It is with a sad heart that I pass on the news that Sensei Dave Harris has passed on.
Dave Harris MFA was a legend in life to those who knew of him. But he never sought fame, even though he could have owned the spotlight if he wanted to. In the words of Jesse Glover, “Dave Harris is one of the greatest unknown martial artists in the world.”
Those who knew of Dave’s skills were in awe of him. His abilities to sense intent and redirect energy made for some magical demonstrations. Those most impressed were experienced martial artists with considerable skill themselves.
When people first begin to learn martial arts they see the many styles as being very from each other. In fact they are just different paths up the same mountain. When a master approaches the top of the mountain all paths converge. Dave Harris was one of those to whom all martial arts were the same. This showed in his skill as well. As Andy Dale has said, “When aikidokas watched Dave they thought he was doing excellent Aikido. A wing chun student assumed he was doing soft style wingchun. a taiji person would assume Dave’s art was taiji and the bagua practitioner, bagua. After forty-five years of study, they were all the same to Dave.”
Perhaps one of the reasons that he was not better known was the fact that many of the skills that he demonstrated were often misunderstood by less experienced martial artists. He would invite visiting experts to attack him full force with all their cunning and skill. When they subsequently picked themselves off the ground, both the “attacker” and the spectators would be at a loss to explain what he had done. He could manipulate your mind and your frame reference in very subtle ways. He did so seemingly by employing a degree of rapport that left you convinced that you must have wanted to fall down. He could uproot you with a glance, and would often tease his students and others by keeping them on the edge of balance and unable to either recover or to fall.
Dave was a humble and generous teacher who never withheld secrets that could be shared. His teaching often extended beyond the regular class times.
Dave had been teaching ”Beginner’s Mind Karate” in Seattle since the early 1960s and also learned from such notable martial arts teachers as Tchoung Tatchen, Raymond Y.M. Chung, Yueng Fook, and many others. His styles included karate, aikijutsu, baguazhang, wingchun, and taijiquan. He was a certified teacher of Tchoung’s tai chi system, and the heir to Master Yueng’s system. (Current heirs to that system now include Andy Dale and Steve Smith.)
He was also an artist, art teacher, potter and jazz aficionado. (and who knows what else?)
In recent years, Dave had switched to a lighter teaching schedule in order to spend more time caring for his wife Geri. But his Monday and Wednesday classes will be greatly missed by his students.
Please take a moment to pray for or send good thoughts to Dave’s family, friends and students.
There are memorials to Dave Harris at www.wuji.com the www.thelittledojo.com