RIP David Finkelstein

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RIP David Finkelstein

Postby Bill Glasheen » Fri Dec 25, 2015 4:28 pm

A great intellectual, martial artist, writer, and friend passed away peacefully yesterday, on Christmas Eve. David Finkelstein did so shortly after the passing of his longtime companion Evelyn. If you believe in heaven, they're now together forever.

My first Uechi Ryu instructor was the late Rad Smith - a man who came down from New England to get his PhD in English while his wife worked on her MBA. Rad spent a year and a half at UVa, and went back up to Harvard to get his MBA. I worked my way up the ladder through Rad's instructors, which included David Finkelstein and eventually George Mattson. I met Dave on a motorcycle road trip up I-95 as I was scouting for a new Uechi instructor in Rad's absence. Dave and I hit it off early. A half year later I tested for shodan just before Christmas, and the rest was history.

Dave was one of many reasons why I have a unique view of Uechi Kanbun's art. For one... he was a Harvard law graduate who hated anything that seemed like real work. So he made a living in whatever way made sense to him. This included being sent around the world so he could write unique articles for the NYT or maybe even Field & Stream. Dave lived wisely in many ways, which allowed him to exist as many of us only dream we could.

Through Dave I not only developed my connection with George Mattson, but I also got a second hand look at the way Shinjo Seiyu and Tomoyose Ryuko taught. Dave opened doors, and then passed on what he saw beyond those doors. Part of whom I am and the legacy I hope to leave in this world comes from Dave.

I will miss my friend.

- Bill
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Re: RIP David Finkelstein

Postby badgerjohnson » Sat Jan 02, 2016 10:44 am

Hi Bill,

I also knew some of those people back in the day, including Rad Smith. He and I sparred lightly a few times, and he was in the TJ (Wu style) class with us, lead by Margaret Chang.

I'm glad to see you have remained active in martial arts. I'm not sure I knew David. I was only with the U-R group for a few months when Rad was leading it.

I remember him being 'a gentle giant', kind of reminded me of the guy playing Thor in the movies.

I'm curious to know if you guys have incorporated anything new into U-R, such as ground fighting. Hard to believe it's been 40 years.

Best,

-Bruce
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Re: RIP David Finkelstein

Postby Bill Glasheen » Thu Jan 07, 2016 10:08 pm

Greetings, Bruce!

Yes... I remember the Wu style Tai Chi class. It was an unusual style, and had a very long form. Rad and I both also did Yang style, which we learned in the Northern VA area from Robert Smith.

The UVa club no longer exists and I never taught at U of R. *I* do however have a club in the West End of Richmond. Rad and I stayed in contact for a long time until his untimely and completely unexpected death from lung cancer. (He *never* smoked.) I still now and then touch base with his wife.

As for grappling... I and many Uechi Ryu practitioners have spent a good deal of time with aikido. I practiced it with a Goju guy who was in special forces, so our aikido was very brutal and real (Tomiki method). It's been a while, but I still teach ukemi in all my classes (a requirement for my students) and both the Goju and aikido opened my eyes to the grappling part of Kanbun Uechi's style that the Okinawans missed. There are practitioners of Uechi in New England and elsewhere who have done the jiujitsu route, and some have competed in MMA. The grappling goes very well with an open-handed style.

- Bill
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Re: RIP David Finkelstein

Postby badgerjohnson » Sat Jan 09, 2016 10:19 am

Regarding the 'inner components' of Uechi-ryu, I suspect the original practitioners, Kanbun Uechi and his oldest son, Kanei, sought to incorporate what the Chinese stylists call 'fa-jin' or 'fajing'. When I see someone practicing I look for that. Wu style has less of an emphasis on that, and the top players are from Chen style. Did you ever do Yang with Peter?

We lost some great guys back then unexpectedly, in addition to Rad Smith. Doug Marshall (of Myo Sim style) died suddenly as well and he was in picture-perfect health. You probably saw him around back then. I don't know what was wrong but he just started giving away all his memorabilia to various people.

Glad to see you are still practicing, nigh on 40 years later.
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Re: RIP David Finkelstein

Postby Bill Glasheen » Mon Jan 11, 2016 7:43 pm

Sorry to hear about Doug Marshall. If it's the person I'm thinking of, he was a very nice man.

"Fajing" is something I've slowly come to appreciate as I've spent so many years practicing/teaching martial arts while also having a career in biomedical research. Over time many of these "voodoo" concepts turn out to be things we know of in Western physical activities, only by a different name. Here's one good way to view it.

..... Putting Something On the Ball

I found myself over time rediscovering things I intuitively knew as a child athlete, but then lost in a package of Asian mumbo jumbo chispeak. When suddenly I stumbled on abilities to do things and reflected on why I could do them, then these old labels and their Asian descriptions began to make sense. When you have a Chinese who never took kinesiology or studied modern Anatomy and Physiology try to communicate something to someone else who speaks in a different language, it's safe to say something can be lost in the translation. I realized I "got" it when I similarly try to explain a concept I get to one of my students, and the initial reaction is a glassy-eyed look. Oh...

Some things are best shown and experienced. With time and much study, one can appreciate the nuances.

- Bill
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