Thank you sensei
David John Harris
June 10, 1939
September 10, 2008
Gerry Harris (Watson)
February 22,1941 - November 11, 2009
Harris Sense page
My nickname for Dave was
Dumbledore. He moved fluidly and performed like a magician. His skill was
so high that it never was apparent what was happening, even as his uke.
I've known Dave since 1971. That was the time I saw him at several
workshops and gradually became his friend and student. Even back then his
skill was awesome though he'd always wear a white belt at the workshops
attending with beginner's mind. The amazing thing, and a gift I've been
able to witness, is that he kept getting better. Not just better by
increments but by leaps and bounds. I'd see him at one time and then not
for a year and he'd be softer, lighter, and even more confusing as I was wrapped up
and thrown. Just as I'd start feeling what he was doing and how, he'd move
to another dimension and totally confuse me.
As a classmate studying
with Masters Tchoung, Tohei, Woodcock, Pang, and Zhang Jie, he would show me different ways
of looking at the lessons, beyond what my limited view was. I remember
clearly at one workshop I was disappointed with the technique taught
thinking it was crude But Dave said, as he would often say, "But look at the way he
approaches this one move." or "This is a good way of helping a beginner
understand the flowing version."
There's no question of
his ability to apply his skill. I've personally witnessed two events,
while in his class, when someone would barge in,
pretending to ask about the class, and try to sucker punch him. Inches away
I couldn't see what happened but the individual was on the floor in pain.
In one incident Dave had scooped off the guy's glasses before dropping him.
He taught me how to
learn, how to observe, the value of options, and the value of playing and
light-heartedness. "All animals play, which is how they hone their skills
in fighting." Earlier this year when Jay and I were painting the
Emerald City Gardens before opening, Dave and Geri came by and gave us $500. "Use it as
you need to, we want you to succeed." Since we've been open he and Geri
would visit us every other day to visit and check in.
Ever since I've known him
he was a devoted husband. His care and protection of Geri was remarkable.
Geri developed dementia three years ago. I started working with Geri on
Taiji movements to keep her fit, healthy, and give Dave some time to rest.
Having just retired
he now had a new job, taking care of Geri, and did it with the same passion he did everything
else. I just wish his retirement could have been nurturing to him.
I knew Dave Harris through one of his
primary teachers, Grandmaster Sid Woodcock, and through Kajukenbo
Professor Brian Baxter. I admired Dave and his accomplishments greatly.
The world of true martial arts has suffered an incalculable loss with the
passing of this great master.
Go with God, Dave
Ancient Strength Kung-Fu
Dave and Rick
Dave and Master Yueng 1971
Kind , Gentle, Sharing.
A BIG hole in the Martial Arts Community
I always liked Dave. He consistently sought to develop and
grow as teacher of ceramics and as both a student and teacher of martial
arts. Further, he was unfailingly generous with his knowledge, even though
he obviously delighted in confounding whomever he was "playing" with. He
always impressed me by how smart he was about teaching and about martial
arts. Along with being one of the best martial artists I have known, he
was unfailingly cheerful, even in the face of his wife's deteriorating
health. Plus, he was a reliable source for some pretty good jokes.
Grandmaster Woodcock's Class 1973
Phinney Center 2008
I met Dave Harris through my teacher
Fred Shadian in 1995. I certainly didn't know Mr. Harris as in depth as
some of his long term students, but my time spent with him and his wife
Geri, during The seminars and trips to Seattle, will not be forgotten.
There is not a day that goes by when his flexible ideas or lessons does
not surface in someway. Mr. Harris's eclectically unique approach to
training and teaching has deeply influenced not only every aspect of my
training, but ways in which I view new tasks and my worldly surroundings,
or my "frame" as he would call it.
There is nothing more sad than to see a caring and generous man, that has
worked hard all his life not have the chance to enjoy and experience a
rewarding and well earned retirement. Having been a health care
professional for years, I could clearly see that Mr Harris was as
dedicated a caregiver as anyone I've encountered. However, health care
professional or not, we could all see his caring approach and inspiring
devotion to Geri.
