Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on August 3, 1975 · Page 169
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 169

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, August 3, 1975
Page 169
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Congress battle: Sens. Stevens (I) of Alaska and Burdick of North Dakota square off at karate class. They'll stage a public fight for a cause Sept. 14. by Jack Anderson WASHINGTON, D.C O n a recent Tuesday morning, astonished eyewitnesses beheld two Senators--a Democrat and a Republican--square off, sweat- beaded and grim-eyed. They circled each other, shouting menacing challenges. Then they rushed upon one another, kicking and punching. Our eyewitnesses edged closer. The aggressor was Sen. Quentin Burdick (D., N.D.), age 67, a burly six-footer, lumbering forward like the football star he once was, bulldozing the smaller i but more agile Sen. Ted Stevens (R., [ Alaska), age 51. '. In quick succession, Burdick threw | a roundhouse kick (a knee cocker but : with the foot brought round from the \ side), then a wheelhouse kick delivered c with the back of the heel. Deftly, Ste- ning of martial arts. The proceeds will go to a legal defense fund for reporters, who are being dragged into court in increasing numbers in an attempt to silence the investigative press. Solons from ages 32 to 77 have enrolled in the karate class on Capitol Hill. Practice sessions begin with strenuous exercises which the members call the "dirty dozen," punctuated by appropriate bellows and grunts. Leap and kick Most of them have passed the stage where they can easily break one-inch boards with the sides of their hands. Their instructor is Jhoon Rhee, once the only man in the world who could leap high in the air and, before alighting, loose three separate kicks with mulelike force. He could break four boards held two feet above him. The Congressional students are slowly gaining on their teacher, pouring into their effort all the unnatural drive and combativeness that raised them to the Halls of Congress. The Capitol Hill karate corps was organized three years ago by Sen. Milton Young (R., N.D.) and Rep. James Symington (D., Mo.). Other members of the original first string include Speaker Carl Albert (D., Okla.), the bantamweight tyro, and Sen. Howard Cannon (D., Nev.); Richard Schweiker (R., Pa.) and Joseph Montoya (D., N.M.). Today's varsity, besides Burdick and Stevens, includes six dreadnoughts from the House side--Dick Ichord (D., Mo.), Tom Bevill (D., Ala.), Floyd Spence (R., S.C.), Edward Roybal (D., Cal.), Lester Wolff (R, N.Y.) and Walter Fauntroy, District of Columbia delegate. The purpose behind these semiweekly ordeals of yowls, kicks and lunges is physical conditioning. Rep. Lester Wolff calls karate training "a great regimen of exercise which builds vens sidestepped the flying feet and returned a punch ta Burdick's head--a rifle shot, straight out, with a snap to it. What is this? Has Congress finally gone over the edge? Or is it a Washington grudge fight like the one a few years ago when Sen. Ralph Yarborough (D., Tex.) grappled in the Senate corridor with Sen. Strom Thurmond (R., S.C.)? Reporters' defenders It was neither of these. Burdick and Stevens are members of the Congressional karate class that works out every Tuesday and Thursday in the Senate gym. The two are in training for a public bout on SepL 14 at the District of Columbia Armory. They will be the feature fighters during a dazzling eve- one's self-confidence." Senator Burdick says it relaxes him and keeps his mind sharp. Jim Symington calls karate "the most beneficial physical activity available for those with severely limited exercise time." Senator Stevens credits it with keeping his weight at a steady level for the past few years, while Congressman Spence, who is 47, sees it as a bridge over the generation gulf. "My four sons don't think their father's over the hill now." There is another motive, unspoken by the Congressional members but acknowledged by other Washington karate devotees: the quest for an effective means of self-protection against the rising tide of muggings that menace those who must tread Washington streets after dark. It may not be entirely a coincidence that the Capitol Hill karate corps suddenly became more popular shortly after Sen. John Stennis (D., Miss.) was shot and almost killed in an encounter with young hoodlums outside his home in January, 1973. Protecting bones Jhoon Rhee, who is guiding so many Washington celebrities in the ways of structured mayhem, is an immigrant from Seoul-, Korea. He began in 1962,as~ a teacher of Tae-Kwon-Do--a Korean karate that is particularly aggressive but highly ritualistic in its postures, stances, yells. But the innovative Rhee soon transformed it into a less fdrmalistic, more spectacular sport with full body contact. To prevent the decimation of his clientele that would have otherwise have been inevitable, Rhee invented safety equipment--headgear, padding for the hands and feet--to soften the impact of paralyzing blows. This equipment, plus the trainee's physical conditioning and agility, helps keep bones from being broken like the boards that continued Missouri Rep. Dick Ichord, shown here with teacher Jhoon Rhee, may be trie fiercest karate expert in Congress; he can break three boards with a kick. 12

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