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PUNCHING DAY

Punching Day: Karate Rock 🌭

If there’s one thing I’ve picked up from reading this fine website, it’s that there’s an ideal medium for learning the ancient science of self-defense: words and still photographs. However, I recently discovered on a trip to my local record store/drug front that I could find equally effective teaching tools there. Today I’m gonna crown the best people-kicking tutorial done through music. If you want to learn the five finger death punch without having to listen to Five Finger Death Punch, you need the 1985 vinyl LP KARATE MOVES: The mystical world of karate Narrated by Mike Faure featuring the Music of Steve Linnegar’s SNAKESHED.

Look at that cover. Every moment you’ve spent not buying KARATE MOVES: The mystical world of karate Narrated by Mike Faure featuring the Music of Steve Linnegar’s SNAKESHED was wasted.

The record claims to be, and I quote, “a vivid audio documentary on the mystical world of karate. It is a revelation to the layman and a great motivating vehicle for the karate student!” In other words, this is going to blow ordinary minds and give karate minds a reason to keep going. And it would be delivered by someone with firsthand knowledge of the kick secrets of the Orient– Steve Linnegar, who dedicated his entire music career to psychedelic/prog rock albums about Eastern philosophy and history. He surely studied with the masters, or at least has some Asian background… haha just kidding, it’s a white dude who was known as “the Hippie King of Cape Town.” Unfortunately, being known as the Hippie King of Cape Town in 1985 was like being known as Giggles & The Rodney King Dancers in 1992.

Well, maybe Sensei Segregation has some genuine wisdom to share with us, aside from how to make “mustache” your only physical quality. And he does! He starts off strong! After a kick-ass snippet of the title song that makes use of the finest synthesizer and slap bass available in a country cut off by international sanctions, we hear a narrator doing a Richard Burton impression in five-minute breaks between benders:

“In the mysterious world of karate, and Eastern martial arts, power and softness and extreme understanding are the qualities of the Masters. We are all learning her beauty and secrets. Karate takes years to master and its practice will change the trainee and make him more relaxed and in control of his emotions. It will also give him extraordinary powers, almost supernatural powers, these must not be abused.”

Extraordinary, almost supernatural powers! And you don’t even have to spin the record backwards and pledge your soul to luaP yentraCcM. Tell us more about these powers over some sweet psych rock jams, Afrikaner Chuck Norris.

“First secret revealed: you can learn to immobilize your opponent by the use of the KIA. The KIA is the karate scream. The force of the KIA scream is generated from the stomach and snaps the whole force of the person using it.”

So this karate shout doesn’t just “amplify” your power, it’s also a banshee-like screech that casts Hold Person on any deadly enemy or argumentative spouse nearby. And remember, this record doesn’t teach you how to do it, only that someone other than the speaker or the listener could. He’s risking a lot revealing this to you, but maybe sonic attacks exist. So move over, ninjutsu, there’s a new magical martial art in tow-

What’s this? Four black-clad strangers appear in a puff of smoke to defend the honor of the ninja! What do these dark avengers call themselves? The only thing that makes sense: THE NINJA. And they’ve brought a rebuttal called The Ninja Warrïors of Rock.

If Snakeshed sound like an eighties band that belonged in the seventies, The Ninja sound like a 1985 band that belonged in 1985 and no other year. They sound like the opening act on a seven band pay-to-play bill at The Cathouse headlined by Bang Tango. They sound like the kind of group that would play in the background of a bar in a zero-budget action flick called Sword of Heaven during a scene where a yuppie douchebag mistakes the Asian lead for a woman because he has long hair. That’s the most 1985 thing that could happen, because it did.

But who are they underneath those masks? Surely they would never reveal their closely-held secret identities on the back of an LP sleeve…

No wonder they took the costumes off. I thought that face-broom on Steve Linnegar was manly but just look at those manes! Those are the kind of feathered mullets that leave a river full of high-waisted panties stretching from the Rainbow to the Whiskey. By the time your eye travels from the outside of their hair to the tiny face in the center, you’re not the same person you were when you started. If The Ninja Warrïors of Rock ever encounter an enemy they can’t defeat, they simply sink into their hair and escape through a different cave in their bangs. And as masters of both rock and the martial arts, they thank their sensei right on the cover:

Hmm. Maybe Casamassa is his father’s name and he’s descended from –

Nope, it’s the white dude from Pennsylvania who wrote 1900HOTDOG classic, RAPIST BEWARE! Oh shit, the Internet says his brother Chris played Scorpion in Mortal Kombat. NO! Stay strong, we’re not here to go down a– whoa, he was Red Dragon on WMAC Maste— no. NO!