I was just thinking about Mr Harris today during a workout in the
beautiful wilderness of the Cowichan Valley. I was thinking in part about
all the questions that I will have to find a way to ask him during our
next visit. I arrived home tonight and was deeply saddened by the news of
his untimely death. However, I will, like most that learned from him,
feel very fortunate to have enjoyed the possibility and "range" of
application that few will ever reach. I will miss Mr. Harris very much,
but will continue to be inspired by his many great examples, as a
brilliant martial artist and good person, throughout my life.
Thank you Mr. Harris!
What a loss to the Internal Arts world. I loved working
with Dave, and was hoping to be able to train with him more.
Other martial artist said he was a magician in the arts,
and everyone could see their art in what he was doing. And everyone was
right, because he has such an understanding of the essence of what is
common to all Internal Arts. It seem as if it was as easy as breathing to
What an inspiration he will still be to all that want to
get past mind making technique, to spirit leading movement. He will still
be part of us to those he touched.
Northwest Tai Chi / Qigong
Grandmaster Don Angier workshop 1986
Grandmaster T.T. Tchoung & Dave
I met Dave through Andy in the mid to
late1970's and in very small subtle ways that had great impact, Dave was a
very major influence on me.
He had the skills, personality, and
teaching ability to make those things approachable, and as did Don Angier,
he helped to shape how I look at learning and new approaches to relearning
skills I thought I had already. While I never had much time around him in
formal classes, every time I saw Dave he was always encouraging and
friendly and had bits to offer that would help something click into place.
Considering I was a punk kid, that kindness didn't seep into my
realization until much later in life.
What I want to remember about Dave is
his gentle good humor, bad but good jokes when I saw him, and the sheer
fun of him doing techniques to me that my brain just couldn't understand
as I went "splat" on the ground. He was influential in the lives of more
people than he ever realized and I wish life could have been kinder to
Geri and he these last few years, as he was so kind to others in life.
I trained with Master Harris many years ago and was very impressed with
his skill and casual movements that ended in awesome power that seemed to
define the laws of physics and gravity, his style helped inspire me
towards the higher arts, away from the strength and brutality that most
main stream martial arts press upon the masses, nothing great is easy and
nothing easy is great, that is the lesson I learned from training with
Master Harris ever so briefly, may he soar with the golden eagle in the
great heavens above to spread his spirit into the eternity, he will be
missed and remembered with fondness,
Jason Gibbs @ TATMANDU
Dave, Geri, and James M. Doohan (Scotty)
Dave and Grandmaster Sid Woodcock
photo contribution from
I was only able to study with him for four months but
he changed the way I'll look at martial arts for the rest of my life. He
had the smoothest movements and softest touch I never felt. I've been
schooled by some good martial artists in my time but I could always tell
what they had done after they had done it. With Dave your balance was
stolen and you were locked up and immobile and you couldn't tell what he
had done to get you there. It was amazing and inspiring. We lost a font
of knowledge and a great guy.
photo contribution from
you find words to describe Dave?
The talent, the giving, the teaching. The humor.
Thank you Dave, for all you gave.
photo contribution from
Dave Harris was one of those low-key, highly skilled master teachers
who taught for love of the arts, not money. Dave trained and studied and
analyzed and improved for the more than half-century he was involved in
the martial arts. He started teaching in 1962, and continued to teach
right into the last year of his life. He was dedicated to the small group
he taught week in and week out at the Phinney Neighborhood Center, and
superlative in the seminar setting.
Dave was all about hands-on demonstration and practice, practical
demonstration of principle, and martial arts as the application of
intelligence and skill over strength and speed. He was damned good, the
epitome of fluid softness and tingjin. As his long-time friend and gongfu
brother Andy Dale wrote, "The common experience ukes (partners) have when
working with Dave is that every movement done to respond or counter is the
wrong one. Dave surfs the action and lets the uke just trip over
themselves. His touch is so light that there is no feeling of being thrown
or manipulated. Just as a musician doesn't just sit down and play Jazz,
Dave has internalized his training to the point that everything he does is
I will remember Dave as a wizard at play in a t-shirt with the
Tasmanian Devil cartoon character on it, with that constant grin, glasses
sliding down his nose, looking up and away as he worked his martial
sleight-of-hand. Structure would appear then disappear when you tried to
respond. And he could always explain so clearly what he would do and why.
Dave enjoyed his teaching, and he cared about his students--really in so
many ways the ideal teacher.
