wetzel death

Discussion in 'Indochinese Martial Arts - General' started by OULobo, Jul 24, 2003.

  1. OULobo

    OULobo Senior Master

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    Wondering if anyone knows what really happened to the late Willie Wetzel of poekelan cimande silat. I have seen that his eldest son killed him in a fight at his house. I have seen court reports stating his son Roy killed him with a pair of nunchuks and another less reliable report it was with a sword. Just curious as this is some great dramatics.
     
  2. arnisador

    arnisador Sr. Grandmaster

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    When was this?
     
  3. Randy Strausbaugh

    Randy Strausbaugh Master Black Belt

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    I remember reading about the incident in the news section of an old issue of Karate Illustrated. Please excuse an old man's poor memory, but I'll give you what I can. As I recall, the magazine reported that the senior Mr. Wetzel was in a state of extreme depression over a personal loss (I think his wife had died, but I'm not sure). At one point he and his son got into an arguement, weapons came into play and the senior Mr. Wetzel was fatally stabbed. The local law enforcement was quoted as feeling that the two were the toughest guys thereabouts.
    I tried to find that old Karate Illustrated, but no luck so far. I post this with no ill will toward the Wetzel family or any of their students, just answering the query with what I recall about this sad event.

    Trying to avoid life's potholes,
    Randy Strausbaugh
     
  4. OULobo

    OULobo Senior Master

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    I totaly agree. I'm not trying to imply anything by asking. I'm just curious. Most of the the ifo I gather holds both men in high regard. I have heard a few differing stories and am curious, as it was before my time and there are still people around who have trained with both father and son. I think the incident occured in the 70s or 80s in a town in PA called Beaver Creek. Willie had three sons; one still teaches, one I can't find much about and the eldest, Roy, is the one that killed his father. I think he is dead now too, though i don't know how. The court documents say that the argument and personal loss was over Willie being destitute after doing the annual taxes, which Roy prepared. Either way, the word I have, is ta Roy was quite the bada$$ and his father was both well repected, effective and practical in his fighting method. Again, I agree with randy in that I mean no insult to the Wetzel family or the Poekelan Cimande group, I'm just trying to clear the murk of history and rumor.
     
  5. Randy Strausbaugh

    Randy Strausbaugh Master Black Belt

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    That's probably it. Like I said, I was going on memory. Thanks for the added info. :asian: BTW, it's spelled "Chiun". :) No one has skills greater than the Master of Sinanju. ;)

    Trying to avoid life's potholes,
    Randy Strausbaugh
     
  6. My name is Rex Downie, a retired attorney living in Beaver Falls, Pa, about 30 mi north of Pittsburgh. I, along with George James represented Roy Wetzel in a murder case brought in Beaver County regarding the death of Willie Wetzel. Willie died as a result of Roy getting a set of nunchuck around his neck and, in effect, strangling him. The coroner testified that the cause of death was heart failure, which is consistent with asphyxiation. The fight lasted 15 or 20 minutes, and I saw the apartment the day after and can say it was a very bloody matter. The case was tried by jury before Judge Beryl Kline. It lasted a week . Roy was acquitted by reason of self defense. He was a good friend of mine and we spent many hours together before he died. He later died of a heart failure. He was survived by a brother Jim, a Sister Jane, and three children, Rochelle, Kaylan and Christian. Jim still runs a Penjat Silat school in Rochester, Pa. I was a close friend of Roy and knew a lot of his students, most of whom still live in this area. I could say a great deal more about Roy and Willie, and I was well acquainted with Penjat Silat, though I took only minor training in it. There is a lot of nonsense going about on the www about the case, such as that Christian shot Roy. There is no truth in that. That Willie was hit in the back of his head by Roy with a rock. Nonsense. People smoking too much dope. Christian lives now in or near Rochester, and I saw him perhaps last year. Willie taught penjat silat inthe old armory building in New Brighton, Pa, and I can still find many of his students who will tell you about him.

    I have written a 5000wd more or less bio of Roy and the murder case and can answer specific questions if asked. If anyone cares to send me two dollars and an address, I will forward a copy of the bio.to them. My address is 612 Darlington Road, Beaver Falls, Pa. 15010.
     
  7. Cruentus

    Cruentus Grandmaster

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    At an OP in view of your house...
    Thanks for clearing that one up, Mr. Downie.

    Paul
     
  8. OULobo

    OULobo Senior Master

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    I do appreciate an answer coming from a source near to the incident and those involved. It is sad that such a thing had to happen. Thank you for your info, and I will try to take you up on the offer of the report.
     
