AN INTERVIEW WITH
Domo Arigato, Martialforce.com Magazine Readers My name is Franklin Puello and welcome to Martialforce.com Online Martial Arts Magazine. We here at Martialforce.com thrive in presenting and introducing Great Masters of the Martial Arts, who have made a contribution to its Legacy. Many Great Martial Artists have been born and introduced to the World since times of old. Many have reached prominence to have been referred to by many adjectives that describe their great skills, philosophy, influences on others, teaching methods, propagation of the Martial Arts, and even for their further Evolution of the Martial Arts. We are part of a new generation of Martial Artists always seeking information, knowledge, and validation of our skills or contributions, and most times we have to be reminded of the Essence of the Martial Arts, which in paraphrasing a reminder/ lesson from Xuan Benavides, Sensei quoting Matsu Basho: ďSeek not to follow in the footsteps of men of Old; Seek what they soughtĒ. The Great Martial Artist I am about to introduce is a product of a Generation from which real Martial Arts Warriors were forged and generations to follow should and do emulate; a great one whom I met around 1974 and 1975, and witnessed some of his prowess. I was amazed at his grace in Kata, his fearless Kumite, and his application of Self Defense; and enchanted by his exhibitions and Mastery of Weapons. Many in Present day Martial Arts, are not familiar with his name and this is attributable to several factors, among which is the fact that he left New York to reside in Los Angeles, and then moved to the International land of Istambul, Turkey. I am honored to introduce Teddy Wilson, Hanshi.
Interview by Franklin Puello
Martialforce.com: Where were you born and raised and where do you presently reside?
TEDDY WILSON: Harlem, New York and raised in Harlem, at present, Iím living in Istanbul, Turkey. Let me say for this interview I will keep the KISS principal, for those who donít know that means (keep it simple stupid).
Martialforce.com: What is your present occupation?
TEDDY WILSON: I have a Wellness consultant firm and I use my martial arts to teach corporate stress management and management communications and management leadership skills. I am the co-founder of The Women Self Defense Initiative, which teaches self-defense to women by empowering women for self-development. I lecture and give seminars on all of the above. In addition, teaching and lecturing on my own martial arts, Kaizen Aikijutsu, Kaizen Kenjutsu and Aikido. I am also consultant/coach in body sculpturing and fitness, something Iíve been doing since 1974 for corporate management and private clientele.
Martialforce.com: When did you start studies In The Martial Arts?
TEDDY WILSON: I started boxing in 1959 and a year later, I started my Martial Arts training.
Martialforce.com: What was your primary reason for starting Martial Arts studies?
TEDDY WILSON: I saw a certain elegance of power and sophistication in Martial Arts; this is what really attracted me to the Arts.
Martialforce.com: Who was/ is your first Martial Arts teacher?
TEDDY WILSON: I consider myself very lucky, my karate instructor Benny Teller, Jujutsu instructor Theodore Williams and my Judo instructor Jerry Lindo. At 14 yrs. of age I started my self- defense training with Grand Master Indio San Carlos, this was my introduction into martial arts getting my butt kicked on a daily basis, but for some reason I understood that it was better to get my butt kicked in the dojo than in the street. Pain? So whatís that? Thatís what I learned. When I started Jr. High school there was an American Goju Dojo on 163rdStreet and Amsterdam Avenue. If I remember correctly Thomas Boddie 3rd Dan at the time was the owner and Albert Gotay, 5th Dan, who was with the Police Department visited frequently. I use to go and watch during my lunch hour and after school and sometimes the night classes, they were very good and other than my instructors what more inspiration could you have or want. Everyone was/ is a teacher in my eyes and I tried/ try to learn from everyone in every relationship.
Martialforce.com: What was the first style of Martial Arts you were introduced to?
TEDDY WILSON: The first styles I studied were Kyokushinkai and Shotokan karate, Jujutsu and Judo.
Martialforce.com: Name some of your Dojo brothers and friends?
