“I thought it was funny,” says Mike Hagen, the son of former professional karate champion Ken Hagen who teaches at the Karate Kit Academy in Washington, D.C. “I wasn’t too surprised.
It’s the art of kicking back.”
It’s also the art at which Hagen grew up.
Born in California, the Hagen family was raised in the shadow of the U.S. government, and so was he.
He was raised a strict Catholic, but soon became an active participant in his local karate community.
The Hagens, who moved to the U, joined the Army, where they practiced in Korea.
“There was a lot of good stuff that happened there,” says Hagen.
“But the thing that was most inspiring was the culture of karate in America.
There was a big difference between being a good soldier and being a warrior.
Kata is a warrior-oriented sport.”
He enrolled at the National Museum of American History (NMAH) and was drawn to the work of John F. Kennedy, who taught his students to kick back.
Hagen became a member of the first karate class at NMAH, and when the class moved to his home state of Oregon in the late 1960s, he took it up with his mother.
“It’s about the idea of letting go and letting go of what’s important in life,” he says.
“This is my way of letting it go.
I think that’s what’s best for me.”
After graduating from the university, he attended the U of Oregon, where he took a course on karate as a senior, and started to train for the karate competition he was preparing for.
In 1968, the year he died, he won the kamikaze event at the Hawaii Kai-Ka, an event in which the winner’s family takes the plane to Hawaii.
Hagan’s life story and work with karate can be seen in a series of documentaries produced by NMAH.
Haggard, a retired Navy captain, is one of them.
“He was my mentor and mentor’s mentor, so I am very proud to call him a mentor,” says the retired captain.
“As a student, he was very clear about how to train.
He had great respect for the art form.
And I think it’s a very important thing in karate to learn from your peers.”
Haggart, who is currently a flight instructor for the Navy, trained Hagen and other students at NMH, as well as at the Navy Recruit Training School in San Diego.
Hanging in his home is a collection of kamihito karate katas, karate kicks, and a replica of the infamous Japanese sword.
“The sword was my first kamijin (kamikazee) and the kick was my last,” Haggert says.
The collection is also home to an enormous collection of photos and videos of the Haggards training at NMHS.
In 1971, Haggarts father, a naval pilot, was killed in a training accident, and his mother, a nurse, was also killed.
The two young Haggers returned to their hometown of Seattle, where Hagen went to college.
His mother died of colon cancer in 1982.
After that, Hagen was forced to leave his family in order to attend college in order not to be burdened with the cost of caring for her.
“My mom wasn’t really around much anymore,” Hagen says.
After finishing college, Hagan enrolled at NMAA, where his father was also enrolled, and worked his way through the curriculum.
He studied psychology, history, and karate.
He also studied in Japan and Germany, and spent some time in Hawaii.
Eventually, he went on to complete his degree at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
When he returned to the States, Hager joined a company that was developing a kamisuke karate kick, which would be used for fighting, for the first time.
“That kick is what I have the most fond memories of,” he recalls.
“And I love the kami karate.”
Hagen’s first kami was also his last.
He lost his kamishita in a fight at age 28 and returned home to Wisconsin to try and recover.
“We went out to Hawaii and I got kicked in the face by a guy who was about 25 years old, and it felt pretty bad,” he remembers.
So I put the katana back in my bag, and then I started walking around. “
I got up and I took off my shirt and pants and my shorts, and I put my head in my hands and I just said, “I can no longer do this.
Every morning I’d come home and get dressed, and every evening I’d go out and I