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Topic: Escaping in China
Message: Posted by: DavidEscapes (May 10, 2005 11:23AM)
Hi everyone

I have just got back from China. Worn out but I have tons of stories to tell, which I will get to when I am more awake. Apart from a total of 14 shows, I did a handcuff challenge with the Chinese police, an underwater escape (jumped off a boat into a deep lake), and a rope challenge that half killed me to defeat, 2 martial arts experts tied me in 15 feet of rope, I have never had to get over anything like that before, it was as real as it gets.

China was amazing. 20,000 strong crowds, national TV broadcasts, interviews, being mobbed in the street for photos and autographs, it was an incredible experience. And I am already setting up two return visits!

I will post some stories later. Right now, I need to rest..... zzzzzzzzzzzzz


Message: Posted by: Roslyn (May 10, 2005 12:17PM)
WOW!!! That sounds amazing! Well done..... even if I am a little jelous.
Message: Posted by: Kondini (May 10, 2005 03:50PM)
Good for you mate,,,you know what I said about Japan!!!!
The world is the oyster for ea`s.
Message: Posted by: Allan Given (May 10, 2005 09:48PM)
Congrats David!

It sounds like you had an amazing time there!! I can't wait to hear more about it!

Message: Posted by: Wolflock (May 11, 2005 02:02AM)
Oh Man that sounds impressive David.
Congrats. (And Like Ros, I am jealous :o))

The being tied up by Martial Arts guys sounds very interesting. Could you elagorate on that more?

Message: Posted by: DavidEscapes (May 11, 2005 06:23AM)
Hey guys

Amazing is not the word, d*mn I'm tired though!

OK, I will start with the rope challenge.

At the press conference on arrival I did a 100 foot rope challenge on a chair for the TV and press cameras, first day into the shows I was doing a rope escape where I was tied across a motorboat and had to escape in the time it took to speed around the lake which was the backdrop to my shows (my main fear there was falling into SAR's infested water ;) )

Anyway, I was approached by one of the promoters and told that a couple of martial artists wanted to challenge me, one short piece of rope (15 foot). There was a lot of press and TV on hand. Any refusal would have been public, so I accepted, of course that meant any failure would be public too.

It is my opinion that, as escape artists, we should sometimes act with less control than we would normally like, not so far that we could end up injured, or that failure is inevitable, but sometimes we are put in situations where we cannot refuse. Here I was, in another country, capturing press attention by escaping from ropes, and I am pubically challenged to a rope escape where the control had largely shifted. I had no choice.

I waited on stage for the challengers, then my heart sank, in a country of slight, short people, fit but not large, and overpowerable where slack taking in concerned, two mountains stepped onto the stage, these guys were huge, and it was all muscle. The only rule I stipulated was that the rope could not cut off my air supply. Probably the only major mistake, I should have cut the neck out altogether, these guys did not need to cut off the air supply when they were perfectly capable of cutting off the blood to my brain!

They worked as a team, tying me in a matter of minutes, I got zero slack, there was simply none to get, they were fast, very very efficient, and knew exactly what they were doing. I have never really felt beaten before, I have been worried once or twice, but this was the first time I have truly thought I was beat from the outset. Also, they had trapped two major nerves on each arm, leading to a lot of pain, only standing entirely still and relaxed was close to comfortable, I could barely move my arms and hands at all, and any attempt or struggle was very painful. Like I said, these guys were experts.

So, I had a couple of thousand people watching, a TV crew and the press. I could hardly admit defeat. I spent a minute or so trying to reach the knots, no chance, they had placed them perfectly, I tried to wriggle a hand through, but it was out of the question, it was to tight and I had no movement or leverage. Again, I started to admit defeat in my head, it really did seem unbeatable, and the pain on the nerve points was huge. Also, I had become seriously concerned about permanent nerve damage, and a lot of my movements were tightening rope across my carotid arteries and cutting off the blood to my brain. I am not exactly a quitter though so I decided to work in chunks, 30 seconds, then breath and decide if I should carry on. Or make use of an out. I also came up with a method, I would tighten the rope.

I had managed to create a very small amount of slack in either wrist, not enough to escape, but a start. My method was going to be to tighten the rope on one wrist as far as possible, and then use the slack gained to release the other wrist, it was a difficult and painful process, but after five minutes, and using a chair as leverage I was finally able to free my left wrist. I carefully unwound my other wrist and got the rope off. It was agony. my wrist and arm were on fire and looked like they had been battered with a hammer. But I had done it, in 6 minutes and 20 seconds. The audience went crazy, and the challengers bowed deeply, I don't think they had seen anyone else do that before and I think I had won their respect.

