Under: karate
2 Jul 2009

 

Here is an introduction by my friend, fellow black belt and hall of famer – David Hays:

 

I wanted to give this post a introduction.  Many of you know that this post is done by John Zimmer.  John is a good friend of mine and was inducted into the KenpoHall of Fame this past weekend along with Victor Hervias and John West. All of these men are from the San Diego school of Dick Willett. All of us that come from that school are proud to be part of this great fighting system.

 

John Zimmer, Victor Hervias and John West are some of the best all around fighters I have ever trained with.  The speed of Victor, the hard hitting, unorthodox left handed style of John Zimmer and raw brutalness of John West always kept me on my toes. All three of these men are greats in the arts.

 

Last year at the 40th anniversary of Dick Willett’s  San Diego American Kenpo School (now owned and ran by Todd McElhinny) a statement was read by Al Tracy.  Master Tracy said that Dick Willett had produced some of the best fighter in Kenpo Karate.

 

The legendary fighter, Joe Lewis, who was at the event, stood up and said “That statement was not completely true.”  Joe went on to say “Dick Willett had produced some of the best fighters anywhere period”.  We were all humbled by that statement coming from the Joe Lewis.  Congratulations men!

 

I am pleased to announce that I was among three black belts (John West, Victor Hervias and John Zimmer) that were nominated and inducted into the Kenpo Hall of Fame this last weekend in Chicago! Dick Willett’s American Kenpo Karate board selected us to go the the Tracy’s Karate – Gathering of Eagles 2009.

 

John West, Victor Hervias and I (John W. Zimmer) were all students of Dick Willett at Tracy’s Karate. Later we amicably split off from Tracy’s Karate and Dick formed American Kenpo Karate.  In this post I will give a brief bio of each of us and speak more on the Gathering of Eagles 2009. Here is a picture of my instructor, Richard “Dick” Willett and myself.

 

 

Dick Willett & John Zimmer

Before I get too much into our bio’s I would like everyone to know how much our instructor has helped shape our karate accomplishments. Dick Willett was great getting the best out of each person. I remember during one of our many “extended” Thursday night black belt group classes – him saying just another couple of minutes. The class that was slated for an hour was commonly running closer to two hours of intense drills!

Dick also had an uncanny ability of watching a fighter and helping  him or her to figure out ways to overcome adversity! He taught me how to throw an inverted lunge punch that became my signature move during my fighting days! We are all honored to have had Dick as a instructor and friend.

Victor “The Fly” Hervias has trained with multiple styles and instructors. His association with Chicken Gabriel (another Dick Willett black belt) at UKF let to him training with Tracy’s/AKKA.  Victor has various black belts (5th in one style) and a 3rd degree black belt in Kenpo Karate. Victor has a school in Madison, Alabama.

Victor Hervias

Victor Hervias

 I remember Victor fighting in the Southwest region where he was a rated fighter in the 80’s. Victor has won over 200 tournaments and won overall 11 grand championships! Victor was rated in the top 3 in region 10 of the NASKA for much of the 80 and early 90’s (retired in 92). He was also rated #1 in region 10 of the PKL in 1991. Victor is a well rounded student, fighter, and instructor dedicated to helping the next generation of fighters come into their own.

Dick Willett found John West at a tournament and was giving him some advice. John West decided to come and train over at Tracy’s because of Dick and the fact we had lots of sparring partners. John was simply an animal for those who trained with him. He (John) fought hard and was seemingly mean but would gladly head off for a few beers after a practice.

John West fighting Irving Hoffman at tournament

John West fighting Irving Hoffman at tournament

John West was awarded a 3rd degree black belt from Dick Willitt and has competed in the 70’s and 80’s. John’s first black belt tournament he ended up fighting Ray Sua (the top rated fighter at the time) for the grand championship and lost by one point in overtime. In the picture above John West (taller with the beard) is fighting Irving Hoffman at a tournament.

