This an interview with Grandmaster Donald Miskel Patriarch of the International Fighting Arts Association/Black Dragon Fighting Society. I want to address the coming seminars & Open Karate Tournament in Chicago, this coming October 23 to 25th. So I'd like to begin by thanking both you for doing this interview.
I'd like to start be asking about asking about the event and what all it will entail?
Grandmaster Donald Miskel (GM Miskel): This event will be a homecoming reunion bringing the BDFS back to the place of its inception. We are offering seminars by three of our kumite warriors and several other of our masters and grandmasters. The Kata Dante will be taught and participants will receive certification. We are also offering certification in our Ant bullying program and our Referee/judges clinic. We will be presenting the first BDFS Hall of Fame and the first BDFS kumite commemoration tournament.
You must both be happy to get BDFS back in Chicago, could I get some background on both your martial arts training & experience?
GM Miskel: My martial art training began in 1957 when I began studying judo and Kano Jiu Jitsu. I studied shotokan karate with Sensei Sujiro Sugiama and shorei goju karate with Douglas Dwyer, Joun Keehan and Douglas Hayle. I studied Okinawan kempo under Sensei Dupre’ and Chinese kuntao and Chaun Fa (Chinese kempo) under Benji Appalado. I studied hakko ryu jujitsu, daito ryu aikijitsu and aikido under Sensei Robert Hackett, Master Gilbert James, Sensei Grazanski and Master Freeman Fox. I studied northern Shaolin praying mantis under Master James Hu and Tibetan Lama kung fu (white crane and lohan bafa) under Master Choi. I am the cofounder of the Black Lotus Martial Art Association and I’m the senior grandmaster of its fighting systems. I am one of the Patriarchs and the Head of Family of the Black Dragon Fighting Society and have had opportunity to train with some of its various masters.
Will the IFAA/BDFS be hosting other competitions such Judo, Sport Jujitsu or MMA?
GM Miskel: To date we have hosted two karate tournaments and we have cohosted one jujitsu tournament. We will be venturing into other areas of competition in the near future.
So what your opinions of our current social & political climate?
GM Miskel: I am in despair with some of the things I am seeing in our society today. It seems that we have taken two steps forward and three steps back. I am a minister and pastor as well as a martial artist and retired Psych professional. I look at what I see in our world today with total disbelief and incomprehension. It seems that the vocal minority has superseded the silent majority and what ever people scream the loudest for is subsequently granted however crazy it might be. There seems to be no moral fiber in our society and little respect for the church or Christian believers.
I know that some of orgional members lived through/survived the Civil Rights Riots and Battles of the 1950s and 1960s. I'm sure you have some insights that could benefit our younger generation at this time?
GM Miskel: I am old enough to have seen much of these transitions. The fifties, sixties and seventies were a time of change, some for the better some not so much so. I was in the military during part of the sixties and into the early seventies. That kept me out of the middle of much of that but I was aware of what was happening. I was active in some aspects of the struggle. I leaned more to the philosophy of Malcolm X than that of Dr. King. I was a Black Panther for a short while but my passion with the martial arts and my education began to consume most of my time. Plus I got married after boot camp and had a family to support.
I had mentioned this Shihan Lassiter when we talked on the Phone but, I had the pleasure of meeting Eric Larkin he was a Houstin Oilers player back in the 1987, origionally from Chicago. His cousin was at the infamous 1968 Democratic National Convention were Keehan/Dante was teaching the Black Stone Rangers and others to act as security. It was interesting hearing the him relay his cousin's account of the event after hearing Grandmaster Ashida Kim's account. Those must have been some interesting times to live through?
GM Miskel: Indeed. I was on leave at the time and saw much of the turmoil that resulted from the confrontation between the protesters and the police. It was insane. I didn’t know Ashida at that time but I had heard of his involvement in the security of the event. As much as I respected John Keehan I had little use for the Stones. I grew up affiliated with a rival faction in the streets of Chicago.
We had discussed the climate of conflict between martial arts styles and martial artists today, how does this compare to the infamous Dojo Wars of John Keehan/Count Dante's BDFS? Personally, I think most of the trash talker on the net wouldn't run there mouths the way they do in person but, thats my personal experience.
GM Miskel: One of my primary concerns is trying to promote unity in the martial arts. I knew Jim Konservic as well as Lawrence day, and Michael Felkof all of whom were involved in the incident at the Black Cobra Hall of the Green Dragon Society. That was a terrible time. I was caught up in much of the conflict between various schools and organizations as were many of John’s students. I saw the transition of John Keehan into the Count Dante persona and was there as the old World Karate Federation was scrapped and the Black Dragon Fighting Society was created. I was a member of both organizations though during my involvement with the WKF I was Kyu ranked and was a teenager. The last thing I want to see is a reenactment of the dojo wars of the sixties and seventies. I have labored hard to rid the BDFS of the stigma of those turbulent days. Talk is cheap. People run their mouths and indulge in what I like to call keyboard kumite. Social media and the world wide web has made much of this possible. Most of those same people would be silent if they had to meet the people they malign face to face
I'm going to ask Grandmaster Blanton about his own experiences and get his input but, I'd like both your opinions on the BDFS Anti-Bullying Program?
GM Miskel: A many of you know G.M. Blanton has stepped down from the head of the BDFS Antibullying program. I feel that his decision to do so is unfortunate but it falls into very capable hands in the person of Master Larry McFadden. Larry was a professor at Morano Valley University and is a natural teacher and a martial art Grandmaster. He has taught the program on the high school and college level in the United States and in Mexico. Master Blanton did a good job as the former head of the program but it must go on in his absence. It addresses an important issue that plagues our society and gives us a means of dealing effectively with the problem. It is one of our flagship programs.