The escape went on national TV and brought a lot more audience the next day, though I didn't do anymore rope work for a couple of days, my right wrist was very swollen and I needed to let the nerves settle. I still have a fair amount of bruising and scabbing, and the feeling down my thumb isn't back yet (over a week later!), but I am sure it will all settle.

I will be posting pictures and video later. It is not an experience I wish to repeat but I am glad I did it.


Message: Posted by: escapologist2001 (May 11, 2005 06:53AM)
David, congratulations. It sounds a great but terrifying challenge. Have a rest and give yourself recovery time now - but I would like to see the pics.


Message: Posted by: Wolflock (May 11, 2005 07:23AM)
David - My respect goes out to you. I would have loved to have been there ti see it. The story that you typed here had me glued, reading every word with anticipation. I congratulate you. Do you remember how they tied you? I hope so, because, I would like to meet up one day in the not too distant future and would like to ask if you could bind me the same way. I had a challenge at the Cape Magic Circle last month where the members bound my wrists with individual pieces of wire from a coat hanger. The one member had a pair of pliers and used that to tighten them. Thank heaven, they werent too sure of what they were doing, plus there were three ofthem binding my wrists (Magicians love to argue between each other). Wrists were bound together behind my back and it hurt like hell. One of them had left enough wire left to loosen the twists enough to get a wrist out. I ripped quite a bit of flesh in the process and cracked the bone of the index finger slightly getting out, but I got out. took me 8.13 minutes. I got a great standing ovation from all the magicians (who had all stayed behind after the meeting to watch the challenge)while I stood there with one throbbing, pain filled hand and bleeding quite a bit. I also felt quite defeated at one point as I could not slide the hands through at all. If I never felt the piece of wire that saved me, I probably would have given in to defeat. I wont just tae on a challenge that quickly again. And this was not even nationally or internationally. Just at a meeting. How you kept your mind focused with cameras and specators watching must have taken ALL the courage and will power you had. Respect.

Message: Posted by: KerryJK (May 11, 2005 07:26AM)
Congratulations, David, great story, everything you put out is an education.

Congratulations on a succesful tour, you deserve it, and many more! :)

[quote]The one member had a pair of pliers and used that to tighten them. Thank heaven, they werent too sure of what they were doing, plus there were three ofthem binding my wrists (Magicians love to argue between each other)[/quote]

From my experience, the people who don't know what they are doing are more likely to be injurious in their techniques (or lack thereof). I got the principles of bondage safety hammered into me from the fetish scene, and martial artists are trained to know and respect the limits of the human body, to cause as much inconvenience as possible without causing permanent damage (unless of course they want to). Your average Joe, though, carried away with zeal, is unlikely to put much thought into whether the rope is cutting into joints or cutting off blood.

I too look forward to seeing the pictures; I'm always looking for ways I can be beaten, in case I ever get challenged by them. David's post here is definitely a keeper as a contribution to the art; maybe it could be published properly somewhere?
Message: Posted by: DavidEscapes (May 11, 2005 07:55AM)
Hi Helen

The tie itself was based on Hojo Jitsu. Though a Japanese martial restraint, it seems that at least some Chinese people are knowledgeable in this. At least four rope challengers used some of the methods involved. Corruptions of this are often seen in the fetish movement.

Amongst the features of this tie (and proper Hojo Jitsu in general) were:

1) An almost complete lack of movement. The tie not only held my wrists together behind my back, but pinned my arms into my sides. Any attempt at movement caused pressure on wrist and upper arm nerve points, and on the blood supply through the neck. I will put some pictures up later, the after shots show clearly that the bruising is very localised. The most severe being over nerve points only.

2) That the knots are completely inaccessible being placed away from the hands, fingers, teeth, toes etc. Also, they are tied and re-wrapped so they cannot be hooked on nearby items and pulled out. Plus they are out of sight.

3) Though the tie will not cause injury in the short term, a struggle will tighten on the nerve points ect. In this case I also lost the blood supply to my right hand for about 5 minutes. Very scary. Agony too when the feeling came back later!

4) The knots are created in such a way as to tighten under pressure, so gaining slack in one area actually causes permanent tightening in another.