TEDDY WILSON: Dojo brothers, I had so many from Shotokan, Japanese Goju, American Goju, Nisei Goju and Chinese Goju and more... I will start with the true grit Remy Hannibal, Abdul Musawwir Haqq (Monroe Marrow), Errol Bennett, Earl Monroe, Ron Van Clief, Owen Watson, Tommy Ugero, Chaka Zulu, Fred Miller, Fred Hamilton, Joe Hayes, Frank Ruiz, Peter Urban, Jason Lau, Allen Goldberg, Indio San Carlos,Wifredo Roldan, Hui Cambrelen, T.Taylor, John (Little) Davis and Moses Powell, Chuck Merriman, Aaron Banks, Louie Delgado, William Louie, Leon Wallace, Charles Bonet, Jerry Gardner, Gerald Orange, George Crayton and Lamarr Thorton. These are just a few I can remember at this time I havenít been in contact with my older Martial Arts brothers for the past 30 years. Since I moved out of NYC to Los Angeles, and have been living throughout Europe for some time... And I would like to mention my first Kumite lesson, I never forgot, was given by GM Thomas La puppet, which I have great respect for may, he R.I.P. when he was a Green Belt and I was an Orange Belt at the time and that was: Never too Retreat. At that time GM George Colfield was teaching at a school gym, good memories. My teacher took us there just for the kumite I just never had the chance to study with GM Colfield (this man was very special in my eyes, and a credit to the black community).
Martialforce.com: What was the training style like, in comparison to present times, and the curriculum?
TEDDY WILSON: The training of my times was hard and very intense but itís hard to say from an objective point of view, but I will try my best since Iíve been teaching since 1966 and what I see today is that the todayís students lack commitment, discipline and respect every year or two I go back to the states and visit different dojoís or seminars and all I see is arrogance and big egoís and they lack a great sense of etiquette thatís seems to be totally lost. For the past 20 years Iíve been teaching in Istanbul, Turkey, Germany and Spain and the martial arts training is different from the states, but speaking on a whole I see a lot of separatism within the styles and money is the end result, I canít judge anyone for what they have to do to make a living but Martial Arts has taken a serious turn, and Not for the better. We were the teachers of the Community, now somehow that has changed. Iím sorry to go off the question but style or curriculum means nothing if those criteriaís donít develop the character to enhance a better future for martial arts. In summary, is the comparison I make of the Martial Arts of Old to the present time.
Martialforce.com: Would you please explain kihon training, kata, self defense, and kumite?
TEDDY WILSON: Kihon (the foundation) is to see beneath the surface of the technique and grasp the core in this; one is to comprehend the kihon. Other than the learning and practice of the technique there is the bio-mechanics of movement and the dynamics instituted within the technique as well as the strengths and weakness of the technique. Kata I have already spoke in this area (In sum: Kata is the ultimate artistic expression of your efforts to reach perfection; explanation of techniques and situations; fitness exercise; Signature of a particular Martial Art, etc), Self- defense, what can I say, it is important of course but how this is where the importance lies, for me the student must learn the difference of the training in the Dojo and what is more directed to self-defense, like for instance the beginner or Kyu Ranks might think that you would fight as you do Kata or because you use a long stance for the development of your legs that you might use the same stance in the streets or even using a stance at all, so I believe it takes a good martial artists/street fighter who has had a lot of street experience can really teach self -defense from a martial arts point of view more than that youíre just theorizing we use a lot of hypothetical analyzing in training and it helps but thereís nothing like the real thing and someone whoís been there. Kumite training: other than training for your personal development such as speed, power, endurance, timing, rhythm and distance. I believe your sparring partners are very important no matter what weight class youíre in you should work with a heavy weight, middle and light weight. Letís say youíre a heavyweight I would practice a lot of Kumite with middle and lightweights for speed and execution of techniques without using my power, your goal is to become a different class of fighter within your weight class.
Martialforce.com: Do you have a favorite Kata?
