Bob Wall, Martial Arts Master Who Sparred With Bruce Lee, Dies at 82

Bob Wall, Martial Arts Master Who Sparred With Bruce Lee, Dies at 82

Bob Wall, a martial arts master who with quick business enterprise wits and even fleeter

Bob Wall, a martial arts master who with quick business enterprise wits and even fleeter fists propelled disciplines like karate, aikido and Brazilian jiu-jitsu into the American mainstream, together the way creating pals and sharing the display with the likes of Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris, died on Jan. 30 in Los Angeles. He was 82.

His spouse, Lillian Wall, confirmed the death but did not provide a bring about.

For the thousands and thousands of fans devoted to 1970s martial arts videos, Mr. Wall was most effective regarded for his purpose in the 1973 film “Enter the Dragon,” in which, as the thug O’Hara, he torments a vengeful undercover agent named Lee, performed by Mr. Lee.

At 6-foot-1, with a total tuft of hair and a scraggly beard, Mr. Wall towered more than the wiry, diminutive Mr. Lee, who, in the movie, nonetheless overpowers his adversary by kicking him to the ground and crushing his chest. It is an indelibly grisly second, and a sharp distinction to the shut bond the two adult males shared in genuine life.

They experienced met in 1963, at a kung fu demonstration in the Chinatown community of Los Angeles, the place Mr. Wall experienced withstood the instructor’s blows without dropping his beer.

“At that point reality strike that I’d blown this guy’s demo, so I started strolling toward the doorway,” Mr. Wall recalled in a 2011 job interview. “I noticed this tough-seeking person strolling toward me, so I explained, ‘This dude, I’m gonna clock,’ and he walks up near to me and claims, ‘Hey that was amusing. I’m Bruce Lee!’”

They finished up speaking in the parking lot for three hours.

Mr. Lee was continue to an unfamiliar martial arts teacher in Oakland and, like Mr. Wall, was drawn to Los Angeles’s budding combat-sports scene. Mr. Wall was a student of yet another instructor, Mr. Norris, an Air Pressure veteran and martial arts champion.

The a few became rapidly good friends, and in 1967 Mr. Wall and Mr. Norris went into small business together, managing a series of studios in the San Fernando Valley, a portion of Los Angeles that two a long time afterwards would provide the location for “The Karate Kid.”

Martial arts was an exclusively male domain at the time, fought without the need of padding and generating far more than a several broken noses and cracked tooth. But entrepreneurs like Mr. Wall saw an prospect to make studios additional experienced and spouse and children pleasant. By means of manuals and seminars that he took all over the place, he taught hundreds of aspiring senseis how to operate a dojo.

“There were a ton of people today who would open up a university and get started educating and it would all tumble into place or not,” Roy Kurban, a taekwondo champion who was influenced by Mr. Wall to open his possess studio in Fort Worth, said in a mobile phone interview. “He designed a small business system.”

Mr. Lee, meanwhile, had begun his constant rise to international stardom. An visual appearance at the 1964 Intercontinental Karate Championships in Long Seashore, where by he demonstrated signature moves like the two-finger press-up and the just one-inch punch, led to his casting as Kato, the sidekick on the 1960s television demonstrate “The Inexperienced Hornet,” and afterwards to a sequence of motion picture specials.

Martial arts movies were being large in Asia but continue to mainly not known in the United States. Mr. Lee made a decision to improve that, in aspect by incorporating roles for Black and white actors, such as Mr. Wall, who won a section along with Mr. Norris in the first of Mr. Lee’s important films to be launched in The united states, “The Way of the Dragon” (1972).

Mr. Wall could consider a strike, which set him in superior stead with Mr. Lee, who insisted on performing his possess stunts and refused to pull punches through fight scenes. Mr. Wall recalled that just before they started off filming “Enter the Dragon,” Mr. Lee explained to him, “Bob, I wanna hit you, and I wanna strike you challenging.”

Even the broken bottles that O’Hara wields from Lee were being actual — which offered a problem when Mr. Lee, a perfectionist, insisted on capturing that section of the scene 9 moments, with Mr. Wall repeatedly slipping again on shards of glass. At another stage Mr. Lee kicked Mr. Wall so really hard that he flew back into a row of extras, breaking a man’s arm.

“It’s a single point to get hit that difficult the moment or 2 times, but check out it eight occasions in a row,” Mr. Wall mentioned. “Let me convey to you, about the fourth time, you know what is coming, you’re heading to get popped actual tough, and you just have to say, ‘Hey, I’m in this article to do a work. Make it true.’”

That determination to battle vérité compensated off. “Enter the Dragon,” built for just $850,000 (about $5.3 million in today’s pounds), grossed $350 million throughout the world (about $2.2 billion these days), earning it one particular of the most successful motion pictures of all time. It assisted create martial arts as an indelible component of American pop lifestyle.

But Mr. Lee did not get to enjoy the achievements. He died, at 32, just ahead of the film debuted, of undiagnosed swelling in his mind. By then he experienced begun filming “Game of Dying,” featuring an iconic battle scene with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (the film, in which Mr. Wall also experienced a role, was unveiled in 1978). And he was setting up even far more flicks, such as at minimum a person with a well known function for Mr. Wall, who would engage in a sidekick to Mr. Lee’s hero, a C.I.A. agent.

“Hey Bob,” Mr. Wall recalled him saying a several months in advance of his death, “you get to be a fantastic guy in the next one!”

Robert Alan Wall was born on Aug. 22, 1939, in San Jose, Calif. His father, Ray Wall, labored in design his mother, Reva (Wingo) Wall, was a nurse.

He was drawn to martial arts as a youthful teenager who had suffered beatings at the hands of his abusive, alcoholic father. He wrestled in higher school and at what is now San José Point out College, exactly where he still left with no graduating to be a part of the Military. Immediately after he was discharged, he moved to Los Angeles to get started his martial arts instruction less than Mr. Norris.

Mr. Wall held an sophisticated black belt in various disciplines, and he often put very first or second at competitions all over the state in the late 1960s and early ’70s.

Immediately after Mr. Lee’s demise, he worked as a combat coordinator on various martial arts motion pictures, which include “Black Belt Jones” (1974), starring a single of his protégés, Jim Kelly, a person of the initially Black karate champions. He also gave private lessons to celebrities fascinated in martial arts, like Steve McQueen and Elvis Presley.

By the mid-1970s Mr. Norris had determined to go into performing complete time, and he and Mr. Wall marketed their organization in 1975. Mr. Wall turned his interest to genuine estate, launching a next occupation as a residential and commercial developer.

He did not depart the planet of martial arts, nevertheless. In addition to writing guides and teaching seminars, he had a extended-working and extremely public beef with Steven Seagal, a different martial arts qualified turned action star.

In a collection of interviews in the mid-1980s, Mr. Seagal, who experienced taught aikido in Japan, insulted American martial arts, and Mr. Norris in particular. In response, Mr. Wall challenged him to a struggle they under no circumstances arrived to blows, and finally they worked it out, but Mr. Wall refused to check out any of Mr. Seagal’s films.

Mr. Wall also remained shut buddies with Mr. Norris. He took little roles in a number of of his flicks and on the Tv set collection “Walker, Texas Ranger,” which starred Mr. Norris and ran from 1993 to 2001.

It was just the ideal quantity of fame for Mr. Wall.

“I’m famous adequate that men and women who know martial arts or know Bruce Lee movies know me,” he explained. “But I’m not so well known that I can’t walk down a street. I can go in and out of a restaurant. I never lose my privateness.”