Tuesday, January 16, 2007

David Rix

Yesterday I found out that Professor David Rix had died recently. David had been a long time Baltimore area martial arts instructor and president of the Defender's Club, among others. He was the founder of Rix's American Chin Na Kung Fu. I had the honor of studying under him for a couple years in the mid 1990's. It was from him that I learned my knife and gun defense techniques and also how to use a Kubotan.

Rix was a great guy. I loved hearing his story of how he came to martial arts. As a member of the Red Shield Boys Club when he was a bad-ass kid from St. Helena, he wandered in and out of the organization, generally raising hell. One time there he came across a martial arts training program and decided to take the instructor, an elderly asian man, to task. Not getting the response he wanted, David pulled out a knife and attacked the guy. The next thing he knew, David was fond of saying, was that he was on his back with his knife still in his hand but pushed up against his throat. The instructor quietly said to him - you have poor technique.

I first met Rix while running a program for disabled students at Dundalk Community College. We wanted to offer self-defense to the students and, I forget now how, heard about him. We hired him as adjunct faculty; the students loved him and, as a Shotokan brown belt, I started studying with him occasionally. After becoming a black belt myself, I became more involved with his organization, although always peripherally.

David used to describe himself as an Irish Leprechaun. He wasn't very tall but had a barrel chest and was obviously very strong. He had a self-deprecating sense of humor but was also a prankster. One story I always liked was how he would take his new black belts up to this bar in St. Helena.

The regulars at the bar were told by Rix, well ahead of time, to "mix it up" with the guys that Rix would bring in. Rix would tell the new black belts that he was taking them out for a celebratory drink but of course wouldn't tell them what was really going to happen. Once at the bar the regulars would pick a fight. Rix would then sit back and watch, careful to not let anyone on either side get seriously hurt, and see how the newbie's handled themselves in a "real" situation.

I used to go over to Joann's house, before they were married, and attend weeknight sessions on the technique, philosophy and spirit of martial arts. I remember him explaining about how to make a turn at a blind corner; how to see in the dark; how to tell an experienced knife fighter and how to properly hold a knife; about mind control. Sometimes the sessions would get into metaphysical topics. He was a wealth of information and was well on his way, I thought, to becoming a spiritual being.

David Rix was, in his younger years, a guy to be feared. In his older years, a man to be admired and respected. I will always be grateful for what he taught me, both as a martial artist and as a person.

One of the last times I saw David was at a dinner affair he put together. David was tired of all the factionalism within martial arts and wanted to bring all the different types of styles together, at least for one night. It was, I recall now, a very powerful evening. Assembled were the practitioners from all of the different types of martial arts in the area, giving our respect to David Rix and also to each other. Everyone put aside their egos for the night. David remarked, as each of us practitioners and our styles were introduced, how happy he was that all these different martial arts could be together in one room and how we all just needed to learn to get along with each other. I guess that was probably around the year 2000, maybe before.

It was then, I guess, maybe a little after, that I last spoke with David Rix. What he taught me, what I remember about him, will stay with me for the rest of my life. He was an individual who, like him or not, would leave a lasting impression. He was the kind of person you only meet once in a lifetime. I'm forever grateful I did.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Master Fix was a wonderful person. As a young girl, he treated me like he would anyone else he taught. I loved to watch him and other black belts in the studio doing forms. He was truly a great man.

1:37 AM  

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