TEDDY WILSON: In the day I have seen many beautiful Kata, I was pretty much into the Shotokan Kata and some of the Chinese forms, but for me it was the person performing the Kata and not the Kata itself my favorite Martial Artist performing Kata was Abdul Musawwir Haqq aka Monroe Marrow, who in my opinion was the Best in Kata. I feel that the man puts the spirit; soul and the rhythm to the Kata, and then you see the dance of the Kata this to me is important because Kata is the dance (spirit or soul of the movement), for me this is the artistic side of your Martial Arts to perfection.
Martialforce.com: Do you consider kata and the kata training important?
TEDDY WILSON: If so, why?For me Kata is a prearranged and choreographic way of explaining techniques in certain situations. Kata is also the isometric exercise for Karate and Chinese boxing itís one of the physical conditioning tools of your art. There are some differences of opinion in relation to why one should practice Kata and the reasons for doing so. In my opinion those who make controversy over this matter are not educated in the essence of Kata training. The Kata is an encyclopedia of Martial Arts being that every style of Karate or Art of Weaponry has Kata. It is the signature of the style of any martial arts. We can also say that the Kata can test your spirit, intellect, memory and psychological state of mind. Some Kata are developed to enhance breath control, precision, muscular development, strength, endurance and flexibility as well as developing rhythmic timing and define understanding of techniques. ďIf a student is only to remember Kata for the sake of Belt promotion then the true aim of learning Kata is lost.ĒIf not for the practice of the above mentioned, I myself feel that the teaching of Kata is very important for the education of all martial arts practitioners...
Martialforce.com: What about, your Martial Arts philosophy at start of your training and at present?
TEDDY WILSON: I tend to be a bit idealistic, but in very simple terms; Respect, Honor, Truth, Compassion, Empathy, Commitment, Dedication, Responsibility and Accountability. ďThese words are my philosophy: in Life and my Martial Arts.Ē
Martialforce.com: Would you tell us about different styles learned and practiced?
TEDDY WILSON: Because of my friends I had the opportunity share and learn these Arts: Kyokushinkai, Shotokan, American Goju, Chinese Goju, Chinese Kempo, Wing Tsun, San Carlos Self Defense, Shang fu Shang Chinese Kempo and Black Dragon Kung fu and Muay Thai, Aikijutsu, Kenjutsu and Aikido and Real Aikido; and quite a few weapons Chinese and Japanese.
Martialforce.com: Since presently there is great emphasis in Sports Karate, would you tell us about competition in the 1970ís?
TEDDY WILSON: I fought for about 9 years and there were some big hitters on the East Coast from every system. One observation I notice is that we didnít use these hand gloves and foot protectors and all this body protection. I taped my knuckles and wore shin guards, I never used a mouth piece and that was it. When I got in the fight there was amore serious energy, to me at that time. My first professional full contact fight was in 1966 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Joe Lewis, Chuck Norris, Louie Delgado, Skipper Mullens, Mike Stone, Chuck Merriman please excuse me because I canít remember them all but it was a sight to remember, I mean you saw real Karate being executed great hands and legs techniques. I remember two unforgettable moments one was Mike Stone fighting with a broken shin and won, second Louie Delgado knock Chuck Norris on his butt with a spinning sidekick at the end of the round, then when the next round started Chuck open the round with the same technique and knock Delgado on his butt, and Joe Lewis fought a guy from Texas and just annulated him with that sidekick of his. These were the top card fighters, I was eighteen at the time I came to watch and was told by Aaron Banks and my teacher at that time Indio San Carlos that one of the fighter didnít show so I ended up fighting Chuck Merriman on the under card and I won. Now days Karate looks like boxing more than Karate, rarely do I see some serious leg techniques being done except in Kyokushinkai today. And let me say if I see a 3min bout and I only see two kicks that mean that youíre weak in kicking, period. But also you never saw any of these fighters disrespect a ref or their art on the floor. Now I see martial artist stomping off the floor and to go as far as to kick the opposite coach in the face, so there is a big different, there was one thing I liked about Grand Master Frank Ruiz, Moses Powell or George Colfield if you were to mouth off at these Masters you would be knockout on the spot for sure, so the refs and coaches are different as well, things have changed greatly.
