Was Elvis really a Black Belt?

And who was this man Hank Slamanski who promoted him to Shodan in 1960?
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A new ending to the story has been added at the end of the article!

And where does Ed Parker fit into this picture?

To put History in its proper perspective I have included this Photo of Ed Parker and his Family taken outside the Pasadena South Ward (Church) at the same time frame that Elvis would be promoted to Shodan and started his training  with Ed Parker. The Tracy brothers were also Mormons and started their training with Ed Parker in 1957 when they were introduced to Ed Parker by Church member. The Tracy Brothers also attended the same Ward that Ed and his family attended. Note: The young boy is Ed Parker Jr.

Historical Note: This is the Ed Parker I trained under - when I stared with Ed Parker I was 21 years of age - Ed Parker was 26 and at his physical prime. At the age of 26 Ed was a good kicker. More about this in an up-coming article! 

Since this is a story about Elvis we might as well let the controversy start here. At no time did any of the Parker Family; Wife, son or daughters do any real training in Kenpo.

Additions and correction to the story: The correct spelling (from military records is Slomanski - not Slemansky)!

Note: Over time I will fill in a lot more about Hank Slomanski!
Note: WE are in the process of setting up a web site for Hank Slomanski!

 

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Was Elvis really a Black Belt?

82001 by Al Tracy. All rights reserved. No portion may be reproduced without permission.

I have been sitting on this story for more than 25 years. Many times I was tempted to polish it up and send it to either Black Belt or Inside Kung Fu to publish. It would have made interesting reading because it was about Elvis. but for some reason the timing just did not seem right. Also I have been promising that I would put it up on my website.

I am glad that I waited until this time to put out this story. The events of 9/11/2001 give this story true depth and meaning.

Another reason I am putting it up on the website rather than sending it to one of the magazines is that the magazine will publish it in one issue. That issue will be replaced by the next and very few will ever read it, let alone remember it after a few weeks.

I plan to keep this story up on my website as a constant reminder, and tribute to the brave men and women who serve in all branches of the military. They have waited over thirty years to finally get the true recognition they deserve.

HANK - (HENRY)  SLOMANSKI (Correct spelling from his military records ):

He Dared - - To Promote Elvis

By AL TRACY

Read any article about the late Elvis Presley's status in the martial arts and what do you see?

You see page after page accrediting Presley's rise through the karate ranks to one famous instructor after another. This one promoted Elvis to fifth degree black belt, this one to sixth degree, someone else to seventh degree.

But regardless of the merits of these lofty claims on his behalf, you are left wondering who was the man who awarded the legendary entertainer his original black belt. The records are curiously ambiguous on this point.

However, there is one bona fide reference: in Martial Arts Traditions, History And People by John Corcoran and Emil Farkas (page 370), the authors offer this information on the subject:

"... He (Presley) qualified for 1st degree black belt in 1960 in Memphis with the late Hank Slemansky, a Chito-ryu stylist. Slemansky was killed on active duty in Vietnam sometime in the mid 1960s."

Thirty-two words. That's it.

And poor Hank Slomanski didn't even get a listing of his own. Instead his contribution is reduced to an incidental mention under a listing devoted to Elvis Presley.

Who was Hank Slomanski?

Aside from his role as Presley's tutor, Hank Slomanski may well have been North America's first authentic martial arts master.

Hank Slomanski was making martial arts history when there were no martial arts magazines around to record it -- but you had to be a part of the military with access to the military publications to find out about him.

In 1958-59 he was given feature coverage in the military newspaper Stars and Stripes Pacific edition. (Since I was a "Korean Veteran" the military kept me on their mailing list for years afterwards, no doubt hoping I would re-enlist. I continued getting Stars and Stripes long after I had been discharged from four years of active duty in the Air Force.)

Even in the military, which is full of real heroes, Hank Slomanski was a living legend. Standing 6'3" and weighing 225 pounds, he was a formidable fighting machine.

And let the record show that Hank loved a good fight. When he couldn't find any two-legged opponents, he would climb into a ring and wrestle bears - an opportunity available to some of the more adventurous members of the military on overseas assignment at that time.

