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Back To The Dark Ages We GO

The following was published in our local paper recently. I will let you read it before I comment.


Incident leads to assault charges against Michael Koonce
Man involved remains in critical condition
By RACHEL ALEXANDER alexanderr@ canoncitydailyrecord.comcanoncitydailyrecord.com
Posted: 03/07/2012 08:57:44 AM MST

Michael Koonce Charges were filed Tuesday against a Cañon City man after an incident at a downtown bar left another man in critical condition.
Michael Koonce, Jr., 22, was charged with one count of first-degree assault with a deadly weapon. He was taken into custody in the courtroom after District Judge Julie Marshall also increased his bond from $10,000 to $30,000 cash or surety.

The charge stems from an incident Feb. 23 at the Boomerang Bar, 331 Main St., which left Maruice Blankinship, 52, in critical condition. Witnesses told investigators Koonce had been in the bar and was acting “really obnoxious,” an arrest affidavit said.

Blankinship was helping bar staff clear patrons at the end of the night. After he asked anyone in the bar who was with Koonce to leave, Koonce punched the victim sending him out of a doorway leading down cement stairs and into a metal guardrail, where he struck his head.

Koonce then left the scene, prior to the arrival of Cañon City Police officers.

Blankinship’s wife, Angela, testified during Tuesday’s bond hearing that her husband remains on life support and under heavy sedation at Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs. He suffered multiple fractures to the back of his skull.

“My whole life has been turned upside down,” she said. “My husband may die.”

Koonce is known as a local mixed martial arts fighter.



This was a tragic incident. There is no other way to describe it. My heart goes out to Mr. Blakenship and his family. He will be in our hearts, prayers and thoughts and we sincerely wish him a total and speedy recovery.

As for Mr. Koonce as you can see from the article he was and is a trained MMA fighter.  As a traditional martial artist and a traditional Sensei I have several philosophical differences with that line of thinking and training. This post is not about those.

If you read the article, you will notice that Mr. Koonce is being charged with “first degree assault with a deadly weapon”.  Until the District Judge, Attorney or whatever discovered that Koonce was a “trained MMA fighter”  the charges were simply first-degree assault. Upon the discovery that he had trained the charges were upped.

Have we lost our minds? Have we reverted back to the 1950’s? Does this mean myself and my fellow martial arts instructors should march right down to the Sheriff’s Office first thing Monday morning and register ourselves as “Lethal Weapons”?

We ARE trained to use our bodies to defend ourselves. We even teach others to do the same thing. Here’s a question for you: What soldier returning from the Middle East that hasn’t saw action isn’t? What police officer or correctional officer isn’t? How many times on the local news do we hear of incidents in Pueblo or Colorado Springs where a soldier has done something very much like this? Were they charged with the same degree as Koonce? No, they weren’t

Was Mr. Koonce wrong? In my opinion, yes, he is very much in the wrong if what has been reported is the entire truth. Whether it is a student or instructor, one involved in the martial arts of any kind should use control. They should know what it is and that it should be used in defending yourself. I think this is a huge flaw in the entire MMA association. They simply teach their students to fight. This is an example of the lack of discipline and responsibility in that.

I won’t go on a rant about MMA because that is not what this is about. I’m not here to pick a side about who was right and who was wrong. There is a man in critical condition in the hospital. I think people will form their own opinions very quickly and very justly in that. What I am here to say is the punishment, or the charges, should fit the crime. To me, the charges have been raised due to prejudice and stereotypes. That is by no means right or fair. It casts a dim light on martial artists in general, but ONLY martial artists and in no way considers anyone else who has been trained to defend themselves.


  1. March 11, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Great article which raises so many questions. On the MMA side of things, respect seems to be in limited supply in most classes and instead they focus on aggresion. My view is a little biased but respect needs to be included in any fighting art otherwise its practioners are just taking lessons in what might aswell be base violence.

    Regarding whether it’s right that his bail was increased, it seems unfair if others with similar knowledge are treated differently. In the UK it varies but most it’s a little more fair. Overall though I believe that those with great knowledge and great power also need to show responsibility.

