7 Things You Don't Know About Bill Wallace

Longtime Black Belt magazine writer Floyd Burk did some digging on full-contact karate legend Bill Wallace -- and what he found may surprise you!

Fact No. 1

Bill "Superfoot" Wallace was not always nicknamed "Superfoot." Early point-fighting opponents often referred to him as "Bad Billy."

Fact No. 2

Bill Wallace remained a brown belt in judo until 1971, when Sam Allred tested and then promoted him to shodan.


Fact No. 3

Bill Wallace is still an active Screen Actors Guild cardholder. Although he never looks for work, it does find him from time to time. He reports that he occasionally receives royalty checks from his old movie work — often for 15 cents or 20 cents.

Fact No. 4

Bill Wallace taught martial arts to John Belushi. In fact, he was the one who found the actor's body after he died from an overdose in 1982. To this day, media reps from the USA and abroad still try to coax Bill Wallace to the site of John Belushi's death, the Chateau Marmont Hotel in Los Angeles, to extract gory details.

Bill Wallace and John Belushi

Fact No. 5

Back in the day, Bill Wallace would spar with all the martial artists who attended his seminars — and that forced him to fend off some wild and crazy guys. I saw him knock out three such people in 1983 — two men from an Air Force base and one arrogant student of the host instructor. Several years later, Superfoot's lawyer advised him to discontinue the practice. It was a great loss to those who never got a chance to trade kicks and punches with the champion.

Fact No. 6

Bill Wallace competed in kata on several occasions. He never did very well, though, because his leg injury hindered his performance of certain stances and kicks.

Fact No. 7

Even though Bill Wallace gained fame as a sparring and full-contact karate champion, he's just as old school as anyone. For testing purposes, he had to learn the five pinan kata and the three naihanchi kata, as well as saisan and ananku. He also learned all the kobudo weapons.

He was always a bit irked by weapons training, though. His point of view: If the word “karate" means “empty hand," why would anyone focus on weapons?

About the author: Floyd Burk is a San Diego–based 10th-degree black belt with 50 years of experience in the arts. To contact him, visit Independent Karate Schools of America.



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