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Secret Fighting Arts of the World

When he was a child Lake dreamed of maximum kung-fu carnage. One book showed him the way. Or so he thought...

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by Lake, Editor, London for outsideleft.com
originally published: November, 2006
It was difficult to practise the delayed death touch. I tried it out on my cat but in a half-hearted way

It's hard to get into an X certificate film when you are 8 years old. My next door neighbour hadn't been able to get into Confessions of a Window cleaner even after rubbing burnt cork on his face to make him look like he had stubble. And he was 14. I didn't think it was worth trying.

So I had a poster of Bruce Lee on my wall but I had never seen him in action. Enter the Dragon was just an advert in a magazine. The closest I got to King-fu was Iron Fist comics and poster magazines. David Carradine was on TV but his kung-fu was mostly spiritual stuff - there was no blood and very little violence.

But I did have one incredible book that I read from cover to cover over and over again. Secret Fighting Arts of The World by John Gilbey. This book was full of dangerous magic. Secret fighting techniques that meant I would be able to take out any gang of villains that sprang out from the bus stop next to the post office or be able to finally take my football back from those rough kids up at the playing field.

Techniques like - The Ganges Groin Gouge, The Liverpool Nutter, Mama Soo's Spit-Fu and the mind bending Delayed Death Touch.

The Delayed Death Touch meant that if you just lightly prodded somebody in the right place then they would succumb to massive internal damage at some point in the future. And when they inevitably crumbled from your deadly assassin's touch you would be safely long gone.

It was difficult to practise the delayed death touch. I tried it out on my cat but in a half-hearted way that I hoped wouldn't work. And it didn't. I tried it out on a kid called John Behan who was the biggest bully in my class but I only ever got to tap him on his back which was probably not the right place. I did eventually get to prod somebody in the general area of the solar plexus but, as far as I am aware, he didn't die. The book didn't make clear how delayed the death would be. 32 years? Probably not.

Of course as I grew older I realised that this book was actually fiction and not fact. That was a disappointment but then so much of what you learn as a child turns out not to be true.

But even now, if somebody hassled me I might just lean toward them and tap them on the chest, just the lightest of touches. And step back.



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Editor, London

the first journalism Lake ever had published was a history of Johnny Thunders for Record Collector magazine, since then he has written for publications including the Guardian, Dazed and Confused, the Idler and more recently, outsideleft.com as you have just seen.

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