Someone messaged me asking how I met King Abdullah of Jordan.
And so herewith, the story.
I begin with a bit of background context.
In a life in martial arts, one occasionally gets odd emails.
For example, in 2000 I received a cryptic email with an address I did not recognize asking if I taught knife. No salutation and no signature. In response I asked whomever it was who they were.
“A Syrian kickboxing club” came the answer.
A year later, after 911, I read of the American martial artist in Florida who turned out to have trained one of the 911 jihadis in knife (remember, they used boxcutters) and I thought of my email from Syria.
Some years later 2008? 2010? I received an extensive formal email from India, asking for a letter of invitation to a Dog Brother Gathering (r) so they could apply for visas to come participate. The email then listed some 30 names with their passport numbers and the dates of birth and the address of the writer of the email.
I thought it implausible that 30 people in India would have the money and purpose to fly to California for a weekend of stick fighting. Furthermore, every one of the names was Muslim and all were between the ages of 18 and 35. In the context of the War on Terror, and my previous experience with the Syrian Kick Boxing email, I decided to probe a bit further.
I learned that asking for a letter of invitation to facilitate getting a visa was a common scam that was going on.
A friend from India looked into the address and came back with the curious factoid that in Urdu the name meant “God’s Fort”.
In short, I did not respond to the request for a letter of invitation to our DB Gathering of the Pack (r) and forwarded the information (obviously a large and serious effort) to the appropriate authorities.
It is against this background that around 2016 or 2017 that I received a very politely written email in very good English inquiring on the behalf of her employer, who was from the Middle East, about training with me.
Intriguingly, there was an indirect cryptic reference to having trained with GM Myung Gyi in Bando back in the 1980s. Years ago, I trained for a time with GM Gyi– though certainly not a secret, this is not something that someone who knew of me only through my Dog Brother/DBMA life would know.
A California phone number was provided along with her name.
So, I called. The woman had a VERY polished upper-class British accent. (Is “posh” the right name for this accent?) I asked who her employer was. At first, she hesitated, but when I explained that sometimes I work with the US military, and this was something I needed to know she answered
“It is King Abdullah of Jordan.”
😳 😳 😳
The conversation continued and we made arrangements for his first training.
I mentioned this to my wife Cindy. She did not find this plausible haha. Perhaps in part this is because at the time our daughter was a young teenager and Cindy was showing her the potential dangers of social media by watching the TV show “Catfishing” with her. I watched the show with them a few times– what a window on a very strange and seriously deceptive world! Very glad that our daughter had this guidance!
Meanwhile I asked friends with time in that part of the world some questions such as “Is this plausible? Is this something a good patriotic American would do?” etc. The answers were affirmative. I checked with some Israeli friends. There too the answers were good.
Meanwhile, one day a driver came with some beautifully wrapped and presented knives of the various models that his knife maker had made for his elite units– two sizes of fixed blade, and one folder, all of a classic Arabic design.
Against this background the day came to drive to the King. Still convinced that this was all some sort of scam, because well, what would a Head of State want with me?– Cindy’s parting piece of advice was “Don’t give him your credit card!”
As I arrived at his front gate armed guards met me and brought me to him and a colonel who was to serve as training partner. Our training area was a very large and pleasant garage.
“How shall I address you Sir?”
“My friends call me ‘Ab’.”
To my Jewish ears this made me think of the very Jewish diminutive for Abraham “Abbie” haha but at any rate I could not bring myself to do that, and I continued to call him Sir.
He seemed very pleased with the knife material I was showing him (my Chupacabra system) and in surprisingly short order asked if I would go to Jordan to train his Royal Bodyguards and his Special Mission Team. He and his training partner were intrigued by the early mock-ups of the design that became the Akita and the Shiba.
As our hours of training came to a conclusion, he noticed my drooling over two absolutely gorgeous BMW motorcycles of a design that I had never seen (Triples?)
“Do you ride? Bring your helmet next time!”
As I came the next time, the first thing he said to me was “Did you bring your helmet?”
As we began the lesson his training partner pulled out some aluminum trainers that they had of my design that they had made for the lesson and asked if I could have some made in the necessary volume for his people and that is the beginning of the Akitas and their offshoot for the Royal Bodyguard, the Shiba.
And then we trained.
When the training was over he brought me over to the BMWs and gave me my choice. After gracious parting he continued on with his day and the colonel gave directions to the guards to let me out and let me back in and so it was that I went for a truly glorious ride on a magnificent motorcycle on a perfect California day.
And that is the story of how I met King Abdullah of Jordan and came to ride his motorcycle.
Punong Guro Crafty
America has a long-standing close working relationship with the Jordanian military: Sleep Away Camp for Postmodern Cowboys (Published 2013)
In Jordan, PG Crafty worked with the King’s Special Mission Team, the Royal Body Guard, and the Jordanian Special Forces. The Special Mission Team and the Special Forces bought 600 Akita knives and the Royal Bodyguard bought 50 Shibas based upon their work with PG Crafty. Here we see them experimenting with where to put the knives on their kit.
As part of determining the carry and the draw stroke, the Special Mission Team showed PG Crafty the kind of clothing they sometimes wear.
Of course, the Royal Bodyguards were interested in preventing assassination by knife.
Here we see their leader at work and receiving his certificate of training from PG Crafty.
As the conclusion of four weeks of training approached, King Abdullah came to review the men that PG Crafty and Guro Lonely Dog had trained.
What the Akita Knife looks like coming in.
Training culminated in live fire integration of carbine, pistol, & knife with the knife being used on a sheep carcass.
Here we see my very good friend, and training partner for this mission, Guro Lonely Dog Benjamin Rittiner, getting ready to demonstrate the use of the Akita on the sheep.
The sheep was delicious at that night’s goodbye dinner.
As a parting gift, King Abdullah had his personal knife maker make this knife for PG Crafty. It is Damascus steel, made from ore mined from the cave of Saladin. A similar one was given to Guro Lonely Dog.
Asked about the experience, PG Crafty had this to say:
“This was a very special Adventure in my life. I believe King Abdullah to be a man who makes a difference and am proud to have done what I can to contribute to his safety.
“In a dangerous and complex part of the world where such things are a great rarity, Christians may practice their faith openly in Jordan, indeed many who work for him in trusted positions are Christian and though sometimes testy, diplomatic relations between Jordan and Israel are long standing.
“I remember with meaning the men with whom I worked.”