You better get your equipment on!” I said “I’m wearing it!”.
He had a headguard on, the gloves, the shin pads, the lot. He remarked something like “You are going to get the s**t knocked out of you then!”. He obviously thought I was in trouble, insinuating because I had nothing to protect me. I said “I will do a deal with you. I won’t wear anything to protect me but I won’t wear anything on my hands or feet either.” That pleased him enough and he said he didn’t care. Gary said “Yeah, OK!” This man’s done a little warm up, then the bell went. For the first twenty, twenty-five seconds all I’ve done is cover to see what he had. He was a very weighty kicker, very heavy. The punches were mostly hooks, and decent. He caught me a couple of nice clips on the top of the head because I couldn’t quite get away.
Once I had seen what he had (and I planned to cheat like hell, especially due to his attitude) I wanted to make sure it’s right. Anyway, after he had done a couple of techniques, I kicked him in the groin, punched him, elbowed him, butted him, dropped him and bit his ear, then choked him. Well, he just
freaked with the biting of the ear! Gary Lee went crazy, jumped up and tried to pull me off him, shouting “What the f*** are you doing?!”
I’ve said “What?” and Gary says “You’re not allowed to kick in the groin, you should have agreed on this at the beginning. You definitely don’t bite them and you’re choking him, this is not a street fight!”.
“Well, what’s full contact then?” I’ve asked. He said, that’s different. I said “Well, at the dojo I train at, full contact means anything, any target and any technique until one touches the other for ‘Yame’, you give up or you have knocked them out!” Gary’s gone “Sh**, that’s how you do it in your country?” “Yes” I said knowing it’s a wind up, “That’s what I thought full contact was, is that not what you do over here?”
TK: Did the other guy speak to you after the fight?
DH: No, he thought I was an animal! He didn’t want to know.
TK: Some people are so touchy! Did you ever do any of that kind of work again, the bodyguard thing?
DH: No, not really.
TK: Dave, what advise can you give to students, i.e. technically. Is there any common fault which you have noticed on your travels, which you may be able to shed light on?
DH: Well, I have noticed regarding kicking. Side kicks and roundhouse kicks, or reverse roundhouse kicks, don’t come from the side of the body. You see a lot of young kids do this and a lot of very supple people, they keep their foot dead square and kick totally from the side of their bodies. I think that it is a great talent, but it’s detrimental to their physical health, and it is a bad kick. You’re using your joints, so you are not letting the power. You have to turn, so you have muscle use, using muscles and not joints.
TK: So it’s the mechanics of the kicks which are important?
DH: That’s right. They are always thinking of the kicking leg instead of the supporting leg and how their hips should be.
TK: Don’t you think that’s why a lot of people get problems with their knees?
DH: Yes, because they kick wrong.
TK: I often get students that try and do mawashi geri with their foot which is supporting, facing forward.
DH: Then they wonder why their cartilage is gone after a couple of years. It’s one of these things which will not affect you on the first hundred kicks, maybe not on the first thousand, but after two or three thousand you are going to ruin something. It will catch up, as it has a cumulative effect, then all of a sudden you have a cartilage gone, trouble with your tendons, your hip joints are giving you hell
and your lower back. A lot of people have problems with their lower back because they hunch into mai geri.
TK: Don’t you find that it is also a problem, as a result of always taught in basics to lock the back leg. I see a lot of seniors that still have the back leg locked straight in training and it does not really suit your back at all.
DH: No! On impact you should thrust from the back heel. I teach beginners to get their back legs straight but as they get more senior, to keep that knee fairly relaxed especially on blocking.
TK: What about keeping the support leg bent, when you are kicking, do you think that is important?
DH: It’s a must! The lower you keep that supporting leg then the more power there is and the more stable the kick.
TK: A lot of people have trouble understanding this.
DH: If you have the supporting leg straight, it impedes the other leg. A doctor will tell you if you want to lift anything up, lift with your legs bent. It is the same with kicking. The supporting leg is more important than the actual kicking leg because without that supporting leg in the right place you are not going to get any more power and you are not going to do any damage to anyone but yourself.
TK: Dave, what do you think are Karate’s strengths and weaknesses when using it in the street?
DH: I think most karateka would be ineffective. They are not in the situation where they are getting knocked around enough to really understand what it’s like to be in a situation, a proper conflict. They are wide open, I’m talking in general here. They would not be used to the people they are fighting, the techniques they would be attacked with would be very unorthodox, therefore they would be confused. You see they practice against a karateka who is doing techniques far more dangerous and far more powerful than how most people would attack them in the street but it is a controlled environment.
Very few karateka get attacked outside by another karateka, we just don’t do that in general. Most karateka don’t fight outside, when they are attacked outside they are attacked by a person who may fight regularly on the street and knows his stuff, or someone in a rage who will do something really unorthodox, big swinging hooks and lashing kicks which are more like a football kick than a karate kick. They are just not equipped.
TK: I have seen you on your courses often doing techniques which are designed for that type of attack, wild punches and the football type of kick. Do you think that this is something that is missing in a lot of dojos?
TK: Do you think it is because people can’t be bothered, or are they just not sure how to deal with it?
DH: No, it’s different attitudes, a lot of people who practice karate just want to do karate for the callisthenic movement, or as a hobby, or to give them a little bit of self confidence, keep fit and healthy.
The reasons I do these sort of things on my courses, is to make people aware. You can’t unless you’re in that type of training situation.
TK: When did you move down to Brighton?
DH: Seven years ago.
TK: And you took over a dojo run by someone else down there?
DH: Yes, it was run by four instructors, Will Davies, Paul Bonnet, Greg Wedekind and John Cave. The dojo had been there a long time, eighteen years now. It’s a very powerful club. I used to go and visit there. I said I was moving out of London and I was going to try and find somewhere along the coast and open a dojo for SEKU. Note: At that time, the South of England Karate Union, now Shotokan England Karate Union.
TK: Was that the same time that you got involved with SEKU?
DH: No, I had been involved with SEKU for a long time before that but I realised to get closer to the workload it was time for me to move out of London. When they heard about it they said would you consider taking over this club, which was a lovely surprise and good for me to walk into a ready made dojo without having to start will all the bits and pieces I had done so many times before with different dojos I had been involved in with Enoeda Sensei.
They gave me a few things they wanted done and I told them what I wanted out of the club and how I would like it run. They said ‘great’ and that’s it. I’ve given them my best and they’ve given me their best and I’m very happy.
TK: What is your position in SEKU?
DH: I’m the Technical Director.
TK: What about your involvement with SEKU?
DH: I was involved with SEKU even before it started in a way. Mick Dewey and Mervyn O’Donnell, his brother-in-law, started SEKU about ten years ago. I used to go and teach there even before they started SEKU and Mick has always been a close friend. We started our relationship knocking lumps off each other, trying to get into the Southern Region Squad and then the British Squad and then we would meet at regional competitions. We always ended up fighting each other along the line. We built up a very close relationship; we made the All Styles England Team on the same day – stuff like that.
Part 3: October ‘92. In the next and final instalment of this interview, Dave talks amongst other things about the split in the JKA plus much more – don’t miss it!
Part 1 – Living in the hornet’s nest
Part 2 – Surviving in America
Part 3 – Preserving the Future