I started karate training because of getting mugged. While I did get into fights in grade school and learned how to fight back – getting mugged was all the incentive I needed to learn karate! I tried a few styles and ended up at Tracy’s because of the commercials during the airing of the Kung Fu TV series.

After talking to Dick Willett, I signed up for lessons because he taught me how to connect with my kicks and punches! I was a semi-contact point competitor with modest success in Southern California and worked as a bouncer at a bar (ended up trying lots of karate). I have also owned a Tracy’s karate school and trained in boxing for kick boxing in the 80’s.

Gathering of Eagles 2009 Flyer

Gathering of Eagles 2009 Flyer

Enough about me, let me tell you about the event! It was kind of hectic last week planning for the trip. I was going to post an initial information piece about the Gathering of Eagles but when Farra Faucett and Michael Jackson died, I decided to hold off until after. I have just now caught up with my personal life to get back to the fun in life – working out and posting!

Todd McElhinney & John Zimmer

Todd McElhinney & John Zimmer

We met Todd McElhinney, the American Kenpo Karate school in San Diego owner, at the airport Friday afternoon. The event had already been going since Thursday but I could not get away from work any sooner.

Doug, Todd, Dave, Victor, & John

Doug, Todd, Dave, Victor, & John

 

We met up with some of the other black belts and had a high level meeting. Left to right is Doug Arcidino, Todd McElhinney, David Hays, Victor Hervias, and John Zimmer.

 



Al Tracy

Al Tracy

 

I attended a History of  Kenpo Karate seminar with Al Tracy. It was quite interesting to hear stories about the old time greats and our association withEd Parker. I took a photo-op with Al Tracy who is a 10th degree black belt and the head of the Tracy’s organization.

 

Al Tracy & John Zimmer

Al Tracy & John Zimmer

 

I got excited when I learned that Bart Vale, Tracy’s hall of famer and the 2006 black belt magazine hall of fame fighter of the year was giving a shoot fighting seminar!

 

The seminar actually was better than I thought – Bart put take down moves into a couple of katas (short I and short II) to create an interesting way to incorporate locks and holds into kenpo karate.

Bart, John, & Todd

Bart, John, & Todd

 

It is kind of funny but I was not intending to participate but there was no way I was going to sit back and watch the other guys have all of the fun!

 

Todd & John

Todd & John

 

Bart posed for a picture with me here.

 

John & Bart

John & Bart

 

Well we worked up an appetite and went to my favorite boyhood fast food restaurant – White Castle! This is an event for me because all we have in California is frozen White Castle hamburgers in the grocery store!

 

White Castle Burgers!

White Castle Burgers!

 

Well it was time to get into the monkey suits and head over to the Gathering of Eagles Hall of Fame ceremony.

 

Dave, Todd, Doug, John, & Victor

Dave, Todd, Doug, John, & Victor

 

Victor Hervias received his award from Al Tracy.

 

Victor Hervias receives award from Al Tracy

Victor Hervias receives award from Al Tracy

 

John W. Zimmer (me) received award from Al Tracy.

 

John W. Zimmer received award from Al Tracy

John W. Zimmer received award from Al Tracy

 

John West was not able to travel to Chicago to receive his award in person. Here is what my plaque looked like.

 

Johns Award

John’s Award

 

It was quite a large and diverse group of inductees. Some were from as far away as Denmark, Ireland, England, and Scotland! Here is the left side of a group shot my wife took.

 

Left side of Hall of Fame Inductees

Left side of Hall of Fame Inductees

 

Here is the right side of the Hall of Fame inductees.

 

Right side of the Hall of Fame Inductees

Right side of the Hall of Fame Inductees

 

We all stood around and posed for pictures. One guy even proposed to his girl friend while receiving his award (she accepted).

 

Johns Award

John’s Award

 

We took a group shot of our affiliated black belts. We met up with Jack Shamburger (hall of famer) who used to fight out of San Diego but now has a school in New York City (in the village).

