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Questions for the Florida Man Who Practiced Karate on Some Innocent Swans

What belt was this guy working toward?
April 27, 2018, 7:58pm
Photo of Mantella via the Orlando Police Department; photo of a swan by Flickr user John Glass.

On Thursday, some asshole allegedly tore around Orlando's Lake Eola Park kicking the living daylights out of a bunch of swans, local CBS affiliate WKMG reports. Witnesses said the 34-year-old Florida man was practicing karate when, for some bizarre reason, things actually got violent.

According to police, Rocco Mantella kicked a handful of swans in the head "as hard as possible"—so hard that the birds fell over, WKMG reports. He also allegedly punted one right in its poor, defenseless swan ass, and—for good measure—went ahead and kicked a sleeping duck, too. When a bystander looked at him in horror, she said he just looked back at her and laughed. Finally, the cops managed to arrest him, charging him with aggravated animal cruelty and placing him on a $1,000 bond.

Aside from the obvious—why?—there are a lot of questions that still need answering here. First and foremost:

Where’d the swans go?

According to Orlando CBS affiliate WESH, the cops tried to find the injured swans when they got to the park, but they couldn't track them down. So where are they? The first and most devastating theory is that—after suffering what police described as life-threatening injuries—the swans are dead, flapping their wings, preening their feathers, and leaving droppings all over swan heaven. Another option—entirely unlikely, but desirable—is that they’re hiding out in some kind of swan hovel, the avian equivalent of a mafia backroom, sharpening their beaks, chiseling their talons, and plotting their sweet, sweet swan revenge on this asshole. An outside chance, sure. But let’s just go with that.

What belt was this guy working toward?

According to, which exists, one can only advance from a white belt to a yellow, a yellow to an orange, an orange to a green, and so on and so forth, after passing a rigorous exam. You have to demonstrate that you've been training consistently, you're proficient in your techniques, and you've made some sort of significant progress. Where, among those three basic tenets, Rocco Mantella figured "kicking the hell out of a bunch of swans" fit in, no one will ever know. Unless, of course, the exercise wasn't his idea...

What kind of maniacal sensei taught him this?

Maybe Mantella isn't to blame here. Maybe he's been studying karate under some kind of evil, swan-hating master, an antithesis to Mr. Miyagi who, instead of teaching him to wax a car or sand the floor or whatever, sends him out into the world to do really mean shit. One day, he's beating up defenseless birds; the next, he's tripping some old lady on her way to the bus, or shaking some dude's hand way, way too hard to practice grappling for a judo flip.

Then again, maybe Mantella doesn't have a master. Maybe he just really, really hates swans—which brings us to our next question...

What have swans ever done to him?

Unlike geese, which might be hell-bent on overthrowing humanity, or turkeys, which can terrorize entire towns with their poop, swans are innocent, majestic creatures. Mostly, they sail elegantly over bodies of water, waddle through patches of grass, and do that weird nibbling thing to clean themselves. At worst, they leave a pile of droppings somewhere, you step in it, and it kind of sucks. So what could swans have possibly done to deserve getting kicked in the head by this guy? Perhaps, as a child, he had some sort of traumatic swan-related experience—maybe a gaggle of them ganged up and pecked the hell out of his frail, prepubescent body, leaving him with a lifelong thirst for revenge. Maybe they've been dropping deuces on his front lawn, and—after cleaning up their mess just one too many times—he snapped.

Or maybe he's just an asshole. We'll let you decide.

How do you karate kick a sleeping duck?

Let's remember, for a moment, that the swans weren't the only victims here. Mantella also allegedly kicked a duck, who was reportedly asleep before the attack, WKMG reports. Which begs the question: If you're practicing karate on a bunch of birds, what kind of maneuver do you use to kick a sleeping duck? The only thing that comes to mind is an NFL-style punt, which doesn't seem like something you'd need to master for karate. Otherwise, he could've gone for a sweeping kick, but you only ever really see those deployed in [Street Fighter]( So he had to have punted this poor, slumbering duck like it was a football, right? That's just messed up.

Where the hell is PETA?

So a monkey takes a selfie and PETA is all over it, but when some big, human bully wails on a bunch of unsuspecting swans, we hear nothing? Someone needs to help these swans!

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This article originally appeared on VICE US.