I wish I'd taken the time to work more with Dave over the years, but
am thankful for the opportunities I did have. I can only imagine the loss
felt by Dave's regular students, and his family and friends. May he rest
Harris was the very best. No one that I ever met surpassed him or his
skill. I weep, I weep, there is none that now walk this Earth that could
even remotely fill his shoes. My Master of Masters has left. He touched
the many lives as only a true master could. RIP Brother, we loved - love
you and shall always remember. It was my honor to train and learn with a
Master as yourself.
Dave & Gene 1980's
Dave was the most fluid and amazing martial artist I've ever encountered.
Whenever I touched hands with him I always felt like he could just kill me
anytime he wanted to. And yet he was so gentle and so eager to show me
what he was doing and how I could do it too. He was beyond technique, all
his responses were molded by the attacker. I felt like I was sticking my
arms into a huge padded lawnmower or octopus. Block one "blade" and the
other four (or ten) would cream me. I never felt him using strength to
overpower me, no "cleverness" or ego, just a great effortless
understanding of how to best position himself. His passing is a huge loss
for the entire internal martial arts community. He wasn't an easy man to
get close to, on many levels, but at any distance he was a wonder to
behold and a fountain of lessons. I'm very grateful to have studied with
him and to have had the chance to try and absorb just a small fraction of
his skill. There was only one Dave Harris and now he's gone. I offer a
deep bow in the direction of my memories of him.
Good Bye Sensei, thank you for being my mentor,
teacher, friend, you have touched so many lives and made them better with
your presence. Your passing will effect everyone who knew you, my heart is
screaming and my bones ache. I feel the thousands of throws as you passed
the gift to me and countless others who grieve your passing. You showed us
what is possible and prodded showed us, expanded our minds with your
creative Generous and love for your students and the Art that you loved so
much. It is all structure and energy and Sensei you are now riding the
waves of pure light. Thank you for the hundreds of hours of time and care
and conversation outside of class trying to help your slowest student get
something. I Love You and Appreciate all that you were and all that you
are. I searched for my whole life for what you so freely gave.
When I moved to Seattle in January 2007 I wanted to find a setting to
pursue Tai Chi Chuan and other internal arts based on similar principles.
Because I had attended several Wuji workshops that included Dave Harris as
an instructor, I was aware of his rare, illustrious talent. Andy Dale
told me of his classes at the Phinney Ridge Center, so I went there hoping
that Dave would be willing to accept me as a student despite my
inexperience compared to the other participants.
The scene was something apart from any other martial arts training
setting I ever saw. The players were practicing various drills as
partners in a seemingly free-form manner, though usually working around
some underlying movement set.
Dave would move from pair to pair, stepping in and demonstrating the core
of the movement at different speeds, from different angles, and with
slight variations. The students reacted most often with surprise and
laughter! The place was awash with hoots and chuckles at the fluidity and
grace with which this unlikely-looking hierophant could utterly control
the other player. In all this he was completely welcoming, equitable and
generous with his time and knowledge. I jumped at the chance of doing
this two nights a week;a veritable infusion of life. I went home
delighted from every class thereafter.
Dave's actions were confusing, subtle, often
undetectable as he would place himself and his partner in a position of
maximal advantage;even if he had explained what he would do in advance.
(This he termed: a richness of targets.) He seemed to pop up magically on
your other side, holding various of your body parts in torque positions.
Throughout the process he'd explain with words, with postures, with
motions the elements we needed to understand. He'd patiently repeat
routines and drills. By degrees I had glimmers of sense about what he
did; but his staggering degree of refined, split-second execution were
(and are) a long way off.
Dave used the analogy of a martial arts player
akin to a jazz artist playing riffs, and indeed he seemed to play on his
partners like the keys of a saxophone. Although I was a novice relative
to the other people in the class, everyone seemed to have the same
response of astonishment and delight finding themselves disoriented and
twisted into a staggering pretzel. They came from many different
disciplines, but everyone there ached to incorporate Dave-moves into their
basic response patterns. The question was less: how can I acquire this
particular technique, and more: how can I be like that? It was the very
embodiment of internal art.
