Sunday, June 07, 2009
The Deadliest Man Alive
Today, another episode in the series of Pioneers in American Martial Arts:
Back when I first got into angry white pajamas, there were ads in the backs of comics and popular magazines for Dim Mak, the Death Touch, featuring Count Dante (John Keehan).
Keehan came out of karate, but feeling as if the ceremonial aspects of the art were too frou-frou, created his own style. Which, given that Keehan was a hairdresser, might have seemed, I dunno, ironic at the time. He also sold used cars, had a pet lion in the dojo, and is sometimes credited with masterminding a major robbery that netted millions.
Keehan changed his name, sold the Dance of Death, along with membership in the Black Dragon Society -- you got a card if you bought the course -- and did pretty well with it. As the Count -- a title he justifed by saying his parents had been royalty in Spain, but had to go underground and change their names to escape being killed in the Spanish Civil War -- he stirred the martial arts pot in Chicago where he had his school quite a bit.
At one point, Dante was arrested, along with his senior student -- the second deadliest man alive, presumably -- for rigging explosives on a rival dojo. The two deadiest men alive were apparently drunk at the time.
In the spring of 1970, Dante and some of his students went to a rival's school, the Green Dragon Society's Black Cobra Hall, and started swinging, the end result of which was that one of Dante's students was killed. Stabbed to death by somebody who apparently didn't know that a mere knife was no match for the dreaded Dim Mak ...
A second man in the fight was blinded. According to Wikipedia, Dante's subsequent activies in such dojo wars "became much more subdued ..."
Dante got off; how, I don't know.
I was training in Okinawa-te in L.A. at the time, and somebody in the class scored a copy of Dim Mak book. There was a line in it, or maybe one of the ads, that ran something like, " ... and if anybody dares to attack you, he will be sorry for the rest of his miserable, crippled, life ..."
The course was fairly silly. Still, Keehan did admit racial minorities to his school before it was common, and was a decent tournament fighter as a young man. He supposedly died from complications of a bleeding ulcer in 1975, when he was thirty-six ...
Link to a YouTube short vid here.