It was while he was overseas that Hank was introduced to Chito-ryu, a Japanese style founded by Dr. Tsuyoshi Chitose. Basically, Chito-ryu is a combination of Goju-ryu and Shorin-ryu karate.

When the Korean war ended Slomanski was rotated back to the U.S. (in the mid 1950's) for his next tour of duty. He was attached to the airborne division at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky.

Among other things, he was sergeant-major and jump master, He also happened to be Dan Inosanto's first martial arts instructor. This was long before Dan Inosanto went on to become Bruce Lee's most recognizable Jeet Kune Do student and confidante. And yes, Dan remembers Hank Slomanski very well: "He was head honcho -- he ran everything!"

Dan remembers Hank as "Mr. Airborne". By 1960 Hank had over 1,200 jumps, all with full combat gear -- many in full combat!

101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) (Screaming Eagles)

Although constituted in 1918 as an infantry division, the 101st had to wait until World War II and its redesignation as an airborne division before seeing action. The Screaming Eagles fought from Normandy to Germany, securing their place in history at Bastogne, during the Battle of the Bulge.
 (Completely outnumbered and surrounded by the German Army the German commander offered to let the 101st surrender. To which the American commander sent back the one work reply: NUTS.
They fought there way out. From that point on it was understood you had to be "NUTS" to signup for the 101st Airbourn Screaming Eagles.  Currently the 101st is an air assault division based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Almost all of Hank's students were military, which meant they were airborne undergoing typical airborne training. They started the day at first light by running 10 miles, after which they were allowed a little time to recover from the dry heaves. That out of the way, they ran another ten miles with Hank leading the pack!

All before breakfast.

So began a typical day. At the end of it, if you were so inclined, you could study karate with the man who had been putting you through hell all day.

When you entered this dojo, you observed strict rules. Rule No. 1: Hank Slomanski was your Sensei, with the absolute authority the title implied. Rule No. 2: you wore a karate gi unless training outside, in which case you dressed in military gear.

In this way the dojo was a blend of two traditions: U.S. military and Japanese martial arts. Off the dojo floor in tradition military fashion Hank Slomanski saluted all offices: in the dojo, you called him sir and bowed to him! (General Thomas S. Porter, a judo black belt, would observe this same tradition when he incorporate judo for SAC (Strategic Air Command) personnel under his command).

Dan Inosanto, a fellow student when we both trained with Ed Parker, trained with Slomanski in 1959-1960 and, nearly 30 years later, remembers the experience vividly. Hank threw terror into everyone, he says. It wasn't unusual for Dan to look at the man next to him and see him visibly trembling.

One of my early students trained under Hank when the student went airborne, and he later told me an interesting story.

After long weeks of airborne training it all comes down to your first jump. No matter how you prepare for this moment, you still pray you won't freeze in the doorway.

As fate would have it his worst fears were realized on that fateful day. He started out in the middle of the line, working his way to the moment of truth.

As his turn came to jump he stood paralyzed in the open doorway, staring into space, a voice bellowed at him, from just behind him, getting louder -- commanding him to jump. Jump! JUMP!

Mike looked up from the yawning space below. He turned to stare into the savage face of Hank Slomanski - only inches away.

"I knew I was looking into the face of death," Mike told me. "Hank filled me with more terror then the thought of jumping. I took one step forward and was gone. It was the only way I could get away from Hank. All the way down I prayed he wouldn't remember my name!"

A typical training session at Hank Slomanski's dojo (Fort Campbell Gym) would begin with back falls on the hardwood floors. Remember -- these were airborne recruits, and the ability to roll and fall properly could be the difference between life and death on every jump in combat.

If you were "lucky" Hank would take you outside where you could do your falls on packed sand. Now the bad news: you did your forward rolls on gravel. Next came setups. The setups were done in rows so that Hank could "run the rows", all 230 pounds of romping, stomping airborne sergeant springing from one tense stomach to the next and onward down the row -- and back again. Indoors Hank did the run bare-footed. Outdoors, he wore combat "jump boots".

With the warm-ups over, the "serious" karate workout began.

Kick, punch, block -- over and over again. And with that out of the way, the class got ready for what this particular mode of training was all about: Fighting!

