"WHY AM I INTERESTED IN MEETING
By Lydia Alicea
An evening in October 2004
Upon arriving home, Shihan Rivera, with much excitement in his voice, says "Guess who I rode with on the downtown # 1 tonight? Shuseki William Oliver!" I could tell Shihan was thrilled!
Indeed! I recall Shihan speaking of Shuseki Oliver dozens of times. Kyokushin, Seido for many years, no? We had dropped into his dojo on the Upper West Side several times, but missed him teaching his classes. Shuseki always reminded Shihan we could stop by anytime, any day.
Shihan took a breath, and now finished his story. "It gets better. Oliver has agreed to an interview and article for an upcoming issue early next year. This is great news!"
An evening in November 2004
As I reviewed our schedule for the upcoming weeks, I mentioned to Shihan that we needed to confirm our meeting with Shuseki Oliver. "It will be in two weeks, Saturday morning at his dojo." Shihan asked, "Lydia, are you excited about meeting Shuseki Oliver?"
Actually, I asked myself why. I have been fortunate to meet quite a few outstanding martial artists. No doubt, each unique in their own right. When my thoughts turned to Shuseki Oliver, three distinctive characteristics, collectively and intricately interwoven stood out in my mind. This was a man with outstanding talent and accomplishments recognized and respected worldwide, of physical stature perhaps 5í5 yet incredibly powerful, and, he was an African American martial artist who came from the World of Seido. Now how more unique can that be! Youíre damn right I want to meet this man!"
November 20th 2004
The unexpected passing of Shuseki William Oliver... It cannot be possible....
I looked at the notes Will had prepared for the original interview intended on Shuseki Shihan Oliver. I read the research and saw the list of people he wanted to talk to for this article. Then it hit me, and he agreed. We cannot talk to him now but we can certainly speak of him.
The reason is simple. William Oliverís life is what legends are made of; is a book waiting to be written, and a story that must be told.
His life and career in the martial arts is a legacy that will and must continue. His story is one of determination, respect, and loyalty. It transcends race, culture, and age. Our pop culture driven society of multi million dollar paid athletes, recording artists, etc. predominates and unconsciously defines for our youth what is considered a legacy. Honestly, we can all benefit in some way knowing about Shuseki Oliver. We do not know what the next day may bring. Master Peter Urban said, "Today Is Now." With that in mind, "It starts today".
On behalf of MARTIALFORCE.COM, our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and the many people he touched around the world. I feel the loss and the pain and I never met Shuseki Shihan Oliver. With respect to them, their pain must be considered.
There are many true legends living in our mist. Find them and do not wait for their passing to tell their story. They are the foundation of the present, and the inspiration for our future generations. Like Shuseki Shihan Oliver, their effects are positive, they are doers, rather than talkers. How do you know them? The real ones do not care where you place their article or interview in your magazine; instead they care about the meaning and the substance of the article. They too work, have families, and struggle just like everyone else. Despite, they rise to a higher level and show us the power and beauty of the martial arts, every day.
SHUSEKI SHIHAN WILLIAM OLIVER
By Shihan William Rivera
Edited by Lydia Alicea
"Shuseki Oliver epitomized Budo: graciousness, compassion, patience, perseverance, courage, and a very strong spirit (KoKoro) that was as big as the Earth itself."
David Washington Shihan
Kokoro means heart, spirit, and mind. In the martial arts, it is often associated with a practitioner who is considered a true warrior or "Budoka". It describes the intense spirit or heart that he expresses in his training and his life.
He stepped off the local train on 96th Street to catch the express. "Shihan" he heard, and looking to his left, he saw him. Shuseki Shihan Oliver removed his headset and with a smile stuck out his hand in greeting.
Hello and welcome to Martialforce.com. The he above is me, William Rivera a Yudansha and student of Eddie Morales Shihan.
Shuseki Shihan Oliver was and continues to be an inspiration. Whether you knew him personally, through his students or from stories heard about him, there is no doubt that he effected the lives of thousands in the martial arts world.
This article is in tribute to Shuseki Shihan William Oliver the martial artist and the man.
There have been many articles written about his life and accomplishments. A story that can easily be a best seller I leave that to another writer who is not only his friend but also a martial artist.
Simply, I wish to give our readership some thoughts and words about William Oliver From my meeting with Shuseki Oliver, to comments from eight martial artists. They are students, dojo brothers, and fellow martial artists. Their common thread is the admiration and respect felt for Shuseki Shihan William Oliver. I want you to feel a little of the Kokoro that David Washington in the opening comment refers to.
"The Heart of a Budoka" Shuseki Shihan William Oliver.
The conversations I had with William Oliver were for the most part, the duration of a ride on the #2 train from West 96th Street to Chambers Street. I had first approached William Oliver about a year ago. It was one evening while entering the train together I noticed him removing a martial arts magazine from his bag.
I interrupted his reading and introduced myself as a writer for MARTIALFORCE.COM. I told him I had called his dojo about doing an interview/article about him. Politely he asked for my business card and said he would look at the magazine. Some time had past and I did not hear from him. I chalked it up to his busy schedule or non-interest.
Since I work out in the city often, I knew I would again encounter Shuseki Shihan. We did and as one might expect, our conversations were always about the martial arts, his students, and their training. One day as we were nearing my stop, I again brought up the topic of an interview.
Right at that moment my memory brought me quickly to a conversation, I had with Kayo where I answered a question. The answer hit me. Just before the doors were about to open at my stop, William Oliver had asked it. "Why do you want to write this article? The answer to this question is in itself an article.
The next time I saw Shihan Oliver, I answered his question. After giving my reasons, I also presented my ideas for the direction that I wanted the article to take. I explained having interviews with three or four masters, (or as Kayo reminds me), people with a high understanding of the martial arts.
