by Don Warrener
Perhaps there is no better example of Budo Brothers then the duo of Bob Wall and Chuck Norris. They began as student-instructor back in the early 1960s and are still best friends. Norris’s fame is well known to us as is Bob Wall who was the co-star of Enter the Dragon (where he played O’Hara with the huge scar on his face) possibly his most famous role in Tinsel Town USA.
The two of them have now teamed up on a new project, which is called WWW.WORLDBLACKBELT.COM. Norris was the first founding member and is totally in support of the idea and is backing Bob Wall all the way. This is an absolute massive website, which is aimed at linking the martial arts community under one huge umbrella. The website includes all kinds of financial benefits and different web pages that are technical, informative and historical as well as entertaining. We encourage you to check it out and see what it is all about. We are sure that you will be pleased with its concept and easy layout to follow around. Just be careful that you don¹t get lost in there somewhere because there is one heck of a pile of information for you to go through.
In an interview with Bob Wall for Fighting Spirit he talked about Bruce Lee, Jean Claude Van Damme, Steven Segal and of course Chuck Norris.
Bob Wall on Bruce Lee:
FS – Where did you first meet Bruce Lee? BW – I met Bruce in Los Angeles, Chinatown in I think 1961 or around then. There was some kung fu master demonstrating and he asked for a volunteer from the audience. So I went up and volunteered and when the guy’s techniques were ineffective I left. On my way out, I saw this good looking Chinese guy coming towards me and he introduced himself and said his name was Bruce Lee and that he laughed at the kung fu master who had offered the challenge and the techniques didn’t work. We then went outside and talked martial arts until about 4:00 a.m. in Chinatown on the steps of a Chinese restaurant. After this we became good friends and the rest is history.
FS – How strong was his technique really?
BW – Well let me put it this way… back in the days of Enter the Dragon, there was no wire usage in Hollywood films. When you saw Bruce kick me and my feet were off the floor and I went flying into the guys behind me–that should answer your question. He was extremely strong for a guy who weighed less then 140 pounds.
FS – Was Bruce fun to be around? BW – Bruce was great to be around as he was always joking and laughing but when it came time to get down to being serious he was that as well. He was very serious about his martial arts and was always practicing. In his house he had training devices everywhere. He had a Universal in the living room and punching pads in the kitchen and a sit up board in another room. He was a fanatic about training and diet.
Bob Wall on Bruce Lee and his films: FS – In the film Enter the Dragon how much padding was used by you or Bruce in the techniques in which he appeared to really hit you. BW – We did not use any padding in any of the shots except when he hit me with the roundhouse in the head. On this shot he placed a thin rubber pad under his sock just so that I would not get cut open, but rest assured he still hit me and he hit hard.
FS – Why did Bruce use you in so many of his films? BW – Well, I guess first off because we were friends and secondly because he new I could do the job. I was there to make him look good. He was the star. I wasn¹t and also not to many people could take the shots that he dished out and he even told me that he wanted to really hit me in the shots and I told him go right ahead. And go for it and he did, man did he ever!
FS – Again in Enter the Dragon how much training went on behind the scenes? BW – We trained a great deal. Bruce asked me to workout with John Saxon and Jim Kelly. So we did just that so their technique would be even better then it was. We did a lot of stretching and work on the techniques for the actual shooting so that they would look the best they could. Other then this Bruce and I would work out every second day or so. Our routine always varied depending on the day. One day we would do loads of stomach exercises and then the next day we would work out on a bag. Bruce used to say that this is one of the ways he always looked so good as he would fool his muscles and they would not get used to one set of exercises. He used this training methodology to realize the benefits of cross training back before it became popular.
Bob Wall on Jean Claude Van Damme:
FS – What is your opinion of Jean Claude Van Damme? BW – I have a great deal of respect for him as Bruce, Chuck and he have a great deal of similar characteristics. They do not understand the meaning of quit, which in my opinion is one of the most important character traits that the martial arts develops. When Jean Claude came here to America I think it was in 1981 he had been in touch with me and asked if he could come over and get a photo with me and I said of course. When he came Chuck Norris and Bill Wallace were there as well and we were all working out so he asked if he could as well so we said sure. When it was over Chuck asked him where he was working and then offered him a job working for him. He jumped at it. He then worked for Chuck for about a year and this is how he met Menachen Golan the Owner of Canon Productions. Golan took a look at him and said, “Here is a guy, who is talented, has a great body, and is good looking. Let’s give him a try.” Jean Claude landed the role in Bloodsport and the rest is history.
Bob Wall on Steven Segal: FS – What is your opinion of Steven Segal? BW – Steven and I have had our differences as many people know but that was in the past. I have respect for him in that he has created a niche for people who like what it is that he does using his Aikido techniques. He does have a special look with his ponytail and his size, which can be intimidating to some especially in films.
Bob Wall on Chuck Norris: FS – Finally, What about Chuck Norris?
BW – Well Chuck is special. He epitomizes the meaning of the martial arts. He is extremely polite and well mannered and as everyone knows he is an excellent martial artist in every sense. I just cannot say enough good things about him. Of course he is my best friend and my instructor since the early 1960¹s.
FS – What made him such a great fighter? BW – In my opinion Chuck was such a great fighter because just when you thought you had him figured out he would come up with something new. For example, he had this terrific spinning back kick and just when you thought you had it figured out he would use his back fist on you. Then when you thought you had that down he had this outrageous reverse punch. So, I guess what I am saying is that he was always changing so you never really knew how to defend against him. He was also very fast and just a well trained athlete.
As usual Bob Wall is a man who speaks his mind and say what you will about him you must respect him for this as he is and probably always will be the real deal when it comes to the martial arts. He has nothing to prove to anyone. As Bob has explained to us at Fighting Spirit, it is his turn to try and give something back to the martial arts and his way is to create this special website, which is a place for everyone to meet in Cyber Space at WWW.WORLDBLACKBELT.COM . See you there.