There was no safety gear -- no shin pads, cups or supporters. This was blood-and-guts fighting.

If you didn't like Hank much, this was your chance to get even. You could "go for real". But it was a two-way street: Hank was prepared to give as good as he got. There were no wimps, the wimps had been washed out a long time ago. Those that had survived were the best the army had. They were airborne.

By comparison, his karate classes made the airborne training seem like an afternoon tea. As Dan Inosanto recalls, "He ran the class just like boot camp and he liked to make contact. Until I studied other styles, this is what I thought Karate was."

Over the years I have known a few of Hank's students and they all had certain traits in common. They were all tough! At best, their katas were so-so or non-existent. And they all loved to fight!

Up to this point it sounds like we have just another tough soldier.

Now, as they say, for the rest of the story.

Hank Slomanski almost single-handedly changed the course of karate tournaments in Japan, and as would follow, the rest of the world.

In the early 1950s Karate competition had not developed an identity of its own. And as such the early tournaments were patterned after the Judo Promotion Shaiai: There were no rounds; the fight ended with the scoring of an ippon (full Point) or two half-points, no matter how much time had been used. There were no weight divisions. (Even judo did not use weight divisions until 1964. Since 1977 Judo has established eight weight divisions for international competition.)

In the Karate tournament of that era, you bowed in for your first match and continued to fight until defeated. Contact was allowed. There was no protective gear.

When the Japanese saw Hank Slomanski emerge from the locker room, they weren't worried, despite his raw-boned size. They had seen his type -- time and again -- in Judo competition: big, dumb and slow with no spirit when the fighting got tough.

Parenthetically, a decade later in the World Judo championships in 1961 and 1962 and the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, the Japanese would make that same miscalculation. It was the era in which a big tough Dutchman named Anthony Geesink -- 6 feet 6 and 267 -- pounds would beat the host country's finest judo representatives at their own game, first by defeating them in the world championships and then in their own country, playing by their rules in the final match against Japans best to take home the Olympic gold medal. This would be repeated by his fellow country man Willem Ruska in the 1972 Olympics in Munich when the Japanese did not place in the top eight!

But back to Hank Slomanski in Japan. Hank had set aside two days of his hard-earned leave for the karate tournament. He lined up and waited his turn to fight.

What happened next was the destruction of a Japanese martial arts myth: "size does not matter -- superior technique and spirit will prevail!"

After Slomanski bowed in for his first match he systematically vanquished first one, then another, then another of the opponents lining up against him. There were no half-points -- all full points, many by knock-out many because an unlucky 130 pound body become the target of the fist or foot of 230 pounds of superbly conditioned fighter.

At the end of the first day Hank was undefeated. That represented between 4-5 hours of straight fighting: bow in; defeat one opponent -- each one fresh -- bow out; bow in; -- defeat another opponent ... each new, fully rested opponent coming at you with his best technique!

Overnight the tournament organizers worked to bring in and schedule their biggest and most accomplished karate-ka against the relentless G.I.

When the dust had settled at the end of the next day, there were no fighters left; Hank Slomanski remained unbeaten. And he had defeated 119 consecutive opponents. Recent addition: Most of the fights never lasted more that 7 seconds and he battled with 6 broken ribs!

This was a lesson it would take the Japanese some time to absorb, and was best summed up by Shigeru Oyama, the great Japanese stylist now living and teaching in the U.S.:

"I studied culture and technique (when I came here) because if I fight a 150-pound man in Japan and a 220-pound man here, the same technique does not work. You have to change how you generate power. Timing is everything. The power changes. I started everything over. If I hit a 220-pound guy -- I kick him in the face -- he is still standing. If I kick the 150-pound guy with the same kick, he is on the floor. My technique changed a lot when I came to the United States. The people are different -- they're big!"

(Another historical note: Shigeru Oyama studied under the legendary Mas Oyama who still retained the old-style fighting philosophy. Shigeru Oyama once completed the "100 Kumite" (fighting 100 men in succession without a loss).

In the wake of Hank Slomanski's devastating onslaught against Japan's foremost karate-ka, the tournament hosts decided to make major changes in the rules. From that point the rules were restructured to include eliminations, where at the end of each round half the competition would be eliminated. And, even more importantly, weight divisions were established. If these rules had been in effect earlier, Slomanski would have beaten only 8 of Japan's best!

