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Remembering Sid Campbell

September 2, 2008

Blue Snake Books is very sad to report the passing of Grandmaster Sid Campbell, martial arts pioneer and author of numerous books, including Remembering the Master, The Dragon and the Tiger, and Warrior Arts and Weapons of Ancient Hawaii.

He is fondly remembered by his friends, family, and students. Please take a minute to read some of their stories, below.

First, a memorial written by Jeff Finder of Stickman’s Escrima Blog:

The martial arts community lost another giant tonight [August 19th, 2008] when Hanshi Sid Campbell, 10th Dan in Shorin-Ryu, passed away just before 8pm. Coincidentally and symbolically, this was both sunset and low tide here in the San Francisco Bay Area where he taught for over 40 years.

In 1966 Sid became the first person to open a Shorin-Ryu school on the mainland of the United States, under the auspices of his teacher, grandmaster Shugoro Nakazato. During his career he taught over 15,000 students, of which 850 attained black belt, but Sid’s influence extended far beyond his immediate students.

[. . . .] Three weeks ago I felt a strong urge to visit Sid. I knew he’d been fighting cancer for a couple of years, and I thought he’d get a lift from seeing the weapons I’ve been making. I barely recognized him when I saw him because he’d lost so much weight, but once he was settled in his chair at his desk, he lit up handling various swords and knives I’d brought for him to see. It was one of the few times he and I just sat and talked alone, and his warm encouragement and support will always be remembered.

(Read the rest of Jeff’s post here.)

Another obituary can be found on World Black Belt Online, a website Sid helped to found.

Grandmaster Sid Campbell passed away on Monday, August 19th, 2008 after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was surrounded by many of his black belts and close friends, including Mark Gerry, Bob Maschmeier and Dan Tosh.

[. . . .] Among some of his most notable achievements include being awarded the Presidential Sports Award (by President Jimmy Carter) for instructing the armed forces, [being] listed in Bob Wall’s Who’s Who in the Martial Arts, [contributing] to and [being] listed in Who’s Who in Karate, [being] inducted into the Professional Black Belt Hall of Fame . . . [and being] awarded the CRYSTAL AWARD (comparable to the OSCAR for Martial Arts) in the category of LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT.

[. . . .] Master Mark Gerry, Grandmasters Dan Tosh and Bob Maschmeier said, “We’ve lost one of our best friends and true martial arts original.” Bob Wall said, “Sid Campbell was a wonderful man, an outstanding martial artist, who honored his birthstate, Alabama, and all of the martial arts world will miss him greatly.

(Read the rest here.)

Kyoshi Sid Rayford wrote this moving description of Sid’s last moments for USA

On Monday afternoon (8-18-08), Renshi Calvin Tam called to inform me that the doctors had given Hanshi Campbell only a few hours to live. I immediately left Merced and traveled to the hospital in Oakland to see Hanshi Campbell who was heavily medicated and struggling for his next breath. Hanshi’s struggle for the next breath became much worse and to the point of it becoming clear that he was in the process of passing on. I began to hold his hand and speak to him and thanking him for the many years of friendship and for the love that he had given to us all.

[. . . .] Hanshi Campbell’s breathing began to dramatically slow down and at about 8:00 PM, I could feel Hanshi Campbell’s grip on my hand relax and he was no longer breathing. Hanshi Campbell had received his final promotion to eternal life and his days of suffering had come to an end. It then became very real to us all, that we had witnessed the final promotion and passing of a true legend. The pioneer of Shorin-Ryu Karate to the Western World is now at peace, leaving behind scores of people who love him and owe to him a huge debt of gratitude. Sid Campbell reached out and touched thousands of people in his lifetime and anyone who got to know him, was privileged to do so. Hanshi Campbell, we love you and will miss you forever.

(Read the rest here.)

Compiled by Erin Wiegand, Blue Snake Books editor

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