So having Dave not be here, not getting my weekly
nourishment, leaves me abruptly hungry. What I suspect he would tell me
is: you had ample chance to learn what to look for; now find it in
everything you do. As I pursue other martial arts and movement systems to
sustain me, I'll have to conjure up those times with Dave in my mind's eye
and seek to be like that. Now, in many students and colleagues, his
essence continues in those principles.
My memories of Dave are of a great man & teacher. His classes were always
fun and interesting.. I remember the way he would start class with a joke
or two. If you told one, he always had a topper joke to finish with.
Classes were light lively and playful. I always left class with a good
upbeat feeling; life was good and all was right with the world. Learning
from him came through osmosis. I remember being in class one day and
realizing “Hey I’m pretty good” but not really knowing how I got that way.
Dave had a way of opening up your eyes to see beyond the technique. The
technique became less important, the principles more important, and it all
blended into one. He would often quote Mr. Yueng saying “It’s all the
same”. Dave could show that it was indeed all the same and that you could
do it too. The skills he taught were valuable but the real value was just
in being around a great person.
imagine that I won't be running into Dave at Ken's Market again or see him
practice through a window as I drive by Phinney Neighborhood Center on a
Monday or Wednesday evening. I will always remember Dave for his humor,
but also for his great kindness. We have lost a true artist; a creative,
intelligent and passionate soul, from our Seattle lives.
In Peace, Dave,
I know Dave from his
“other life” at North Seattle Community College where he taught since
1970. When I joined the faculty in 1994, Dave became one of my
As a biology instructor, I was trained to look at the animal world in a
practical, scientific way. Dave
showed me another way to look at the animal world.
He told me the stories of his encounters with animals (especially his
which forced me to look at them as conscious (and playful) beings. I
In his honor…
calls the Psychic
Friends Network and is told, "You are going to meet a beautiful girl who
will want to
get to know you inside and out."
exclaims, "Wow, this is
incredible! Where will I meet her?"
The psychic replies, "Next semester in her biology class."
A classic Dave joke.
Peter H. Lortz
Dave Harris was my favorite art professor. I studied with him at North Seattle Community
College in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
After I graduated with an art degree from the UW,
I returned to North Seattle to study with him again. Those were the best
art courses I had, from any teacher, and will remain among my fondest
memories. I did my best sculptural work while in his class.
Shortly after I moved to my home in 1978, I was in
the back yard when I heard a familiar, booming voice. It was Dave-
it turned out that he and Geri lived in a house on the next block. He and
Geri were so proud of their historic home. We visited over the back fences
once in a while.
I always hoped to have time to study with him
I'll miss you, Mr. Harris
just wanted to say how sadden I am at hearing the news about Dave's
passing. I worked with Dave at North Seattle Community College for over
12 years where Dave taught ceramics and sculpture for over 30 years and
since I teach Taiji at Phinney Neighborhood Center myself and Dave had
many lively interactions. Dave would always say - 'here, let me show this
Frank' - and then suddenly I'd be picking myself up from the floor.
I really loved his great enthusiasm and love for learning and his gentle
kind spirit. And yes, those terrible corny jokes he inflicted on you and
you always found yourself chuckling at mostly because of the man who
shared it with you.
Dave, fly high my friend and may you rest in peace.
Love and peace,
Thank You Mr Harris
Thank you for being a Gift in our lives. We feel
very blessed to have known you.
Cyclone Fighting Arts and all its members were
always honored that you would come to Victoria to conduct an annual
workshop for us. You are truly one of a kind and you touched us
individually in so many ways.
I traveled the world and have trained with so many
amazing Martial arts teacher yet you stood miles apart in your skills and
humbleness Your generosity was overwhelming before class,
during class, after class and even on the phone. Every conversation was an enlightening moment, an
AHA moment that I will cherish forever.
We as your students and friends adored every
moment you shared with us your wisdom, inspiration and humor. You will go down in history as one of the Great
Ones in our hearts and for the teachings you shared with the world.
Thank You Sensei
“Abandon hope all ye who enter here”. This was the
phrase that kept repeating in my head after numerous interactions with
Dave. He generously allowed me to come at him any which way and he always
had an answer. I could probably describe my actions as the Tao of Wrong,
except for the fact that there was a lesson that he was teaching, which I
gratefully sometimes was able to receive.
