Hanshi Norman Armstrong 1938 – 2009

Hanshi Norman ArmstrongTo celebrate the first anniversary of Hanshi Norman Armstrong’s passing on March 12, 2009, we at ELITE TAE KWON DO will hold practices with other Ten Chi Kenpo on his honor during the month of March 2010. Anyone willing to join us in keeping up his tradition, please join us in our training. Hanshi Norman Armstrong taught so many of us the essence of Martial Arts. His teaching was never about making money but creating martial artists. Our teacher is no longer with us but his hard work will remain until we join him. Even though I am teaching Tae Kwon Do, due to the fact Norman moved out of Boston but his way of life is embodied in my teaching. I have met so many great teachers through my journey but Norman had made the greatest impact. He saw something special in me and coaxed me into teaching rather than concentrate on being a fighter. A man so simple but yet so complex in his teaching, a gifted teacher that comes around once in a life time.

In memory of his first anniversary, I want to dedicate the month of March as: “Norman Armstrong Month” with peace and love. your student Jean Theodat

At once a remarkable scholar, practitioner, and teacher, Hanshi Armstrong began his career in Yokohama in 1957, stationed with the US Air Force, where he laid the foundations for his art and style. He studied Shotokan Karate, and later returned to the states and learned and practiced with noted Kenpo and karate practitioners, eventually branching into traditional Chinese martial arts and studying Taijiquan with the late T.T. Liang. Hanshi Armstrong founded Ten Chi Kenpo in 1974 and worked out a comprehensive system of training and martial arts, founded on the best traditions and techniques, unique in its synthesis and its practicality and adaptability. In all things, Master Armstrong was a pioneer, participating in the first mixed-race martial-arts tournaments in Boston in the sixties and seventies, and studying with practitioners of all races and cultures. In turn, he thought students of all races, nations, and sexes, holding only to his own high standards. A life-long “violence professional” as a bouncer, private investigator, bodyguard and more, he held that the practice of his art was a higher calling than the application of his skills, but both had to be as close to perfection as possible. A man of extraordinary presence, and a gifted educator; a despiser of charlatanry, hufflestuff, rigmarole, and lack of rigor, both intellectual and physical, Master Armstrong embodied all the virtues, and discipline he taught to others; he drove himself to be always better educated and better skilled at his art. He led by example, a formidable presence that remained superior even into his later years. He embodied the warrior spirit, serene but unwavering in all things, while a twinkle was never far from his eye and ribaldry from, his lips when class was not in session., Tough as an iron rod, merciless in his instruction and honest in a way that could not be mistaken, Norman made his art, our art, his salvation. He knew, and lived, that despite all the terrible things one can see and live through in a lifetime, you can conquer violence by conquering your self. Modest in person (never modest on the floor), he was never bitter, never rude, and never mean. Through a lifetime of violence and a lifetime of martial training, he learned and taught, that the salvation of one was the other, and that was the true end of continuing the practice. His lesson was heard and remembered, and he will be sorely missed.

Memories

Ten Chi Kenpo

Friends and students of Ten-chi Kenpo Karate,

On March 12, 2009, Hanshi Norman Armstrong passed beyond this world; founder and master of Ten-chi Kenpo Karate, Master Norman touched innumerable lives with his generosity of spirit, his remarkable and enduring teachings, and his impeccable personal example as a martial arts practitioner.

Hanshi Armstrong founded Ten-chi Kenpo Karate in 1974 and worked throughout his life to improve it and improve the whole martial arts community. Without immediate family, his extended network of students, devoted friends, and loved ones feels his loss acutely and remains deeply grateful for his instruction and his wisdom in the practice of martial arts.

Requiescat in pace. 3/12/2009, Hanshi Norman Armstrong

I am deeply saddened to inform the martial community about the passing of my instructor Norman Armstrong on March 12, 2009. I have lost a great friend, a mentor; a man who shaped my martial arts career in the United States. I owe a lot to this great man. He was my very first Karate-Kenpo Instructor in the United States. A man of great knowledge who taught so many people in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and California. Grandmaster Norman will be missed by his family, friends and martial arts students. With deep appreciation for your teaching dear teacher, I will always remember you. May your soul rest in peace, your art will live on.

Without my teacher Norman Armstrong’s guidance, I would not have made it. Even though I am in Tae Kwon Do, some of Norman’s techniques are incorporated into my teaching.

Jean Theodat March 13, 2009

I have just written a previous letter to Mr. Carl Brooks not knowing of Mr. Armstrong’s passing. I apologize for this. From my heart I am so sorry to hear of Norman's journey to the Spirit World and not having the opportunity to connect with him just to say hi and how are you.

I met Norman, many, many years ago in Boston, Ma. As a young woman, he saw a strength in me that I didn’t know I had and expressed that he would love to teach me martial art, unfortunately, I did not take him up on it. I was young and had other things going on in my life. I will not say I regret for not taken him up on it, I do regret we didn’t keep in touch. He was a good friend to me and I had a respect for him like no other. If I remember, he was a Virgo and a wonderful person who entered my life when I needed someone.

I would like to express to his family, what a wonderful and kind person he was. I’m just so shocked and heartbroken learning of his death. I just thought a person like him would live on forever. In my heart, I know he lives on in the heart of his family and friends through their thoughts and memories.

Please take care and forgive me if my letter seems inappropriate at this time, I'm just so saddened to know I will not be able to speak or talk with Norman and thank him for his friendship and kindness.

