By Daryl Davis, September 29 at 6:00 AM:Daryl
Davis, author of “Klan-Destine Relationships,” and subject of the
documentary “Accidental Courtesy,” is an award-winning musician, actor,
lecturer and race relations expert.
night in 1983, I found myself playing in a country band at a truck stop
lounge. I was the only black person in the joint. Taking a break after
the first set of music, I was headed to sit at a table with my bandmates
when a white gentleman approached from behind and put his arm around my
shoulders. “I really enjoy y’all’s music,” he said. I shook his hand
and thanked him. “This is the first time I ever heard a black man play
piano like Jerry Lee Lewis,” he continued.
I told him that Lewis
was a friend of mine and that he had learned his style from watching and
listening to black blues and boogie-woogie pianists. My new fan didn’t
buy it, but he did want to buy me a drink. While we sipped, he clinked
my glass and said, “This is the first time I ever sat down and had a
drink with a black man.”
Why? “I’m a member of the Ku Klux Klan,”
he said. I burst out laughing. Then he handed me his KKK membership
card, and I recognized the Klan’s symbols. In that moment, I was
overcome by a question: How could anybody hate me when they didn’t even
was no stranger to racism. Having grown up a black person in the ’60s
and ’70s, I knew that prejudice was common. But I had never understood
why. Sitting in that lounge with my new friend, I decided to figure it
out in the only way that made sense: By getting to know those who felt
hostility toward black people without ever having known any.
years later, I recruited that man, whose name was Frank James, to put
me in contact with the grand dragon of the Maryland Klan. He tried to
deter me, warning that the leader would kill me. But eventually, after I
promised not to reveal how I’d gotten the grand dragon’s contact
information, James gave it to me.
By then I had decided to
travel around the country and interview KKK leaders and members from
various chapters and factions to get the answer to my question: How can
you hate someone you’ve never met? I was planning to write a book
detailing my interviews, experiences and encounters with these Ku Klux
Klan members. (The book, “Klan-Destine Relationships,” was published in 1998.)
had my white secretary, who typically booked my band and assisted me
with my music business, set up a meeting with the Maryland grand dragon,
explaining that her boss was writing a book on the Klan and would like
his input. Per my instructions, she did not reveal the color of my skin.
grand dragon agreed to participate, and we secured a room at a
Frederck, Maryland motel, where my secretary filled an ice bucket with
cans of soda so I could offer my guest a drink. Regardless of how and
what he felt about me, if he entered my room after seeing the color of
my skin, I was going to treat him with hospitality.
to the minute, there was a knock on the door. The grand nighthawk (the
grand dragon’s bodyguard) entered first, and then the dragon himself.
“Hello,” I began, “I’m Daryl Davis.” I offered my palm, and the dragon
shook my hand as he and the nighthawk introduced themselves. The dragon
sat in the chair I had set out, and the nighthawk stood at attention
were both apprehensive of the other, and the interview started
haltingly. We discussed what he had hoped to achieve by joining the
Klan; what his thoughts were on blacks, Asians, Jews and Hispanics; and
whether he thought it would ever be possible for different races to get
along. A little while later, we heard an inexplicable crackling noise
and we both tensed. The dragon and I stared each other in the eye,
silently asking, “What did you just do?” The nighthawk reached for his
gun. Nobody spoke. I barely breathed.
Seated atop the
dresser, my secretary realized what had happened: The ice in the bucket
had started to melt, causing the soda cans to shift. It happened again,
and we all began laughing. From there, the interview went on without a hitch.
was a perfect illustration that ignorance breeds fear and possibly
violence. An unknown noise in an ice bucket could’ve led to gunfire, had
we not taken a moment to understand what we were encountering.
though the grand dragon, who now prefers not to be named, had told me
he knew that white people were superior to blacks, our dialogue
continued over the years. He would visit me in my home, and I would
eventually be a guest in his. We would share many meals together, even
though he thought I was inferior. Within a couple of years, he rose to
the rank of imperial wizard, the top national leadership position in the
Over the past 30 years, I have come to know hundreds of
white supremacists, from KKK members, neo-Nazis and white nationalists
to those who call themselves alt-right. Some were good people with wrong
beliefs, and others were bad people hellbent on violence and the
destruction of those who were non-Aryan.
There was Bob White, a
grand dragon for Maryland who served four years in prison for conspiring
to bomb a synagogue in Baltimore, where he had been a police officer.
When he got out, he returned to the Klan and later went back to prison
for three more years for assaulting two black men with a shotgun,
evidently intent on murder. But after I reached out to him with a letter
while he was in prison for the second time, Bob became a very good
friend, renounced the Klan and attended my wedding.
