In the spring of 1372 the Ming Dynasty kick-started the modern karate kraze by bringing old school martial arts to the Ryukyu Islands of Japan. It was a relaxing hobby until 1609 when the Shimazu clan (the first cats to use firearms) got in everybody's business and the Okinawa Elders did thus decree an all out ban on weapons. This led to the widespread use of punching and kicking and gouging. To keep up with the demand for savvy senpais, those already trained in the martial arts assembled makeshift classrooms and hired receptionists. Three hundred and forty-nine years later in an army base in Fort Hood, Texas, the exotic open-handed techniques of the Orient found an unlikely zealot in the form of the Rock and Roll King of the World.
In the 1950s, Elvis Presley--all purpose sleepwalker and fan of Mario Lanza 78s and chocolate milk, was Sun Records' most successful foray from the darkness of unsold hillbilly noise. In an early interview Elvis mentioned that he "was studying to be an electrician but got wired the wrong way," and he wasn't too far off the mark. A loyal devotee of Captain Marvel, Jr., Presley carried a five battery police flashlight like a scepter while his own candle flickered tenuously within. He rose and expanded like a human Pac-Man, squandering his days searching for clouds that resembled Joseph Stalin and nurturing his Norman Bates complex. Blessed/cursed with a notoriously short attention span, Presley tore through hobbies and interests with the feral randomness of a three week old chimp. He actually owned a chimp ("Scatter") and after much hilarity, the poor monkey found himself delegated to a spare room along with slot car tracks, fireworks, religious booklets and other sundry forms of spent distraction.
One hobby that Elvis stuck with for almost his entire adult life was the martial arts, specifically karate. He had his first taste of the chop-socky in boot camp and would excitedly expound on its history and meaning to anyone who was forced to gamely listen. Karate's teachings and theatrics complimented his superhero obsession nicely and he devoured books on the subject. Elvis' voracious appetite for knowledge was matched only by his voracious appetite.
In 1974 Presley dropped bags of cash into a karate action flick which he was supposed to star in and narrate. Due to pressing matters (like touring 200 days a year) the deal got nixed. Luckily, some curious footage remains of Elvis tricked out in his gi trying bad-ass moves on his hairy pals. Two weeks before this test reel was shot, Presley closed his stint at The Hilton with a rambling, career-defining monologue that's still talked about today--I'm talking about it right now! Wild-eyed and twitchy, Elvis flashed his (honorary) 8th degree black belt certificate to the surprised crowd and railed against "bellboys...freaks that carry your luggage up to the room" and other undesirables. Buddy Rich and Paul Anka kept their paranoid ravings to backstages and buses but Elvis being larger than life, took it to the stage--preaching it to the choir (however in this case the choir was probably looking for the nearest exit). Later that evening, The King, hopped up on who knows what, jumped onstage at Tom Jones' show down the strip and treated the stunned audience to a twenty minute karate demo free of charge. The Okinawa Elders would've been proud of Elvis that night. Or kicked his ass.