It is with great regret, that it must be announced that Joe Lewis has passed away.
He was ill for quite a while, so it was expected. Yet, it is always unnerving when someone that you looked up to as a youth, to the point of mimicking his technique and look, passes. He used to show up at quite a few events in NYC back in the 1960s and 1970s, and was more approachable to a kid like me at the time, than he was to a lot of the adult black belts. I actually used to talk with him, asking him questions, and joking with him, when he would say something off the wall and look at me, as if it was a private joke.
For those who don't know a damn thing about America's KaraTe history, "Because if you don't know about Joe Lewis, then you don't know a damn thing about America's KaraTe history," He was the undisputed Heavy Weight Champion Of The World in Full Contact KaraTe, and was one of the main Champions on the KaraTe tournament scene since the 60s. He began his Martial Arts studies in Okinawa, Japan, with Shigeru Nakamura, of Okinawa Kenpo, and of course, his main instructor, Eizo Shimabuku of ShoBayashi ShoRin Ryu,while he was stationed there as a US Marine, in between tours of Vietnam. He later trained with Bruce Lee. As mentioned earlier, Joe also had a Hollywood career, appearing in, and or starring in quite a few movies.
Incidentally, I later was part of the group of Marine KaraTeKa that brought Eizo Shimabuku to see Joe's Jaguar movie at the base theater of Camp Hanson in Okinawa, the night it opened. I kept in contact with him over the years, and happily, had a decent report with him in the last couple of years of his life. He even read this blog! Yes! I am proud to say that while I was living in California, Joe, emailed me after reading some of my stuff, discussed what I had written about the side kick, and invited me to a training session.
Joe Lewis will be missed, but will live on through his System, students, and all of us that he had influence on.