Wizard Frank Ancona, who headed one of the largest Klan groups in the
country, would also become a very close friend. When Frank was killed
this year (his wife and stepson have been charged with his murder), one
of his Klan members, knowing how close we had been, called me and told
me before notifying the police. I accepted the Klan’s invitation to
participate in his funeral service.
weeks after this summer’s violent clash in Charlottesville, I was
invited by the leaders of the Tennessee and Kentucky chapters of
Ancona’s branch of the Klan to speak at their national Konvocation. I
accepted, spoke and took audience questions after the lecture. Whether
or not anyone there immediately changed their minds, we talked as people
— and we all benefitted from that.
I am not so naive as to think
everyone will change. There are certainly those who will go to their
graves as hateful, violent racists. I never set out certain that I would
convert anyone. I just wanted to have a conversation and ask, “How can
you hate me when you don’t even know me?” What I’ve learned is that
whether or not I’ve changed minds, talking can still relieve tensions.
I’ve seen firsthand that when two enemies are talking, they are not
fighting. They may be yelling and beating their fists on the table, but
at least they are talking. Violence happens only when talking has
And sometimes, people do change. One day in 1999, after
having been in the Ku Klux Klan for about 20 years, the Klan leader
from the motel interview, whom I watched go from grand dragon to
imperial wizard, called me, said he was leaving the Klan and apologized
for having been a member. He told me he could no longer hate people. I
had not turned out to be what he had always thought of black people. He
went on to become one of my best friends, and today I own his robe and
hood — one set of many in my collection of garments donated to me by
apostate Klansmen and Klanswomen,
Killers need to kill. It’s surprising how many writers ignore this very specific and important piece of the ones they claim are killers, heartless or not. Sometimes, there’s a difference between the character we describe in the text and the actions the character takes. An author can tell me over and over that a character is a deadly and dangerous person who strikes ruthlessly without mercy, but if they don’t behave that way in the actual story then I’m not going to buy it.
Show versus tell: the difference between who the author says the character is and the actions the character takes in the story. Especially if the actions counteract the description. Now, you do have characters who lie, characters who misrepresent themselves, characters who say one thing and do another, but these are not the characters we’re talking about. This is about ensuring that you, the author, know the character you are writing. Unless you’re hiding their habits, let us glimpse the worst they’re capable of.
Monster. I could tell Jackson I was a monster, but he wouldn’t believe me. He saw a strawberry blonde, five feet eleven inches. A waitress, a Pilates nut, not a murderer. The nasty scar across my slim waist that I’d earned when I was ten? He thought I’d gotten it from a mugging at twenty one. Just as a natural layer of womanly fat hid away years of physical conditioning, I hid myself behind long hair, perky makeup, and a closet full of costumes bought from Macy’s and Forever 21. To him, I was Grace Johnson. The woman who cuddled beside him in bed, the woman who hogged the sheets, who screamed during horror movie jump scares, the woman who forgot to change the toilet paper, who baked cookies every Saturday morning, the woman who sometimes wore the same underwear three days in a row. The woman he loved.
No, I thought as I studied his eyes. Even with a useless arm hanging at my side, elbow crushed; my nose smashed, blood coursing down from the open gash in my forehead, a bullet wound in my shoulder, Sixteen’s gun in my hand, the dining room table shattered, and his grandmother’s China scattered across the floor. He’d never believe Grace Johnson was a lie. Not until I showed him, possibly not even then. Not for many more years to come. Probably, I caught my mental shrug, if he lives.
“Grace,” Jackson said. “Please…” The phone clattered the floor, his blue eyes wide, color draining from his lips. “This isn’t you.”
Gaze locking his, I levered Sixteen’s pistol at her knee.
“Don’t,” she whispered. “Morrison will take you in, he’ll fix this.” Her voice cracked, almost a sob. For us, a destroyed limb was a death sentence. Once, we swore we’d die together. Now, she can mean it. “Thirteen, if you run then there’s no going back.”
My upper lip curled. “You don’t know me.” I had no idea which one I was talking to. “You never did.”
My finger squeezed the trigger.
Sixteen grunted, blood slipping down her lip. In the doorway, Jackson screamed.
Do it and mean it. Let it be part of their character development, regardless of if which way you intend to go. In the above example, there’s a dichotomy present between the character of Thirteen and her cover Grace Johnson. There’s some question, even for the character, about which of them they are. It sets up a beginning of growth for the character as she runs, but it also fails to answer what will be the central question in the story: who am I? Which way will I jump?
