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Robert Halliburton, Karate, and Apple Trees

Robert Halliburton Karate

I  received an email the other day about Robert Halliburton, and it brought me back to my early days in Karate.

I was studying Chinese Kenpo Karate, I was 19 years old, and life was paradise. I mean, I didn’t have much responsibility, and I just focused on making my kick sharper, doing my form lower, making all my techniques snap.

ron marciniSo this guy asked if I had known Robert Halliburton. I immediately knew the name, and googled it, and found out that he had died.

Halliburton was a Shotokan stylist back in the sixties, and he went to the tournaments, and he was good. I actually saw him at several tournaments, but the one that came to mind he was fighting for the championship. I think he was fighting Ron Marcini, though I could be mistaken.

Karate was different back in those days. There was a LOT more politeness…but then all of society was more polite. Also, there was a belief in technique and form that is not present today. Bruce Lee hadn’t come on the scene and exploited some of the weakness of closed combat systems, the slide into a tournament mentality hadn’t started, and so on.

I know it sounds like some old guy looking back to the good, old days, but Karate was better back then.

And, if Matrixing has anything to do with it, Karate will be resurrected, along with all the truly great closed combat systems.

That said, the morning matches were exciting; I think I was fighting green belt and got eliminated, but we had a lot of fellows still in the finals, and it was the best of times.

We went to lunch at some restaurant, and I Robert Halliburton came in with some fellows and took the table next to us. I was a little bit in awe, cause this guy was good, and he was fighting in the finals. So I watched him a bit, he was pretty normal, a bit reserved, had his mind on the tournament probably, and lunch passed.

Afterward, my school gathered on the lawn outside the tournament hall. We chatted about matches and this and that, and I was eating an apple and thinking, and somebody asked me what I was thinking about.

“I was wondering if I should plant the seeds from this apple,” I quipped. “We come back here next year I could pick apples instead of buying them.

Well, they ragged me, called me Johnny Appleseed, and then we went back in to finish that tournament.

Apple trees live about 80 years. Their prime producing years are about 30 to 40.

I made that quip 42 years ago. That seed I shoved in the ground sprouted, and, if it wasn’t rooted out by some groundskeeper,  it gave apples for a few decades, and now is in its decline.

42 years ago Robert Halliburton was a seed. He went on to grow into a tree, gave several decades of instruction, and died.

What you get out of Karate, or any martial art, is not in that tournament. It’s not in that belt. It’s in the several decades of teaching, of helping people understand, of giving shade to those who don’t know how to protect themselves.

It’s an interesting question, isn’t it? How much fruit will you give? How much shade? Or are you just dried up wood, to be chopped down and thrown in the blaze.

Anyway, that’s what I thought about when I received that email; Robert Halliburton karate and apple trees.

robert halliburton karate