I had an interesting email exchange the other day. The foremost researcher on H2H/Combatives instructor Dermot “Pat” O’Neill sent an image of page 10 from the January 1967 issue of Black Belt magazine. Here is the page (click on the image to open up to full size):
As you can see, Black Belt announces that the U.S. Marine Corps is going to drop its judo based combatives program and replace it with a system based on Chinese boxing. In the announcement, Black Belt finishes with “We will carry the full story.” So everyone is thinking O’Neill (if you’ve seen the film “Devil’s Brigade,” the combatives instructor is based on him) and the hunt is on for what promises to be a fascinating article.
I google a bit, and, as with many things, I wind up on eBay looking for a February 1967 copy of Black Belt, reasoning that the page was a teaser for the next month’s issue. The first seller was in Thailand training and couldn’t get to his issue to check if the story was in there, but the next seller had a copy and was willing to check for me.
Unfortunately, the article was not in the February 1967 issue. The seller, an extremely kind man with the seller id Bloop68, went to the trouble of pulling all the 1967 issues and checking for the article. No luck, but please check out his store because he could not have been more helpful for something that would have amounted to maybe a $15 sale (it was obvious he was checking because that’s the kind of person he was, not just because I was a potential sale).
One of the EJMAS editors pointed out that the story would have went to print sometime in mid-1966 and hit the newsstands in fall 1966 considering Black Belt’s lead time, but a quick search of the online historical newspapers was fruitless.
So, the mystery remains: Did Black Belt ever actually publish the article? If anyone knows anything relevant, or you just want to chime in, please contact us! You can leave a comment here or contact us privately through the Contact Us page.
For more on O’Neill online see Cestari & Grasso’s biographical summary here. For an excellent print resource see Brown, Steve.”Dermot O’Neill: One of the 20th Century’s Most Overlooked Combatives Pioneers.” Journal Of Asian Martial Arts, 12:3, pp. 18-31 (2003).