  9. Thanks for the kind responses to my post. If you put in a google search for Roy Wetzel, you will find a posting from bchistory that was assembled by a friend of mine. Charles Townsend. WE spent many hours interviewing Roy about his remarkable life and adventures in Viet Nam. The short bio that appears on that site is a condensation of the longer one I have written. Incidentally, included on the site is a photo of the two sword. Willie tried to draw a Hawaiin sword, but Roy was able to bend the sheath so it couldn't be extracted. As Roy headed to the rear of the apt. - where his infant daughter Rochelle was - Willie took a shorter sword from a stand on top of the TV set and charged Roy with a side-swing. Roy pulled down a stainless steel & glass shelf/room divider that took the force of the blow - hence the blade is bent. The photo is from the cover of a magazine Roy tried to publish - only one issue was printed & destroyed by fire. A few copies remain. Thanks for the open discussion. Roy was a remarkable man. Rex
    Downie jr.
     
  10. Randy Strausbaugh

    Randy Strausbaugh Master Black Belt

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    Thanks again for clearing up this sad matter. :asian:
     
  11. My name is Rex Downie and I co-defended with George E. James, Roy E.Wetzel in a murder charge made regarding the death of Willie Wetzel in Roy's residence in Monaca Pa in the mid seventies. The area I speak of is 32 mi. north of Pittsburgh on the Beaver River. There is a lot of stupid/misinformed stuff about this floating around so I'll give a brief review here...if there's a Marial Arts magazine around that someone can refer me to, I'll write an article for it. At the time of the fight Roy lived in Monaca with his wife Tatha and his 3 yr old Daughter, Rochelle. Roy had served with the Marines at Khe Sanh and had been blown up by a 60 mm morter and needed numerous reconstructive operations to his left hip, which he quite successfully protected in full contact fighting. I watched him spar and fight many times - after the trial. At the time in question, Roy was teaching in a school on 7th street in Beaver Falls along with Willie.

    Willie had divorce Roy's mother, married again, divorced or deserted #2 and taken up with a young girl from Zelienople, Pa. Willie was a bully and tried to teach by intimidation. Several of students around here will tell you that, including my next door neighbor. Willie had developed a mystique, however telling students that he was part of a Master's association that met every ten years in Idonesia and one had to have one fight to the death to continue a member. The steel mill workers around here ate it up. Willie WAS very gifted. He could jump up and touch an 8ft ceiling with is toe. He made a lot of money betting people at Westinghous that he could jump out of a 50 gal drum, straight up.

    Roy was very gifted in numbers, so he did Willie's income tax and got him a approx. 700$ return. Roy was an excellent teacher and drew many more students to the school, and there very soon developed a competition between "Roy's Students" and "Willies Students", and, hence a lot of jealosy developed. Willie came to Roy's house in Monaca one evening to sign the tax return for the Karate school. He was very angry because he was paying support to his two prior wives. When he signed the return, he just shot the pen across the paper, knocking it to the floor. He went to the front door, beside which was a Hawaiian Ceremonial sword. He grabbed it, began to unsheath it, and screamed out a Keeya. Roy was behind him to say something, and got to the sheath in time to bend it, preventing Willie from drawing it. The fight ensued, which I will not detail at this time. It did involve a shorter suppuku sword, a riggers knife and oak nunchucks. And Willie died of asphyxiation because Roy had gotten the nunchucks on is neck like a nutcracker. Willie had used his riggers knife and had sliced Roys chest and biceps numerous time with shallow cuts. I visited the house the next day and it looked like a pig had been slaughtered in there. The trial lasted a week, the Chief of Police testified that he thought Roy had acted in self-defense, and Roy was acquitted. Willie apparantly was a Satanist, or at least practice voodoo, because the police found voodoo dolls in his apt with pins stuck through them. The dolls were of Roy, Wim, Jim and Jane and his two x wives. Roy died of heart valve failure about 8 or ten years ago. He is survived by three children, Christian, Kaylen, and Rochelle. Willie had 5 children. By his first wife, Roy, Jim, Wim and Jane.
    After the trial, Roy and I became close friends, and we spent a lot of ti me kicking things around. I went to two or three tournaments and started on lessons twice, both interrupted by badly sprained ankles gotten in long distance running 20-40 mi per week. I took Roy into the Canadian bush at least 3 times up near Nakina Ont. and we spent many hours going over quetions about Christianity, for he bacame a Christian the night of the fight. HE always told me it was a ":spiritual fight". His favourite book in the Bible was Isaiah. There is much more I could relate, but won't here on a public site. I have a considerable file on the matter, with all the relavant dates, but cannot locate it at this moment; but the above is truth as best as I know it. Rex Downie Jr.
     
