DAVE ADAMS (NC)

Class of 2018

Dave Adam’s journey in martial arts began in 1960, in a small Judo school in Charlotte, North Carolina. After obtaining a black belt status, he decided to expand his skills into the study of Karate. His concentration on Karate was interrupted with a stint in the Air Force, but he continued his training with Rick Ward, a 16-year-old Okinawa stylist stationed on base with his parents. During this time, Dave joined the Hakkaru Martial Arts Federation, headed up by Richard Baillargeon. He began a transformation by developing more of his own style in fighting and form, transitioning from student to teacher.

After an honorable discharge from the military, Dave opened his first dojo in North Carolina, where months later, he and his students competed in the first Tri-State Karate Championships, organized by U.S. Marine, Benny Mares. Later, this would seem to be a pre-destined meeting. After Dave won the grand championships in fighting and form, Benny announced that he was leaving the service to return to LA, where he had originally gotten his black belt under Chuck Norris. He extended a personal invitation to Dave to visit their dojo as his guest. Dave began to gain a reputation. He and his students were winning hundreds of awards from all over the region. The first North Carolina Karate Championships were held in 1967, sponsored by Richard Baillargeon. Dave won both fighting and form. Dave had gained respect throughout the Southeast for both himself and his students. In all, Dave won 67 competitive awards in sparring and form. His demonstrations set the standards for excellence in jumping and kicking in the Southeast.

Dave Adams built up five Karate schools that proved to be the most profitable franchise in karate school history. Over 1600 students total. At this point, he felt comfortable leaving them and headed for LA to gain more wisdom in the art and to learn more about the business-side. While there, he learned both the Tracy and Chuck Norris Systems. His first Karate class in LA was with Chuck and Aaron Norris. Again, LA seemed pre-destined. John Natividad, Howard Jackson, Duke Tirschel, Pat Johnson, Darnell Garcia, and Bob Wall were just a few of the talented martial artists that surrounded him. Bob Wall was instrumental in Dave’s understanding of the business-side of promotions and development. Dave credits Pat Johnson as one of, if not the best, Karate instructor he ever studied under. That is where he also met Joe Lewis for the first time and eventually was the first instructor in the Carolinas to bring Joe Lewis to his school to train with his Black Belts.

Another very important fact is that Dave was the first instructor (Black Belt) to go LA, learn a diffent style of techniques and training development skills taught by the West Coast world champions. Still today Dave can given the exact seminar that Joe Lewis first taught with his develop system of defensive and offensive technique.

Dave’s life was about to change. While in LA, an opportunity presented itself to attend a fighting choreography workshop for stuntmen. In the class, was a student of Ed Parker, who extended an invitation to Dave to visit their school. Two weeks later, Dave was given a chance to work on Kung-Fu, in a fight scene, choreographed by David Chow. He later visited and became good friends with IKKA founder Ed Parker. He found himself ring-side with Priscilla Pressley and Mike Stone at the Long Beach International Karate Tournament the same year. Later, Dave met and became friends with Curtiss Wong (Inside Kung-Fu) and International Kung-Fu form champion, James Lew. Curtiss did an article on Dave and his friend, Thomas LaPuppet, who, at the time, had worked with Dave in a fight scene in a “B” motion picture, Challenge, filmed in North Carolina. A year later, both Wong and Lew were guests of Dave at one of his annual tournaments in Charlotte, N. C.

In 1971, Dave organized and sponsored the Southern Coast Karate Championships. It was the first point Karate tournament to offer its grand champion a cash prize. $1,000. Guests included Miss America, Judy Ford, Miss North Carolina, Patsy Gail Wood, Chuck Norris, Thomas LaPuppet, Jeff Smith, Howard Jackson, Darnell Garcia, Joe Corley, Jerry Piddington, and state politicians. It was the first US Southeastern tournament to register over 1,500 competitors, along with 2,200 paid ticket holders for the evening finale. Dave went on to promote 27 karate tournaments over a period of 15 years. His first Black Belt promotion was Charles Burris, now credited with promoting dozens of accomplished black belts and pillars in their community.

In the late 70′s, Dave was asked to teach and mentor Ricky and Randy Smith privately. Both had trained under Gary Basinger to the rank of Green Belt. Two years later, Dave’s training and creativity produced two of the most talented champions in the Southeast named The Gold Dust Twins. Dave’s trained the famed U.S. Heavy Weight Kick Boxing Champion (Gentlemen) Bill Morrison, Bruce Brutschy, Gaither Brannon, Randy Walden, Von Helton, Maurice Moore, Warren Graham, Robert Haas, Charles Herron, and Kathy Maney, one of the south’s first female champions. Was asked to visit and do seminars with such Black Belts as Carl Smith, lee Farmer, Larry Bullard, Gary Dillingham, and hundreds more.

Both Dave’s expertise in martial arts and his business acumen increased dramatically. He organized and promoted the 2nd Full Contact Karate event ever held in the U.S. In Kings Mtn. N. C. Dave would later become friends with Yoo Jin Kim out of Atlanta. Mr. Kim promoted Dave to 6th Degree in the 80′s. Dave later founded The American Jee Do Kwan Karate Association, an association that represented different styles of fighting and form, but with common grounds in leadership and promotion of the arts.

Dave then journeyed to New York City, where he competed in Chung Koo Kim’s first major tournament and it was then that he met and became friends with Thomas LaPuppet, Ronnie VanCliff, and dozens more.

Dave’s career began to follow a new direction. He began working as an active movie stuntman and found himself immersed in movies. His years as a successful motion picture stuntman gave him invaluable insight into movie-making. He founded The Southern Coast Stuntmans Association, teaching numerous workshops in on camera fighting. With a hands-on, on the lot, he gained knowledge that would have been unattainable under any other circumstance. Closing out 13-plus years of hard-fought and body-bruising work, he began to write and direct film and video. A movie-maker was born.

One of his films, Angel With A Kick, was completed the same year the martial art community lost, not only the star of the film, but a great martial artist and person in Thomas LaPuppet. The film also starred the Gold Dust Twins, Ricky and Randy Smith.

The challenges that lie ahead for Dave Adams are within the realm of film. He currently has four major projects set to start production in 2018 and to be completed in 2019. In addition there are hundreds of skills that Dave brought to the South from teaching to promotions (tournaments).

Now a 9th Degree Black Belt, Dave Adams currently travels and conducts seminars upon request and is the current Grandmaster of The American Jee Do Kwan Karate Association.

Today, Dave lives on the shores of the East Coast where he is putting together his own Independent Motions Picture Production Company with studios. He is also beginning to invest and develop Real Estate.