Can you name the individual who recently celebrated his fiftieth year in the Martial Arts at age sixty-three and is recognized as a Judan, tenth degree, by over 20 worldwide martial arts organizations. He wrote, directed and starred in a television instructional series that ran over 700 half-hour segments from 1974-1981 (hint: The Art of Karate with...?). He is considered the highest paid martial demo performer in America, performing over a thousand martial shows in Las Vegas during the years 1962 to the present, as well as spending eight years performing a martial segment for the Las Vegas extravaganza Lido De Paris. He's an award-winning inventor of martial training equipment, a sports columnist, a radio personality and past president of the U.S. Stuntman's Association. He is a California state-licensed boxing trainer and owner of a rarely-licensed boxing gym. He has a series of four video tapes available through Panther Productions. He was featured on the cover of BLACK BELT Magazine twice in 1981 (once as the featured cover practitioner). The answer: David German, founder of the TAI (Transition Action, Incorporated) Kenpo/Karate/Kung Fu system.
David German is determined in his belief that he could prove the credibility of classical Kung Fu by fusing it to the non-classical arts of boxing and hardcore grappling. At age twelve he earned a black belt in Jiu Jitsu from Sensei Kimura of the now-defunct Japanese Youth Center in West Covina, California. At that time Al Thomas' Budokan Academy in nearby El Monte was special to American martial artists as the Mecca of Malibu Beach is to surfers. It was here that he began study with Sifu Leonard Lum of San Francisco via Hong Kong, who taught him the systems of Sil Lum Kung Fu, White Tiger (Bok Fu Pai), White Hair, White Eyebrow (Bok Mei Pai), Chin Na and Chuan Fa. He did find time in those formative years to study with Ed Parker of American Kenpo, earning a black belt and eventually owning two studios with Parker at the age of sixteen.
Here is some of David German's philosophy on TAI...
"I view teaching as a way to utilize various psychological gestalt techniques," he says, using the term that means "form" in German (no pun intended), or the integration of patterns into a valuable whole. "We may begin with Kenpo, then a weapon, shift to a Sil Lum form--when the student's energy has peaked in those arts, we may introduce Boxing, Grappling, Chin Na, blending the whole to become a complete fighting method. We have no basics in TAI Karate. Knowledge is our basics."
"In TAI Karate we may box to open against an attacker, then flow into Kenpo, then Sil Lum to Chin Na, then grapple to finish the fight." Does this mean that grappling is the end-all, the most effective art? Says German, "All I will say is that a good grappler can fight multiple opponents and win--against five guys you'll be on the ground anyway." German is no "paper" white tiger when it comes to demonstrating his grappling prowess. Eighteen years ago he singlehandedly wrestled the entire San Diego State wrestling team, including its coach, until all submitted, to prove the worth of his uniquely-designed grappling art. "...Six straight hours, non-stop, and I broke and arm and rib that day," German chuckles. "I also wrestled Brian Adams' Kenpo people that day. Brian had the wrestlers down for Kenpo lessons, so I obliged. The Kenpo schools like our grappling method because it makes you mentally tough, and it's a toughness you can't get from Kung Fu or Karate. Still, the Martial Arts are the ultimate in self-defense for time spent. A good boxer or wrestler must spend several hours of contact, conditioning. In Karate, you can luck-out with a kick from any angle."
In the world of Karate today, as yesteryear, the word master conjures up visions of some magical, mystical person able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Yes, a type of Superman. Does a person like this really exist? Is there such a thing as super human masters in the arts today? Was there ever this type of person, or was this Master myth just a hype long ago, as it is hype today? In most cases it is, notice I say in most cases.
I have been in the Martial Arts since I was a child, starting in 1957. In all those years I have met thousands and thousands of Black Belts and hundreds of Masters and Grand Masters, and even Supreme Grand Masters!!! So, let me get to the point. I have found that a real Grand Master is a person who has the brains to understand others, to help other people in all their endeavors, to guide students in the correct path, and to mold their Black Belts into that special mold of knowledge, respect, confidence, kindness and a virtuous way.
Enter David German, 10th degree Black Belt. Quiet and sincere, powerful in appearance. With a walk of confidence that no man can deny. Of the 3 true Masters that I have met in the over 30 years in the arts, this man stands tall in every respect. He exudes Chi (intrinsic energy). He exemplifies what Kung Fu and Karate is. He can demonstrate techniques that other Masters only dream about and he can do them for real, if you doubt any of his voracity. David is as powerful as a Sherman tank and as fast as the blink of an eye. David German was an original Kenpo student in the 1950's with Ed Parker. He has expanded on that system and has created the Tai Karate System, along with many other styles. There are no phony tricks, no self indulgent tactics, no magical mystical tours, just real martial arts. The techniques that he teaches and uses speak for themselves. This is not a commercial on what style or what studio a person teaches, this is a testimonial by me on a real Master. I have seen him do things and techniques that are at times unexplainable, and things that the laws of physics won't allow.
Red Dragon Karate has benefited from his knowledge. Our Black Belts have learned many unusual techniques from me that I was taught by Master David German. To make comparisons as to who is better and what Master is better than any other is ridiculous. Let me at this time give you the real Masters that I have met in the past 30 years. These are men I look up to and hope you, the reader will believe. Grand Master David German, Grand Master Guy Savelli, and Grand Master Tadashi Yamashita. These three lead the list. Other men who I feel inspired me in the arts are Master Manny Agrella, Master George Dillman and Master Ed Parker.