Back to The Ninja. Oh sweet, they have a fan club! And not just a fan club – a secret society.

And it’s in LA! I’m in LA! Let’s take a gander at what a real ninja lair looks like:

Hmm. Extremely ninja of them to hide their headquarters in an unassuming house under the 101 freeway. Every one of those people on the billboard? Ninjas in expert camouflage. The dirty benches? Ninjas. The streetlight? Just a streetlight. But behind it? Three skinny ninjas stacked one atop another, just waiting for you to turn your back while muttering “I think there’s something wrong with that bench…”

The point is: If you’re gonna reveal ancient mysteries in a private press record release, you need to be ready to defend yourself from your assassination. Secrets like…

Hmm. That’s about ninjas in the same way that American Ninja parts 1-4 are. It is ninja-adjacent at best. It would be absurd for these men to just be nerds cosplaying as glam rockers cosplaying as ninjas. There must be hidden knowledge in here somewhere…

A ninja worried about love is either a ninja about to die to the rival ninja clans he should be worrying about, or a ninja who has destroyed all of their rival ninja clans and now has some well-earned downtime. Either way, I was expecting more mystical combat and fewer cranky ex-girlfriends.

Panicking because there’s blood on your ninja sword? I can’t think of anything less ninja than this. This might as well be a song protesting the flea market’s throwing star return policies.

Ninja songs about… notable figures of the American Civil War getting dismembered? No one could have expected this, making it very ninja. “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO MY LEGS? WHY DID YOU CUT OFF MY ARMS, MY LEGS! WHY ME?” Sorry, it’s just really stuck in my head. I love it. Nothing could get me to turn on my favorite new ba–

This is a nightmare, but I finally learned something! The age of consent in California in 1985 was 18! Now that’s in my search history forever, and this article will not help explain it.

How the fuck does a band called The Ninja have as many songs about ninjas as Blue Oyster Cult, a band that put a space station on the cover of their record called Club Ninja? I’m starting to think The Ninja are just posers, which again, is actually a very ninja thing to be.

Let’s check back in with Karate Moves and see what lessons the smoldering gaze of an outlet mall sensei can teach me.

Secret Number Two is “know your enemy and know yourself.” Secret Three is… punching. I’m starting to think the fourteen tax-deductible dollars I spent on a sealed copy of this may have been a rip-off. Then, at the end of side one, Secret Number Four… the supernatural sorcery I was waiting for: THE KIA SCREAM.

Which was…already Secret Number One? God damn it, karate. You’re worse than a ninja.

But who cares! It’s what we all came here for. The terrifying technique that can freeze your opponent in their tracks, allowing you to manually adjust them into humiliating poses before exploding their heart. Okay, this is really it! I’m going to listen! We’re all about to learn the secret of karate screech!

I’m back.

It was just a guy shouting “KIYAAAAH!” with an echo effect on it.

I remain entirely mobilized. Maybe it doesn’t work when it’s just a recording? Is it possible the ki force doesn’t transfer through speakers? Nay, unthinkable. There must be an explanation in Secret Number Five:

“The defender learns to watch the attacker’s eyes, not his body, as the eyes will telegraph his decision to move. The defender learns to react with split second timing, blocking and counter attacking either with a kick or a punch. This type of training is done many thousands of times and is the next step to kumite –”

He said the magic word, everybody SCREAM-

Fifth Secret: if someone attacks you with a knife, wrap your jacket around their arm. That sounds familiar. Sixth Secret: the karate chop. No one should need any at this point since all our opponents are paralyzed and split in half, but there’s more! Maybe the Seventh Secret will be an ultimate technique too deadly for smaller numbers? Nope, it’s a book recommendation!

At least the one actual song on here, “Karate Moves,” whips – it’s like Goblin for martial arts instead of artsy horror. Maybe you don’t understand what I mean by that, but I assure you it’s a compliment. But to be honest, my journey into the educational world of the mid-80s’ finest martial arts-themed rock albums turned out to be kinda disappointing. The Ninja had killer aesthetics but not much actual ninjutsu and Karate Moves had a lot to say but ultimately only taught me how to get a cat to leave the room. Maybe static images are the best way to learn martial arts after all.

When he’s not spending way too much money on novelty records or corrupting the nation’s youth, Jeff Treppel writes about music offline for Decibel Magazine and online for Bandcamp, Invisible Oranges, and The Shfl. Insert joke about Twitter here.

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