This is an old story which I wrote in more detail in a Biography of myself I am working on. But I thought you might enjoy one story from it. So here it goes, Enjoy!.
I had been working out and training in Chinatown in New York for many years but after my first Master decided to return to Hong Kong and retire I was hard pressed to find another Master. I was always on the search for anyone who could teach me more. As I have said in the past, finding any Teacher at all in the old days was a hard task to say the least. Martial Arts was not the popular here yet only in the Chinatown did you really have a chance of finding anyone plus at the time they were not teaching many to begin with, and no Americans at all. The only reason was because I actually lived near Chinatown and had a few Chinese friends that lead me to one Master that would teach me. I was in fact the only American boy in the class when I started with Master Huey.
The Brooklyn bridge is close to Chinatown so one day I decided to cross over the bridge with the hope I had could find a Teacher. I was told by one of my friends he had heard there was somebody called Mr. Body there who was teaching some form of karate, I think he was a mix bread guy from what I remember, half Philippine and half American, but I did hear this guy was good. I am not sure if Mr. they was his real name, but who cares, I think it was his nick name because he had a great physical body, very strong and seeing everyone called him that, so did I. I really had no idea where the school was so I just headed to the area my friend said he thought the school was. I walked from block to block looking for a sign or some hint where this school could be. Well after searching the area I was told he was teaching in I had some luck and spotted some guys with uniforms in their hands. They were waiting outside a building, I did recognized the uniforms worn in Karate, so that was the big give away.
I approached the guys standing there and asked them if they knew of the karate school around here, expecting a yes answer, which I got from them. They said they were waiting there for the Teacher to come to class, he had the keys so they had to wait outside the building until her arrived. They said he was expected soon and just to wait with them until he came. I asked about their Teacher and they praised him up and down and said he was very efficient in the Karate. I asked if I could join the class and they said well you will have to ask him, but wait and see, which I did. I never mentioned I had some Kung Fu experience, I acted like a total beginner which was the advice I was given years ago by my Master never to tell people or brag of one's skills even though mine was very little.
After while they said "Oh I see Teacher know, there he is" as they pointed up the block. I spotted a small man but well built holding a Karate uniform haggling over his shoulder and tired in a roll with his black belt. As he turned the corner I spotted three bigger guys step in his path and stop him by putting their hand on his chest and stopping him from passing. Just then one of the student standing by me said, "Oh no looks like trouble". I said maybe we should go help out, they answered "I don't mean trouble for Teacher I mean trouble for those guys, they don't seem to know who they are messing with".
I looked back to see what was happening when they said this but what I saw seemed to end so fast I can't recount just what a happened. All I see was a series of kicks and flashing hands and the three guys were all laid out on the street. It was over in seconds and Mr. Body picked up his uniform cleaned it off and headed to meet his students who were standing there with open mouths at how quick the encounter was over. Needless to say when Mr. Body reached us standing there I bowed and asked if I could join his class. I told him I was looking to learn martial arts. I told him I would be honed if he would accept me and but I knew nothing about martial arts. He nodded his head in approval and said, Ok join us. As he opened the doors to the building his students asked what happen with those three guys. Mr. Body answered, "oh them they just needed a lesson in manners" and said nothing more about it, but I will never forget it for sure.
I must say training with Sensei Body was an enlightening experience. His classes were rough and the style was very clean and not complected like Kung Fu but powerful. I stayed with him for a short time after that, maybe under a year as I was going into the Air Force. He was a good Teacher and loved his arts, I believe it was one of the Ryu systems called Isshin-Ryu Karate, "The One Heart Way" if I can recall, but there are many variations of the Ryu styles brought back to the USA, so I am not sure which one this was, but it certainly was effective and that's all I cared about. When I left him I did so on good terms and he wished me luck and said "keep up your training in anything you can find, remember he said, all martial arts are good". I did just that even when I went into the service. I really don't think I ever stopped training all those years but that's another story. But one thing for sure I will never forget Mr. Body.
If I ever finish my biography there are many such stories and more about Sensei Body and many more of my Masters.