It meant the era when a tournament victor might fight 119 opponents was officially over.

Hank was born to be a fighter; but like so many professionals after a real war, he was a warrior without a war once the Korean "unpleasantness" ended. For him it was a short, natural step into the martial arts. He was one of the first Americans ever awarded a black belt in Japan. How many Americans held black belts in karate in 1956? Issued from Japan? You could try looking them up, but you won't find many.

I am indebted to Dan Inosanto, a fellow student (30 years ago when we both studied with Ed Parker), for much of the information concerning Hank's physical size and for reconfirming the details of airborne and karate training under Hank Slomanski.

By the time I came into the Slomanski sphere of influence I was studying Kenpo in Pasadena, California under Ed Parker. This was 1957-60, and another of Mr. Parker's students was a fellow we'll call Jerry -- a great athlete and martial artist standing 6-feet-plus and weighing 200 pounds.

When promotion time came around, it was determined that Jerry didn't fit the mold of a Kenpo stylist. So Jerry left our training regimen to seek a black belt elsewhere, preferably in a classical Japanese style that might fit his physical structure better.

He went to study with Hank Slomanski.

Jerry had been warned to watch out for Hank and his black belts. The word was they thought Kenpo was "too soft". Jerry was braced. There would be no surprises.

After an appropriate period he was lined up for free style -- everyone wanted a piece of this "Kenpo" stylist -- free style with a vengeance. And he all but knocked out the first six men he faced.

Slomanski himself walked across the floor towards him. He shook Jerry's hand and told his students to go back to being human again. Jerry had made his point.

What followed was a familiar formula to anyone who knew anything about Hank Slomanski's training methods. For Jerry, what followed was 6 weeks of hell. But at the end of that time, he had earned his first degree black belt.

The following requirements for Black Belt were outlined in a article on the Karate Club in The Fort Campbell newspaper The Courier Wednesday January 21, 1959

    A student is tested on the following:

            *Anatomy of the human body
            * Setting of broken and dislocated bones
            * Basic kicks, blocks and punches
            * Rolling and falling
            * The 30 basic Karate Throws
            * The 9 Karate "Dances" - (Katas)
            * Defense against weapons (close combat)
            * Ability to break boards with; Finger-tips, side of palm (sword-hand - Shuto), Fist. Elbow and      feet.
            * Sparring against one or more opponents.

And now, shall we talk about Elvis Presley?

Elvis was first exposed to Karate in 1958 after he was drafted into the Army and stationed in Germany. His first instructor was a German shotokan stylist named Juergen Seydel who taught Elvis at his off-base housing in Nauheim. One nice thing about the military was that you got thirty days of paid vacation (leave) each year. During his leaves in Paris he would take private lessons with Tetsugio Murakami, one of Japan's top shotokan stylists, who would help pioneer shotokan in Europe. On one occasion he spend nine straight days studying several hours each day with Murakami. With a lot of spare time on his hands Elvis would spend hours training with Rex Mansfield, another soldier stationed with Elvis in Germany. It was during this time than Elvis would also start conditioning his hands for board breaking by banging his knuckles against hard surfaces. Little did he know then that this was something he would need when he finally test for his Shodan under Hank Slomanski. At this time he would also start collecting book on Karate. At this early stage Elvis became very impressed by Mas Oyama and his legendary breaking. Including killing bulls with his bare hands. **

After getting out of the Army Elvis would continue to study under different instructors, but there was no one instructor to call Sensei.

Ed Parker (1931-1960) first met Elvis in 1960 when Ed Parker was putting on a Kenpo demonstration at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills. (Both myself and my brother Jim was part of the demo team, we were both brown belts at that time . I did the board breaking with the fists - Ed did the breaking with his feet.) I remember how humble and unassuming Elvis was. He walked up to Ed Parker and introduced himself as Elvis Presley. As if the whole world did not know who Elvis was. This would, be the start of a friendship with Ed Parker that would last until Elvis=s death August 16, 1977. He would start his studies with Ed but at this time he was not ready for Black Belt.

