Monday, September 28, 2009
Update on Secret Fighting Arts of the World by John F. Gilbey
God I miss the days before the Internet when all we had was the library stacks and the bookstore. If you think wikipedia is bullshit because anyone can write anything, that has nothing on the way things used to be. Not only did we have wacky science fiction and porn fairies that left porn mags under bridges, we also had fake non-fiction books with no way to tell they were full of crap. It's nice to be able to find out if something is bullshit with the click of a hyperlink (I am looking at you Zeitgeist), but sometimes I miss how easily a young lad could believe just about anything was real.
Books about magic, meditation, ninjas and martial arts (I always accidentally write "marital arts" for martial arts for some Freudian reason) were awesome if you were too young or stupid to know better. I was firmly in both categories when I was a kid. We had all that Stephen Hayes ninja crap, The Peaceful Warrior, and best of all Secret Fighting Arts of the World by John F. Gilbey. Secret Fighting Arts was the shit!
It was about this super rich martial arts dude who traveled the world finding the most awesome secret martial arts. Along with such staples as Savate and the dim mak, it also featured tales of meeting masters of the Newcastle Nutter (guy who headed people in the face), the Macedonian Buttock, and the Ganges Groin Gouge (my personal favorite, a martial art where you just try to punch a guy in the nuts). Later, it came out that the book was a joke written by martial arts writer Robert Smith. Damn!
Anyway, when I came to Taiwan years ago, I saw that book sitting on my friends shelf. I said, "whoa! you got this book, it's hilarious!" He agreed, and we laughed about it sometimes.
Recently, he called me and told me he had met a foreigner that lived in Taiwan in the 50s and 60s. He asked him if there were any foreigners coming to Taiwan to study martial arts at that time (he asked because in the book the supposed author mentions being in Taiwan in some chapter). The guy said, "Hell no! At that time, it was such a small world for foreigners to be here, we knew of anyone from anywhere doing whatever they were doing here. No foreigners were doing martial arts period at that time." My friend was happy to have finally disproven the book.
Didn't have the heart to tell him the back story about Robert Smith. Damn, growing up sucks sometimes. Well, at least I am sure Morihei Ueshiba and Socrates from The Peaceful Warrior could really teleport.