Friday, August 15, 2014

Bernard J. ("Dr. Barney") Cosneck, Combat Judo and the Comics

I have written about Bernard J. Cosneck's book American Combat Judo here, here and here. Today, I'd like to give you a peek at some of the fascinating facts I've discovered about the author.

Cosneck came from Russian immigrant stock and gained prominence as a Two-Time Big Ten Champion intercollegiate wrestler for the University of Illinois (1932, 1934). He later performed in professional wrestling exhibitions as Barney Cosneck.

Somewhere along the line, in addition to wrestling, he picked up some instruction in jiu-jitsu and savate (French foot fighting). His boxing experience may have come from his association with heavyweight boxer Jack Dempsey.

During World War II, he served along with Dempsey as an instructor in hand-to-hand combat for the U.S. Coast Guard. Together, they produced a manual of close quarters fighting for the USCG entitled How to Fight Tough.

Cosneck poses with Jack Dempsey for cover photo
Published in 1942, the manual bears Dempsey's name as the author (along with sports writer, Frank G. Menke). This makes sense because everyone knew his name as a heavyweight champ, even though the book contains no real boxing moves. The photos show Dempsey performing various grappling techniques on Cosneck. I surmise that Cosneck did most of the actual coaching for the volume while Dempsey supplied the name-recognition.

In 1944, Cosneck saw his own American Combat Judo published. It presented a lot of the material found in How to Fight Tough, plus much more.

After the war, he collaborated with Paul W. Stoddard to produce a comic book with the title Judo Joe. It lasted only three issues, and each issue contained instruction in self defense. Interestingly, the moves taught seem to have come directly from American Combat Judo.

Compare the technique below with the one I have posted on the WARSKYL Comic Book Defense page. Note my comments below.

What has always struck me about this illustration is how high he is when he enters the throw. Two different jujitsu instructors (and various judo and jujitsu books) have taught me to enter low, with my hips below that of my opponent. I'm not saying that what Cosneck shows won't work, but that it will take a lot more strength to complete the throw. In the comic book illustration, you see the same high entry. 

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