Another historical note might be in order here. Back then, in the '50s and '60s a Black Belt had true meaning. There was no such thing as a four - or 5-year-old black belt. Any instructor who trivialized the arts to that degree would have been laughed out of the country. Judo had established the minimum age of 16 for black belts, and even then you could search a long time without finding a 16-year-old judo black belt.

And so there was nothing else for it -- Elvis Presley was going to have to earn his black belt.

His instructors were understandably reluctant to promote him to that level. None of them had forgotten the derision piled on instructor-author Bruce Tegner when he presented a black belt to Ricky Nelson. Nobody believed for a minute that the pop singer deserved it.

The solution: send Elvis to Hank Slomanski. If he survived, he'd have proved he qualified. One thing stood in his favor: he had not dodged the draft nor taken a soft role in "special services". He had served his country as a loyal American soldier.

Last year I, with my wife, Pat, took a two day vacation to return to Ft. Campbell, on the border of Kentucky and Tennessee (the 101 Airborne "Screaming Eagles" is located on the Kentucky side). I wanted to search the actual military records to confirm what Elvis and Hank had told us. After hours of going through micro-filch of old records and the Camp newspapers I was able to confirm what we had originally been told. The Karate club met at the base gym for 2-3 hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays. All military personal were invited to attend - especially airborne. But as the Camp newspaper reported only a handful of the toughest of the 101st airborne attended. As one soldier stated, you have to be crazy to take Karate with Hank - at the end of each training session these guys all come out with blood all over their GI's, grinning from ear to ear - and after beating the hell out of each other go have a cold beer!@

Training was broken down into the following sections: Basics; Kick-Punch-Block - over and over again. Rolling and falling. Close hand-to-hand self defense. Lots of hand-to-hand against real knives and other weapons. As part of the course, and your test for Black Belt, you had to know how to set broken and dislocated bones (happened all the time): no one got sued and the military gave free medical. Breaking of boards - no spacers - no padding only - bare first - and fingers against real boards - Yes part of the test was to break a board with your finger-tips - more about that later. the real fun - Kumite - no pads - no groves - Contact - especially to the body was expected and demanded. And yes Hank took his turn with each advanced ranger. Here was you chance to show Hank what you were made of and (if possible) to get even for all the hell he put you through as a "screaming Eagle"! But as every G.I. found out very early: fight hard, but let there be no misunderstanding. Hank was "The Man." The older recruits would watch and smile as the New Kids, with something to prove, tried to kick the "Old Man's" ass; most encounters ended with Hank knocking out the "wise-ass"! The report was that no one ever tried twice to become "top gun" - your first "ass kicking" by Hank or his top assistant, fourth degree black belt Sgt. Saur, was your official initiation into the real world of "self defense".

This was the world that a young country singer stepped into.

As Hank would tell us later: He wanted to find out what the kid was made of. The first day of training was simply designed to let Elvis get used to the type of training he was in for. To his credit, Elvis was in great shape physically and came through the hard, tough, training drills as well as most of Hank's own "rangers."

Come the second session, Elvis was going to get his first taste of REAL - full contact training. Hank took his top student, 4th degree Black Belt Sgt, Saur, aside and told him: Keep away from his face, but put him down. I want you to hurt him bad - break a few ribs if you have to. Everyone sat back to watch Elvis to see if he was really the "King" or a whimpering "candy ass." The "match-up between Elvis and Saur started out slowly as Saur was feeling him out and setting up his man. Of course Elvis had watched other fights the previous lesson and realized this was something he had never been exposed to before. Then at a nod from Hank, Sgt Saur exploded with a series of full contact blows to Elvis's body which dropped Elvis to his hands and knees. It was obvious that Elvis was hurt and feeling the pain. Then Hank related, "I saw Elvis slowly get up with that sneer on his face ... then I saw in his eyes what we usually see only in war: Elvis wanted to kill!@

As the two men once again clashed I stepped in to break Elvis and Stg. Saur apart, "Hank further related, "but I found out what I wanted to know. The kid was a fighter - not a quitter@. Also Sgt, Saur would comment that they would occasionally have a beer after training, but he and Elvis never became friends. As a rule Elvis rarely drank, but he made an exception to sit down and have a beer with the boys. Elvis would relate how, during the "bull sessions" he would slip his full beer in front of one of the "dying for another beer@ fighters and replace it with an empty bottle.

