Saturday, May 16, 2009

Author William "Billy" Hinton Jan 28, 1950 - April 20, 2009

I got a call from Jimmy Jones last week to inform me that William Hinton, the author of Men of Steel Discipline: The Official Oral History of Black Pioneers in the Martial Arts (1994). A memorial was held today on the Southside, not far from the Church that has Gregory Jaco's memorial.

I spoke to Billy several times in the course of my research before he moved to Atlanta. I was shocked once again. I was looking forward to interviewing him as he was a a student of on of John Keehan's students. He had some insights I wanted from his as an author/participant in martial arts. I am saddened by the fact that he will ot see the completiton of the film because I enjoy the kind of feedback I would get from such a knowledgeable person. I never met Billy, I did not know him except over the telephone. We spoke several times and he was always eager to answer my questions and to know how I was doing.

There were some great stories about him as a teacher from his students here in Chicago and some who had come all the way from California.It was a joy to see the sadness and celebration of his life by his friends, family and students. we should all be so lucky to have such memorials with some wondeful people who surround Billy Hinton and in his life. Their personal reflections illustrated the caring he shoed for them and the discipline he instilled in them. He made them more powerful. The women students offered tales of not being coddled and how they were able to discover that there was nothing that they could not do. He is remembered well.

The Text from his memorial follows:

William (Billy) Hinton was the first male child born from the union of Johnnie and Patti Hinton on January 28, 1950. He was preceded in death by both his hard working parents, his loving sister Gwendolyn Jenkins and his youngest brother Darren. On Monday, April 20, 2009, Billy surrendered to the will of God and completed his life's journey in the embrace of his dedicated life companion, Louise in the comfort of their Atlanta home.

Billy accepted Christ into his life at an early age at Fellowship MB Church. He was a very bright young man. His friends use to get upset because Billy could miss classes for a week - show up on test days and get an "A". Upon graduating from Parker High School, he voluntarily enlisted in the US Navy (1968-1971). He served aboard the US S Fort Mandan where he was advanced to 3rd class electrician (1969). He volunteered for submarine duty (1970) to serve aboard submarine USS Barbel. Service records complemented independent completion of submarine qualification at an accelerated pace, personal efforts leading to repair and deploy USS Barbel, technical knowledge, and congeniality and commitment to fellow servicemen's morale. Suffice to say that he was honorably discharged.

During Billy's stint in the US military, he received training in the marital arts. From 1967 to his demise, martial arts were his life. He was an athlete as well as an instructor. He practiced martial arts for forty-plus years, attaining the rank of Shichidan (7th degree Black Belt). As an Athlete: for over three decades, Billy fought successfully as a lightheavy-weight (75-80 Kilo) competitor. Billy competed as a regionally and nationally from 1972 until 1980. Primarily through the USKA (United States Karate Association) organization. After this period Billy competed regionally, nationally, and internationally with the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) and the USAKF (United States of America Karate Federation). He earned placement on four US National Karate Teams during the 1980s (1983, 1984, 1988, and 1989). As an Instructor: Sensei (teacher) Hinton taught formal martial arts classes in Chicago, at multiple community centers as well as the University of Chicago (1989-1996) and later at Stanford University (1997-2006). Prior to the later months of his illness, Billy taught at the Decatur Recreation Center in Atlanta. He was proud of the fact that he had students who resided throughout the US - no - throughout the world. As a Referee: he aspired to be a fair and competent referee in the States of Illinois, California and Georgia. As an Author: Billy authored four books: No Secrets (1984), A Dragon's Heart (1989), Men of Steel Discipline: The Official Oral History of Black Pioneers in the Martial Arts (1994) and The Universal Mind (2004). As a Producer: Billy co-produced "A Dragon's Heart (1989) on Chicago Cable Television.

Billy had a passion for music. In 1973, he formed a singing group called Biege and later founded a record label "Loretta Records". He has several albums to his credit. "Dawn of Biege, Billy Hinton Posting 9, Extending, Waiting for Zorro, and the California Years to name a few. He has composed over one hundred songs which included Sinister, No Time for Fooling Around, Lady Love, You Ain't Never Seen A Roach, What You Thought (Dissatisfaction & Reflection), Somebody's Love, and Dog It Out. Billy really appreciated music and he would spend countless hours and an obscene amount of money enjoying it.

Billy took deep pleasure in traveling and finding new and beautiful wonders of nature. He would be in awe at the splendor found while driving down Highway 1 and the lake. And oh, how he loved to make lemon meringue pies. Even in pain, he took pleasure in preparing several pies for his family during a visit. It was his way of saying "I love you and I appreciate the visit".

Billy was a scholar. He obtained his BA in Sociology from Northeastern University, MA. in East Asian Language and Civilization from University of Chicago, and a M.A. in Urban Economics form University of Chicago. He was a certified journeyman plumber. He could have been a licensed mechanic because he could rebuild a car engine. He was also a jack leg carpenter. Whatever Billy attempted - he did it well. He was definitely a gifted person, who strived to do everything with procession and excellence and encouraged others to do the same. Yet, he remained humble -just a regular guy with very modest taste and demeanor.

He will truly be missed by his loving companion, Louise; biological and surrogate children, William, Lynetta, Sylva, Keisha, Ronisha, and Aisha; siblings, Lois (Bennie), Doris (Danny). Johnny, Robert (Eunice), Curtis, Beverly, Geno, Johnathan, Rosetta, and Abraham; and a host of nieces, nephews, uncles, aunts and cousins.

This is from Rumi, from me, for William Billy Hinton:

At every instant and from every side, resounds the call of Love:
We are going to sky, who wants to come with us?

We have gone to heaven, we have been the friends of the angels,
And now we will go back there, for there is our country.

We are higher than heaven, more noble than the angels:
Why not go beyond them? Our goal is the Supreme Majesty.

What has the fine pearl to do with the world of dust?
Why have you come down here? Take your baggage back. What is this place?
Luck is with us, to us is the sacrifice!...

Like the birds of the sea, men come from the ocean--the ocean of the soul.
Like the birds of the sea, men come from the ocean--the ocean of the soul.

How could this bird, born from that sea, make his dwelling here?
No, we are the pearls from the bosom of the sea, it is there that we dwell:

Otherwise how could the wave succeed to the wave that comes from the soul?
The wave named 'Am I not your Lord' has come, it has broken the vessel of the body;
And when the vessel is broken, the vision comes back, and the union with Him.