Monthly Archives: October 2012

Thor

The ears may be embarrassing right now, but just wait ’til he’s the size of a small pony!

I pulled our old Silverado up to the closed chain ink gate in Camp Verde, Arizona and read the sign:

Don’t trespass unless you can outrun a dobie who will cover the distance from the house to here in 2.5 seconds.

OK, that’s not exactly what the sign said, but the message was clear. We had found the home of Thor, the Doberman Pinscher puppy we had purchased via the Internet. I gave him his name, and so far, it looks as though it fits.

I had previously owned an Akita, but she passed away after 13 years. We were moving to Mexico, so I decided I wanted a replacement, another large dog, primarily for protection but also as a companion on my walks along the malecon beside lovely Lake Chapala.

Searching the web for a suitable puppy, when I came upon http://www.bigdobies.com, I was intrigued, especially by the “big” part of their URL. I soon learned that Suzan and Paul Baker indeed bred large dobies, pups that would grow to 30 inches at the shoulder and weigh as much as 130 pounds. I was hooked.

All went well with the Bakers. We drove from our home on the Oregon coast to Arizona to pick Thor up, then headed south. To make certain he imprinted with me, I insisted that Barbara do the driving until we got to Rio Rico, a small town about 14 miles north of the Mexican border. This gave me some crucial hours in the car to make sure our new puppy knew who was boss.

The next day I took over the wheel, convinced Thor now knew who was in charge. For three days he was subjected to the sights, sounds, and sensations (including the ubiquitous topas, Mexican speed bumps) of a typical road trip south of the border. He had company in the car, as we also have two small papillons, a male, seven-pound Beau, and a female, 14-pound Teri, as well as a two-year-old, 16-pound male schnoodle, Chico. What can I say?

The long and short of it is we arrived safely at our new hacienda. We’re still adjusting to life below the Rio Grande.

Teri has always been tormented by Chico, who constantly bites and holds onto her long, feathery tail. There is justice in this world, however, as now Chico is having to contend with Thor, who delights in glomming onto his little pal’s tail and giving it a good tug.

It’s hilarious watching the already 20-pound, ungainly Thor, sliding along on the stone-tile floors, holding on for dear life as a seriously miffed Chico drags him all over the house in an exasperated attempt to break free.

Poor Thor.

I say this because of his trimmed ears. Originally, I had opted not to have them cut, but wanting to have him look the part of a protector, I changed my mind. To ensure the ears will stay erect takes at least two months, and involves keeping each ear taped to a round post made of foam, and then looping the tape around both to hold them steady. If puppies are capable of embarrassment, Thor’s in trouble.

Somehow, on our trip south, we lost the Elastikon bandage tape the Baker’s had provided, forcing us to find another brand of elastic-adhesive tape to replace it. Turns out there’s a reason Elastikon is what savvy dobie owners use. Our replacement tape has led to an ongoing ear-taping nightmare.

Instead of leaving the ears wrapped for five days, with a two-hour air-circulating reprieve sandwiched in, we have to re-tape the ears daily, because Thor scratches the bandages to the point they look like earring balls. I’m I worried we’ll get to the point where we feel so sorry for him (not to mention our own frustration), we’ll give up on the whole ear thing.

So if in future you happen to run into Thor, and notice his narrow, pointed (because of the cutting), limp ears you’ll know why he looks so pathetic.

But please don’t laugh or tease him about it. Remember, floppy ears or no, he’ll be the size of a small pony, and can cover 50 yards of ground in 2.5 seconds!

Kenpō (or Go-Shinjutsu)

 

The Mike Montego series takes place in the early 1960s. Mike is a highly skilled kenpō martial artist. Not an unusual feat today, but a half-century ago, the cross-cultural (Ryukyuan, Chinese, and Japanese) self-defense system was relatively unheard of in the United States.

In the U.S., kenpō is often referred to as kenpo karate. The most widespread styles have their origins in the teachings of Great Grand Master James Mitose, who learned the kenpo art in Japan from his grandfather, Sakuhi Yoshida, and Professor William Kwai Sun Chow.

Professor “Willie” Chow trained in “kenpo jiu-jitsu” under Mitose. However, Chow called it Go-Shinjutsu, sometimes spelled Go-Shinjitsu.

