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American Bahdo Association

Bando Family News

Sayaji's Bob Maxwell and Mark Bjishkian

Last week, on January 23rd, we mourned the loss of one of our oldest family members; Sayaji Mark Bjishkian. Mark died at Bethesda Hospital (Walter Reed) from a very aggressive cancer. It was communicated to us by Sayaji Maxwell that "Mark was surrounded by his family and his oldest closest friends when he passed. There has been so much outpouring of feelings for Mark and his family, that it would be impossible to personally thank them all. Please know that Mark was well aware of all the feelings and prayers that have been sent through me and others in the last month. His family wishes me to convey their deep appreciation for all your love and prayers. Mark’s wishes were that there not be any services for him, just that he be buried with his father at Arlington Cemetery with the Military Honors he had earned. Those arrangements along with a 21 Gun Salute and a real Bugler are currently in the works."

For those our members who never had the pleasure of meeting Mark- you missed out. He was a respected elder, Bando instructor and true Bando man to the core. He was one of the "original 18 members" that took the blood oath with Dr. Gyi back in 1968. He was a dedicated and loyal student of Dr. Gyi's for over 50 years and was a decorated Vietnam veteran who received the Purple Heart and the Silver Star for his combat heroism. He suffered greatly from both physical and emotional wounds from the war but kept on fighting for his balance. He was a disciplined and dedicated instructor with a focus on promoting safety and efficiency on the shooting ranges and taught hundreds of students. I will never forget his feisty ways and spirit. He cared deeply about the Dr. Gyi and Bando and his passing is a crippling loss for our family.
Dr. Gyi passed along these words and asked that I put them in the newsletter:

A Memory from Grandmaster Gyi

Sayaji Mark Bjishkian
The Bando Monk Form

Dr. M. Gyi
Chief Instructor
The American Bando Association

"In the early 1960's I was teaching Bando at the American University physical education program. One fall semester, Robert Maxwell and Mark Bjishkian signed up for my class. I didn't know what to make of this new odd couple. At that time, my plan was to train my class to be able to compete in open karate tournaments against fighters from Japanese, Korean, Okinawan and Chinese systems.

Mark was the smallest man in my class and I was seriously concerned whether he could hang with many of the big tough guys training in the Hard Bando Style. I was pleasantly surprised and impressed that he endured through many rigorous fighting drills and came up through the ranks. His heart was tougher than his physical size. He would fight anyone regardless of weight or height. He was fearless. Mark became a loyal and dedicated member of ABA.

Years later, I was again very impressed by Mark's request to learn the Soft Bando Style [similar to Chinese Tai Chi]. Mark was the first person in America that I taught the Basic Bando Monk Form to. He competed in this form and won several open kata competitions.

The purpose of the Monk Form is to calm the body and mind to gain inner peace and to commune with the Divine. Mark told me that when he was in Vietnam he performed this form several times to relieve the stress of combat.

I pray that Mark is still performing the Monk Form now that he is at peace."

Mark E. Bjishkian

Awards and Citations

  1. Silver Star

    Awarded for actions during the Vietnam War

    The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Hospital Corpsman Third Class Mark E. Bjishkian (NSN: 7773427), United States Navy, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as a Corpsman attached to Company G, Second Battalion, Third Marines, THIRD Marine Division, in the Republic of Vietnam, on 23 August 1966. During Operation ALLEGHENY, Hospital Corpsman Bjishkian's platoon was engaged in an extended patrol through heavily overgrown terrain in the Dong Lam Mountains when the point fire team was temporarily pinned down by an intense barrage of small arms fire and grenades from a numerically superior insurgent communist (Viet Cong) force. The fire team was 100 meters forward of the main body of the platoon, but all movements were restricted as the platoon came under fire from its right flank. Almost immediately after the firefight began, two casualties occurred in the point fire team, and a call for a Corpsman was heard. Although the entire column was under fire, Hospital Corpsman Bjishkian, completely disregarding his own safety, immediately arose and began running toward the wounded, drawing heavy fire all the way. Miraculously escaping injury until just a few yards from his objective, he finally fell, seriously wounded. Determined to assist his comrades, Hospital Corpsman Bjishkian heroically continued to crawl forward to their position, where he directed the administration of first aid. He refused medical attention for himself until the other casualties had been fully taken care of. By his unfaltering courage, initiative and inspiring devotion to his comrades, Hospital Corpsman Bjishkian upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

    Action Date: 23-Aug-66

    Service: Navy

    Rank: Hospital Corpsman Third Class

    Company: Corpsman (Attached), Company G

    Battalion: 2d Battalion

    Regiment: 3d Marines

    Division: 3d Marine Division

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