And prove it Elvis did. He was awarded his coveted black belt after six weeks of persistent suffering inflicted by Hank Slomanski, and anyone who knew the principals in this little drama knew there could be no favoritism involved. It should also be noted that Elvis was only one of a handful of civilians to whom Hank ever awarded "Black Belt".

The word came back from Hank to my instructor, Ed Parker, about Elvis: "The kid ain't pretty, but he's tough and he's a Black Belt."

Later, as random skirmishing in a tiny country in Southeast Asia escalated into full-scale war, Hank Slomanski was chosen as one of the elite representatives of the original Special Forces under President John F. Kennedy.

"(Elvis Presley) qualified for 1st degree black belt in 1960 in Memphis with the late Hank Slemansky, a Chito-ryu stylist. Slemansky was killed on active duty in Vietnam sometime in the mid 1960s."

Thirty-two words, a handful of lines.

Hank Slemansky deserves better. He's a man we should be telling our students about.

Now that we know his story, perhaps we can.

September 11, 2001 - has made us aware of the need for men like Hank Slemansky. Historical note: I thought that this is where the story would end. But I wanted to finish my research so I could end the story of Hank Slemansky - but fate would take me on another trail.

To Be Continued

** Because of the popularity of Mas Oyama and his killing of bulls my brothers and I would take Ed Parker, his wife and father to the Bull fights in Mexico - to see a real fighting bulls. This will be a story by its self. 

Also little know is the story of Mas Oyama and a fight he had with real bull in Mexico city.

The following is an interesting slant on Karate History - As related by Hank Slomanski - in the Fort Newspaper The Courier - Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Wednesday, January 21, 1959.

        I was able to obtain several articles relating to Karate and Hank Slomanski - they were all preserved on micro-film and when printed out came out with in B&W negative form so all the type is white against a black background. 

I have re-typed one of these articles for historical reference - The actual italics will be indented and in italic. My own comments will be in red and blue.

Karate Course To Be Conducted On Post

    Paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division and other interested post personal will have the opportunity to enroll in the most unique and perhaps toughest off duty instruction offered to members of the armed services.
    The classes are designed to teach the science of Karate and are scheduled to begin on Feb 2 at the post arena under the direction of SFC Joseph Virtue, a 27-year-old paratrooper from Miami. Fla.

 NOTE; Technically all  the paperwork and administrative details for the (club) were left to SFC (Sergeant 1st Class) Virtue. But the man who really ran all of the Karate was Sergeant Major Henry Slomanski - head of the Ranger Jump School. Hank did all the Karate training and left the paperwork to others.

What makes this so unique?

 Simply this, Karate originated about 2500 years ago. It can only be taught by registered licensed instructors in order to get credit for belt degrees.

Remember this is 1959. The Korean War (which we did not win) is over. 
Karate: No Kids - No wimps - No protective gear - (very, very few females - mostly Judo) NO Tae Kwon Do. Tae Kwon Do did not even come into existence until 1955!

With the exception of Kenpo which developed independent of the Okinawan/Japan Karate - the issuing of legitimate rank in the United States became a real problem. Any member of the United States Armed force who studied any Karate did so for only a very short period of time. And those that did have any rank were only promoted to Shodan. Almost all system had an absolute lower limit of  Sandan (3rd Black) to be able to promote.

For this reason senior instructors mainly from Japan were brought over to the United States to give legitimacy to Karate. The two most notable would be Tsutomu Oshima in 1957 Who would teach at Cal Tech - just a few block for the Kenpo Studio of Ed Parker. When Tsutoma Oshima returned to Japan he was replaced by Hidetaka Nishayama. 

NOTE: Japan understood well the politics of Karate, therefore they strategically placed top Japanese Instructor in major regions of the U. S:
        Takayuki Mikami - New Orleans
        Masataka Mori - New York
        Shojiro Sugiyama - Chicago
        Teruyuki Okazaki - Philadelphia
          
The following two would become fierce rivals
        Tsutoma Oshima - Calif. (LA) - A true warrior in the tradition of "Bushido"
        Hidetaka Nishiyama - Great Technician (He came out of the             Japanese college system of Karate - not the traditional Karate studios. One of the finest Katas I have ever seem preformed was by Nishiyama. 
       