I am not sure I could recreate this on someone without a lot of study. All the different parts need to be done with complete expertise. Any flaw would lead to the whole tie being compromised. Unfortionaly for me there wasn't any flaws :(

Wolflock. Your challenge sounds pretty horrible too. Well done. I would love to hear more about it.


Message: Posted by: Wolflock (May 11, 2005 08:23AM)
If I can, I will get taneous (Gavin) to come type out the view from their (Spectators) side. He is also a member of the CMC and was there. Then I will go into a bit of detailed explaination of what all they did and how I got out.

Message: Posted by: DavidEscapes (May 11, 2005 08:55AM)
The Chinese police handcuffs challenge:

On the morning of our first day in China (after 33 hours of travelling and 6 hours sleep in three days!) I was approached by a member of the Chinese policeforce, his cuffs ready. Through the translator I was able to say that I was doing a rope/chair challenge that day for the press, and an undercover handcuff challenge was not what they were looking for. However I would be happy to take his challenge the next day. He agreed and was waiting for me at the stage when I arrived, with the cuffs in hand.

After the usual checks on the cuffs I was locked into them by the officer, and placed my hands under a cloth. A minute or so later I pulled my hands out free, and displayed the cuffs, still locked to the crowd. They loved it and even the policemen all cheered. However the challenger had the bright idea that I might have simply used a key (how dare he! ;) ) He suggested that I should try again after being properly searched, along with the cloth that covers my hands. I agreed. In fact it was exactly what I hoped would happen.

After a througher search I also suggested that the keyholes be taped, then sealed with sticky labels, which would be signed. The crowd and police approved of this. It was done and my hands went under the cloth again, a minute or so later I was out, with the cuffs still locked. Again the seals were checked and I was unexpectedly searched. All was well and the police cheered the loudest, they also started inspecting my hands like I had special magical powers or something. Funny stuff.

I was given the cuffs to keep, very nice, especially as I lost my favourite set of speedcuffs in the lake a few days later (more on that soon). By the way, just so you know, Chinese H&R high security handcuffs are not shim-able!

A day or so later I did the escape in full view for an audience of only police, they were amazed by my method, but could not recreate it. After that I couldn't go anywhere without Chinese policemen saying 'Nehow Daway' (Hello David) and making me sign autographs and have photos with them. They also packed out all my shows from then on.


Message: Posted by: Cliffg37 (May 11, 2005 09:14AM)

Congratulations on all your chinese efforts, I wish I could have been there to watch. To see the look on the faces of those two brutes who tied you as you undid their work. wow.

Listen, on a more serioous note, even if the feeling has returjned to your thumb, 5 minutes of cut off blood flow is nothing to play with. If you talk to people who have suffered nerve damage (like me) from tight restraint, it is not fun. I highly recomend seeing your doctor as soon as you can. There may be exercizes your can do or treatments to help restore full nerve flow.
Message: Posted by: KerryJK (May 11, 2005 11:36AM)
Thanks, David, sounds scary! All the more reason to be aware of it's existence (if only to be wary of it), and congratulations on making it out, albeit at the cost of personal injury.

I'd love to know, how much did you know about Hojo Jitsu beforehand? Did you find out more about it after the event?

I wonder if Mark Tripp would be able to share any info on the topic given his grappling and MMA experience?
Message: Posted by: Allan Given (May 11, 2005 12:23PM)

Those are great accounts of your adventures! Congratulations! I am looking forward to seeing the photos of it all! Huge kudos to you!

That is awesome that the two men who tied you were versed in hojojutsu. There aren't many people outside of Japan who are. Very, very impressive work!!

I've studied martial arts my whole life and still only have a very small amount of information and articles and such on hojojutsu. If anyone is interested, PM me and I can see if I can find them and email you the articles.

Once again, huge kudos David! You are awesome!

Message: Posted by: Harley Newman (May 11, 2005 12:47PM)
Great job, David!

(And one of my main agents says that this stuff doesn't sell in China. teehee!)
Message: Posted by: Bretigan (May 11, 2005 02:44PM)
Wow, that is extremely impressive and so glad you had a wonderful time. You deserve all the credit, and your story will always linger in my mind if I ever want to "give up". I will be thinking... "what would David do." ;)
Message: Posted by: DavidEscapes (May 11, 2005 03:40PM)
Hi Guys

I have just done some vid captures of the rope challenge, they have been uploaded to: http://www.thefreakshow.co.uk/china/china.htm

I am expecting better footage and proper pictures soon, I will post them when they arrive.

