Today we lost a legend of soul in Aretha Franklin, and oddly enough, we lost another legend 41 years ago to the day.
Elvis Presley stole my mom's heart when she was just a young girl, and he stole my soul as a young man doing karaoke at the old 'Country Star' establishments to honor his memory.
Not many people know how much I love Elvis Presley's music and legacy, but he was a badass in every sense of the word, and although he wasn't a truly excellent martial artist, he respect the arts, and he wanted to learn!
The founder of American Kenpo Karate had met Elvis in Los Angeles, and their friendship was unique and brought about Elvis discovering his love for karate (and martial arts in general). I have seen much footage of Elvis doing kata and practicing kicks, and a lot of stage presence was definitely derived from martial arts learnings.
I must say, Elvis had practically no skill as a fighter. He had terrible balance when he threw strikes, and to be honest, he wasn't ever in truly great shape when I've seen him in a gi. Elvis is one of the few men I've seen in stellar shades while sporting the gi, and for that alone I wouldn't mess with him!
Presley was more an innovator than anything else. He shook his hips and practiced Karate before anyone young man (like myself) thought it was cool! The man had soul in every tangent of his body, and he unleashed his power through song and dance.
Many confuse what it takes to become a black belt. Most don't know that I possess a black belt in Okinawan Aikido (earned when I turned 13 years old). I was not the most lethal striker nor was my defense as tight as some purple belts, but I was consistent, and I was passionate! Elvis was a 7th degree black belt, and although he may not have nurtured his martial arts skill, he innovated the culture that helped propel martial arts to where it is now. Without Elvis and Bruce Lee, I highly doubt martial arts would have been as widely accepted in America as it is now.
I am an Elvis fan, both the martial artist and entertainer... but he was much better at the latter. Let me serenade you with my favorite Elvis track:
Where are the fans of soul and rock and roll on this somber day? RIP to the Queen in Aretha, and the King in Elvis!