The American east coast features a branch of kenpo created by Nick Cerio, and later built upon and redefined by Fredrick J. Villari. who brought the hybrid art of shaolin kempo karate to the general public through his nationwide network of “Villari’s Martial Arts Centers.” The Villari system integrated the strengths of American kenpo with the larger scope of movement and grappling available in shaolin kung fu and chin na, to create a highly unique American kenpo offshoot system.

Kenpo karate is, therefore, a distinct form of kenpo, although its techniques are virtually indistinguishable from Mitose’s kenpo jui-jitsu. The difference is mostly in the katas, or training routines. There were no katas in Chow’s kenpo karate, while kenpo jiu-jitsu has four katas: Nihanchi 1 and 2, the Bear Kata, and the Old Man Kata.

In the Montego series, Mike practices an Okinawan form of kenpō that focuses on empty handed/open-handed striking. His teacher, Yoshi Kono, a fictional Japanese master, learned the skill in his native Okinawa.

Mike Montego’s stories parallel the time when Edmund K. Parker, a student of Chow, was employing a blend of Chinese circular movements and hard linear movements to produce an effective self-defense system. He created techniques with names such as Thundering Hammers, Five Swords, Prance of the Tiger, and Flashing Mace to provide a memorization tool to his students.

Ed Parker, in early 1962, changed the style he had been teaching since 1956 in his “Kenpo Karate” studio in Pasadena, and renamed it “Chinese Kenpo,” dropping “karate” from the name of his system, even though he continued to issue belt certificates under the Kenpo Karate Association of America (KKAA), an organization he founded.

The practice by others of this distinct form of martial arts is not mentioned in the Mike Montego series for literary purposes.

For more information on kenpo, see Wikipedia, where one can find Will Tracy’s “The Origin of Kenpo Karate,” a fascinating history .

Run for it!

A participant in the LAPD’s Challenge Cup, Baker to Vegas Relay

 

NOTE FROM JESS WAID: Sergeant Alex Shearer, a good friend, now deceased, is the man the character Alex Strait is based on in my Mike Montego novels.

 Alex, who truly liked being called “Uncle Alex,” was a member of the LAPD’s long-distance running team that ran relays across the nation.

 In a letter to me dated March 22, 1994, Alex wrote the following:

 

It was early afternoon and I was getting ready for my leg when a squad car with three local deputies drove up. I soon learned that one of the deputies was going to “run a ways with me.”

         Now you know how I hate these unscheduled running partners, so I walked over to him. Bob Hickey was probably only 15 minutes away.

         The deputy was in full uniform, complete with Sam Brown and Smokey the Bear hat.

         I asked him, “You going to run with me?”

         “Yup.”

         “You going to wear that hat?”

         “Yup.”

         “What about the gun belt and gun?”

         “Yup.”

         My pissed-off point went up a notch or two.

         “You are going to change those cowboy boots, aren’t you?”

         “Nope.”

         That did it. This guy would rue the day he met me. He was about to undergo exquisite punishment.

         As Hickey and I made the baton exchange, I cranked along fast enough to let my fellow runner know that he had made a grievous error, but not fast enough to make him drop out.

         After a few hundred yards, my struggling companion removed his hat and threw it in the following squad car.

         I chuckled.

         A hundred yards farther on, off came the gun and gun belt.

         My floundering companion could not stop long enough to remove his cowboy boots. It must have been pure agony for him.

         I loved it!

         As we approached the town I decided the deputy had learned the folly of his ways and was ready to put it in gear and leave him to his blisters and misery.

         Starting to sprint off, I looked ahead and spied a fairly large number of the population had gathered along the street to watch. I figured they had come out to watch one of their locals run through town with a runner from the Big City.

         I don’t know whether it was because he was a fellow police officer, or I didn’t want to humiliate him in front of his fellow citizens, but I decided to drop back.

         We ran through the town together.

         Upon leaving the town folks behind us, he dropped off.

         I’ll never forget his last words, “Thanks for cutting me some slack.”

         I finished my leg with a good feeling. But I would probably have felt better if I had punished him a bit more.

         What nerve running with me in that outfit!