Athlete Review: “Superfoot”

superfoot1Bill “Superfoot” Wallace fought in the Professional Karate Association middle-weight division from 1974 – 1980.  During this time frame he won 23 fights (13 by knockout) and retired undefeated.

You heard me…undefeated.

What’s truly impressive is the manner in which he won all his fights and how he consequently earned the nickname “Superfoot.”

Bill grew up wrestling in high school and eventually took up Judo.  That turned out to be a short-lived stint as he was forced to quit after injuring his right knee during training.  In 1967, he began studying Karate

Bill never kicked with his right leg in fights due to his injury.  To most people that would have been a deal breaker and they would have given up on a career of professional fighting.  The injury didn’t phase Bill and he began training his left leg exclusively.  Bill mastered three kicks on his left leg: the roundhouse, the side kick, and the hook kick.  In a fight he could throw any of those 3 kicks to any target he chose with vicious accuracy and power, hence the nickname “Superfoot.”

While being an undefeated champion might go to some people’s heads, Bill has remained true to his martial artist’s spirit and is a warm and friendly individual.  I was fortunate enough to attendsuperfoot2 a workshop he ran back in 2001 and he happily greeted everyone as they entered and cracked jokes as he instructed.  Even though he was 56 at the time, he was still incredibly limber and FAST.  With quick hand movements, he could sneak past the guard of anyone who was there and pop them on the forehead.  This was especially frustrating because he did this to everyone there all the while grinning like the Cheshire Cat.

Bill “Superfoot” Wallace teaches us some important lessons:

Turn your weakness into a strength.  To most, a bad leg would be the end of their athletic career.  Bill instead focused all his time and energy on the one good leg making it a…wait for it….superfoot.

Keep It Simple Stupid.  Superfoot only used 3 kicks.  Because he such a limited number of kicks in his arsenal, he could spend much more time perfecting those three.  Traditional martial artists have so many techniques that they learn in class, they fall into the trap that they must train them all for competition.  The solution is to determine the bread and butter technique for your sport and master that.  From there add a couple of supplemental techniques that are effective and fill in gaps.  For Taekwondo, in my opinion, the big three are the standard rear leg roundhouse, the spin side kick, and the spin hook.

superfoot3Mask your strikes.  The big reason Bill’s kicks were so effective was that they all came from the same chamber position.  When fighting Bill would raise his lead leg into a high chamber position with his knee up near head level.  From there he could throw any kick he chose at any part of the body and you’d have no idea what to guard.

Drop your preconceived notions of what it takes to be a champion.

You’re not too old.

You’re not too weak.

You’re not too slow.

You’re not too beat up.

What you believe will manifest itself physically.  If Bill believed his injury would debilitate him, he’d be a nobody hobbling down the street right now.

What do you have that’s debilitating you right now?  Let it go.  Push through it and become a champion regardless of whether you ever enter the ring.


2 thoughts on “Athlete Review: “Superfoot”

  1. I’m tickled that you wrote an article about “Superfoot” Wallace. One of my dad’s favorite stories to tell is about the one time he came up against him in a tournament.

    Now, my dad is a fairly short guy (I’d guess 5’5”) and his height actually gave him a slight edge when it came to avoiding the lightening fast kicks of Wallace. My dad always smirks while telling the story–claiming that he never actually saw any of the kicks coming, he could just feel the “breeze” of them passing over his head. “Foomph, foomph,” he’d say while slightly crouching and waving his hand over the crown of his head. My dad obviously lost the match, but still he nostalgically references it whenever our conversations turn to his fighting career.

    • Bill Wallace is just an all around good guy. He has such a great sense of humor you can’t help but like the guy. I went to one of his workshops about 15 years ago and it was one of the greatest martial arts events I’ve been to.

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