Marlyn A. Francis

I was heartbroken to hear of Norman’s passing. I had studied with Norman in downtown Boston in the 1970’s. I remember you very well, as well as Loydette, Richard Granberry, and a lot more. I was on the net and wanted to find Norman, unfortunately it is too late. However, I am like you. A person has been touched by Norman’s deep dedication not only to the martial arts, but to people in a most caring way. I am sad that I am not able to tell him how much he affected me as a very young man growing up in Boston during those times, and that I am a better man today because of him. I did not have a dad around and he was very much a father figure to me. He gave me the keys to the dojo when I got my brown belt, and I was only 14 years old. He told me it did not matter my age, everyone got a key when they got their brown belt because they had earned it. What a lesson for a young man. Good luck with all that you do in your practice (my brother studied with Suk Chung (Harvard Sq.) Tae Kwon Do in the 1970’s). I hope that maybe I can visit your dojo at some time.

David SakuraiBoston Kenpo Karate Club 1970’s.

Hanshi Norman Armstrong Passes Away

On March 12, 2009, Hanshi Norman Armstrong, founder of Ten Chi Kenpo passed Away. Hanshi Armstrong had a long relationship with Professor Nick Cerio as a student and friend. At one time, he held the highest rank that Professor Cerio and ever given to an active student. Hanshi Armstrong incorporated many of the Nick Cerio’s Kenpo material into the curriculum that made up his unique style of Ten Chi Kenpo, a combination of hard and soft materials blended in a way that was uniquely Hanshi Armstrong. Hanshi Armstrong was a scholar, innovator, and those close to him look at him as not only a teacher but also a close member of the family. We at Nick Cerio’s Kenpo extend our deep condolences to the Ten Chi Kenpo family and hope that your keep Hanshi Armstrong’s memory strong by continuing his life’s work.

At once a remarkable scholar, practitioner, and teacher, Hanshi Armstrong began his career in Yokohama in 1957, stationed with the US Air Force, where he laid the foundations for his art and style. He studied Shotokan Karate, and later returned to the states and learned and practiced with studied with noted Kenpo and karate practitioners, eventually branching into traditional Chinese martial arts and studying taijiquan with the late T.T. Liang. Hanshi Armstrong founded Ten Chi Kenpo in 1974 and worked out a comprehensive system of training and martial arts, founded on the best traditions and techniques, unique in its synthesis and its practicality and adaptability.In all things, Master Armstrong was a pioneer, participating in the first mixed-race martial arts tournaments in Boston in the sixties and seventies, and studying with practitioners of all races and all cultures. In turn, he taught students of all races, nations, and sexes, holding only to his own high standards. A life-long professional” as a bouncer, private investigator, bodyguard and more, he held that the practice of his art was a higher calling than the application of his skills, but both had to be as close to perfection as possible.A man of extraordinary presence, and a gifted educator; a despiser of charlatanry, hufflestuff, rigmarole, and lack of rigor, both intellectual and physical, Master Armstrong embodied all the virtues and discipline he taught to others; he drove himself to be always better educated and better skilled at his art. He led by example, a formidable presence that remained superior even into his later years. He embodied the warrior spirit, serene but unwavering in all things, while a twinkle was never far from his eye and ribaldry from his lips when the class was not in session. Tough as an iron rod, merciless in his instruction and honest in a way that could not be mistaken, Norman made his art, our art, his salvation. He knew, and lived, that despite all the terrible things one can see and live through in a lifetime, you can conquer violence by conquering your self. Modest in person (never modest on the floor), he was never bitter, never rude, and never mean. Through a lifetime of violence and a lifetime of martial training, he learned and taught, that the salvation of one was the other, and that was the true end of continuing the practice. His lesson was heard and remembered, and he will be sorely missed.

Master Norman Armstrong was my Tai Chi Chuan sensei for the last almost 3 years since he moved to Palm Springs from Ontario, California. During that time, he was striving to perfect the soft martial art component of Ten-Chi Kenpo. Even with the hard martial art component, Karate, which progresses from a single technique to Kata, Kumite, and free sparring, he was creating the two-person forms in both the Tai Chi solo form and the weapons. After the solo form, we learned Talu, San-Shou, then started the Cane form to the two-person Cane form, Saber to two-person Saber, Sword to San Cai Jian. We were working on the two-person Bo when he passed away. Even when he was often in pain and fatigued with his cancer and chemotherapy during the last year, he worked to complete his masterpiece, Ten-Chi Kenpo, with the two integral parts, the hard and the soft martial arts.Norman said, “When I left the States at age 17 to join the Air Force, I was a boy weighing only 120 pounds. I got bullied a lot. When I saw Karate in Japan, I realized that the size didn’t matter in Karate to win. So, I practiced every day for self-defense. By the time I came back to the States 3 years later, I was a man and nobody could bully me anymore. You see, I got bit by the Karate bug then.”From this humble beginning, he became a national champion and founded his own martial art school and attained the tenth-degree black belt. It was not easy. But, as all his students and friends (whom he considered his family) know, through good times and bad, Martial Art was his life. It sustained him and he wished that it would survive him.In April, I will start my first teaching at Gilda’s club where he taught Tai Chi Chuan to his fellow cancer patients, their families, and caregivers. He will be immortal in every move I make as in Immortal Points the Way.

Akiko Stone
March 27, 2009

I was surfing the net, I just found out of Norman’s Passing. I loved Norman like a father, the world feels a little more empty knowing that he’s gone. A former student from the Boston Kenpo Karate Club in 70’s.

Quinton Robinson