Helen, I knew enough about that style of tying to recognise it. But not as much as I would like to know!

Thanks for the encouragment Allan :)

Harley, no, escapes don't sell well in China, don't bother, you are on a loser there mate :) Asia ain't big enough for the both of us! ;)

Bretigan. I think that's exactly it. Just don't give up. Work in 30 second chunks, stop, re-evaluate, then decide how to carry on.


Message: Posted by: Harry Murphy (May 11, 2005 03:52PM)
Reading your adventures in China has been the highlight of my day! I enjoyed both narratives. That you were able to defeat two challenges is total kudos to you. The tie sounds truly painful and claustrophobic! Man I know why I stick to the simple and easy 100 feet of rope!

I am interested in the Chinese cuffs. Not ratcheted?

Good show man! I’m looking forward to reading more about your trip and maybe getting to see some more photos.

China is almost wide open for variety entertainers. There seems to be a large segment of the population just trying to catch up with the western world (don’t know if that is good or bad!). You have proved that it is a land of opportunity. Now to learn the language!!
Message: Posted by: DavidEscapes (May 11, 2005 04:06PM)
Hi Harry

The Chinese police use a cuff which is a copy of the H&R, you can see one here:

[url=http://www.blacksteel.com/hcs/index.cgi?section=Collection&subsection=&type=&manufacturer=109&collector=&find=&start=1&mode=1]Click Here![/url]

Basically, the US gave them loads years ago, and when they ran out they simply copied them, making a few improvements on the way. The cuff cannot be shimmed as it has no lock dog. Instead it has a toothed wheel. The wheel turns when the key is in, and is locked in place without it. So, shimming will not work.

I picked up some useful stage phrases while I was over there. As one, possible two more bookings look likely there for this year I intend to learn a lot more.

Message: Posted by: KerryJK (May 11, 2005 05:13PM)
Ace photos.. #7 is the scary one, that hand looks purple, and the veins.. owie. No wonder you came away with a poorly hand.

The tie does look fascinating though, under less intense circumstances I could imagine it being an interesting thing to have a crack at.

Now you've done it once and seen the footage from the back (so you know the construction of the knots), do you find yourself wanting a return bout with this tie at some point in the future, to see if you can beat it by less extreme means?
Message: Posted by: GUNNARSON (May 11, 2005 05:23PM)
Congratulations David !!!! Sounds like things went really well.

China is an amazing place. I have done nearly 200 shows there over the last few years. You handled your challenges well. This is a lot harder when not understanding the challengers language and everything has to be translated. As an escape artist you always want to be one ahead of the people locking you up. When dealing with different languages it is easy to get behind the “eight ball” , so to speak. Your stories are so good and similar to my own dealings there, with the police, S.W.A.T Teams, and the Chinese Army. I could write a book on China and Asia escapes alone.

I am sure the Bill Murray movie “ Lost In Translation” well have a whole new meaning to you now!!!
Again great job!
Message: Posted by: WEASEL DANDAW (May 11, 2005 10:09PM)
Go, go, go David,

Well done mate. It was great to hear of your exploits and even better to see the pictures.

I'll give you a call soon to find out more.

Message: Posted by: pastorclyde (May 12, 2005 10:07AM)
Exciting stuff! Thanks David! Its that persistence that seperates an escape artist from those who can't. Thanks for the inspiration!

Message: Posted by: Wolflock (May 13, 2005 02:52AM)
Holy Rope Tie!!! That looks hectic man. Well done David. Cant wait to hear more and see more.

Message: Posted by: DavidEscapes (May 14, 2005 07:38AM)
Hey guys

Thanks again for the support and good wishes. A new page of pictures (nearly 200 of them) has just been uploaded to that weblink, with more to come.


Helen. Yep, number 7 shows the tie off well. I have been promised copies of a few great shots of that challenge, including ones of what my right wrist looked like afterwards. It looked a mess.

Dean. Thanks for the thoughts :) Yeah, I did not have as much control of that challenge as I should have. It was a sticky situation which partly came about because of translation issues between myself, the promoters, and the TV crew. I had similar problems with the underwater escape I did there. Though that one did not go ahead until the problems were worked out! I am glad I did the challenge though. Beating something like that felt good, and won me a lot of respect with the Chinese audiences.

Weasel, give me a call anytime. I have a TON of stories for you!

Clyde, I appreciate it :) I wonder if you can tell what I am doing to the Chinese cuffs during the demonstration (which happened for the police only after the challenge). I have only published the pics which cover the details.

