Author Topic: Wing Chun Practitioner Tries To Hijack Airport! (just kidding)  (Read 3671 times)

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Wing Chun Practitioner Tries To Hijack Airport! (just kidding)
« on: February 26, 2008, 11:48:14 AM »
Recently, I was coming back to California from a martial arts conference in Atlanta.  At the seminar, we explored the weapon forms of Wing Chun.  I bought a staff at the academy at which the conference was held.  We also explored the butterfly knives of Wing Chun.  I brought my wife and my ten month old son with me and on the last day, I left an hour early to go back to the hotel, finish our packing, check out, and drive down to the airport.  By the time we got on the highway, we had about two hours before our departure time.  My wife and I had packed quickly but efficiently, checking the room for anything we might have left.

We spent a little time driving around by the airport to find a gas station so as to avoid the crazy fees one has to pay if a rental car is returned with a half empty tank of gasoline.  On the bus to the terminal, my wife looked at our luggage and my staff from the conference.

"Do you really think they'll let you take that on?", she asked.  I told her that I didn't but at least I could see what my options were.
At the check-in area, I asked the man who checked our bags what the best thing to do with the staff was.  He told me that I would be able to carry it on the plane and I was surprised.  I asked again if he thought security would really let me take the staff on the plane.  He nodded, and my family and I walked into the airport.

At security, we were escorted down a shorter line (which was nice), because we had my son in a stroller.  My wife and I grabbed several trays and started loading up our shoes and carry-on items.  Finally, I put the staff down on the X-ray machine and walked through the metal detector.  I made it through without a problem.  A few moments later, I watched the man who was looking at the monitor for the X-ray machine.  His eyes were wide and he called over several other security employees.  They looked at the screen, looked at me, looked at the screen, and shook their heads.  One woman said, "Don't ever try that again!"

They asked me what the staff was and for a moment I was tempted to say that it was decorative pole.  I try not to lie as a rule, even if it's a harmless lie.  I told them that I was coming back from a martial arts conference and that it was a staff for training.  They immediately called over a supervisor, who fixed me with quite a look.  I calmly told the supervisor that the man who checked our bags had told me I could bring on the staff.  The security team all looked at one another and shook their heads.  I apologized and told them that I was not trying to cause trouble or make a scene, but that the information I had received from one the representatives from the airline was wrong.

The supervisor escorted me to ticketing and suggested that I try to check my bags.  My wife and baby went ahead to the gate.  He also told me that I had a blade in my main carry-on bag.  When he left, I immediately opened my bag.  In my packing, I simply hadn't thought about it.  I had my butterfly knives (completely dull) in my bag and a Sharkee training blade!  I had about 30 minutes left before my departure time.  I quickly went to ticketing but the woman informed me that I had missed my window to check my bag or the staff.  She looked genuinely sorry and I told her that I had no idea of what to do with the items.  I honestly thought about leaving the blades and staff in the bathroom for a few moments!  I quickly went to security again.

The lady behind the main security line said, "I know you're not trying to get on board with that staff again!"  I told her that I needed a member of the security personnel to formally confiscate my staff and blades.  She looked at me like I had just spoken another language.  I asked her to let me by and I immediately called over a security agent.  The moment he arrived, I said, "I need you to confiscate these items so that I can make my plane."  He looked at me strangely.  A female security agent walked up behind him and I repeated myself.  The woman immediately said, "There is no way you're getting these items on the plane."  I repeated myself and explained the situation.  She got frustrated with me and walked away.  She was replaced by another lady and I repeated my needs.  I told them that I was not trying to get away with anything and that I had 1. been given false information and 2. simply screwed up by not packing my training blades in my checked bags.  I tried to get them to examine the Sharkee, and maybe let is slide, but no dice.  The two agents finally seemed to realize that I was genuine, and they both suggested that I mail the items to myself.  I told them that my flight was leaving in 15 minutes and there was no time.  I left them with my staff which I had just completed a nice day of training with, my butterfly knives that I had bought on a whim when I was 14 and studying Tae Kwon Do of all things only to use them at a Wing Chun conference some 15 years later, and a Sharkee that I had used to "kill" some folks with at the Gatherings.  Above and beyond the $100 cost of the items, they all had meaning to me.

I barely made my flight, but I managed to get onto the plane on time.  I will take 50% of the responsibility for what happened.  It was an expensive way to be reminded that your training weapons must be in your checked luggage.  I had my doubts about the staff going into the airport, but I was told by a man who checks bags for a living that it was okay.

Anyway, if you work at the Atlanta Airport and you are a martial arts enthusiast, if you see my stuff, send me an Email and I'll pay for postage.  I realize that probably won't happen.  I guess the best that I can hope for is that some airport security employee has a young son or daughter and they will bring home one of the items and spark an interest.  Check your training weapons, folks!
Dr. Bryan Stoops, Ed.D.
Semi-Private/Private Instruction
Offered in Chino Hills, California
JKD/FMA/Silat/muay Thai/DBMA,
Savate/Wing Chun/grappling


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Re: Wing Chun Practitioner Tries To Hijack Airport! (just kidding)
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2008, 07:31:04 PM »
Oh man, what a bummer   :-(

The thing that cracks me up is the fact that a large number of martial artists could do a ton of damage on an airplane with something as simple as a pen, but a dull Sharkee is considered dangerous.

On a more serious note:

TSA's list of banned "martial arts and self defense" weapons
                Carry on/Checked
Billy Clubs    No    Yes
Black Jacks    No    Yes
Brass Knuckles    No    Yes
Kubatons    No    Yes
Mace/Pepper Spray - One 118 ml or 4 Fl. oz. container of mace or pepper spray is permitted in checked baggage provided it is equipped with a safety mechanism to prevent accidental discharge.
Martial Arts Weapons    No    Yes
Night Sticks    No    Yes
Nunchakus    No    Yes
Stun Guns/Shocking Devices    No    Yes
Throwing Stars    No    Yes


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Re: Wing Chun Practitioner Tries To Hijack Airport! (just kidding)
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2008, 07:35:30 PM »
I will take 50% of the responsibility for what happened.

No, you take 0% of the responsibility.  The whole problem was easily avoidable by a) having someone in security with a functional brain, b) having someone at the counter with a clue about the rules, and (more importantly) c) having sensible rules about what can and can't board a plane.  Silliness such as this is why I haven't flown in 7yrs and have zero desire to fly if I can in any way drive.


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Re: Wing Chun Practitioner Tries To Hijack Airport! (just kidding)
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2008, 02:35:59 PM »
Sorry to hear about the experience dude.

I was able to take my keys with a kubaton on it into a court house recently. When you have certain items with you all the time, it is easy to forget you have them. I was prepared to have them hassle me and take it but, no problems. Of course I am someone who is NOT up to no good, maybe I gave that off, who knows. I know its not really related to the plane story but I thought worth mentioning.

Correct about martial artists on a plane with an improvised weapon. I always have a really good pen with me. It makes me feel safer and I'm confident in my ability with it (Palm stick VL material works well here).