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Karate Expert Gets Big Break With Concrete

August 11, 1988|DICK WAGNER | Times Staff Writer

At 6:05, Hydrick, worrying that the slabs are stacked too close together, said: "I may do it with my elbow, not a straight fist. If I do it with my elbow, no problem, those suckers are going to break."

Ed Parker, who is putting on the karate show, has come into the arena. Parker, a karate expert who became well-known as Elvis Presley's bodyguard, has gray hair down to his eyebrows and is dressed in orchid and white.

"His ability is very good," Parker said of Hydrick. "A very tough kid who has a great story to tell. I'm giving him the opportunity to establish his name."

At 6:30, Hydrick decides: "Elbow."

Amber wonders if he is going to make a grand entrance.

The 15 slabs are in place. Hydrick takes a drink of cranberry juice.

At 7:15, Hydrick is on top of his chamber, beneath the huge scoreboard. He made no entrance.

A public address announcer explains to the crowd--a few hundred are in the 12,000-seat arena--what Hydrick is going to try to do. There is no fanfare, no spotlight.

"Move out," Parker warned people seated near the stage.

"Shh," said the announcer.

Hydrick pulls up his sleeve, bows his head, takes a deep breath. His arm is poised to strike.

"Shh, shh." The crowd is slow to settle.

White Cloud of Concrete Dust

Hydrick strikes the top slab with his forearm and elbow.

There is a pop and a small white cloud of dust.

The top 14 slabs are cracked. Only the bottom one isn't. There is no great collapse of concrete. The stage is safe. The crowd applauds.

"Yeah, yeah," Hydrick yells, strutting around the stage, his sunglasses still on.

One of his men turns a camera on people in the front row and asks them what they thought.

"I thought it was excellent," a man answered. "Good technique, well-executed, one block broke at a time."

Hydrick is not crushed by well-wishers. His progress is not impeded. A couple of small boys ask for and receive his autograph.

"If I'd have kept my elbow down instead of pulling up right away, the last brick would have broken," Sir James said. "It was still spectacular."

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