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GOING THE DISTANCE
PHOTO BY GENGHIS
HACKSAW AT THE SEEDY X-BAR:
"I am not sure why G has such a hardon about the current Horse when they are much more open minded about what someone rides than whats written in GTD. To each their own I say. I see the value in crossing over , even if G-Man may see no value in me, or E-Man and Hammer for that matter..."
It was 1991. I'd just bowed my class in at our Lower East Side dojo. At the end of the line was a new white belt. His name was David Snow. I met David when he featured my Harley 74, Mabel in his magazine. That magazine was Iron Horse.
Since that article, I became a columnist for the magazine. My column was called "Going The Distance" which was taken from an earlier feature article that I wrote on spec that bore the same title.
In that particular class I let David get his feet wet in the full-contact sparring that I taught. It would be a good introduction for David, to the no-compromise sparring ethic that we believed in. In that, I and my students were purists. This left David a memorable impression. One of my green belts named Mike Imperiale planted a full-on sliding sidekick to David's solar plexus that took David's wind away for some time.
After class was over, David commented to me about the "nice Trumpet" he was doing a feature on. I told him that I would never ride a Limey. He said...."Oh, so you're a purist...." I told him, yeah---I would only own a Harley and what's more---I'd always own a Harley no matter what.
Notice that I didn't say that there was anything wrong with others riding Limeys. I merely stated a fact: that I would never own and ride one. I rightly perceived Harley-Davidsons as the lifeblood of the biker subculture, and as such---considered 'em the cream of the crop. Times haven't changed much for me. I still feel the same way. In many ways the biker subculture has become weaker, more diluted. Gone are the t-shirts with "If you don't ride a Harley you ain't shit" on 'em. Oh no, we're much too politically correct these days to affirm the fact that the Harley-Davidson motorcycle has been carrying the biker subculture banner for 80 years. The acclaimed flagbearer of the culture has had to endure an ecumenalism never witnessed in such profusion. So yes, I admit to remaining a purist among agnostics in today's biker culture.
I can't see it, though. Real bikers stand by their convictions. Hey, if ya believed it thirty or forty years ago as the truth, why don't you believe it now? That's the inconvenient thing about truth. Truth tends to resist change throughout time. Vacillating truth is definitely not change you can believe in.
I was just as much a purist when it came to the combat arts. Hey, you have to practice hitting and getting hit for real, with nothing held back---in order to become good at it. It's a simple concept that eludes many, and causes many to delude themselves. In any empty-handed fighting discipline, you must practice it as it is intended to be implemented: to injure and maim with intent, and to deliver a killing blow as its pinnacle. The "one point kill" had always been the holy grail worked toward for centuries in the arts, so why would that change in contemporary times? What constituted a purist attitude toward real training in fighting, should not have been diluted to the mall karate studio standard, where kids playing patty cake paid the rent. The objective was always to train to maim, period. Analogously, Harleys were always the gold standard in the biker subculture. Bikers knew where it was at decades ago. Now, Biker Lites want to change the prerequisites for matriculation? Dig it man, a Harley was the most coveted motorcycle in the culture, and as far as I'm concerned, it still is.
Getting back to the germaine point, although I don't believe that there is anything wrong with anyone else riding a non-Harley-Davidson, my loyalty to the brand stands strong and drives my purist attitude. While I could care less about what others think, I do definitely care about what I think. What I think is, what I've always thought and believed. Belief systems that are based on principle do not erode, or---let me rephrase that, should not erode or become watered down.
Hey man, Harley's best, forget the rest. Later.