I'm sure many of you are already aware of Alan Moore's incredible League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comics series. No, not the movie (which was pretty crappy except for the marvelous appearance of Peta Wilson as Mina Harker, Vampiress). The comic series.
The concept is that Moore smashes up Victorian and Edwardian literary genres and characters into a wacky, somewhat steampunk universe. It works exceptionally well, with Mina Harker and Alan Quartermain leading Captain Nemo, My. Hyde and the Invisible Man against Professor Moriarty and Fu Manchu. Other adventures see the bizarre heroes fighting the Martians in a war of the worlds by recruiting Dr. Moreau. Weird, wonderfully weird.
But there's no reason to limit the concept to classic British Lit. Others have cobbled together (one hesitates to announce these avengers "assembled") line-ups from other eras and transferred the action across the pond.
Behold, LXG 1988!
Lisa (the science genie from Weird Science), Angus MacGuyver, Doc Brown (super-genius from Back to the Future), BA Baracus (the A-Team's muscle and trained Ranger/Green Beret), and Jack Burton (truck driving adventurer and personally acquainted with weirdness from Big Trouble in Little China).
And check out LXG 1996: Edward Scissorhands (a biological experiement), Sarah Bailey (a young witch with knowledge of The Craft), Tequila Yuen ( a Hard Boiled, detective from Hong Kong with balletic ballistic skills), FBI Agent Dana Scully (fresh from her work on the X-Files), Zach Morris (another youngster with an uncanny ability to stop time, from Saved by the Bell), and the enigmatic Rufus (from Bill and Ted's excellent Adventure).
Even more fun than imagining the adventures of these teams is guessing about how their predecessors, remembered in portraits on the wall behind them, fared on their missions. I'm desperate to know what kind of conversation Egon Spengler had with Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod as they traveled in KITT.
It should be surprising, but one of the things most frequently lost in translation about martial arts training is that the whole primary point of the exercise is combat effectiveness. Yes, combat. That moment when bad guys want to do horrible things to your all-too-squishy anatomy and you must fight back.
This is not the time for culturally appropriate uniforms, exotic weapons, pre-determined forms, or platitudes about inner peace. It's also not the time for steel cages, championship belts, starter bells, or ring girls. Training around those things can help -- in different ways -- but when your life is on the line, it's just about you and your ability to deal out the damage.
It's all too easy to get mesmerized by all the accoutrements of most modern martial arts training. Every now and then, it pays to take a look at Combatives and see what they're doing. So over the next couple of weeks, I'm going to post some videos from Kelly McCann, a guy who is all about social engagements at close quarters. One of my self-defense gurus turned me on to McCann's material and promised me he was the real deal. My guru passed along the wisdom that the difference between Martial Arts and Combatives is that Martial Arts is what you do with people, but Combatives is what you do to people. You might think about that while you watch this video, and the rest in my series...