Al Novak Passes

He seems to be at each and every tournament just sittig there, usually at a card table set up just for him. Always smiling and lifting his huge, iron hand in greeting. Al had seen so many thousands of students pass through you never knew if he recognized you but the greeting was there just the same. He was a sort of catch-all medic, when someone was downed with a kick  or got a busted lip Al was over at the square  patching them up.

Last Saurday his life passed after being hit, in his wheelchair, by a car. He had been confined to the chair since 2005 when both femurs had been crushed in another car accident. But he still demonstrated his legendary breaking ability by slicing through wooden blocks with his hand.

Al was considered the last 10th degree black in the Kajukenbo style started by Emperado. Al trained for years with two other greats, Bruce Lee and James Lee. He is featured on the cover of Modern Karate Kung Fu by Jimmy Lee, one of the first English language books on Iron Palm.

A Navy man, Al served on a PT boat with Jack Kennedy. He was also involved in security. One of my best friends, Howard Slatoff, was a teacher at Hayward College through the Sixties. During a student protest the administration building was surrounded. Al walked Slatoff out of the building right through the crowd of angry students. “They parted like clouds,” Howard told me, up to that moment, completely unaware of Novak’s Kung Fu background.

Much respected, many practitioners treated Novak as a kind of Kung Fu gandfather. He fit the role well, always encouraging whenever he could. Not bad for a man who had to pass through so many race barriers to even study the art he loved.

He passed last Saturday in Fremont Hospital, a landmark for his era.


3 Responses to “Al Novak Passes”

  1. Elliott F. Monds says:

    A Real GrandFather to Us All in Gung-Fu,R.I.P. Big Mr. Al Novak. Elliott.

  2. Rick says:

    That Jimmy Lee book featuring Al Novak was one of the first kung fu books I bought, way back in the 70s, the first time I began training. I’m sorry to hear of his misfortune, and passing.

    Rest In Peace.

  3. Rob says:

    Great human

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