  2. Chris
    March 15, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    I am not sure if you have ever trained MMA and if so how you have trained with but I have to disagree with you I am a black belt of Sensei White and I also have training in MMA and if it weren’t for a injury right now I would still be training. I have trained with everyone from local fighters to UFC fighters and just about every person I have trained with has showen the up most respect whether they are in the gym or out in public. I have been with these fighter when they were out inthe public working with at risk teens or taking time out of their day visiting sick kids at childrens hospital. Sure once in a while you will get some that show a lack of respect but it is not fair to judge them all from this. The worst part about this story is the fact that I know and have trained with the person involved in this case, do I belive that this was a case of disrespect NO I do belive this was a case of a person not being able to control their alcohol which seems to be a problem with a lot of people. Dont get me wrong I am not trying to defend the person involved in this case, he is in the wrong and should pay for what he has done. I am defending the people that are trained in martial arts or MMA and the people training these people that you say are not focusing on their stuidents respect,spend some real time with them I think you might change your mind.

    • March 16, 2012 at 7:53 am

      Hi Chris. By the way this IS Sensei White.

      I, in my post really didn’t mean to throw all MMA guys into one bucket. As you know at the old dojo I actually had a guy training MMA fighters there. Good people. And I know that they go out in the community and do a great deal of good things. Of course the guys you are talking about are guys you have personally trained with.

      I just had this discussion with Sensei Drew on another format and I do conceed that there are “bad apples” in every barrel. One of the points point that I want to make, be clear on, and drive home is that MMA is the thing that defines the martial arts in general to the public these days. There is a TON of responsibility laid on their shoulders right now to set a positive example to the public as to what the martial arts are about. If they cannot take the reigns of that and set that example, they need to re-think their position as “leaders” in the genre.

      Now that we have taken the point of the post WAY off to the left of center allow me to clarify the point I was making in the first place:

      It is not for one second about who is better than who. It is not for a minute about “my Dad can beat up your Dad” as far as styles and disciplines go. The POINT of the post is that the charges on Mr Koonce were immediately raised from First Degree Assault to First Degree Assault With A Deadly Weapon as soon as the DA discovered he was a trained MMA fighter. The point of the post was that there are many other people that are trained in a serious manner to defend themselves ranging from solders, to Law Enforcement, to Correctional Officers. By raising the charges on Mr Koonce it shows that the courts and law making branch of our governmant, at least our local government, is both ignorant of what the martial arts are about and unfair in sentancing.

      The charges of First Degree Assault would stand on thier own in thier own right. To trump those charges up is nothing more than an ignorant, prejudiced, and biased attempt at a Dog and Pony Show by local government made by people still living in the 1950’s with outdated views of what the martial arts are about.

      There were several people who thought I was attemting to cast a dim light on MMA. I think if yourself and those people re-read the post (hopefully with this clarifying it) they will see I’m not judging any style. In the incident itself I’m not pointing a finger at anyone. I don’t have all of the facts. Quite simply, I wasn’t there to make such judgements. Rather I am judging the Prosecuting Attorney for trying to hype up charges to get some kind of ridiculous sensationalism out of the case by using the reasoning behind charges that haven’t been used since we had things like “Love Ins” and hippies.

      And once again to Mr Blankinship and his family, we wish you nothing but the best on a total and complete recovery. We hope that by the grace of God that justice is brought to you and you find hope love and comfort in this terrible time. You have had a terrible heartbreaking tragedy happen in your lives. If we, as a dojo, can assist you in any way please feel more than free to contact us. We will keep you in our prayers.

      • dmartinez
        June 24, 2012 at 9:01 pm

        I opened this thread with a large amount of scepticism. Thank you guys for keeping it thoughtful and rational. Some great points expressed here.

      • Chris
        June 26, 2012 at 3:03 pm

        Sensi White, by no means was my responce directed towards you. I agree with everything that you said. What happen in this situation was and is a shame. For Mr Blankinship and his family I hope he is able to make it through this and please excuse me if something else has happend in the last few months, I haven’t heard any updates. I am also extremely disapointed for the situation that Mr Koonce has found himself in. I know this individual and I have seen the amount of talent he possess and to see it thrown all away over a bad decision is truly sad. My last comment about MMA fighter was in responce to to the first reply made by Ms Hayward. I do not feel like it is fair to label all MMA fighters because of a few bad apples. We all make our mistakes but as I said before I have met a fair share of well knowen MMA fighter and have frendships with a few of them and I must say they are some of the nicest guys I know. In fact as most of America knows a good part of our state is on fire right now and most of these pro fighters are doing everything they can to help.

  3. March 19, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    Well, it is very similar to a professional boxer or wrestler havingl their hands classified as deadly weapons, is it not? This type of thing has been going on for a very long time, I fear! So pleased you enlightened us further here. Thank you.

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