ED MCGRATH'S SCHOOL OF TRADITIONAL ISSHIN-RYU
The Official History
Karate in America
Al Weiss & David Weiss
This book is especially heart warming for me, since that was not only my era of prominence, but I was honored to be a close friend of Mr. Al Weiss. Many years ago, I met a gentleman, and I use that appellation with the most sincerity, named John Kuhl, an enormous bear of a man. He had been an actor in Germany, before coming to the United States, by way of Canada. He was tending bar at a German Saloon and Restaurant on Twenty Third Street, in Manhattan. He sat me down amongst a group of detectives, who were undercover from what was called the Loft and Burglary Squad. With my bent toward Conservatism, we were absolute friends within two glasses of German beer. After they finished lunch and left, John and I started to talk and both of us knew more about each other than our parents did, within an hour. When he mentioned that he was a martial artist, we really got into it. He suggested that I should meet him the following day at an uptown bar, called The Triple Inn and a domino effect took over, for this is where Al Weiss, Aaron Banks, John and a gentleman who played the mean crime boss in every movie made at that time. We played darts and talked karate. Weiss was excited to meet any Sensei in karate, no less, one who was called, “The Voice of Karate,” and had students who won Championships. The next thing I knew, I was the Cover story his second issue of Karate Illustrated Magazine. Through Al I got to meet Herman Petras, who would interview me for the story and Joe Griffith, who was not only a great photographer, but became a close and trusted friend. I actually had the gall to tell them that they should feature Sensei Nagle in the issue after mine and they agreed. We became a sort of club, which met once a week or twice on a good week. We discussed every karate-ka in America and the manner in which they fought. Soon afterward, when the magazine had really found itself and became the martial arts magazine for the East Coast, they instituted a segment called, “Out of the Dojo & Into the Street.” They set up mugging situations and we showed the techniques to get out of the situation. I did several of these and in one, I was in a cocktail lounge, at a table with Edie Adams, the wife of a really popular comedian, on television. She was a blond bombshell. She happened to walk into the Lounge and when I saw her, I talked her into sitting at the table, when several of my guys annoyed her and threatened me. When one of them put his hand on her shoulder I went into action, with Joe Griffith snapping away. I threw a round house kick across the table taking him out, back fisted the one behind me and then faced off with the last two, finishing the fight. Then we all had a little refreshment together and drove home. You will also find a spread on my favorite fighting technique in the book.
The number of pictures and thinking back to those days, while looking at Chuck Norris, as a very young man and seeing all of the people whose matches I called blow by blow Sipper Mullins, Alan Steen, Joe Lewis, Tom LaPuppet a.k.a. Tom Carrol, a Marine Sgt. who served in my outfit, Monster Man Eddy, Louis Delgado, “Hawk” Frasier and Toyataro Miyazaki, along with the many Sensei's and Masters like Don Nagle, Peter Urban, S. Henry Cho, Fred Hamilton, Gary Alexander. As they say, “those were the days.”
As the magazine matured, they had karate-ka across the width and breadth of America, turned photographic writers, send in material on just about any event in the United States. It is all in a myriad of pictures and comments on the action, seen in the pictures, as well as identifying the participants. It is a veritable hall of wham from cover to cover. The illustrations are backed up with commentary from Al Weiss, some whimsical, some down right funny, some critical, as the scene evolved into a look at me carnival. But in everything he writes and the people he describes, you can almost feel the love that he felt for all of us, who were doing our thing, not for money but because it was our art.
This book is a “Must Have on The Shelf,” for all martial artists. For the Old Timers, like myself, it is a walk down memory lane and if we are looking at it with a buddy from that time, it’s an “Oh look at that, its so and so.” If your among the fighters of today, look at the book and see how we set things up for you, so that you had a million dojos to pick from. But remember, pick with knowledge and facts about the dojo, so that you don’t make a mistake, because in the pictures of the matches, there is a winner and a loser in that ring. Pick the Sensei who teaches with devotion and caring for their students. A dojo should be like another family. That’s the Sensei who trained the winner. Last but not least, I wish that I had the opportunity to congratulate the late Al Weiss on his and his son, David’s book. It too, is a winner.