If Thirteen doesn’t kill Sixteen, if the scene answers the question at the beginning then why would you need to read the story?
Below the cut, we’ll talk about some ways to show their struggles.
So I’m finally getting around to writing this. The first question every single one of you should be asking is what makes me– a random person on the internet– qualified to talk about a fictional character’s expert martial arts abilities. Well, I am
>> A black belt in Northern Eagle Claw Kung Fu >> A brown belt (2nd kyu /nikyu) in Aikido
I’ve also taken some Southern Shaolin Kung Fu, Taekwondo, and Karate.
The main styles I’m qualified to talk about are Eagle Claw Kung Fu and Aikido, which mainly comes from my years of practice. I’m not an instructor in any of these disciplines, and I’m only writing this for fun. This post might be helpful to people who role play Dick Grayson or to just develop headcanons in general. Hey, you might just be straight up interested in how this guy fights.
The fact is, comic books aren’t the best portrayal of how martial artists fight. Comic books are very flashy. They like splash pages, dramatic kicks and punches, and they like to have superheroes jump to the ground with cement-shattering landings that would devastate their knee joints. The irony here is that Dick’s core martial art style is canonically Aikido, and Aikido has a grand total of zero kicks. The only punches that this style uses are your standard initial strikes in order to practice the forms. Otherwise, this style is purely defensive. The philosophy of Aikido is basically to disarm your opponent with as little damage to them as possible. In Kung Fu, I was taught how to break people’s arms, rip out the trachea, and damage the ear drums (yay, fun), but in Aikido the idea is that you don’t want to physically harm your opponent more than necessary. Dick knows various martial art styles, so clearly he knows how to execute lethal and flawless kicks and punches too, but for now, let’s focus on Aikido since it’s his core style.
This is actually an awesome style for Dick for many reasons. Aikido is a martial art focused on using your opponent’s energy against them, and it’s a purely defensive style (there are no offensive maneuvers in this style besides your standard initial strike to practice movements). Dick started crime fighting when he was a kid. He couldn’t rely on physical strength to survive, and after growing up to be an adult, he’s still only about 175 pounds which means a majority of the big hitters in DCU can easily physically overpower him. I’m 115 pounds, and I can tell you that I drop guys who are twice my size all the time in Aikido. It doesn’t take much physical effort because this style relies on innate human weaknesses. The idea of Aikido is to learn a system of defensive maneuvers that can be applied to any attack that comes your way.
Someone punching you? No problem. They grabbed both your wrists? Please. Shirt collar? Ha, whatever. Grabbed from behind? Come on. Knife stab? Zzz. Samurai sword? – You mean the one that’s now in my hands?
This is a flexible martial art style, and it works without tiring you. When I took Kung fu, I needed a water break after twenty minutes because the workout was so intense. In Aikido I can go two and a half hours straight and not break a sweat. You rarely have to move more than a few feet to complete a technique, and it’s usually to move into your opponent’s blind spot in order to execute a technique that puts them on the floor. Don’t get me wrong, you can practice Aikido fast and hard and tire yourself out with a good workout– but you don’t have to. If you’re wise about your movements, you can save a lot of energy.
If Dick is as much of an expert in Aikido as comics say, then you can’t put your hand near this guy without ending up on your back in 0.2 seconds flat. You’ll be staring at the ceiling wondering what the hell just happened (been there, done that, trust me).
Dick Grayson can put anyone on the floor in a matter of seconds without throwing a single punch or kick. He basically just needs to stand there and bam, they’re down. So by this point you’re probably wondering how this style works as effectively as it does.
It works by blending your energy into your opponent’s and then using it against them. If someone punches Dick, he can side-step their arm, grab their wrist to yank them forward (i.e. off-balance them), and then twist the wrist back so that his opponent has no choice but to follow wherever he guides them– which in this case will be backwards (lifting their elbow over their shoulder to force them to land on their back).
This entire time, Dick barely has to move to execute it other than the initial side-step. It’s a fluid, eloquent and sophisticated style. The movements you do are so small (a simple twist of the wrist) that anyone watching this fight might go, “what the fuck just happened?”
Now, I am exaggerating a bit, but there is a fundamental truth here. The key is that we’re twisting someone’s wrist in a direction that it’s not supposed to go, forcing the human body to either follow the movement or break the joint. 10/10 times the body will involuntarily follow the movement.
For any of you who want a physical example of how this works in order to better understand it, I’ll try to offer a step-by-step example here. (Explaining things over the Internet is hard, I offer no guarantees.)
Hold your right hand in front of your face with the palm facing you.
