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Samad "Greywolf" Raatib

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Samad "Greywolf" Raatib

Samad G. Raatib, Kyoshi

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                          My First Glance

I started my martial mrts training in 1965-66,seeing Karate for the first time I thought it was one of the best things that I had ever seen in my life. At that time better than cartoons. One of my first 10 Karate magazines was the one with Bruce Lee on the front cover, another was a guy hitting a bull, which I thought at that time was kind of crazy. These things were on the cover of Black Belt magazines of course as a child this was very exciting to me.  I remember my first Karate uniform was so stiff that I thought that it could have stood up by itself, it was'nt white but more of a beige color and at that time $10.00 was a lot to pay for a uniform. To a lot of people Karate was something very interesting and new, except for the few who were already holding the most coveted Black Belt at that time.  And to be a black belt then was something very special, and a privilege that most people did not have the luxury of getting so quickly. As I remember some of us as children were afraid to make that transition from brown belt to black belt. There was always very hard training, and very brutal even for kids, there was no playing around and taking breaks anytime you felt like it, you could'nt just walk off the floor whenever you wanted to, or talk to the Instructor as if you and he were on the same level, there was a chain of command, and it was respected by both students and parents. definitely not like it is now.

     Then a child having a black belt was almost unheard of,except for a selected few. You stayed Brown belt so long that not only did your belt look old and worn out, but the Black Belts would tease and make you so angry that you wanting to fight, that was if you could hold your ground with the black belts on the floor,  that was mainly because they were whipping your behind everyday of practice every which way but up. The Sunday workout was sometimes the worst, black belts would come from all styles, from other cities, and states  Shotokan, Goju,TaeKwon Do,Wado Ryu,Shito Ryu,Kung Fu,and a few made up styles, even back then people were starting to create their own thing whatever that was,and wearing ranks that they did not earn, it seemed to me like they came from everywhere just to fight with the underbelts,  mainly the brown belts, and all of the new blackbelts,who caught most of the hell (NEW MEAT). I quess they called it taking you to school. I called it kicking your ass until you could'nt see straight, it was kind of like seeing if you could bring a grown man, woman, boy or girl to tears.  My thought was this if they could do this to me in here, out side I was'nt about to let anybody get that close.

     As time went on I got the chance to meet a lot of the legends in the martial arts fight game just to name a few people that I had a chance to see in serveral different states like New Jersey, Baltimore, D.C., Delaware, Philadelphia, and other states in the South,the Southwest,and on the West Coast.

     One of my first Instructors was a man by the name of James Cagaliano a Tae-Kwon-Do Instructor of sorts who trained out of his garage 3 days a week he claimed to be a Fifth Degree, but what did I know I was a child then, and it looked like fun so I stayed to train with him for about a year, then I meet Mr. Ephius Davis, another Tae Kwon Do Instructor training under the tutelage of Master Bobby Graham,or so he thought, it looked more to me like he was always taking a lesson on how to get beat up, Mr. Graham was a very noted instructor at that time and to the present day, Master Graham was a Police Officer, and boy did he have some of the highest and fastest kicks I had ever seen,at the time in question Tae-Kwon-Doist trained just as hard as any other type of martial art because they were trying to show the Japanese, and Okinawan styles that the Korean martial Art was just as strong.

     Along that time in 1967,  I was introduced to Shotokan Karate  by Michael Royce Brock at that time who was a young Black Belt training at St. Peters High School in the evening on Tuesdays and Thursdays, once seeing what Shotokan Karate looked like, I wanted to train in this style. At first Michael Royce Brock woud not let me train with them because I was still with the Korean style, and the Japanese and Okinawan style Instructors did'nt really get along well at all during that period of time.  These guys were so hard on other schools that they would invite you to the class just to have you fight everyone from the worst fighter on up the line just to see if you had anything, they would let you fight one of the good fighters maybe to about green belt level 4th Kyu, if you managed to get by that ftghter then you were sure to get the very next Brown Belt who was waiting and very anixous to get to you, inwhich you did not make it pass that level of fighters, they considered themselves just as good as the Black Belts in the class some of them anyway.    But they were not the best by any chance. And trust me you would not leave in the same condition as you can in the door to work out. Sometimes people would never come back after the workout at our Dojo   Because back then it was if it did'nt work inside the dojo, it would not work in the streets. So getting your butt kicked everywhere you went was a lesson to be learned. If you did'nt have sense enough to train real hard to get better, than the guy who was literally kicking your ass for the fun of it. It was like you were the fresh meat that needed to be softened up all of the time.