Bruce Lee would meet Nishiyama at a Judo tournament in Tacoma Washington (both myself and Jessie Glover were there)  where Nishiyama was giving a Karate demonstration. Because of this chance meeting Bruce Lee would develop his kicks following the Japanese kicking system (not from either the Chinese or Korean kicking system. (More details in the Bruce Lee story)
NOTE: In Bruce Lee's original Wing Chun system there were no kicks above the waist. 

Hidetaka Nishiyama  would put out the first definitive book on Karate: KARATE - THE ART OF "EMPTY HAND" FIGHTING in 1959. A book that would set the standard for all Karate books that would follow. This is a "MUST HAVE" book for your Martial Arts book Collection. It can still be found on e-bay in the $50 range. I recently purchases a mint (1st printing) for $35. Make sure the book had the original cover with Teruyuki Okazaki doing this classis Jump Kick! See below!

Click on the individual pictures to enlarge

b-coverjp2.JPG (76974 bytes)     Okazaki          Nish-covjp1.JPG (34811 bytes)      ok-jpkick2.JPG (35843 bytes)    Nishiyama       nish1.JPG (35004 bytes)

NOTE: In the near future I will be written an article "Where did the Karate Masters get their Rank? As an interesting opening it was not until about 1973 that most of Karate got their act together and ended up with the belt ranking system we use today!

     At present the only active registered instructors in Karate (KARA-TAY) are at Fort Campbell. Of the six registered instructors in the United States, one has been discharged and is presently a civilian, the others are military. Two others are leaving Fort Campbell.
    What is Karate? To find out , lets go back to 650 B.C. and the Buddhist Monks of China, Monks were forbidden by their religion to carry, (or use) weapons and traveling from one settlement to another they were easy pray for bandits.
    To avoid this, in the privacy of their monastery, they secretly developed the science of Karate (Kung-Fu) to protect themselves.
The word Kara-Ote (sic) means with empty hands. Actually Karate is a moral, mental and physical science which is progressive by degrees. The serious Karate student is developed in three ways.
    Morally he is taught the four great virtues; temperance, fortitude, prudence and justice. Mentally he learns the control of emotions, patience, alertness and aggressiveness. Physical conditioning and coordination.
    In 1605 the science of Karate spread to Japan and the first school was opened in the providence of Okinawa.
    During this period of history, the Imperial Family of Japan - because of their religion - when praying  left... their armed guards (with their weapons) outside the temple.
    Because of this practice , assassins would usually strike at the Imperial Family while they were engaged in these ceremonies and were unguarded.
    When the Okinawa school opened it became mandatory for all Knights (Samurai) of the Imperial Guard to attend. In this way they could guard the Imperial Family during the ceremonies.
    The belt, warn as part of the uniform, would also denote the wearers degree of ability. For example, a first degree belt was not expected to be able to disarm a man with a knife or lance. His belt, made of heavy fiber, was worn in such a manner as to protect his heart and lungs from the thrust of such weapons.
    Guard duties were assigned by degree held. This general ruling being that the higher the degree, the closer the duties to the person being guarded.
    Eventually, the two men with the highest degree of ability awarded  the red belt and became personal guards to the Crown Prince and Princess,
    The award of red belt was accompanied with the title of Lord of Uano and a suitable land grant. The next highest degree man understudied the two red belts.
    Today, the knowledge of Karate is world-wide but strictly controlled by the International Karate Federation with headquarters in Tokyo, Japan.

NOTE:      At this period of time mid 1950's - The International Karate Federation was one of the major controlling groups of Karate in Japan.