Take your left hand and hold it behind your right hand.
Wrap the fingers of your left hand around the thumb joint of your right hand (this is the meaty part of your palm below your thumb).
Make sure the thumb of your left hand is pressing between the knuckles of the pinkie and ring finger of your right hand (or at least keep it in that general area, no worries).
Now press the entire thing down and to the side (there should only be one natural direction to go). If you extend your arm down, you’ll feel it even more. You can also bend your arm toward (and over) your shoulder to further understand the type of control someone would have over you in this position.
(If any of you had trouble following that, I don’t blame you. I still can’t figure out online origami instructions.)
If you managed this successfully, then you have an idea of why you don’t want someone holding your arm like this. If they start walking you in one direction, you’re going to follow them because it’s an unnatural position.
So that’s one basic wrist movement, and there are dozens of others. Like I said, this is a very flexible style. You can punch Dick Grayson and he can respond over a dozen different ways. One might put you on your back, he could straight up throw you, he can flip you, he can put you on your stomach with your arms behind your back in a painful lock, he can spin you in a fast circle and drop you.
We can see Dick and Tim doing something similar in New Teen Titans Vol 2 #60.
Pretty cool, right? When I spar with people, I tell them to grab me as hard as they can so I can practice with a genuine threat. The guy I was last sparring with was taller than me, weighed more, and was stronger. He was gripping both my wrists tightly (and I have tiny ass wrists), and that didn’t stop me from performing this move because Aikido doesn’t rely on physical strength. Once you move a limb a way it’s not supposed to go, it doesn’t really matter how strong you are; you’re under the control of whoever’s controlling that limb.
So hopefully that helps explain this style a bit more. It’s my favorite martial art so far, and I recommend it to anyone, especially women.
As for Dick’s other martial art styles, he knows Jeet-Kune-Do (created by Bruce Lee; it’s a direct style of combat considered ideal for street fighting), Capoeira (an acrobatic style that focuses on movement and evasion) and Eskrima (where Dick’s dual wielding sticks obviously come into play). He’s also been said to practice Muay Thai, Judo, Savate, Karate, Sambo, Ninjitsu, Wing Chun and Shaolin Kung Fu.
Requests: caps-bucky-bear said: Buckyxreader angst where the reader is captured by hydra and is brutally
tortured to the point of a panic/ anxiety attack and when Bucky finally arrives
to help, she’s already in a full panic/hyperventilating. So to calm her down,
he hums to the tune of ‘You are my Sunshine’ and she relaxes while holding onto
him. Just lotssss of angst and maybe some fluff.
Buckyxreader where she gets captured and tortured brutally.
And maybe like a little fluff at the end with him saving her. I was wondering
if you could give her red hair like me. Thanks ily bonnie💖
A little language, angst
up at the clock, the maddening sound of its hand landing on each second like a
sledgehammer to his brain; his body was completely still other than the
incessant bounce of his leg, moving at a tripled pace compared to the agonizing
crawl of that damn clock.
Do you have any tips on drawing cats? Btw I love your art! :)
(HEADS UP THIS IS A LONG ONE. I’m also adding a disclaimer right now that this is assuming you want to draw cats as accurately as possible, and is not meant to put down anyone’s art style for not being 100% anatomically accurate. Stylization can definitely break the rules, but it’s best to know the rules before you break them, imo. Okay, on to the real answer.)
My number one piece of advice: I know I always say this but…Always use photo references. No matter what, this WILL be the best, fastest, most accurate way to learn to draw cats (and everything else)
But aside from that, let’s see…
-Cat tails move in ways you wouldn’t really intuit or expect. They’re very rarely held in an elegant curve or swoopy, swishy “S” shape how people often draw them. (it’s fine to draw them that way if that’s what you’re going for. Nice swoopy tails can be a great way to accentuate a line of action if you’ve got one going, so don’t shy away from it just because it’s not 100% accurate to the anatomy) But if you ARE looking to be as accurate to life as possible, take a look at a bunch of cat pictures. You’ll notice the tails will often sort of resemble old, low-poly 3D models. Kinda like sticks with a couple breaks/joints. They curve and kink in really weird ways sometimes. I find this most noticeable in action shots, particularly jumping/leaping.
-Cats have surprisingly simple chests. (This one is… hard to explain) I find when drawing cats from the side or at a ¾ angle, cats have this really elegant, easy to draw sort of “soft L” shape starting from the bottom at the chin and ending where the front leg intercepts it. I find it most noticeable on photos of sitting or crouching cats. I hope that makes at least some sense???
