I used to be a great fan of comic books in my youth, saving up my nickles and dimes in breathless anticipation of the next issue of Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos or The Fantastic Four. What often captured my imagination even more than the colorful artwork or the epic battles fought by Spandex-clad superheroes were the advertisements in the back.
Having had the idea of purchasing my very own Spider Monkey for only $19.95 repeatedly shot down by my parents I settled on what was a less bothersome but infinitely more deadly goal: to learn the forbidden secrets of the martial arts! The three ads that follow were typical of those that I drooled over in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s. Unfortunately I only ordered two of the three, the third one somehow slipping through the cracks of my pre-teen attention span.
1. 1967 – Step Aside For No Man!
Wow – how great this must seem to a kid! They’re always being pushed around by bullies and overbearing parents, there are monsters in their closets, little brothers that drive them crazy … yes, learning how NOT to step aside for any man would be a valuable art indeed!
That’s right – just $1.98 to learn Karate, “the only violent form of Judo taught today”! Even though I had to agree that I was over 18 or had my parents’ permission to study Karate (neither of which applied to me) I sent out my $1.98 (two one-dollar bills taped to a piece of paper inside an envelope) and waited like Snoopy at the mailbox for 2 weeks until the day this gem arrived.
What I received of course was this book, 2nd edition, 1960 –
Don’t get me wrong – for someone who knew little about martial arts Mr. Tegner’s book took me by the hand and helped me begin what would turn out to be a lifetime journey. Although he never turned me into a “Karate Master” and I later found out that karate was not exactly “devised by Buddhist monks” I learned a lot from his book.
Oh, yeah … I still had to step aside for some men. So much for truth in advertising. The really sad part about all this? The book can STILL be had for $2.00 through Amazon 50 years later.
2. 1968 – The World’s Deadliest Fighting Secrets!
Oh, how I wanted so badly to belong to the Black Dragon Fighting Society! I had dreams about the “Oriental, and more vicious counterpart of the Mafia”, their black-clad warriors dispatching dozens of foes with a single touch. Although I had some reservations about the blood initiation ceremonies, I somehow managed to steal $5.50 from my father’s wallet and sent it to good old Department MM-15 …
What I received was a 72-page booklet with a folding cover and loosely-bound pages that covered all of about 4 different attack counters. The table of contents should have been my first clue:
- World Karate Federation
- Black Dragon Fighting Society
- Count Dante (The Deadliest Man Alive)
- Shortcomings in Present Day Fighting Systems
- Vital Areas of the Body with Charts
- Poison Hand Techniques
- Self Defense Forms
- Defense Form No. 1-Right Hand Punch Counter
- Defense Form No. 2-Left Hand Punch Counter
- Defense Form No. 3-Right-Left Hand Punch Counter
- Defense Form No. 4- Forward Grab counter
- Stunt Breaking
- Count Dante Photos
… this didn’t exactly prepare me to perform the “maiming, mutilating, disfiguring, paralyzing and crippling techniques” that were promised in the ad, but that’s just as well – I’m not sure Mom and Dad’s insurance policies would have covered poison-hand death touches performed by an 8-year-old dependent.
As an historical piece of work Count Dante’s book would be an awesome acquisition; as a practical teaching manual for dealing out death, not so much. But hey, I still got my membership card in the Black Dragon Fighting Society so I consider it a win.
3. 1968 – Yubiwaza
This was the one ad that I never sent for, much to my dismay. Unlike Bruce Tegner’s World War II-era fighting style or the Count’s deadly Oriental hand techniques, the Yubiwaza was a mystery to me even after reading the ad month after month. What appeared to be a Japanese lady who claimed to be 5′ tall and weigh 93 pounds was telling me I could dispatch bullies and muggers with ONLY ONE FINGER! This made the Count seem like a pretender to the throne of “World’s Deadliest Fighter”!
It was only after years of training and failing to drop 200-pound attackers with one finger that I learned that Yubiwaza is actually based on a school of jiujitsu known as Sosiushi Ryu, a school of which Mrs. Imanami was the wife of instructor Mr. Nelson Fleming. Mr. Fleming was originally supposed to create a 100-page book on Yubiwaza but instead created this 14-page booklet.
The history of martial arts in the West can be traced in part by these comic book advertisements, whether for good or for bad, but one certainly cannot dispute their pure entertainment value.