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Terry Dobson and Evan Tanner: In Search of Self

January 23, 2009

An Obese White Gentlemen in No Apparent DistressEvan Tanner

Evan Tanner was a champion UFC fighter. He experienced a fast rise to fame, moving quickly from watching Gracie instructional videos to fighting under the bright lights in Las Vegas. His impressive 30-4 winning record was the precursor to his 2005 middleweight championship victory against David Terrell, which cemented his status as one of the greatest fighters in the world. However, his UFC victories were unfortunately coupled with a lifelong struggle for personal growth against the demons of his youth, a struggle that exhausted him mentally and physically, ending in his tragic death in the desert near Brawley, CA. In the Men’s Journal article “Evan Tanner’s Final Test”, we see that Tanner’s fighting was but one part of his long quest to find personal meaning and spiritual understanding in the world.

Tanner’s search for meaning in his life is paralleled by the personal quest of Terry Dobson, an unconventional Aikido master and subject of the recently released novel An Obese White Gentleman in No Apparent Distress. In the novel, written by his partner Riki Moss, Dobson turns to Aikido in desperation after a short life filled with violence, depression, and thoughts of suicide—all stemming from a childhood of abandonment. After 25 years of practicing Aikido in New York, Vermont, and Japan, Dobson returns to his ancestral summer home in ill-health and depressed again, only to meet Moss after crashing his car, an unforeseen event that would bring meaning to his troubled life.

Both Tanner and Dobson grew up without strong familial ties and were later plagued with substance abuse problems, an as a result they would spend the rest of their lives searching for peace. Both of these quests involved an intimate pursuit of martial arts as a way to physical enlightenment and mental clarity. For these two remarkable men, the study of martial arts was an essential part of the lifelong quest for self-knowledge and inner tranquility.

Click Here for more information on Terry Dobson and An Obese White Gentleman in No Apparent Distress
Click Here
for to read the Men’s Journal article on Evan Tanner

Thanks goes out to our intern Angela Cabral for this post.

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