If you’ve spent any time at all surfing the ‘Net or listening to ’80’s California hard-rock bands you’ve probably encountered the name Tesla. Outside of the reference to hair-bands and fast little electric cars, Nikola Tesla has become an Internet meme, a legendary figure to geeks worldwide and claimant to the title “World’s Coolest Mad Scientist”.
Nikola Tesla was born July 10th, 1856 in Smiljian, Austrian Empire (what is now Croatia) and by the age of 14 was able to perform integral calculus in his head. At 17 he contracted cholera and was bedridden for 9 months. While still recovering he sought to evade a military draft by moving to Tomingaj and exploring the mountains in hunter’s garb; he claimed that this contact with nature strengthened him physically and mentally, and spent much of his spare time reading books.
In 1875 Tesla enrolled in the Austrian Polytechnic on a scholarship, applied himself with what can only be called a demonic passion (working 3am – 11pm seven days a week) and received the highest praises of his teachers. Unfortunately he developed a gambling problem which he later overcame but not before being asked to leave the school without a degree.
Arriving in the U.S.
After bouncing around Slovenia, Prague, Budapest and France for several years he emigrated to the United States and was hired by Thomas Edison in 1884, where he started off with simple machine-shop work and soon was solving some of Edison’s toughest problems.
Tesla went on to file patents on hundreds of inventions and improvements in radar, telegraphy, AC power generation, X-rays, radio, radio-astronomy – he even created a machine that caused an earthquake outside his NYC laboratory and developed the plans for a “death ray”, the forerunner of the modern-day particle-beam weapon.
Yet despite all this, he was a life-long bachelor, asexual, a virgin, given to talking to pigeons and once stating that he received thought-messages from Mars. He had a plethora of quirks: he hated any number not divisible by three, he disliked human contact, jewelry and round objects, and exhibited strong symptoms of being OCD.
Tesla died at 86 years of age from injuries incurred from being struck by a taxicab. He died in his New York apartment penniless, friendless and alone.
Now that the background material has brought you up to speed, here’s my question: given his personality, his physical appearance (6′ 2”, 145 pounds), in good condition (he walked 8 to 10 miles a day), possessing an eidetic memory, speaking 8 languages and able to visualize and blueprint the most complex of machines totally in his head, what style of martial art would Tesla have practiced?
Would he have gone with an existing style, or would he have created his own?
I like to think he would have grafted bits and pieces of existing styles together and added his own unique touches – such as lightning.
Maybe a little Bartitsu, a little Jujutsu, some European fencing, boxing, wrestling … he could have learned all of these arts simultaneously and would have achieved Master level in each within a few weeks. His journeys in the mountains, his austere, monk-like existence (living alone, no sex, existing on tea and Nabisco crackers), his perfect memory of martial forms and movement dynamics, all would lead to his becoming a tall, terrifying 19th-century Electrical Fighting Monk-Ninja!
He would have dominated the MMA, he would have whipped Bruce Lee with one hand and would have been the only object in the Universe that scared the heck out of Chuck Norris.
Perhaps even more terrifying is the fact that Tesla wasn’t afraid to mix it up when the need arose; he was once quoted as saying that:
“To conquer by sheer force is becoming harder and harder every day. Defensive is getting continuously the advantage of offensive, as we progress in the satanic science of destruction.”
“Satanic”. This, from a super-genius. A super-genius who had the blueprints to create a weapon that would not appear until more than 100 years later, a weapon that could take out a small country. A weapon that makes Batman’s weapons look like so many Nerf guns.
How could you STOP someone like that? You couldn’t – you’d likely spend your last painful moments gazing into the stone-cold eyes of this pigeon-trash-talking, biscuit-nibbling evil madman while he zapped you into the Hereafter …
… with LIGHTNING !!!