When talking about martial arts, a lot of us immediately think of those cool movies starring big names like Bruce Lee, Jet Li, Chuck Norris, and yes sometimes that guy named Jean-Claude Van Damme. We have seen plenty of action movies showing these guys executing exciting fight moves that disable some villain in one fatal blow. While watching some of us will actually be thinking to ourselves "man I could do that!" Well guess what? Maybe with a little practice you could create a choreographed fight seen depicting you as the victor, but could you last 25 minutes in the MMA octagon with an opponent who wants to knock you out or maybe only 9 minutes sparring with a black belt in an Olympic taekwondo match?
The dedication it takes to get the end result of a short competition bout between two competitors is great. Training hard, practicing technique, increasing flexibility and fighting smart are vital for creating the ability to reach those victory rounds and maybe pull off the win. Once such name comes to mind when those concepts are listed "Bill Superfoot Wallace"
On Saturday January 19th 2008 I had the honor of attending a training seminar located at Halls Olympic Martial Arts Center in Bath, Maine with my friend and fellow practitioner of TaeKwonDo Ryan Keezer. The seminar featured one Bill Superfoot Wallace who would be enlightening us on some of his philosophies pertaining to training, stretching, and thinking in martial arts. For those of you who do not know who Bill Superfoot Wallace is allow me to elaborate with some quoted text from his own site since I am not going to do a better job of describing his career :
"Bill Wallace retired as the undefeated Professional Karate Association (PKA) Middleweight Champion after defeating Bill Biggs in a 12-round bout in June 1980. The victory, Wallace's 23rd straight, signaled the end to an illustrious 15-year career in tournament and full contact fighting.
Known to the karate world simply as "Superfoot," symbolic of his awesome left leg, which was once clocked in excess of 60 mph, Wallace left a string of battered and bruised bodies along the martial arts fighting trail. He used his foot as others would use their hands, faking opponents with two or three rapid fake kicks and following with one solid knockout technique. His power was amazing, his precision astounding.
Wallace, a 5-foot, 10 1/2 inch native of Portland, Ind., began studying karate in February 1967 after suffering a right leg injury in a judo accident. The injury left him without the use of the leg in karate competition. Some observers said Wallace was committing martial arts suicide. Wallace, however, had other ideas. In the next seven years, "Superfoot," named after his manager saw an advertisement for a "super foot long hot dog" at a sporting event, dominated the point-tournament circuit.
As a national champion point fighter three years in a row, Wallace captured virtually every major event on the tournament circuit. The more prestigious victories included: the U.S. Championships (3 times), the USKA Grand Nationals (3 times), and the Top Ten Nationals (2 times). He was such as dominant figure in martial arts that Black Belt magazine, the bible of industry publications, named him to its Hall of Fame three times in seven years -- twice as "Competitor of the Year" and once as "Man of the Year."
In 1973, Wallace, whose education includes a bachelor's degree (1971) in physical education from Ball State University and a master's degree (1976) in kinesiology (the study of human movement) from Memphis State University, suffered what many considered a career-ending injury. However, one of Wallace's friends, the late Elvis Presley, flew in a Los Angeles acupuncturist to treat the Karate champion at Graceland Manor.
A year later, Wallace turned professional and captured the PKA middleweight karate championship with a second-round knockout (hook kick) of West German Bernd Grothe in Los Angeles. He relinquished the crown in 1980, undefeated and respected around the world.
Despite his retirement, Wallace continues to be one of the martial arts most popular figures. He is the author of three books: Karate: Basic Concepts & Skills, Dynamic Kicking & Stretching, and The Ultimate Kick. As well as a former member of the President's Council on Physical Fitness, Wallace also has been active in the film industry.
His credits include : A Force of One with Chuck Norris; Kill Point, with Cameron Mitchell; Continental Divide and Neighbors, with John Belushi, whom he acted as trainer and bodyguard; Protector, with Jackie Chan; A Prayer for the Dying, with Mickey Rourke; Ninja Turf; and A sword of Heaven."
The above was quoted directly from http://www.superfoot.com/
The seminar was roughly 3 hours in length and included a room full of various aged and ranked practitioners of martial arts mostly but not limited to Olympic style TaeKwonDo. Not knowing what to expect I was pleasantly surprised to see the humble yet dominant instructional style displayed by Bill Wallace as he took us through many concepts and training methods.
Starting out with a small introduction speech and easing everyone into some stretching ideals Bill emphasized the importance of keeping an open mind and applying the concepts that we felt pertained to our practice. After loosening up and going through a leg stretch routine designed to gradually increase ones flexibility we moved on to some basic warm-up exercises using static holds and rapid continuous single leg kicking.
Next it was on to some striking and sparring techniques. Throughout the entire time we practiced these striking concepts Bill showed an uncanny ability to single out anyone in the group and generate an instant humbling when it came to reaction time and speed.
Lastly Bill brought us through some basic punches and shadow boxing drills for conditioning. It was nice to go over hand techniques since most Olympic Style practitioners concentrate mainly on kicking and do not develop a well rounded technique skill set. Although many of the techniques could not be applied directly to our Olympic Style sparring competition they were sound in concept and it was a great experience to be exposed to them.
My thanks go out to Bill Superfoot Wallace for coming to Maine, doing the seminar and giving back to the martial arts community by teaching others. It was a privilege and an honor to meet you and get kicked in the face. Very fun!
My thanks to Master Hall of Halls Olympic Martial Arts Center for creating the opportunity for all who attended the seminar to work with Bill Superfoot Wallace and especially for inviting Ryan and I to attend.
Bill did a great job explaining his concepts and displaying a practical application for them. I will also say I had a blast participating and trying out some of his techniques.
Keep it up Bill