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The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., horrified people around the world. While we struggled to come to terms with this national tragedy, we were inspired by the actions of several passengers on United Airlines Flight 93, who decided to battle the hijackers to regain control of their doomed jet. They sacrificed their lives to ultimately save thousands of others.
"We believe those passengers on this jet were absolute heroes," FBI Director Robert Mueller said after he visited the crash site.
Jeremy Glick was one of those heroes, and people who knew the judo champ were not surprised that his intervention helped thwart certain disaster in the nation's capital. "He was a very good student, a strong judo student," said Nagayasu Ogasawara, Glick's former judo instructor.
The West Milford, New Jersey, resident began training in judo with his brother when he was just 7. A strong competitor, he placed third at the United States of America Judo Federation Nationals when he was 15, Ogasawara said.
Ogasawara lost touch with Glick when he went to college, but in 1993 their paths crossed again at the National Collegiate Judo Championships in San Francisco, where the sensei was coaching the West Point cadet team.
"I wasn't expecting it, and all of a sudden Jeremy came up to me," Ogasawara recalled. Although the college did not have a judo team, Glick had trained at a local club and competed at the tournament as a University of Rochester student, he added.
Ultimately, the Westwood, New Jersey-based instructor coached and supported his former student at the tournament, and he was in Glick's corner when the brown belt took first place to become the national champion and receive the outstanding player award.
"After that, the association wanted to promote him to black belt because he was too good to be a brown belt," Ogasawara said. "He was promoted at that tournament."
Although he was sad to hear about Jeremy Glick's death at age 31, Ogasawara said he's proud of what he did for his country. "He's a real hero," he added.
Ogasawara's students agree. Jim Purcell, a second-degree black belt, and Celita Schutz, a third-degree black belt and five-time national champion, trained with Glick when they were younger. Both remember him as being very athletic, energetic and friendly, and they lauded his natural skills as a judoka.
"He had no fear when he competed against anyone," Schutz said. "He had a great character and sense about him, [and] he was always willing to try things. He was definitely willing to take chances, yet he was very careful about what he did."
Purcell was not surprised Glick tried to stop the hijacking. "Those terrorists who hijacked that plane — when they encountered him, they probably didn't expect the kind of offensive he would launch on them," he said. "He was an excellent judo player. I'm sure he fought with every ounce of strength in his body, and I'm sure that whatever he did, he [prevented] that plane from hitting whatever target they had in mind."
Schutz added: "When I read the first article in a local newspaper, my heart was pounding because I knew. I could see him through this experience. Jeremy and those others on Flight 93 actually had a choice to fight back, and for that I am extremely proud of him."
Jeremy Glick showed true budo spirit when he and the other passengers fought against their hijackers, which is why Black Belt inducted him into its Hall of Fame as 2001 Man of the Year.
Photos Courtesy of Nagayasu Ogasawara
About the author: Sara Fogan is a former managing editor of Black Belt.
Kick it back to the 1992 U.S. Capitol Classics in Washington D.C., where a clash of sport karate legends ensued between Kevin Thompson and Pedro Xavier.
This is the fifth edition of a weekly series that features old school sport karate videos to keep the history of the sport alive. This time, instead of highlighting a single competitor and their performance, we are reflecting on a point fighting match between Kevin Thompson and Pedro Xavier, two of the greatest to ever live.
This is the final edition of an epic five-part series that details the beginning of world-renowned swordsman Dana Abbott's training.
The everyday practice and study of kendo in a climate where the temperature reaches and exceeds 90 degrees plus applicable humidity is stifling. Japanese call this "mushi atsui", but in New York City it is just known as "muggy". Hot thick air makes the practice of any sport difficult and energy zapping. Just imagine you are in heavy cumbersome kendo gear combined with this weather. After a few hundred strikes into a workout one's lethargic body becomes immune to its surroundings and that "can't get started" feeling is diminished. Soaking wet kendo gear combined with the stench of hundreds of students doing the same thing creates a thick pungent layer of air that you could literally cut with a sword.
The use of terminology in Asian-based martial arts is always a hotly debated topic. Most of the non-Asian practitioners of these arts aren't fluent in their language of origin, let alone the nuances of their historical context, and so toss terms like "soke" around without fully grasping what they mean.
One particularly interesting - and contentious - word that frequently gets argued over within the Filipino martial arts community is "kali." Though often used interchangeably with "arnis" or "eskrima" as a catchall phrase to describe Filipino weapon arts, some practitioners of these arts claim kali is actually the ancient mother art from which all Filipino fighting styles descend. Yet no one is really sure where the word comes from or what it means.
The word itself does not seem to appear anywhere in the written record until 1957 when a martial artist named Placido Yambao authored the first book on Filipino fighting methods. Written in the Tagalog language, the book Mga Karunungan sa Larung Arnís actually refers to the arts Yambao practiced as "arnis." Though kali is named in the introduction as a pre-hispanic source for arnis, it's been reported that it was actually Yambao's editor and co-author, Buenaventura Mirafuente, and not Yambao himself, who wrote this section. Mirafuente gives no source for his information or where he got the word "kali."
Over the years there's been much speculation on where this term originates with various suggestions put forth that it's a composite of two or more words, that it's a version of the word "kalis" (sword) or that it refers to the Hindu goddess Kali. Yet given that there are so many contradictory explanations, combined with the fact they rarely come with much proof beyond "my teacher told me this..." means none of these explanations really carries much weight.
Most of the serious academic scholars who've examined the history of Filipino martial arts seem to doubt the historicity of "kali" with many claiming that older Filipino masters never heard of the word prior to the 1960s. True, the Philippines are a vast chain of islands with a wide variety of languages but if kali was really some sort of mother art from which the more modern arnis/eskrima sprang, you would think more people would have at least heard mention of it.
Many of those arguing in favor of the historical validity of the term "kali" seem to be martial artists associated with Dan Inosanto or Leo Gaje Jr., two instructors who both favor the use of the word and have made claims of its ancient origins. Though both these men are brilliant martial artists, neither is an academic historian trained in researching such matters. Gaje, despite his being one of the earliest advocates of the term kali, actually referred to his martial art of pekiti-tirsia as "arnis" when he first came to the United States and only later began referring to it as kali. Meanwhile, according to long-time Inosanto student Cass Magda, Inosanto picked up the term from Filipino martial arts instructor Ben Largusa, while Largusa himself got the term from the book Asian Fighting Arts by Donn Draeger and Robert W. Smith. Draeger and Smith's use of the term appears to come from Placido Yambao's book, the only written source given for their chapter on Filipino martial arts. So it seems all "kali" roads lead back to Yambao, or to his co-author, Mirafuente.
Nevertheless, many supporters of the term kali will have none of this saying just because no one can find any evidence of an ancient art called kali, or even the word itself as referring to a particular martial art, prior to 1957, that doesn't mean it didn't exist. But as always, the burden of proof is not on people to disprove an assertion, it is on the person making the claim - in this case that kali was a word used to describe an ancient Filipino martial art - to prove its truth. And there simply doesn't appear to be any credible proof available.
While words of Spanish origin like "eskrima" or "arnis" may not be fully satisfactory to many Filipino martial artists as an overall term to describe the fighting arts of these islands, perhaps a better solution is for people to just use another term originally coined by Inosanto, the less catchy - but more accurate - phrase "Filipino martial arts" to describe... well... Filipino martial arts.
- Kali - Black Belt Magazine ›
- 10 Things You Probably Didn't Know About the Filipino Martial Arts ... ›