Martialforce.com: Outstanding list of competitors, and understanding the common bond forged in the heat of competition, would you tell us of common opponents and friends?
TEDDY WILSON: Reno Morales; Errol Bennett; Fred Miller; Phil Mcrae; Tdalton; Ernest Hyman; Happy Robot Crump; Sheldon Wilkens; Van Clief. I worked and train with many people on the East Coast from Miami to New York and Canada and when you say friends I mention before above and for the names mention here Bennett, Miller, Mc Rae, Crump and Van Clief.
Martialforce.com: How would you define a good karateka?
TEDDY WILSON: I think the guidelines for self-analysis in Sensei Peter Urbanís book The Karate Dojo is better said in the ďAĒ list, for me this is a good Karate-ka and the book a good reference. I spend a lot of time with OíSensei Peter Urban, when he was on 14th Street if I remember correctly, every other day during the day even at 12 or 1n A.M in the morning it was an enlightened experience.
Martialforce.com: What characteristics, in your perception, would define a good martial arts teacher?
TEDDY WILSON: One who is humble does not let his ego consume him, communication skills are very good, talks to his students not at them, keeps an open mind, learns from everything and understands that learning is the key to knowledge, know your limitations and perfect from within. And he tries his best to give back to the community in hopes they understands his sacrifice, and tries to serve as a positive example in the dojo and in life.
Martialforce.com: In the sense of the phrase that ďKarate Builds Confidence, and CharacterĒ, have the study of The Martial Arts helped your personal growth?
TEDDY WILSON: YES IT HASÖ
Martialforce.com: How has it benefit you in your personal growth?
TEDDY WILSON: It taught me to listen to observe; it taught me to be patience and self-analyzing and many other things that has allow me to live this long, (To The Martial Arts and Teachers) I am thankful.
Martialforce.com: On that Note, would your share what you feel has been the greatest impact of The Martial Arts in your life?
TEDDY WILSON: Well one of them was when I started working with GM Van Clief and, I met many different martial artists of different nationalities with different back grounds and styles that I worked with and had a chance to do a few films and a Broadway show, performed quite a few demonstrations on a large scale, learn a lot about myself and others in that experience, because I was the understudy for Van Clief so when he left to finish his film in Hong Kong, I had to take his place, so that was something all in itself I learned a lot and that was an impact of many experiences.
Martialforce.com: And the Greatest achievements in life?
TEDDY WILSON: None I would like to speak about. I never really look for any acknowledgement. Maybe my achievements have been in me running a few successful companies in my life in New York and L.A. Success base upon me being able to support my family and life style and being financially comfortable at certain periods of my life I guess, and putting my daughter through Private Schools and College, what more can I ask.
Martialforce.com: Please elaborate on your Kobudo training philosophy?
TEDDY WILSON: My philosophy in weapons is that it is an extension of your body and soul it is what I call walking Zen. ďIím an artist my sword is the brush and my mind is the canvas.Ē
Martialforce.com: Who was your Kobudo (Weaponry) teacher?
TEDDY WILSON: Master Tashiba Matsumura in Kenjutsu and Iaido, and he also corrected other Japanese weapons I had a knowledge about, I trained with him for 8 years in L.A. God Bless him may he R.I.P.
Martialforce.com: What is your favorite weapon?
TEDDY WILSON: Japanese Sword.
TEDDY WILSON: I love it, and it has always been interesting to me. Since my early 20ís, I just felt connected spiritually and I never lost that feeling, like I said before ďitís a walking Zen for me itís meditation in movement.Ē
Martialforce.com: Are you presently teaching/ training and if so where is your Dojo?