 

John, Dave, Victor, Doug, Todd (top), Jack, Al, Vicky (bottom)

John, Dave, Victor, Doug, Todd (top), Jack, Al, Vicky (bottom)

 

Vicky is Victor’s daughter and a newly anointed black belt. Well we decided to have another high-level meeting, this time with Jack’s black belts before heading off to the get some R&R before the morning’s flights.

 

Todd, Dave, Augie, Jack, I Dont Remember, John, & Doug

Todd, Dave, Augie, Jack, I Don’t Remember, John, & Doug

 

Well I hope you have enjoyed a brief look at my weekend event and let me just say I am proud that my organization had selected me for this honor. It is the crowning achievement of my karate career to be honored by my peers. I want to extend congratulations to the other hall of famers, especially my friends Victor Hervias and John West.

 

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11 Responses to “Kenpo Hall of Fame at the 2009 Gathering of Eagles!”

  1. SueC Says:

    What a great event to be part of and honoured by. You look really happy! Congratulations.

  2. Michele Says:

    Congratulations!

  3. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hi Sue! Thanks – it really was a lot of fun!
    .
    Hi Michele! Thank you!

  4. Maureen Brittingham Says:

    John:
    Great Job! I enjoyed seeing your pictures and reading about your accomplishments. I am working on my master’s degree in integrating technology in the classroom and we are studying blogs and RSS feeds right now. It is funny that you posted a link to your blog and I just created one last night for my class. Anyway, congratulations on your accomplishment. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Cheri Arbuckle Says:

    Hi John —

    Congrats! What an honor!

  6. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hi Maureen! Glad you stopped by! Let me know if you need any insight on blogging – glad to help.
    .
    Hi Cheri! Thank you. My head was spinning the entire weekend (wonder if it was the beer) :)

  7. Urban Samurai Says:

    Congratulations, John. It’s very cool that you actually made it into a hall of fame. It must make it all seem worth it. What a boost!

  8. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hi Neil. It sure was a fun experience. I’m happy the board selected me and I appreciate the honor. It is kind of humbling too as I never dreamed this when I started karate. Thank you.

  9. Matt Klein Says:

    Congrats John and well-earned. Those were some tough muthas in that era. It was great to see you and Todd and the rest of the boys having a great time. Did’t know you were a lefty. So am I. It was always fun giving fits to the righties who didn’t see many like us. One of these times I would like to come back to the U.S. for the gathering. Best, Matt

  10. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hi Matt! Thank you.
    .
    Lefty’s have it easier I think, although I never gave it much thought. I really enjoyed throwing my left inverted lunge punch and had great success with it.
    .
    Let me or Todd know whenever you make it back and we’ll try to run an event around it. We just had a seminar yesterday so the students could glean some skills from us old-timers. :)

  11. Richard Cortez Jr Says:

    Hello, just doing the impossible, but first my condolences to the Parker family, about their mother passing away in 2006. My name is Richard Cortez and in 1991 i met Sheri Parker, we were friends, then was introduced to her family. I went to visit Sheri at her parents home in Pasadena, that’s where i met her late father, Ed Parker and her Mother. Back then Sheri had a son who was 3 at the time. He was half somoean, half hawaiian. At there home, i remember the memorbilia of Elvis Presely’s show case. The piano,gloves, sun glasses, clothes, ect. I haven’t spoke with Sheri Parker since 1992. Just what to know if she has a email address i could get intouch with. I know she’s married to Larry K. I just wanted to say hello to them, for memories sake. we were good friends at the time, but after father passed away at the airport in Hawaii, while visiting her, things weren’t the same as far as getting in touch with her and her family. So please if anyone can help me here. If you need any information about me, please do so. Right now i live in North Carolina, i have 4 kids. Hope to get intouch with some one and thanks. My email is moobala26@yahoo.com It would be a miracle to be intouch with Sheri and i know she would remember me. For a short period of time knowing each other, we had good times. Hope to speak with anyone soon. Thanks again.