My most vivid memory of Dave is when I got to observe
him playing with MasterYeung. It was a beautiful thing to watch.
Throughout their joint hands play, Dave was in the position of student. It
was he who showed the effort, who was moved so slightly off center, who
was the one not in control. Master Yeung, in his typical humility, seemed
most unaffected as he imperceptibly dealt with Dave’s advances. This
memory allows me to not abandon hope.
Working/playing with Dave was to experience both the
ridiculous and the sublime. The former being the jokes that he tirelessly
told, the latter his exquisite mastery of movement. I’ll miss and cherish
Dave Harris WAS the ceramics department at North
Seattle when I began teaching there 10 years ago. When demonstrating a
ceramics project, he had the same slight of hand that many of you have
described in his martial arts practice. Within minutes he would create a
wonderful work. It took students days or weeks to learn just the basics
techniques of this piece from which to begin their own creative journeys.
Dave always encouraged students to reach for high goals so that they left
Dave's class having completed much more ambitious work than they could
have imagined possible when they began.
Dave brought the values of martial arts respect
and discipline into the arts classroom, where sometimes students come in
thinking they aren't in a real college class. For those who thought they
were too advanced to need his instruction he could be blunt, "shut those
d.....d wheels off" might be heard, startling even the cockiest young
student to stop, watch and learn respect and new possibilities from the
master. Of course his soft heart and joke of the day, which though corny
somehow made us laugh even more together over the years, ultimately made
even the most independent-minded student know that the occasional rebuke
was a reminder to "pay attention" and though he didn't speak of it
directly in the art classroom, to bring them back to the state of
beginner's mind where the true learning happens.
Many may not know that while teaching at North,
Dave simultaneously taught 3 ceramics classes and 3 sculpture classes,
during a 3 hour period, in two rooms, for many years. This was in addition
to his other classes. He was a teaching whirlwind whose energy was
It is a great comfort to know of all the
friendship, respect and love that Dave has had in his life. He will be
missed by his art colleagues at North and by the thousands of students who
he taught and mentored.
Geri and Dave,
Shanthi, Shanthi, Shanthi, Om,
Visual Arts Instructor
North Seattle Community College
I am one of Dave Harris’s many ceramic students. To
hear of his passing gave me a very empty feeling. His class was always
fun and educational. Every day there was a new joke. Gruff on the
outside, pussycat inside. I always came away with much more than when I
arrived. I will miss you Dave.
I wanted to pass on the very sad
news to everyone that Sensei Dave Harris passed away on 2008 Sep 09. For
those people who knew Dave Harris, or who know of his skills, this will be
a great shock. Born on 1939 Jun 10, Dave lived in Seattle, WA, USA, and
taught there until his death last Tuesday.
Dave was first of all a great and
generous teacher who shared everything he had learned – with his family,
with his friends, and with his students. Many people who knew him as a
martial artist were not aware that he was also a gifted art teacher and
potter. He also had a deep understanding of music and would often use the
description of a jazz passage to explain something that he was teaching in
his martial arts.
While Dave Harris was a man of the
highest moral character, he never took himself too seriously. He taught
‘Beginner’s Mind Karate’ in Seattle since 1961 with the lightest touch,
physically and emotionally, and with the skills of a magician. Dave always
claimed that his skills were small compared to those of his teachers: Fook
Yueng, Tchoung Ta-Tchen, Raymond Cheung, and others. Dave was the bridge
for many of us to those martial giants of the past. He was ‘the real
thing’, a martial artist whose life was lived according to the highest
standards. His smile and sense of humour helped us to believe that
eventually we could learn those ‘impossible things’ too.
For the past three years, Dave
Harris had been helping his wife Geri cope with the changes in her life
brought on by Alzheimer’s and he had scaled down his martial arts teaching
to give himself more time to devote to her care.
Diane Kehoe & John Eastman
Riverbank T’ai Chi,
Ladner, BC, Canada
To have met and touch hands with Sensei Harris was getting an amazing gift
from a true master. Therefore, every time we” play “as Sensei Harris would
always say we are playing our own music and expressing what Sensei Harris
had given us. The music is now louder and stronger as we remember what
Sensei Harris was all about.
are in the presence of a genius, your body, your mind, your chi
understands. You laugh at the joke, understand science vs. art, and you
learn to see what is not. Thank you Sensei Harris for teaching us all.
