10 things you probably didn’t know about David Ross of New York San Da
10. I was diagnosed with Leukemia at age six. At that time, only 50% of the children actually survived. Those that did survive, suffered nerve and muscular damage from the chemotherapy and the radiation therapy. According to doctors, I am not supposed to be able to lift my knee any higher than my waist. I spend months in a hospital and had to be home schooled one year. I also survived cancer twice as an adult.
9. I come from a long line of eccentric thinkers. Stanley Kubrick is my paternal grandmother’s cousin. My father’s uncle helped develop sonar and had an all mathematical equation correspondence with Albert Einstein.
8. I speak Guangdonghua (Cantonese), Mandarin and some Shanghai dialect, and can read and write both traditional and simplified Chinese characters. The Guangdonghua was basically self taught. When I met Chan Tai San, he spoke no English and I spoke no Chinese. Stephen Laurette spoke some, but most of it was on the job training.
7. My father didn’t want to sign me up for martial arts lessons and my mother wanted to put me in the closes school, a karate school run by Alex Sternberg. However I had dome some reading and had found Pong Ki Kim’s school. It was a train ride away, but I insisted. My parents only signed me up for the yellow belt program, but I went every day and eventually they signed me up for a year.
6. I have a master’s degree in Chinese history from the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. I also have 60 credits and “ABD” (All But Dissertation) towards a PhD at City University in American history. I taught both Chinese and American history at several universities.
5. I neither practiced martial arts nor taught it for two years, after having an argument with Chan Tai-San and as I went to graduate school. I started practicing again when I saw a flyer at GWU for an informal Jeet Kune Do/Muay Thai sparring group.
4. I have published more than 50 articles on the martial arts in both the martial arts industry press and in academic journals. Many of these articles have been translated into foreign languages and re-distributed. This wide distribution of my articles also means that there has been a wide distribution of a few of my errors, including the correct name of the monastery Chan Tai San was raised in.
3. I initially didn’t want to even meet Chan Tai-San. When I did agree, I thought I would learn a few “pretty forms” since I didn’t know many forms at the time. Ironic.
2. I was never a natural at anything I learned. It literally took me ten years to learn how to do a side kick correctly. In fact, I think the fact I had to work so hard for all my skills is a major reason I am a good coach. I learned to break things down and how to conceptualize them.
1. I never wanted to be a martial arts teacher. Despite having taught people since age 16, I initially thought I was going to be a doctor. At 17, my Taekwondo teacher wanted me to run his second school, I laughed and told him I was going to college! Chan Tai-San asked me when I was going to open a full time school and I told him I wasn’t. He asked me if I was going to throw away everything he taught me. I went to graduate school. Life isn’t always the way you think it is….