-The length from the hock/ankle to the toes is a LOT shorter than many artists seem to realize. I see a lot of artists draw cats’ rear legs with almost deer-like proportions, their femurs/fibulas/tibulas will be super short and their metatarsals are SUPER LONG. (Sometimes I even see people draw cats with their hocks practically level with their elbows! That’s about where their knees should be!) Photos of cats just walking or standing are good references for this detail.
-The general shape of a cat is a rectangle. A long rectangle with little leggies underneath it, a head/neck sticking out one end and a tail sticking out the other. Sometimes you’ll see people draw cats with a really deep ribcage and a really pronounced “tuck” (slope from the ribcage up to the crotch) but I find that to be a far more canine type feature than feline. Real cats, even the skinny oriental types, have really rectangular guts. When standing in a natural position the line from the elbow to the knee is practically straight. The elbow and the knee very nearly always line right up with the belly.
-When a cat sits down, its hind legs kind of disappear. So back to that rectangle shape, right? One of the reasons they appear that way (aside from needing somewhere to put their guts) is that they have this really weird flap of skin that runs from roughly the back of the ribcage to the knee. This is difficult to see on photos of house cats because their fur is so thick, but it’s VERY noticeable on photos of lions.I’m not honestly sure exactly what the function of this flap of skin is (I don’t believe it contains any muscle) but when a cat sits down that flap kind of lays over the knees almost like a blanket, creating this near seamless space between body and leg. Just Google “sitting cat” and try to draw an imaginary line around the hind leg. It’s more difficult than you’d think!
I think that’s all I’ve got for now! I hope those are useful to you! They sound really complex and scary now, but if you go through some images on Google and just try to draw what you see it’ll all start making sense. :)
Is there such thing as a martial arts disciplines or techniques that "suit" someone? Like if someone is physically on the small, weak side but has good reflexes and spatial judgment would they emphasize techniques that rely on accuracy (or hitting people where you can cause lots of pain without lots of strength)? Or is it less what you learn and more how you use it? Am I making sense? (If the answer to the first question is yes, what's a good discipline for the character in my example?)
You train your body to your style. In terms of physicality, there’s no barrier for entry. You adapt the techniques to your body as you train. It’s a common misconception that you need a certain body type to be able to fight, or to be good at it. Training takes care of the issue. The kind of physical training you engage in will mold your body. Practice, dedication, attention to detail, correction of errors, and time are all it takes.
There are martial disciplines that will “suit” someone, but those are psychological and philosophical in nature. Learning is faster when you desire to learn, and when the fighting style doesn’t counter your own goals. If you are mentally rejecting your training, then training will be almost impossible and produce poor results. A fast, brutal fighting style that focuses heavily on joint breaks will not suit a character with a gentle nature, who wishes to do as little damage as possible. Someone who wants a more inward focused and philosophical martial art will do better with Aikido and Tai Chi Chuan than they will with the sport focused Taekwondo.
The problem with your example is that it’s incredibly general and focuses on the character’s body rather than the character themselves. There is no good answer to it because the answer is, “all of them”.
Using physical strength as a metric for what kind of fighting your character can participate in or what martial arts they can learn is for stat based games like Dungeons & Dragons. You can take the abilities listed and apply it to any martial art you want. As I’ve said before many times, it’s better to work the other way around by finding your martial art then figuring out what you’re characters physical skills are going to look like as a result of their training. Trying to apply the combat style the other way around ultimately results in window dressing. Especially since, “all of them”.
All martial arts will hone and develop your character’s reflexes. So, the question is ultimately not that your character has good reflexes but rather, how were they developed?
You learn to judge distance through training exercises with your partner. All martial artists need spatial awareness.
You will learn accuracy by practicing your strikes on targets and then against live human partners.
Martial arts don’t rely on physical strength alone for damage, it’s cumulative and a balance of multiple factors that are all developed by training. Speed, accuracy, flexibility, momentum, endurance, learning where to hit and how to hit to achieve your desired results, your ability to move your body together, timing, these are what most people mistakenly refer to as, “physical strength”. Often, genuine effort and hard work are mistaken for natural gifts.
”Who is my character?”
“What do they do?”
“What do they want to be doing when fighting? Their philosophical outlook on the nature of combat? Their morals? What do they believe in?”
“What kind of fighting will they be involved in?”
“What kind of fight scenes do I feel comfortable writing?”
“What is my genre?”
What interests you and your character, who they are as a person, what you’re going to ask them to fight in your narrative, and, of course, how closely you want to hew to reality are what you should use to narrow down your search. After that, it’s gravy.