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  • Tong Dojo's lst 0penKarate Championships

    by ,41 Weiss

    The rvorrl rvas out long before thetournamer)t u as hdcl. Tbis event wouldbe the top one of the season. I t wouldbethe Tong Doio \ f i rst. but thatreal lydidn t nrntter. - lhe\ had l) l f t ic ipatedin: \ o n rany t o r r r r r an ren l \ l n l he pas t f ewyears, hacl f ielded so many f ine playersand produced so many great demon-strat ions (rvalking off with more tro.

    phies than an-v other doio). that theywould be assured of the necessary co-operdtion of the top senseis in thearea. And being they hacl been in somany tournantents. they had obviouslylearned, by the mistakes of others, justwha l no t t ndn . An , lDamonrnd Py th iasEDterprises were the prodtrcers. Ob.viously, they hacl learned what not todo at their f i rst tournanrent at theHilton and would not make the sanremistakes ag4n.

    Yep! The Tong Dojo's lst Open Ka-rate Championships held at \ , lanhattan

    Center on June lst was going to be thetop tournament of the season. Thegreat combr'nation of Ceorge Cofield andThomas LaPuppet would make surethat it was the best, the biggest, thegreatest. They told us that, and wehadfaith enough to believe it and evensay so in a previous issue of this maga-zine. Well, i t wasn't thebest. . . .thoughit may well have been the biggest andlongest ever held. And the mistakesothers had made In the past weremade here...only they seemed largerin size because of the great scope ofthis event. What should have beenan enormous success proved to be a greatdi salpointment.

    Oh, there were fine moments. Therewere magniffcent demonstrations bylUoses Powell, Ronald Duncan, PeterUrban, Jerry Thompson, Bob Engleand the Tong Dojo. But these momentscould have been condensedinto aperiodof about one hour, while the tourna-nrent lumbered along for over5Yzhours.

    Even the bouts, the main features ,of any toumament, were slow and un-eventful. We were sure we would havethe opportunity of seeing the best ofthe East Coast talent. Instead, exceptfor Toyotaro Miyazaki, who is alwaysa joy to watch, we saw contestantswho exhibited very little, if any, ka-rate talent. Perhaps we expected toomuch. But we can't be fully blamedfor that. Lfter all, we were led to be-lieve that it would be "too much."

    The tournament actually began onthe evening of May 23rd at a meetingheld in the Presidential Suite of theNew York Hilton, whereCeorge Co0eldand Thomas LaPuppet presentediihetournament rules to the senseis whou'ould be acting as officials. The toneof the meeting made it obvious thatthere would be no room for discussion.The top senseis were being told whatthey would have to do and were notbeing asked for their opinions or sug-gestions, Questions could be asked,but only for clarification of pointsmade. Suggestions were discouraged.

    It was emphatically stated that con-tact to the face where blood was drawnwould result in immediate disqualiff-cation. The same penalty would beimposed on anyone leaving the ringthree tr'mes in a bout. These wereperhaps the two most important pointsmade at the meeting....two pointsthat resulted in a great deal of con.troversy at the ehminations a bit oveta week later.

    The eliminatjons on June lst werescheduled to start at about 8 AM,Because the hall was not in propercondition, they had to be ddlayed acouple of hours. One sensei, who ar-

    I 5

  • rived at 7 AM, had to wait outside theCenter with contstants for well overan hour before he was allowed in. Hetold us he was refused admittance,even though he was an official.

    We arrived at 10 AM and can honestlysay that those at the door were under-whelmed to see us. We were imme-diately told we would not have thefreedom of the floor and would haveto remain either in the balcony or ina small area at'the foot of the stepsleading to the balcony. We could ob.serve and take photos from that area....no place else. If we sat down onthe step!, we couldn't view the pro-ceedings. If we stood, we were in theway of contestants movjng in and outof the eliminations. We well under-stood the reason for keeping contest-ants and senseis off the floor unlessthey were officials or actually com-peting. It was obviously done to avoidthe arguments and confusion that weusually ffnd at eliminatjons. We cannotunderstand why these restrictions wereapplied to the press.

    We are not claiming we deserve spe.cial privileges. But to do our job pro-perly, we must have the freedom toview what is happening so that wecan report it objectively. We are cer-tainly experienced enough to stay outof the rings and out of the hair ofcontestants and officials alike. Andbeing there were only three magazinespresent, we certainly would not have"mobbed" the floor. Of course, wewere assured we'd have freedom ofthe house at the tournament (whichwe did), but we were also led to be-lieve our presence at the etiminationswas undesireable. We were told, notasked, that "you really don't want towatch this mess." We definitely didwant to watch it.

    The preceeding is to explain whywe will not be able to effectively ieporton the eliminatr'ons. What we observedftom our confined area was the usualamount of rough-housing, though therewere perhaps fewer arguments becausesenseis were kept off the floor unlessthey were working. We saw AaronBanks, Rex Lee, Sgt, Donald Bohan,Chuck Merriman, Lou Lizotte, RalphChirrico, Mr. Klein, Ed Mcciath, FraDkRuiz, Albert Cotay. . .all acting as offi-cials. We saw facial contact take placewithout the promised penalty of imme-diate disqualif icatjon being imposed.There were men acting as Sgt.at-A^rmswalking around ordering people off thefloor. We question whether or not thesestringent restrictions were necessary.Could men have been kepl in l ine in aless militaristic fashion? We're inclinedto think so.

    In the lower division eliminations,l 6

    ToyotoroMiyozoki mel Gonzoles Erodford for the Grond Chompionshiptitle. He took it in "sudden deolh" period with roundhouse.

    there was a great deal of unecessarycontact. There seemed to be a greatdeal of anger....but because we wereviewing ftom a distance, we couldn'tdiscover the reasons for it. We mustadmit there were no displays of dis-respect by contestants that we couldsee....but we were told later, by menof top rank, that there was very littlerespect shown to them by the menpatrolling the floor,

    In both the green belt and brownbelt rings, we did see some fine tech.niques. . .some excel lent f ighters. Mostof there men u ire obr ioudy el iminatedbecause the talent displayed later onat the tournament left a qreat deal tobe desired.

    After two hours of watchinq from ourarea of confinement. u'e decided tol eaye . We were r ( con r l , l i s l r i ng \ e r )I l t t le.

  • II



    At I:,t5 PM, we joined the crowd infiont of Manhattan Center. Perhaps wewere naive. but we thought this touFnament would start fairly close to thescheduled2 PN{. We stood for about anhour in the middle ol this growingmassof senseis. contestants and fans. Wedidn't particularly like it, but it gaveus the opportunity to speak to somesenseis and get their reactions to theeliminations. Because we couldn't re-port for ourselves, we had lo gel theooinions or experiences of others^

    The first man we spoke to was ChuckMerriman, &h dan, who was morcthan just a bit angry. In fact, he wasfurious about something that happenedto one of his students.

    "My student, Charles Anderson, wasfiehtinq in the black belt eliminations."he told us. There were four judgesand a referee. So. ..the rules weremadebeforehand that if there was facial con-tact made and blood \^/as drawn, itwould mean automatic disqualificatronThe rule was reitterated here in frontof my student wilh a bleeding mouth.

    Thev thev turned to the other manand'eave him a warning and said ifhe hits asain he would be disqualif ied....no[ withstanding that my stu'dent is standinq there with a bloodymouth, How and wh1 he got his isimmaterial. . . .he got hit So then' hefousht asain and qol hit in the cv