Wednesday, June 2, 2010

"Samurai Sword Attack" in Los Angeles? なに?

It’s happened again here in the City of Angeles. Another man has made headlines for using a Samurai Sword in an act of senseless violence. A 34 year old African-American man by the name of Steven Hill has been accused of attacking three of his coworkers at Ultima DVD with what the news has repeatedly called a “Samurai” styled sword and fatally killing one of them. I about cringed when I saw the graphic on the morning news displaying a Japanese Katana with the bold headline reading “Sword Attack!” ‘Oh please don’t let it be a Samurai sword!’ I exclaimed. Seriously how do they know it was a Samurai Sword? ばか! But to no avail, the news had spread all over the local networks of the disgruntled porno actor / photographer who on the verge of being fired from the Van Nuys porno company for acting inappropriately with his subjects reached for a bladed prop weapon and lunged at his coworkers before escaping. The media had instantly jumped to conclusions. Ok, so it wasn’t a crazy white guy with a katana but still why couldn’t he used a baseball bat, broadsword, claymore, fencing foil, or a even a freaking flyswatter? Oh but no! Not here! It just gets worse as details rolled in.

It’s been a little over two years since former Scientologist Mario Majorksi pulled up to the Hollywood Scientology Celebrity Center (two blocks from where I live) and rushed security guards with two Samurai Swords resulting in his own fatal shooting and more bad press for those who are respectfully on the path of the sword, namely Bushido where the Japanese Samurai sword is revered. The media always describes them as crazed swordsmen. Men who commit these acts are not real swordsmen or martial artists. The people who commit these crimes may just angry who for whatever reason chose the katana as their weapon of choice. But are they really using katana? The LAPD in both instances failed to disclose any photographs of the alleged Japanese Swords. Convenient or is there something else going on here? According to the Huffington Post the weapon was a machete-type prop weapon not a Samurai Sword.

I was happy to see how the Huffington Post went into detailed coverage specificly identifying the alleged weapon as a machete-type prop used for porn production instead of a katana. But five minutes later just as I was in the process of giving the Huffington Post praise they posted this picture seen here to the right reinforcing this image of a mad man weilding a Samurai Sword. Come on guys! A Machete bears no resemblance to a Samurai Katana. You can do better! Seriously!

Bad press like this is never good particularly in the knee-jerk reactionary culture we live in. This just leads to more trouble for those of us who train with swords responsibly. I can personally attest to this experience when my attorney had to argue over the non-lethal properties of my own Iaito sword that was briefly confiscated by the LAPD then later returned. I do have certificates certifying my skill as a swordsman by a world-renown instructor and that I do attend a licensed Shinkage hence I know what I am talking about. More so than mister baldheaded steroid pumping man with the shiny badge pointing a taser gun at me for possessing non-lethal practice weapons but because of bad press like this, this is what it has come down to.

The local news can’t seem to agree if this was a machete attack or a sword attack thus illustrating the high level of ignorance when it comes to swords and those who use them. This is still an on going situation so the jury is still out as to what the final conclusions will be. In the days of the Samurai one could become a hero or a villain. But in this day and age, ignorance will sadly rule supreme. My main concern is that there will once again be calls to enact legislation to make ownership of swords illegal. I hope it never comes to that. In Japan, one needs a permit to carry a sword that is issued to you if you are a collector, historical re-enactor, or a Shinkage Student. I wouldn’t be opposed to having something like that here for it would keep the crazies from using katana in violent incidents or seriously decrease such. Ah but of course that probably wouldn’t work here given the lack of education that exists in the City of Angeles. It would be a total disaster if someone assumed such authority that did not come from a Martial Arts background. So there you go.

I personally deplore violence especially when one uses a sword as his weapon against unarmed victims. My years of hard training in the safe handling and responsibility takes personal offense to it. It just shows the perpetrator as having neither respect for the sword or for himself. It's sad that a person was killed in this manner and just has bad that there were people injured. But just the same goes for the damaged reputation of the Samurai Sword and for those who properly use them. I hope in future such instances a distinction is made between those who train and respect the sword from those who recklessly abuse it. The media should report these incidents with a level of responsibility that we expect of them to provide. The Samurai once served the people it protected. Today those who train in their arts treat these instruments with reverence and high respect. To own Samurai swords in a country that does not have a sword wielding cultural identity is not an indication that you are crazy or in danger of committing violent acts. But until people act responsibly, one can expect the reactionary backlash in the media and things will sadly remain the same. This is just one swordsman's view.

See! Even with the newly added  surveillance video it still looks like he is carrying a machete!


  1. I read about this too. Pretty lame they called it a `samurai-like` sword when it appears it was some sort of machete.

  2. i agree someone that owns a samuri sword shold know to respect the sword not use it to kill or injur defenceless people, or animals.