     Degrees are no longer considered in assigning the duties of the Imperial Guard. The degree is awarded now as a symbol of the ability attained by an individual and can only be awarded by Karate Federation Commissioner.
    The practice of the two top men being red belts with one understudy has remained with the society today. The authority to award the red belt is vested in one person - the Emperor of Japan.
    The title of Lord and the land grant no longer go with the red belt. Recent awards have been accompanied with the Imperial Seal and a Doctor's degree in physical education from a Japanese university.
    The two red belts and the understudy are also awarded a small gold fist. It is called the Golden Fist Chief Examiners Badge. Only three men can wear that badge.
    Here at Fort Campbell the methods used to teach Karate will be the same as those used by the Monks some 2600 years ago.
    Fort Campbell is fortunate in having the International Karate Federation Commissioner for the United States and Hawaii here. He is M/Sgt. Henry Slomanski assigned to the Airbourn School, 101 Airbourn Division.
    Sergeant Slomanski is the Third highest degree belt in Karate and presently is the understudy for the two red belts. He is the only American to ever hold this honor and one of the three who are entitled to wear the golden fist.
    As the Federation Commissioner, Sergeant Slomanski is the only man in the United States who is authorized to award the instructors license or degree beyond the brown belt.
    . . . The Karate student may earn belts in the following order; White, Blue, Green, Brown and then the black belts which are awarded by degrees.
    A registered licensed Karate instructor may award belts up to the brown belt, but beyond that, the awards must be made by the Commissioner.

END OF ARTICLE FROM THE POST NEWS PAPER OF 1959

SLOMANSKI -

Part of (The rest of the Story)

Hank Slomanski was my husband

At this point I will let the e-mail speak for its self

e-mail dated 8/12/2000



Dear Mr. Tracy, I am the wife of Hank Slomanski. Our teenage daughter happened to type in he Papa’s name and found your website. We both wept with joy for your recognition of him and with grief because he is dead. Your are incorrect that you spelled his name inaccurately and that he did not die in Vietnam (although, as a member of the Special Forces, he toured three times). After his retirement from the army, he became an Orthodox priest and served as a chaplain in several hospitals.

He die in April, 2000, of pancreatic cancer. We loved him very, very much and miss him terribly, but his kindness and gentleness live in our hearts. He may have been a tough karate instructor and a taskmaster to his troops, but he was a beautiful man with a loving, caring, Christian heart.

Thank you for giving him the recognition that he never fully receive while he was alive. By the way he retire with a silver star, a bronze star, three purple hearts, and metals too many to count. I was truly blessed to have been/and still his wife.

Patricia P. Slomanski


UP-DATE 11/20/2004 - research done by my Brother Jim Tracy

Obituary of Henry Slomanski - Richmond Times-Dispatch April 26, 2000 - Page B2

The Reverend Henry Slomanski, 71, of Richmond Va., died Easter Sunday, April 23, 200 at Henrico Doctors Hospital in Richmond. Dr. Slomanski was born in Evansville, New Jersey, son of the late William Joseph and Christina Louise Slomanski. He joined the United States Army at age 18 and over a 20 year career attained the rank of Command Sergeant Major while serving as a Green Beret and Army Ranger. During the Korean War as a Master Paratrooper, he was twice wounded and awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze star and three Purple Hearts for exhibiting uncommon bravery and exemplarity leadership. In 1956 he became the declared World Champion Karate Black Belt, and spent several years thereafter touring as an exhibition instructor of infantryman, the most noteworthy being Elvis Presley. Subsequently, he served three tours of duty in Vietnam. After his retirement in 1966, he entered the Maranatha Eastern Orthodox Bible Seminary earning the Master of Religious Education and Doctor of Theology degree. Thereafter he was ordained as a Priest in the Eastern Orthodox Church of the East. His ministry focused on Christian counseling and Hospital Chaplainry while serving at the New Haven Memorial Church in Wilmington, N.C. and at Henrico Doctors Hospital Richmond Va. He earned a Doctor of Law degree with emphasis on Canon Law from the University of Los Angeles. He was a lifetime member of the National Chaplains Association, a charter member of the American Association of Christian Counselors and a Diplomat in the Association of Biblical Life Educators. He is survived by his wife, Patricia; a son Edward Wilson of Wilmington N.C.; daughters Patricia Grace Wilson of the home. Mary Christine of Buffalo N.Y.; Susan Flippins of College Station, Texas; Karen Bullock of Hartford, Conn.; Sandra Reimbold of Huston, Texas. ... four Grand Children .....

 

More to be add ...