In this large group picture Neil Savoy is in the back row, second from the left. Neil Savoy, the oldest kung fu san soo master in the United States and perhaps the world passed away this weekend. He was 99 years old. Neil signed up with me in Bellflower when he was 60.
I wasn’t sure about whether or not to sign him up so I talked to Jimmy Woo about him. He told me not to let him study. He said it would to dangerous for him. If he got hurt or injured it would take too long for him to heal.
I got back to Neil and told him the bad news. He said his son was a black belt in my school and his granddaughter was a brown belt. He told me he was willing to take the chance of being injured. He just wanted to spend some good quality time with his family at the school. He all but begged me to let him sign up. I could not say no.
He studied with me for 14 years and got his masters degree from me with honors. He was a little stiff and his bones were as hard as rocks. When he blocked your punch it was like getting hit with a sledge hammer. In the course of a night he would go through 2 to 3 guys 1/4th his age. I will never forget him coming up to me and asking me if I could get him another partner. The last one couldn’t work out anymore.
Neil would have studied longer but at the age of 74 he lost some of his depth perception. This made it very difficult for him to know how far away his partner was. He could no longer work out safely so he had to side line himself.
In civilian life he worked for the FAA. Whenever a plane crashed they sent him out to investigate it and find out why it went down.
The last time I saw Neil he was 95 years old. He looked really good as I remember. That was 4 years ago. He led an amazing life and accomplished many goals. One of them was being the oldest san soo master any of us has ever heard of or knew.