20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Storyline unravels in the beginning of chapter one
, 23 Mar. 2011
This review is from: Taming the Tiger (Paperback)
I believe the credibility of this story totally unravels in the first pages of the first chapter, which begins with a dramatic Nicosia Central Prison encounter. In it, Tony Anthony's prison buddy is violated, mauled, mutilated and beaten nearly to death by a psychopathic inmate who's conveniently named "Al Capone." Anthony, a Kung Fu master who began training in China when he was four, decides to take revenge. "Al Capone" is a raving madman, incarcerated for life, and his favorite hobby is "mutilating and raping other inmates." He's a foot taller than Anthony, but that's no problem since Anthony is like Huo Yuanjia on steroids. Anthony plans his revenge for two weeks. He's bristling with anticipation. Soon, all the inmates (including Al Capone) know that Anthony is going to finish Capone. But Capone, wily chap that he is, catches Anthony unawares and slams him against a wall. Capone and Antony are "nose-to-nose." "The stench of his [Capone's] breath was sickening." Capone puts a razor to Anthony's jugular vein. Anthony counters by putting his left thumb in Capone's eye, after which "I quickly calculated my moves." Capone's ear "was just inches from my mouth," writes Anthony. He decides to do a Mike Tyson on Capone; he would fully "rip off his ear with my teeth." But just before Anthony takes the first bite, he becomes conflicted by Bible verses someone has recently showed him. Filled with remorse and confusion, he gives up the fight, expecting Capone to finish him. But instead, Capone flees away in terror, which is presumably induced God or an angel.
The careful reader should take note of these details and wonder. Here are a few problems with the narrative:
1. True martial artists (especially champions, as Anthony alleges to be) have a keenly developed sense of awareness. They've learned to feel their surroundings, to feel danger before it strikes. It's a sense of extreme heightened awareness. This is not a supernatural ability; rather it comes through years of mental discipline. Why doesn't Anthony have this ability? Especially since he knows that Capone is anticipating being attacked by him, and is thus, much more dangerous than usual? Why does a martial arts champion, trained from age four, walk around totally unaware in this situation, to the point of getting slammed against a wall by Capone and having Capone's razor against his neck? It just doesn't ring true.
2. When Anthony comes to his senses a bit too late and realizes he's about to get his throat cut, he "quickly calculated [his] moves." His calculations soon get complicated by a series of Bible verses. But this is just not the way martial arts works. Martial artists train repeatedly for decades on end; many different strikes, blocks, kicks, katas, etc. These all become deeply ingrained in their muscle memory and, when an altercation starts, they don't think. Rather, they act instinctively with lightening-fast speed. All that muscle memory comes suddenly into play, and before the martial artist knows it, the fight is finished. Those who calculate their moves and mull upon Bible verses during a confrontation inevitably lose. Once, a deranged man lunged to attack my wife when we were in a public place. Somehow, I blocked his punch while standing behind him, and the next thing I knew he was sprawled out on the ground. I didn't calculate or plan any of it. I was a bit confounded afterward. My first thought was, "Why is he on the ground?" I had to reconstruct what I'd done after the fact, with a little help from my wife. All the successful sparing sessions I've had also worked the same way. And I'm just a mid-level student, not a champ or master! If Anthony was a Kung Fu master, his encounter with Capone would have ended similarly. Instantaneous instinct would come into play and Capone would have been reduced to a bloody heap in a second or two. (Then, with the razor no longer to his neck, Anthony could have tortured Capone to death as he was planning to do. Theoretically, at this juncture, he could have been conflicted by Bible verses and relented.) All martial artists know how lightening-fast instincts work in threat situations. Why doesn't Anthony know it?
3. Anthony claims that  Capone is a foot taller than him;  When Capone attacked him they were "nose-to-nose" and he could smell Capone's foul breath; and  Capone's ear was just inches from his mouth. Interesting. If Capone was indeed a foot taller, his nose would be about a foot higher than Anthony's (not "nose-to-nose"), and Capone's upper arm, rather than his ear, would just inches from Anthony's mouth. This is the most damaging aspect of the narrative in my view. One doesn't need to know a thing about martial arts to see how wrong this scenario is.
4. Capone, allegedly, was incarcerated for rape and murder, and his favorite hobby was raping other prisoners. This being the case, he would have had a 99.9% chance of being HIV-positive, and/or infected with Hepatitis B and C. Why would anyone with the least bit of common sense want to bite such a person's ear fully off and get a mouth full of his blood? Even if the above-mentioned height problem didn't exist, so that Capone's ear really was next to his mouth, why??? If Anthony was a Kung Fu champion, he would have had a hundred other options to use against Capone that wouldn't expose him to a mouth full of putrid, infected blood. (How about a knife-jab to the armpit or to the hypoglossal nerve; or dozens of other viable options?) Why in God's name, would he (or anyone) want to get a mouth full of frothy AIDS-blood?
In order to properly pull this off, Tony Anthony, Angela Little and Authentic Media should have hired a fiction editor, who would have caught the above-mentioned problems. The fiction editor would also have pointed out that white tigers (which Anthony allegedly petted and played with in the wild) don't even live in southern China, and that the only tiger in that region (South Chinese Tiger) was driven to near extinction under Chairman Mao's extermination program; and that no South China Tiger has been seen in the wild in over 50 years. The editor could also have warned Anthony that if he was going to claim to have lifted red hot iron objects with his bare hands and arms, he should have the permanent branding scars to authenticate it. Or that people who cross the Arabian desert with only a small bottle of mineral water will die. And many other things... That's what fiction editors are for.
I believe that Anthony owes it to the public to post a page on his website with solid answers to these (and many, many other) credibility problems. If he fails to do so, I think it's safe to conclude that he has gravely dishonored all the martial arts, dishonored Chinese culture; specifically the Shaolin order, and dishonored the far-too-trusting Christians whom he has been deceiving.
If I were ever to meet him, the one thing I would say is, "Learn a little respect, dude!"
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