You are a genius, a Master, and the Phantom. We mourn together.
I worked nights at the Phinney Center for a number of years and had the
opportunity to meet Dave. He always would come by to say hello and offer
up an awful joke – a new one every time. I can recall on one occasion he
and his students acted as my “security” to remove a quarrelsome visitor
and how thankful I was that I didn’t have to do it alone. I was greatly
shocked to hear the news and know that I will never hear another bad joke
from him again.
I will miss you, Dave.
On behalf of my brothers, Wayne and Gary Hensrude
and myself, Ramona Hensrude, cousins of Gerry Harris, I'd like to express
our deep sorrow at the passing of David Harris. We've known him to always
be a man of humor, intelligence, humility, and dedication to teaching art
and martial arts.
Above all, he was the devoted husband to Gerry. I
can only hope this tragedy will help all of us to learn more about
Alzheimer's disease and the terrible toll it takes on family caregivers.
Dave's spirit will live on in all of his
Ramona, Gary and Wayne
This is probably the most difficult note I have ever
I tried to start several times but couldn't.
I can't really believe that Dave is gone.
The last few years I kept trying to get started training again but always
something interfered and I would think after this I'll get going again. I
am afraid I took it for granted that Dave would be around and teaching for
a long time. Dave was a wonderful person ,very giving, always positive,
incredibly creative and intelligent. When it came to Martial arts he was
the absolute best I ever touched hands with.
As others have mentioned he was a magician, and like a magician he would
make everything look so easy , that was the only thing that was
frustrating about training with Dave, He would make things look so easy
and then when you tried to do the same it wasn't so easy at all.
Many times during class he would work with you in free flow and when he
would get you in one way or another and you liked it he would break it
down for you and show you how to do it , and then if you got to where you
could do it he would show you a dozen answers to it.
If you asked him to show you an application to a move out of the form he
could show you dozens and dozens. Some I never would have come up with in
a million years.
When I think of Dave more than his smile or the things he would say what
I think of now and I think always will be his touch, soft , light, like a
wave , like an arrow, like a wall,
like a monkey, a mantis, like the wind or a shadow and most of all like a
I will miss you.
I am filled with gratitude for the time I was able to
spend with David Harris over the last 13 years. He was a joy to be with
and learn from. I'll spend the rest of my life happily unraveling the
mysteries of what he taught to me, and exploring the layers of his art
with my training friends. Harris' legacy is his students, his gift was his
art, and he will live forever in our hearts whenever we practice. Thank
Cyclone Fighting Arts
still reacting to the great terrible news of Dave Harris's death. He is an
iconic figure in the martial arts community and even from a distance, I
heard much of his broad skill and mastery of martial self defense.
This is how I got to know Mr Harris. His was a men's only martial class
so when I arrived in his community college drawing class I had never seen
this deadly martial artist. I had some idea and anticipation of meeting
this legend. A tall man walked in, fiddled with some setup at the front
of the room. He had coke bottle glasses, a plaid flannel shirt, suspenders
and more than a bit of a pot belly. I kept waiting for Dave Harris. This
guy started the drawing class introduction with roll call and a summary of
the goals of the class. I was confused and decided that there was a
mistake, there must be two fellows named Dave Harris and that I would not
be learning drawing from the martial art master after all.
And then he picked up the charcoal and drew a perfect, beautiful circle on
the easel pad. He was a true master, hidden in plain sight.
Only a week before his death I referred a young boxer to Dave Harris'
This is a great loss.
Mr. Harris, Sir,
my teacher, my friend
always a joke, a story, a smile
a lesson learned, concrete
I quote, my amusing muse...
unused to heroism,
pedestal maker not sitter
but sit you must
a bust your dust will make...
your teachings have been a base for me
and I wish I could have learned more
you have more to offer,
more than I had even known.
You will be missed terribly.
I hurt most thinking you may not have felt finished...
I hope most you will return soon... for us.
I know you will find Nirvana,
for you have done your teaching sir.
I have the highest respect for you.
I hope they have nutter butters in the heavens or
we'll be sure to see you soon:) Your humor will forever gladden me, when I
am sad and finally, fully aware of what the world has truly lost.
