I Can Smell the Toxic From Here

We’ve got more discussion re: the martial arts to have, but this isn’t it. It’s related, though.

As reported in DailyKos [kos] Donald Trump now has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. And not just any black belt – he’s 9 dan.

Basically, this is a version of the joke, “I have a black belt in Karate. No, really, it’s in my drawer of stuff along with my other martial arts gear.”

I love the tasteful way that the gold embroidery on the gi matches the eyebrows of the wanna-be dictator.

Issued by Kukkiwon president Lee Dong-sup, Trump received the honorary belt at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla. Kukkiwon posted the exchange to its Facebook page, where Trump can be seen wearing a traditional taekwondo uniform,outfitted with a black dan belt.

This is not a joke: someone who owns an online degree-mill needs to give Trump an honorary doctorate in foreign relations and equine proctology. Back in 2002 I almost bought my horse, P-nut a doctorate in equine massage, but I decided that $500 was a lot of money to waste and he’d prefer a few carrots. But there is potential, here, for mocking stupid politicians by giving them stupid honorary degrees.

According to The New York Post, Trump isn’t the first world leader to receive an honorary ninth dan belt. Russian president Vladimir Putin also received the same honor when he visited South Korea in 2013. Neither leader is known to have personally practiced taekwondo.

My honorary dick is the biggest! I am vaguely reminded of Richard Gere versus Steven Seagal. If I recall how that went, Gere spent enough money at some shrine that they declared him a buddhist something-or-other [gere], and Seagal got declared:

a tulku, and specifically the reincarnation of Chungdrag Dorje, a 17th-century terton (treasure revealer) of the Nyingma, the oldest sect of Tibetan Buddhism

There’s an opportunity, here: someone can go around declaring different douchenozzle-wipes “reincarnations of Miyamoto Musashi” or whatever. I had a funny thing happen when I worked at TIS – we had a co-worker who someone convinced she was a reincarnation of some Egyptian princess; eventually the woman went to Egypt to the Valley Of Kings to re-connect with her past, and wound up sitting on the bus next to another delusional ageing white woman who was also the reincarnation of the same princess. That must have been a great conversation.

But nobody has declared Donald Trump a reincarnation of anything, yet. So I think I’ll go out on a limb and think that he’s a reincarnation of Charles Ponzi, an Italian immigrant who made New York exciting in the 1920s.

I’m contemptuous of these goobers (Trump and Putin) for not sending the taekwondo people packing and refusing such a dubious honor. I’m also contemptuous of Trump’s “I love me” decorating at his Mar A Lago office. Can Putin ante up with some pictures of his “I love me” wall? There’s a ‘wall gap’ forming.

So, seriously, 9 dan is a real rank in the martial arts. In kendo, for example, it is no longer awarded, though there were some great old masters who held the rank. But the whole thing is reminiscent of “honorary degrees” – what would an honorary degree in, say, Physics, mean? Do I get to publish my maunderings and not be laughed at? How is it that any institution granting honorary degrees is not laughed at? For that matter, how is an acredited university not de-acredited if they grant degrees simply for, for example, paying for an architectural nightmare of a dormitory? Does nobody laugh at Lee Dong-sup for giving out 9th dan black belts to floppy old hunks of blancmange like Trump? I imagine back in the Edo period, someone who ran a school that was a “belt mill” would have expected a stranger to walk in off the street and challenge the instructor.

Sword of Doom. Ryonosuke challenges the sensei who, rightly, tells him that he’s not qualified to just walk in and challenge without first demonstrating skill against the assistant instructor

[Admire the composition in that frame. It’s not a great movie, really, I’m sad to say but the camera-work and many of the scenes are incredibly well executed.]

Putin actually does know some judo, though I’d say that the only style of judo that has much value as a martial art is brazilian jiu-jitsu, which is not technically judo. Still, it appears that Putin can throw someone who comes at him with an utterly predictable attack, from a pre-arranged direction:

I’m pretty sure Seagal can still do that, too.

Let’s cut to the chase – what we really want to see is Trump versus Seagal in a cage match, and the winner has to fight Conor MacGregor. To make it fair, MacGregor has to fight with only one hand and both eyes closed.


  1. call me mark says

    Maybe they hand out 9 dan black belts like the Discordians hand out their Pope cards?

    Every man and woman is a 9 dan black belt. Fnord.

  2. kestrel says

    And here I thought that getting any sort of dan rank involved many hours of working out; showing up in class and practicing a lot; and passing a rigorous test that included all sorts of demonstrations of one’s ability. Shows how naive I am.

  3. Reginald Selkirk says

    This is not a joke…

    Au contraire. Of course it’s a joke, but it’s what I call a “true joke.”

  4. sonofrojblake says

    MacGregor has to fight with only one hand and both eyes closed.

    You jest, but… my stepfather did a bit of martial arts back in the days when it was all new and weird and exciting (late sixties/early seventies). He mostly did karate, but even then they did a bit of cross pollination with the other angry white pyjamas who used the room before/after them, the judo lot. So my stepdad met, and sparred with, one of their blackbelts. A blind guy. If you could land a kick on him for a point he was toast, obvs… but per steppop, at least half the time he’d hear you coming. And if you got within punching range he’d definitely hear you coming, and his feint wouldn’t be distracted by any of your fancy footwork, and then he’d have hold of you, and then you’d be on the ground, and then you’d be waking up or trying to pop your shoulder back in or something.

