I have written elsewhere about the Eurocentric nature of Inside Kung-Fu magazine – a device used by the US Establishment to promote anti-Mainland Chinese racism amongst the America people – whilst simultaneously claiming (falsely) to represent ‘traditional’ Chinese martial arts. The entire ethos of this publication was to give a voice to a US Cold War policy which included misrepresenting and Christianising Chinese martial culture, whilst bizarrely claiming that the US colony of Taiwan was the ‘real’ China – and that the US colony of South Korea (with its rampant Christian missionaries) somehow reflected genuine ‘Korean’ culture! Of course, perhaps the biggest lie perpetuated by the US after WWII was the forced ’embracing’ by the West of the martial arts of a re-armed Japan – martial arts that had been used by a vicious ‘fascistic’ Japan to attack and kill Westerners from 1941-1945. Where Inside Kung-Fu occasionally got it right – was purely incidental to its ongoing anti-Communist China rhetoric – which involved fake news stories, equally fake pro-Tibetan stories, and ludicrous claims about the history of Chinese martial arts. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that Elvis would feature on its cover sooner or later.
I have nothing personally against Elvis myself – despite Public Enemy referring to him as a ‘racist’ who ripped-off Black music. In the video below, Elvis is obviously ‘paying’ for all these martial artists to come and ‘hang-out’ with him whilst being filmed practising this or that type of karate or tae kwon do, etc. His demeanour appears ‘not all there’, and his physical ability (at least at this time of his successful life), was not that impressive (despite the commentary trying to make Elvis appear better than he was). This is the insanity of capitalism – these people surround Elvis because of his wealth – and not because of his martial ability. They are also paid to make Elvis seem better than he actually was just a few years before his death. What is notable is that this collection of martial artists represent a different era where men trained primarily in Asia, or exclusively with Asian teachers – before gaining there hard-earned blackbelts and opening their own schools. As a consequence, (and despite Bill Wallace excelling in ‘sport’ karate), all had a firm grounding in traditional Asian martial arts.
I am not an expert on Elvis – but during the 1980’s, I was training in Goju Ryu karate in Hereford – when a man with learning difficulties came into the dojo holding a biography about Elvis and showing everyone photographs of Elvis in a gi performing various karate moves. This book had inspired him to seek-out karate training – but as Goju Ryu karate in Hereford at that time was renowned for its toughness and realistic nature – this young man struggled during his first lesson. The general consensus was that karate catered for everyone – but that Elvis was probably not a good role model. Having briefly looked through his martial history, it appears that he trained in Shotokan karate whilst on US military service in West Germany. Other accounts suggests that he did legitimately attain his 1st dan blackbelt during that time, and did possess some very good technique. He built on this firm grounding, training with other recognised masters, but this happened before the mega-riches and opulent lifestyle took its effect. By the time of this movie, Elvis was nolonger the martial artist he had been – but he possessed the money to build a world of mythology around himself – even giving-out advanced blackbelt grades!