A Harley riding, suspender wearing, sensei, with a
joke, a moral and an attitude whom will be missed by all and still had so
much to teach us.
I spent 1
day with Dave in his backyard training and enjoyed it immensely. It was by
chance that we met each other in the University district while sitting
down a table away from each other. Dave heard my conversation with some
friends that I was visiting and promptly picked up on the conversation and
said to me " You must be Harvey and Andy's friend". I was quickly invited
to his home and backyard for a great day of training. I wish that I could
have spent more time with him but the quality of the time was enormous.
Los Angeles CA
Dave Harris will be greatly missed by everyone who had the pleasure of
meeting him. He was a remarkable man who was generous with his time and
knowledge. He was a walking encyclopedia of knowledge with the ability to
converse on a broad range of diverse subjects. He was an inquisitive man
who had a voracious appetite for knowledge. In fact, he always seemed to
be reading about 15 to 20 books at the same time. I would always
encounter him with several books with book marks inserted.
I first met
Dave Harris in his martial arts class around 1983 at the Greenlake studio
in Seattle. I had prior martial arts experience, so I was amazed that I
would learn more in one class than in a month elsewhere. Dave's martial
arts classes were different from the norm. We actually talked, asked
questions and laughed during the class. There was no strict military boot
camp atmosphere. However, we were definitely serious about learning. We
would simply practice techniques and
ask questions if necessary. Dave's
style was eclectic since he learned from many sources and integrated what
he learned into his teaching. The power of Dave's martial arts
instruction was that he took the best of all styles and he was not locked
down into a few rote moves or a few repetitive routines. After I slowed
down and dropped out of the martial arts class, I continued to remain in
contact with Dave and Gerri as friends. Meanwhile, he did not slack off
but rather continued to teach his martial arts class. His dedication to
teaching was unsurpassed. I can not recall him ever missing a martial
arts class. During the evening and weekends, he would often run off to
the North Seattle Community College to fire up a kiln or check up on
something for his ceramics class. He was what you might call a "giver".
He gave his time, dedication and soul into his passion which was
teaching. The teaching of visual arts and martial arts were his
passions. Some teachers place themselves on a pedestal while being
difficult to talk to and reluctant to share. Dave had no ego as
demonstrated by his behavior in which he was always approachable and
willing to share. His lack of ego was further evidenced by the fact that
he would often become the student and learn from other instructors. He
did not use the visual arts or martial arts to feed his ego. He was a
teacher who was trying to further his student's learning of the visual
arts or martial arts by giving all he could to his students. In both
vocation and avocation, Dave's chosen identity was that of a teacher. A
true impact of a man can be judged by how many people he positively
influenced during his time on earth. Dave Harris has positively
influenced hundreds and hundreds of people to make this a better world.
He helped all of his students to learn and realize their potential for
which they will be always be forever indebted to him. In honor of Dave
Harris, please practice the life lessons of inquisitiveness, openness,
unselfishness, positive attitude, humor and dedication that Dave
continuously exhibited during his life. When Gerri developed dementia
three years ago, Dave supremely dedicated himself to the care of Gerri.
His dedication to Gerri's health and welfare equaled or exceeded his
dedication to teaching. My fondest memory of Dave was having a meal at a
Chinese restaurant with him and furiously competing with him to dig out
the few remaining pineapple pieces in the sweet-and-sour chicken dish.
Needless to say, he employed superior chopstick techniques to thwart my
advances for the pineapple.
Bill Tsai, Seattle
Harris was an Educator, Artist and a Consummate martial artist. Dave was
my teacher, my mentor, my friend and a t’ai chi brother to me. He was an
exceptional human being.
He was a real artist with the most elegant and subtle skill both in fine
art ceramics and martial arts. I enjoyed visiting his home and observing
his ceramic works. He had a fascinating style in his work. He was also an
educator who developed classes in learning theory and how to improve
visual IQ for college students. He was a multidimensional educator.
Extremely intelligent, with many abilities and interests.
I met Dave almost immediately after I moved to Seattle in the early 1970s,
This was when my ex and I moved to Seattle to attend Intensive Japanese
Classes at UW. We lived a block from Green Lake with friend of my ex who
one who was working on his PhD in Astrophysics and later became an
astronaut. Dave’s school was just up the street from where we all lived.
