When I was 18, in 1971, all my buddies were excited over the movie, "Billy Jack."
Tom Laughlin gave us our first exposure to "karate" and we LOVED it.
Until this time, Asian martial arts were joked about. Characters like James Bond used the "Judo chop," which looked pretty ridiculous. At the same time, the arts were presented as "deadly" and mysterious.
Billy Jack (Tom Laughlin wrote the script and starred in the movie) gave us the first glimpse of what was to be an explosion of martial arts within two years.
This is the video clip that started the craze. Billy Jack takes his right foot and wops Posner on the right side of his face. My buddies and I nearly jumped out of our seats when this happened.
Within a year or so, the Kung Fu TV show debuted. Then, in 1973, Bruce Lee movies hit our theaters and the rest is history.
Tom Laughlin died this past weekend at age 81. We all owe him a big "thank you" for the work he did to prime the martial arts pump in the United States and get us all ready for what was to come.
This scene started it all.