I also wanted them to detail their rise in their chosen art, the how, when and why. I wanted everything. . I ended this evening conversation by asking him to read the interviews written on Steven Malanoski, Wilfredo Roldan, and Kayo. Particularly, I wanted Shuseki to feel the words of Kayo as he spoke about teaching the martial arts in the educational system. I knew that what Shihan Oliver could share with our readers would be more than informative.
Months later, while waiting for the # 2 train I heard, "Shihan". Yes! At that moment our discussions would become an introduction, or for better, a true glimpse into the martial artist that is William Oliver. I could see he was very excited about the interview and about sharing his thoughts and ideas.
Shuseki Shihan William Oliver would smile as I searched through my bag for my mini-recorder or jotted down some comment he made on my equally mini notebook. Substance was his predominant concern; education and inspiration were his aim.
William Oliver spoke with a form of humility, courtesy a manner of being that is recognizable in a Master.
A simple question, "Would you mind if you were not on the front cover of the magazine?" the answer "You can put me in the middle, the end it does not matter. If it is of benefit people will find it no matter where it is."
When I mentioned names of Martial artist such as Errol Bennett, Derrick Williams, Charles Martin to name a few, he bowed his head slightly and would say Osu!
Asking him if his wife was a practitioner he took out his wallet and with pride showed me her picture saying, "Not only is she a great martial artist she is beautiful."
Shuseki Shihan William Oliver did not have to act tough, he knew he was.
"I have been training with Shuseki Shihan William Oliver for the past thirteen years at the Upper West-Side dojo at 99th Street and the 104th Street dojo.
I am a third degree black belt (Sandan). I started when I was thirteen years old in the adult classes and never stopped training for more than a week at a time. Shuseki was a man who made everyone believe that they could do more than they believed themselves to be capable of. He would always support and that was not just in the dojo.
People would come to me and say, I would not have been able to become the head of my corporation. I would not know how to lead people in my community, I would not have been able to graduate from college, if it were not for him". People would look at him and the way he taught classes, the way he ran a dojo, the way he dealt with parents. They would see that and try to emulate his method into whatever else they were doing, although it was something entirely different.
A person would walk into the dojo and sit down to watch a class for ten minutes, and they knew they were going to join, there was no question of that. You could see in him even if you had no idea what you were looking at that he had a seriousness that people wanted to be part of, they wanted to learn from.
Whenever he met people anywhere, and they did not know who he was, or what he did for a living they would ask him "Are you in the service, are you a police officer?" They saw an air of authority, an air of power. He would say "No, thatís not it." He had the ability to support you but let you think on your own. He would never carry people. Instead, he would let them see in themselves something they did not see before."
"My name is Debbie Kreiling I am a 5th degree Black Belt in Seido Karate. I studied with Shuseki Shihan Oliver from 1979 until 1984. He is a dear friend. Shuseki gave us everything. He gave us his all. Anybody he ever trained gained the knowledge that he could do it. The most selfless man on the planet; a terrific martial artist and human being."
"Fut Sau Budha Hand Wing Chun, and Okinawan Goju Ryu. I was about 16 years old, I remember going to a few tournaments and meeting William Oliver. I remember just looking at this man, and saying, "Wow this man is incredible, you can see his power". On one occasion
I was getting ready for kumite and he was watching me. He said, "You want to do a little sparring"? I said sure. He threw a round-kick at me and sent me flying to a wall. I will never forget it, but I always respected the man. An incredible martial artist and a real gentleman. Later, I happened to judge him in a few tournaments, I remember once in Madison Square Garden and he was flawless as always. He was fantastic I really enjoyed it. I am going to miss him."
"My name is Dave Wheeler. I am a Nidan and studied with Shuseki for thirteen years. When I first went to the dojo I was a very shy a timid kind of person. Shuseki taught me so much. There is one phrase he told me that I will never forget:"If it doesnít kill you, it makes you stronger". I live by that every day and I try to show the same thing to my sons."
"My name is Gill Alstein. I have known Shuseki Shihan Oliver since 1979. He was my first teacher in my first white belt class. The thing I admired most about him was the energy he instilled in people. Not necessarily from technique that was extraordinary, many people have that. He was able to instill a spirit of energy."
"I consider myself a martial artist. I have studied various systems from Japanese Goju to Wing Chun Kung Fu. I met William Oliver back in 1975. I had the opportunity to compete against him as well as with him. He has always been a gentleman a true master of the arts. William Oliver lived his martial arts; he was not just a practitioner. I always had the greatest respect and admiration for him as a competitor and as a human being. He will definitely be missed for a very long time."
"William Oliver is one of the greatest. The terms trendsetter, trailblazer can be applied to him We go back to those years when he and I were brown belts in Kyokushin and I watched him rise like a meteor. He was and is a genuine champion, a genuine martial artist really born of the spirit that martial arts is supposed to be about."
"Shuseki Oliver aside from being my friend and my brother he was also my teacher the kind of person who brought out the best in everyone he touched. It is hard to say that we had to wait for this kind of circumstance to see how great a person he was. I still think he is a great person because I will never think of him as was but instead is. I think he touched many people and I think we lost in my mind one of the greatest human beings that was what he was about. It did not matter who you were what you did, how you did it, why you did it. He always loved everyone. My opinion, I only hope everyone who left here today who came here today understand the importance of what he did and why we love each other."
My Heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the many who were willing to extend their hands in writing this article. Knowing a Martial Artist and friend of Shihan Oliver was writing a story I know the insight and answers you will give him will further show the world the inspiration and Martial Artist that is Shuseki Shihan William Oliver.
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