TEDDY WILSON: My Dojo is in Istanbul, Turkey, but as I teach my students: the Dojo is not a place, ďit is a state of mind.Ē One must have the same state of mind they have in the dojo, everywhere or anywhere they train the trick is to have the discipline in practice or training to be as hard on yourself as your teacher or more, when u train on the beach in the woods/forest keeping the dojo mindset of seriousness no matter where u are, The dojo does not make u more serious it is ur state of mind. This is not complicated everyone has felt it one time or another being lazy because u r training alone or a lack the energy in class u are the fire it is all within you, not a place, not a space itís only in your state of mind.
Martialforce.com: What has been the effect of your New York training, in your international teaching/ training?
TEDDY WILSON: Itís said Iím too hardcore, and they really donít know the truth of it (with a slight grin). Todayís students want the training to be easy, they want something for nothing, or they just donít know what they want but they know better. ďMany people that come to study, come with a full cup.Ē Yes we know too much, you come to learn and you have questions but you know too much. The first thing is to believe in yourself that you have made the right choice with your teacher and stop questioning and learn to listen, learn and take note keep a notebook a diary of every class, this keeps you from asking dumb questions and asking more constructed, informative questions for yourself and your dojo brothers/sisters to learn from, your mission is to learn to listen and listen to learn. To many questions does not mean youíre smart it just means your ďmassagingĒ your ego. Come to class with an empty mind, fresh and clean.
Martialforce.com: Please tell us what is your perception of self defense, and its needs in present society?
TEDDY WILSON: Self-defense was and will be always needed in this society you cannot get around it, but there are many other tangibles that need to be focus upon other than the pacific martial art being used. Firstly there is the law in the use of a martial arts being used in an altercation and also there is the individual can he or she use the right amount of force specified in any situation without causing unnecessary harm and still be safe, can you go all the way and take anotherís life to save your own mentally and psychologically dealing with the aftermath, everyone is not a born killer even though they might think they are, but not. I think the student should not only be taught to defend but to also be aware of the consequences from a legal standpoint also.
Martialforce.com: How is the competition today in comparison to yesteryears?
TEDDY WILSON: After I left competition in the late 70ís, thatís exactly where I left it, other than refereeing sometimes, I haven't participated in any competitions since that time and my perspective had change greatly and just donít have the time anymore.
Martialforce.com: What are your thoughts in Fitness Cross Training and Martial Arts styles Cross Training?
TEDDY WILSON: I believe in it (Cross Training) very much, both serve as great training tools for the Martial Artist, there is one thing I question about the Cross Training in Martial Arts Systems, and it is the proficiency of equalization within the knowledge of the individual.But needless to say Iím an old guy so for me, at my age I like 6 Miles power walk for cardio 4 to 5 days a week; 90 minutes of resistance training 4 to 5 days a week Heavy Bag cardio training; jumping rope, wooden dummy work and Kata interchangeable at times. But for the younger Martial Artist itís a very different story.
Martialforce.com: What are your thoughts on the teaching of The Martial Arts to and children practicing it?
TEDDY WILSON: I do believe learning Martial Arts at a young age is very important and should be, weather there is a negative or a positive connotation this will be based upon the teachers, thereís one observation Iíve made is that ďone can be an Martial Artist but not everyone can be a teacherĒ
Martialforce.com: You have had a great life and great career in the Martial Arts. Do you have any intents in writings or movies?
TEDDY WILSON: Yes, coming soonÖ
Martialforce.com: Any recognition by the Martial Arts World: Hall of Fame inductions?
TEDDY WILSON: 2009- World Head of Family Sokeship CouncilInternational Martial Arts Hall of Fame, Aikijutsu Grand Master of the Year. 2005- International Budo Magazine Martial Arts Hall of Fame, Aikijutsu Grand Master of the Year.
Martialforce.com: Are you presently teaching, seminars, Law Enforcement Officers training?
TEDDY WILSON: I have done seminars in Spain, Germany, and Amsterdam, Turkey and Paris, but nothing to mention at this time.
Martialforce.com: This has been a most fascinating and illuminating conversation with you Hanshi. We at Martialforce.com thank you dearly for sharing your time and extraordinary answers and experiences with us and our readers. Oneigashimasu!