A few days after moving to that area my ex-wife and I wandered into his
school after eating at a Chinese restaurant a few blocks away, that was
right next door to his school. Out of curiosity I was drawn to visit his
school, I expected the same old, same old, karate studio. But I was amazed
at what he was teaching, at that time he was doing a combined application
system based on the Red Boat Style Wing Chun/Southern Preying Mantis of
Master Fuk Yueng and his base system of Shito-ryu.
After talking to Dave and his finding out that I studied t’ai-chi ch’uan
with several teachers (Kuo, Liang and Tung) before moving to Seattle, so
Dave then introduced me to Grandmaster Raymond Chung. Chung taught Yang
Sau-chung’s style of t’ai chi ch’uan at Dave’s Karate school. Dave
personally introduced me to Raymond Chung. Based on Dave’s
recommendation, Chung then tested me and after being satisfied with my
Yang style form, he placed me into his advanced class along with Dave and
some of his advanced kung-fu students who also trained in the t’ai-chi
chuan. It was a good sized class as there were many others studying
pushing hands and san shou.
I also studied with Master Dave, in what Dave called Red Boat style at
that time, the method of Grandmaster Fuk Yueng. Dave’s students were
incredible, having wonderful and subtle skills. He had a very advanced
core group who were very high caliber. It was wonderful to work with
Dave, his advanced students, and Grandmaster Chung. I was also had the
great fortune to meet Sifu Andrew Dale at that time who taught Aikido at
UW. Andy who also was a tai chi brother under Grandmaster Tchoung, became
instrumental in the Internal Martial arts of Seattle and became the go to
guy for Internal arts.
Later Raymond Chung stopped coming down to Seattle and I believe it was
Dave that recruited Tchoung Ta-tchen to teach. Some of Master Chung’s
students moved on to Grandmaster Tchoung’s class, including Dave. Dave
was instrumental in recruiting Grandmaster Tchoung as he could tell who
was a real master. Dave became a pivotal figure in Grandmaster Tchoung’s
class. That was because he was egoless in learning from other teachers
and could find benefit in even the most basic class.
Master Andrew Dale and Chuck Livingstone who were teaching Aikido at UW at
the time also joined Sifu Tchoung’s class. We all trained together with
Grandmaster Tchoung. Dave also taught Andy and Chuck his system. Dave
helped to keep us honest and on track in training. There was a great deal
of mixing of ideas and training which helped everyone open their eyes to
possibilities, Dave was central to this process.
Dave also introduced me to Grandmaster Fuk Yueng who was his teacher. We
traveled to Grandmaster Yueng’s house one very late night after his
restaurant closed to workout in his basement. Grandmaster Yueng turned
out to be one of the most powerful and subtle martial artists I have even
Dave had no trouble introducing people to his teachers, he was egoless in
that or maybe he was so high above the rest of us in level that he had no
worry about being overtaken. Or maybe he wanted to have more people to
play with who could give him a real workout. Whatever the reason, Dave
introduced us to great masters and was always willing to train with us.
Dave also was a great resource. He always seemed to find a novel
application of techniques. I remember him delighting in the applications
he discovered in the Chi kung techniques. His skill was subtle and
Dave later worked with other teachers and he evolved an amazing system of
his own. He could steal ones balance and with barely any effort control
the most powerful opponent. His skill was extraordinary. He was a true
genius. I was fortunate to have met and studied with him.
Lord Sovereign of the Universe, I am grateful for the years of the life of
David Harris, Help me understand how my life has been formed and shaped by
my teacher and friend. Help me to make my life a living monument of
holiness to his memory. May he rest in peace. Amen.
May his memory be a blessing to us all.
I knew Dave Harris as a teacher at North Seattle
He was a character, always ready with a joke and
glad to brighten your day by sharing it with you and yet he was very
serious when it came to the study of art and devoted himself to making
sure that he shared his years of experience and wisdom.
But most of all, I will remember him for his
compassion. As I sat at a table in the NSCC outdoor courtyard, struggling
with my own emotions about my Mom and her Alzheimer's and, finally, later,
her death, he took time out to comfort me and chat with me. He was a very
Harris Sense page