What I Learned: 

I learned that no matter how good you are, there can always be a situation where someone else can get the better of you. 

I learned how important it was to cross train in other styles of martial arts.
I learned it was important to be able to fight at close range with little room to maneuver.
I learned that being able to fight was important, but that it was more important to learn to avoid situations that may lead to a fight.

In the back alley situation, I learned what Bruce Lee meant when he talked about "the art of fighting without fighting". 

Steve Linton as a Junior at KCA High School

Rodney Hard taking a fall  for a student, Mike Speake, as he teaches Yudo (Korean Judo) during gym class at Korea Christian Academy in 1966.

Rodney Hard's yearbook picture from his senior year at Korea Christian Academy.  This was a tongue-in-cheek depiction of what I would be doing in the future.  It was a pretty close prediction.  I did teach martial arts, but it was Hapkido, Kenpo Karate, and Kung-Fu

                     WAYLAYED ON A BUS

By:  Dr. Rodney T. Hard

As a high school Junior in boarding school at Korea Christian Academy, I spent much of my spare time training in the martial arts of Judo and Tang Soo Do.  I befriended a very large Korean fellow who was also into martial arts and had muscles upon muscles.  He was an avid weight lifter and had a callous on the back of his head the size of an egg from lying on his back and bench pressing all the time.  He was an expert in Judo, Karate, Boxing, and Wrestling.  His name was Aw Baw Gee, and though he was older than I was, I think he hung out with me to learn English.

My best friend at school, Steve Linton, and I liked to take a bus on weekends to the City of Taejon for a movie and dinner.  One fateful Saturday afternoon, Steve and I got onto the bus heading to the city.  The bus had seats along the sides and Steve and I sat down near the back.  After several bus stops it got fairly crowded with a lot of people standing up in the middle.  Then, at the next bus stop, two guys got on and started talking boisterously and looking at Steve and me.  At the next bus stop, two more guys got on and started talking to the first two guys.  They all started looking over at us.  The next bus stop, two more guys got on and talked to the other four.  They looked at us and said in Korean, "Hey, why are you Americans talking so loud and being impolite in front of elders?"

I answered in Korean, "We are minding our own business having a quiet conversation.  It appears that you are the ones that are loud and impolite having attracted everyone's attention."

They glared at us and went back to talking with one another.  Over the next four or five stops, eight more of their gang got on.  Realizing what was about to happen, all of the other passengers got off the bus as quickly as they could.

That left fourteen mean looking young men glaring at us.  Steve and I rose to get off the bus, but the guy sitting by the door drew a sword hidden in his cane and shook his head side to side as if to say, "No, you aren't getting off here."

Steve and I had been in a similar situation before when eight guys followed us and trapped us in a dead end alley we had run into unwittingly to get away from them.  Steve and I had gotten out of that one by acting crazy.  We started arguing and fighting with each other as to who was going to get to fight this time.  "You had last time; it's my turn this time." I said as I pulled him behind me and headed toward the gang.  Steve pulled me back to get at the gang saying, "No, you had all the fun last time; it's my turn to fight them."  The gang looked at us in wide-eyed unbelief and just took off when we got to within several yards of them.

But this situation on the bus was different and more dangerous, mainly because there was fourteen against two of us and no room in which to maneuver.   They could just pile on and beat us to a pulp.

The next stop was the train station at the edge of the city.  There would be a lot of people around and probably some policemen.  At least that is what we hoped as the bus came to a stop.  Steve said, "It's now or never.  Let's go for it."  As we rose to make our move, the gang closed in on us.  But something caught my eye outside the bus on the sidewalk.  It was my friend, the Hulk.  I thought, "Three against fourteen is better than two against fourteen."  I frantically yelled out to my friend, "Aw Baw Gee!"

Everyone in the gang froze with panic in their eyes.  Then, some jumped out the windows and others ran out the door as fast as they could.  Aw Baw Gee watched the evacuation,  pointed to one of the gang members coming out the door, and sternly barked, "Come here!"

Steve and I watched in relief and amazement as the head of the gang Aw Baw Gee had summoned lay groveling at his feet begging for forgiveness.   The man said, "We're sorry, we didn't know they were your friends."

Aw Baw Gee snarled, "I'll deal with you later." and gave him a swift kick. 

Steve and I took our friend out on the town and treated him to a wonderful dinner.  We couldn't stop thanking him for saving our hides.  We told him about the encounter with the other gang in the alley several months ago and he had a good laugh about how Steve and I had handled it.  He promised that he would get the word out, and nobody would ever again mess with us or any of the foreign kids from our school. 

About fourteen years later, I was running several Karate schools in St. Louis, Missouri.  I hired a Korean martial arts master to run one of my schools.  Master Lee had been in the Korean Secret Service and had been a bodyguard to President Park Jung-hee when he was assassinated by his own security chief, on October 26, 1979.  Master Lee and all of the Secret Service became under suspicion and were purged from the service, though there was no proof of their involvement.  Most went to other countries in disgrace as did Master Lee, who came to America.

So, because of his former position, Master Lee was in the know about most criminal activity and crime families in Korea.  When I told him the story of how Aw Baw Gee had saved me from a serious beating back in 1966, he just looked at me with amusement and said, "You have no idea who this Aw Baw Gee is, do you?"

When I told him I did not know, he went on to tell me about my friend.  Master Lee told me that Aw Baw Gee was the youngest of five brothers who ran all the illegal activities in Taejon City.  They were feared by all and had their hand in theft, extortion, prostitution, black marketing, gambling, and many other shady enterprises.  All the gangs in the city answered to them and gave them a piece of the action.

Had I known back in high school that Aw Baw Gee was a member of a Korean mob family, I would not have befriended him or hung out with him.  But in retrospect, I am very glad I did not know and that he had been my friend.   He really did save my hide.

Rough looking characters hanging around this Korean bus.

Dr. Rodney T. Hard