     The same thing would happen at Tournaments, if you were not good at your game, you would be dog meat, and for the most part everyone knew who was just getting promoted, or new on the floor for the day. After hanging around and fighting, and fighting,and not giving up they finally allowed me to join  only because I kept coming back for every practice, getting beatup was only a small part of the training if you could not handle yourself on the floor they knew that you could not handle yourself in the streets, this was when training was very brutal, this is when I called it the punch,sweep,and stomp rule was in effect, oh and with the added attractions of a swift front, roundhouse, or side thrusting kick for measure in your chest,or face did'nt really matter where they hit you after you were down, or standing up, all the ass whipping would come the same way faster than you expected them,they looked at it this way if you were good they would just turn it up a notch on you just to see how much you would or could take. 

     It seemed to me that training would never end because it always went pass the time that training was supposed to be over, Basic, Basics, and more Basics, kicking and punching drills, self-defense, and fighting,fighting and more fighting, some people would quit after fighting with the females in the class, because they were just as brutal as the men in the class, many days people left the class with bruised bodies and busted lips, black eyes, limping and some even went to the hospital for stitches, even though some of the injuries were the fault of the fighters on the recieveing end of the techniques for not blocking or not moving out of the way, other times it was because of uneven matchups,or someone wanted to prove that he or she could take on another person, but this is the way that you learned to get better by fighting someone better than you. They figured that if what they put on you in the Dojos was tough enough, then anyone outside would have a harder time fighting you, for the most part that always works.

     The Head Instructor was a short man about 5'5" tall but very quick and  powerful his name was Willie A. Canty. He had been in the Marines, but to me he did'nt look so tough until he got on the floor with you, he would kick your can with just the basic stuff, reverse punch and a front kick, you would get swept every time you tried something, being short he would get under you if you  were a kicker, snatch you almost off your feet hit you with  a reverse punch front snapping kick, and a  ball of the foot roundhouse that made you want to curl up on the floor and quit,to add insult to the injury he would never leave you standing because he would sweep you,he would as it seemed to me pick on you everyday,  he fought all of his students that very same way, like you were not even in front of him, but I can say that this man cared about his students as if they were his own children. He would alway say to me " well you will find out one day if you keep training", find out what!, what would I find out? I thought that he would  be the one to tell me, but he would quickly say don't wait for me to give you all the answers, it's in the training, some things can be shown, explained, and taught but it's when you start to learn and develope for yourself , and find a true interest in the Arts not just because you like the teacher, but because you have a love for yourself and the martial art that you are learning. 

      He had a smoothness about him that was loved by all that he came in contact with, he would come to your rescue no matter what the situation, gang fight, drugs, police trouble,school problems, students not listening to parents, you name it, he would always talk about his friend who was missing some fingers that was one of the best Karateka around who did some of the same things that he did, he would say we always know just what you little smart guys are up to. All of the time you could always count on him finding out about your problems, or coming to correct them.but you would always pay a price for it in the Dojo,or he would take you to someone else's dojo as a testing ground.  I learned the hard way all of the time,"my all time line was "I know" no matter what you said, I would always say " yeah I know," but I soon found out that I did'nt know all that I thought I knew. I somehow thought that I was getting better because Michael Brock, we called him "Brock" ,started to train me a little harder, and this mind you was when we were, well some of us were just becoming teenagers and thought we were hot stuff, I thought that he was just using us for target practice. But i found out that everyone has their on way of teaching, and one persons way may not be just right for everyone.

      Mind you that all of the time Master Canty was keeping a eye on all of us, I had no idea that he only let Michael teach as a learning tool . He had friends that would come to the class, and work you out so hard that you would want to quit right then, but you just could'nt do it. Several of his good friends were Baba(Fred Hamilton) Ron Van Clief, George Colfield, Thomas  Carroll(Lapuppet),Karriem Allah,Bobby Graham,Master Artesi, Master Conti in Baltimore and his Avengers, and many others. I don't kow if anyone else felt this way but I thought that these guys were giants or something I always was fearful of Master Hamilton I think it was that look he had,but as I got older a lot of the Instructors ways and actions became clearer to me, after all he was friends with my Sensei so he could not have been to bad, but they were all very strange people these Karate Instructors during that time.  I can even remember going to Atlantic City with a couple of Instructors Jethroe Tickles, and a few young Black belts Like Benny "Zip" Young to watch Fred Miller and Errol Bennet fight for first place in serveral tournaments

      And others who were Masters and eventually going on to become Grandmasters,Master LaPuppett, Master Fred Miller,and his brother Chester Miller, Master Ron Van Clief, Master Kareem Allah of the KA System, Master Leon Wallace,  Master Conte, of Baltimore(The Avengers School), Master Bobby Graham, Master Earl,  Bennett,Master Jock Taylor,Master Peter Urban Master Willie Cephas, Master Ernest Hyman, Master Issac Henry and his sons,Master  Artesi, Sifu T Casel,Master Monroe, Master Buckley and a host of legendary greats to many to mention, but never forgotten.

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