I join Murphy’s school at a fee of six dollars per month, which is the Mexican rate he kindly offers me; the U.S. rate is nine dollars a month.   After I join, I have no idea what is in store for me. How could I? One’s weapons are hands, feet, arms, and legs. Unlike cardsharping,…

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I come face-to-face with Sensei John Murphy, a man who sounds like some kind of super hero from a comic book. Douglas makes the introductions, “Sensei, I’d like you to meet Mr. Rick Turner. I spoke to you about him training here; his brother is David, the nine-year-old student in your San Diego school.” “Ah,…

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After returning to the States, Sensei married a beautiful Hispanic woman, Rosemary. “As you train, you will notice that, during nightly fights,” Douglas says with a sly snicker, “Rosemary has the thankless job of mopping up the blood from the wooden floor so that nobody slips and is unnecessarily hurt.” Douglas continues, “Sensei wanted his…

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“Mr. Douglas,” I ask curiously, “When and where did Sensei Murphy get his black belt?” Douglas explains, in “1957, after basic training in the Army, Sensei Murphy was sent to Japan. He joined a karate school and diligently studied under Sato and Yamaguchi, two chief Japanese instructors, where he earned his black belt in what…

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We step from Douglas’ car, I case my cards and place them in my bag. There is the hint of a past rain. The smell of mold is pervasive, “That could mean trouble for an asthmatic like me.” The Tijuana karate school is a dirty, dilapidated, graffiti-peppered cement-block building with no windows. Douglas and I…

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Douglas continues, “Sensei Murphy is in combat with the bear-size man. “Sensei, with a grand heave of his body, swung the bear around and clamped his teeth onto the bear’s nose. This was an incredulous, action-movie moment that, in retelling seems exaggerated. Yet it happened, and it was jaw dropping. Onlookers stood wide-eyed as Sensei,…

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“Again at my table are Glen and Bernelle Hansen, both of whom started performing with Richard in 1972.Bernelle, as the Lamb’s Player’s stage manager did you have concerns with a visually impaired actor that would go to Tijuana and fight?” Bernelle says mildly, with a touch of concern. “Jon, yes! The fact that Rick had…

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“The bear was undeterred. He shrugged, violently shoved his way past Murphy, quickly turned around, and threw a sucker punch towards Sensei’s face. Sensei blocked the blow, and then countered by slamming his conditioned, rock hard knuckles against the side of the bear’s skull, and the punch was perfectly planted. The bear’s head bucked to…

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John Douglas explains, “The grocery store where Sensei Murphy works as a meat cutter is in a rough part of town. Whenever trouble erupts, the manager always summons his black-belt fighter. On one occasion, a customer was spotted trying to steal a bottle of whiskey. Once alerted Sensei confronted the thief. Sensei calmly warned the…

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It’s 1971, three months from my seventeenth birthday, and I’m scared and extremely apprehensive as I’m nervously over-hand stacking cards while traveling with a karate fighter name John Douglas. We are headed to his teacher, Sensei John Murphy’s karate dojo in Tijuana, Mexico. I realize that the beginning of training will be rough. I’m very…

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After the funeral of my sister Debra, my ears are filled with an eerie revelation that gives my heart solace and assuredness.  Debra’s girlfriend Simonette says to me softly and reverently, “As Debra and I were walking home from school,” she pauses, “on that fateful day, Debra turned and handed me her Bible. She said…

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As the funeral arrangements for my sister Debra are being made, my parents are discussing whether to have an open or closed casket. Since Debra’s body was dragged under the car over one hundred feet and mutilated, they decide to keep the casket closed. As we sit behind a side curtain reserved for the family,…

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