A Tribute to My Friend and Brother
by Ken Chun
The year was 1985 and I was a freshman in high school. As a disabled student in those days I had the privilege of leaving each class a few minutes early to get to my next class so I could avoid the crowded hallways. It was during one of those breaks between classes that I first met Glen Irvin Leonard II. He was a small, shy guy on crutches who didn’t say much. It took a couple of days before we actually had a real conversation. Nothing too serious, just a conversation about our classes, the teachers we had, who we liked or didn’t like – typical teenager conversation. I had begun training in the martial arts in 1984 and we would talk about martial arts often because he was very interested in training as well.
That conversation was the beginning of an unbreakable bond that would last 24 years. Even when I moved to Heidelberg, Germany in 1986 we kept in touch through the mail. I returned from Germany in 1989 and it was like nothing had changed. About two years later he finally found a place that he could train in Shotokan Karate. I remember encouraging him to pursue it because it had been a dream of his since he was a little kid. After a couple of years of training in that art he found Trident Academy of Martial Arts (now Trident Academy of Mixed Martial Arts). He had finally found his martial arts home away from home! About a month later I joined so we could train together and hopefully become instructors. Well, long story short due to our various health problems we began to attend classes less and less and we didn’t become instructors but we had a great time training and learning the Filipino martial arts of Kali and Panantukan, as well as Muay Thai and Jeet Kune Do/Jun Fan Gung Fu. We would tease each other occasionally about being slackers in our training because, I think, we both felt guilty about not going to class. We just trained on our own and did the best we could to stay active in the martial arts we loved. He especially loved knife fighting! He must have owned at least ten knives and knew how to use every one of them. He carried three knives at all times. He would get excited whenever he learned a new knife technique and he’d go home and practice it over and over again, even while watching television.
Glen died of a brain tumor on December 7th, 2009. We buried him a week ago. I wish he were here now so I could tell him to shut up, smack his hands with sticks again and then buy him a beer. Rest in peace, brah. I’ll see you later…and buy you a beer.
This clip features some footage of Glen training at Burton Richardson events.