Trevor, did I see somewhere that you are coming to the UK? Perhaps we can meet up, that would be fun.

Enjoy the new pics. More to follow, with video when I get it.


Message: Posted by: Wolflock (May 14, 2005 06:31PM)
Yes you did David. Will be coming in two months time for two years. Will definately want to hook up.

Message: Posted by: DonDriver (May 19, 2005 09:50AM)
Great photo's...great stories....great guy !!!!
That about covers it...oops Hi Nikki !!!!
Message: Posted by: Cindi (May 19, 2005 01:11PM)
Great photos! Well done

Message: Posted by: Riley (May 19, 2005 03:38PM)
Great stuff David.

Do they have English Take-Aways over there ???

Message: Posted by: DavidEscapes (May 20, 2005 06:43AM)
LOL Riley

They don't have English takeaways. But we did find a club/late bar that was called 'All Best Western Food'! Apart from serving chips and pizza's, they also had the craziest caberet shows on every night. One of the acts was a young guy who sang rock songs to a kareoke track (pretty well too), then he would scream loudly, and upturn a bottle of beer over his mouth. he would drink about half of it, then pore the rest on the stage. All the while screaming like a crazy person. he followed this by doing the same 'stunt' with two beers at once. Madness.

This was followed by pole dancers (wearing clothes!), a torch song singer, belly dancing, more crazy beer drinking, and finally a winner takes all gambling game for a huge amount of beers. It was completly lunacy.

Message: Posted by: Wolflock (May 20, 2005 09:10AM)
Oooo. What did the gambling game entail? Cards? Coins? Something that we could have fun with?? >:o)

I am sure the pole dancer had clothes on? *skeptical look*

Did you sing karaoke there?

Sounds like a cool place.

Message: Posted by: Daniel Santos (May 23, 2005 03:06PM)
On 2005-05-11 07:23, David Straitjacket wrote:
and I am pubically challenged


LOL I don't want to know... :P Kidding.

Congrats.! I'm glad that rope tie didn't do any other kind of serious damage. Now whenever I think of you I hear the song, "We're in the money!"

You've done an amazing job, and I wish you luck with future events!

Message: Posted by: x-treem (May 27, 2005 06:27AM)
The news heard round the world. I was at a magic meeting in Appleton last night where a magician started retelling David's story (set, however, in Asia and he could not remember the performers name) after the story I asked if it was China and David Straitjacket.

He said, yeah the guy had an unusual name and looked like Dean Gunnarson in his pictures.

So MANY, MANY people are hearing about this one, congrats bro.
Message: Posted by: Roslyn (May 27, 2005 06:32AM)
WOW!! That really is cool. Amazing stuff, which you really deserve.

Well done again.

Message: Posted by: Wolflock (May 27, 2005 07:51AM)
Brilliant. Congrats once again David.
Message: Posted by: DavidEscapes (May 27, 2005 08:08AM)
Wow Shawn, where had he heard the story? Looking like Gunnarson? I always thought me and Tom Lyon looked a bit alike myself, sorry Tom :)

Pubically challenged... Well spotted Daniel. I am glad my admission didn't go un-noticed, hopefully the treatment will work. No, there was no permanent damage from the rope tie. The feeling still isn't fully there, but the doctor said it is just a matter of time, nothing that will last more than another month or so. I have had to work on the fine muscle control on that hand, but that is all back to normal now.

Trevor, the gambling game was with dice, they play it everywhere, bars, shops, in the street. I couldn't fathom the rules myself, and no-one I saw playing it spoke any english. I did get dragged into a game at a bar though where I kept winning, and the guy just kept handing me drinks, I couldn't lose, and I couldn't persuade him to let me buy him a drink, it was funny. And yes, the pole dancers were fully dressed. I didn't do karaoke there, it was just for the performer. However there was a karaoke bar near the hotel where we had lot of fun.

I will write up the story of the underwater escape later today. Sorry that has taken so long.

Cheers guys

Message: Posted by: x-treem (May 27, 2005 09:27AM)
The guy retelling the story was Mike Schroder (Half of Mike and Chris the creators of Houdini Days) he said Chris had told him about it. That is all I know.

One of the other members (Stephen) had Santini's Bar Cuff at the meeting and Mike had locked him in, after escaping he was showing the red marks from Mike putting the Bar Cuff on so tight, that is when Mike recapped what I stated above.