    I can believe Putin’s black belt. He has the background and attitude of a man who’d spend the time and do the work to get their. Not stay there, necessarily, obvs, but still.

    Honorary degrees? Always seemed to me to be a way for a uni to say “attaboy/girl/whatever” to a distinguished or admirable alumnus or maybe someone who lived nearby. Harmless enough. Similarly honorary blackbelts – it’s just a harmless publicity stunt, isn’t it? I mean apart from Trump. Trump, I can imagine actually wearing his belt around the house.

    Dream scenario: someone visits Trump and mentions the black belt. Donny goes and puts it on. Visitor, in the same absolutely shocking accent Peter Archer used as Parsons in “Enter the Dragon”, asks “What’s your style? Show me some of it…”, and Donny obliges and does himself a mortal injury trying to kick a bottle off a desk. I can but dream.

  5. Some Old Programmer says

    Thank you for that, Marcus. I LOL, as I’d practiced enough karate in college to know what 9th dan means. Work, dedication, and learning from those with superior skill, all of which T is deathly allergic to.

    I’m also thankful I wasn’t drinking my tea when I read your top paragraphs; tea through the nose hurts.

  6. says

    There was one honorary degree I felt captured the essence of the thing; it was granted at one commencement at Johns Hopkins, when I was there. The recipient was an elderly black gentleman who had started working at the hospital as a janitor when he was young, then graduated to cleaning lab glass, running experiments and eventually designing experiments and carrying them out. I believe he made some significant contributions to heart surgery and a few other things. They gave him an honorary doctorate and I’m pretty sure it was because, sharing the same stage, was the former Shah of Iran’s sister Ashraf Pahlavi, who got an honorary doctorate in being wealthy from the university. Now, I believe Michael Bloomberg has stamped his name all over Johns Hopkins. I can hardly laugh about that, because, after all, Johns Hopkins stamped his name all over Johns Hopkins, too. I suppose some day there will be “Musk University” and “the Musk Center for Wellness” etc. It’s not enough for the rich to be rich, they want to be loved as well.

    [Edit: I just found an article about the fellow I referenced above. He’s worth a posting in his own right. The commencement I referred to was 1976, and Ashraf Pahlavi’s title on JHU’s page reads, “Ashraf Pahlavi, Imperial Highness” – way to buttsuck, JHU]

  7. chigau (違う) says

    Trump makes fist like a small child.
    The Taekwondo guy underestimated Trump’s belt size.

  8. moarscienceplz says

    Bill Cosby asked for, and was granted honorary doctorates from a shocking number of Unis and Colleges, and he even had the gall to credit himself as “Dr. William Henry Cosby, Jr., Ed.D.” on The Cosby Show. Most of those fake doctorates have been rescinded in light of his admissions under oath that he drugged and raped multiple people. Unfortunately, AFAICT, Howard University has refused to rescind theirs.
    Make of that what you will.

  9. jrkrideau says

    can believe Putin’s black belt. He has the background and attitude of a man who’d spend the time and do the work to get their.

    Not sure if Putin has a black belt but, apparently, he was an avid practitioner of judo and “sambo”, a Russian military unarmed combat system in his youth and seems to have continued it to some extent.

    That 9 Dan belt sounds like a head of state being, necessarily, polite.

    He is a known animal lover. I think he has received enough animals to stock his own farm or zoo as gifts to a visiting head of state or as President of Russia. Dogs seem the most popular but, IIRC, some place gave him a goat and another a horse.

  10. lochaber says

    chigau beat me to it, but looking at that first pic, yeah, that belt really brings out his gut, and… am why am I seeing his thumb tips?

    slight tangent, I keep being reminded of this anytime something about martial arts BS comes up, but usually not until after the conversation has died down.

    I recently watched the movie “The Art of Self Defense” and thought it was pretty amusing, and might be relevant to some of the discussions about martial arts that happen in these parts…

  11. snuffcurry says


    There was one honorary degree I felt captured the essence of the thing; it was granted at one commencement at Johns Hopkins, when I was there. The recipient was an elderly black gentleman who had started working at the hospital as a janitor when he was young, then graduated to cleaning lab glass, running experiments and eventually designing experiments and carrying them out.

    You are definitely misremembering critical details of Vivien Thomas’s life, background, and career. He started his delayed career in his chosen field as a lab assistant in an entirely different institution and his only direct connection to janitors at Johns Hopkins is that the only other black people working at the university were janitors. Earlier in his career at Vanderbilt he was paid and classified as a janitor while assisting and later independently performing animal surgeries and conducting research.

    Following the conferral of honorary degree, which was a long time coming and had nothing to do with well to do people purchasing degrees for family members, he instructed surgery as a faculty member.

  12. sonofrojblake says

    Funny how nobody turns out to be the reincarnation of the scullery maid, or the footman…

    Au contraire. Arnold J. Rimmer, Esq., BSC, SSC, was famously the reincarnation of Alexander the Great….’s chief eunuch.

  13. StevoR says

    I did a form of (combined) martial arts – Fudoshin bujitsu – for many years as a boy. One of tehthings I most enjoyed and striuggled at being good at.

    Trump .. is no martial artist at all. The lack of discipline, restraint and respect should be a give away to anyone who has actually been in a proper dojo at all.

  14. StevoR says

    Thinking jokes and reincarnation – was anyone reincarnated from Yorick? (No. / Cap’n Obvs.)

    And is the dust that was once Alexander stopping up a bung hole or being brushed ftroma dunny floor right now?

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