  12. docrock

    docrock Guest

    Good to see Rex posting here, he is a good man and speaks the truth about the events surrounding the death of Willy Wetzel. Since this is an open forum it is probably just a matter of time until some of Willy's old students get on here and start bashing Roy.We might be spared this because in order to post here you actually have to register with your real name and email. Remember that this was a public trial among a jury of his peers and Roy was aquitted, but many still carry on with their ridiculous stories about how Willy was "murdered";. You will be able to easily distinguish between students of Roy and Willy's students. The vast majority of Roy's old students will be respectful, while posts by mosts of Willy's old students will be filled with vitriol, ad hominum, and vulgarity. A more in depth discussion of this can be found here www.chosenfewsilat.com in the forum section
     
  13. Kiai Carita

    Kiai Carita White Belt

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    This is a tragic story indeed, and shows to prove what happens if you practise silat without kebatinan, without working on how you keep your inner peace. If one only studies the physical aspect of silat, the higher you go the deeper the chasm you fall into. Although the story is horrifica and sad, Alhamdulillah, praise be to Allah, Roy found a religion to cleanse and open up his batin.

    My prayers are for all involved, including the students of this silat. I pray that the students of this silat do not continue to divorce the moves from the spiritualism of their silat and continue with the the noble aspiration of silat, to become real pendekar and not just jago silat.

    A real pendekar is a protector of the community. Up till the late 19th century in Java, if a man eatting tiger or a robber in the woods was harassing village live-stock the pendekar must find and fight it and win. In daily life a pendekar must show respect to all things living and not and seek to develop life and not to kill.

    If someone is merely a jago he or she is a silat expert and fighter only but is not an example of ethics and leadership. In the days when Indonesia was colonized, the Dutch often used the jago to enforce their will on the peasant population. In the plantations the jago were used to ensure that the coolies living under slave conditions stayed productive for the Dutch masters. Jago means very good at, a master, but only in the physical aspect. All pendekar's must be jago silat but not all jago are pendekar.

    The jago are used as tools of political repression to this day in fact one might suspect that their numbers are growing. Pendekar's, however, like artists, are a gift of God to their community.

    Hormat,
    Kiai Carita.
     
  14. VWetzel

    VWetzel White Belt

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    I'm Vanessa Wetzel...Grandaughter of Willie Wetzel and Neice of Roy Wetzel.

    No My grama is still alive and I know the story. I just wanted everyone to know. My uncle was defending himself and he was writing a book about his life and the instance of my Grandfathers death. Unfortunatly he died before he could finish it. Let me know if you have any questions. I'd be happy to answer.

    Oh also... My father, Jim Wetzel, yes he currently owns the school. It is in Rochester PA, Right next to the point for any local readers.
     
  15. Carol

    Carol Crazy like a...

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    Welcome to MartialTalk, Ms. Wetzel!

    Tragic story about two great men. Glad to see that Silat is still in the family.:asian:
     
  16. tellner

    tellner Senior Master

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    Welcome, Vanessa! Good to see you here.
     
  17. MasRebecca

    MasRebecca White Belt

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    I'm really sad to hear people feel this way about Willie's former students. As a new student in martial arts, I won't claim to know anything about the facts of this case - I am here because I was merely curious to know more. I'm a fifth river under Mas Goeroe Agong Willie Wetzel, myself. I love my art and feel strongly that it has added to my inner peace as well as to my physical well-being. I think the pendekkars at my school definitely fit the description given by another poster as protectors of the community.

    I'm saying this simply because I'd like it to be known that whomever and whatever else Mas Goeroe Agong Willie Wetzel may have been, he produced a wonderful art that adds something incredibly positive to my life.

    Terimah Kasih Banyak,
    Mas Rebecca
     
  18. Carol

    Carol Crazy like a...

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    Welcome to MartialTalk, Mas Rebecca!
     
  19. Mas Nick G

    Mas Nick G White Belt

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    Many thanks, Mas Rebecca, for what you've said. It seems there have been no postings to this thread in a while, but I'd like to add my two cents anyway.

    Mas Rebecca's post is a ray of sunlight from an otherwise stormy sky, and it seems some would be surprised--if they expect Mas Goeroe Agoeng Willy Wetzel's students to be contentious and belligerent--with the contributions that students like Mas Rebecca and myself have to offer. I have only recently been somewhat interested in the circumstances around Mas Goeroe Agoeng's passing, after more than three years of training in Poekoelan Tjimindie Tulen, and have not previously been all that interested because my instructors have always emphasized his life rather than his death, and have also focused on what we all can do with what we've been given rather than wishing things were different.

    I did not know Mas Goeroe Agoeng. I have never even seen film footage of him doing anything (though if anyone knows where I could find some, I'd love to see it!). I have met and talked with Mas Goeroe Barbara a few times, but I mainly train under Goeroe Janesa Kruse at One With Heart in Portland, OR. My experience of Poekoelan has been pretty much the same as Mas Rebecca's, and I heartily second everything she said. I would also add that the vast majority of my experiences of instructors and most other teammates who stay in the art for the long term have been this: that we, as a general rule of thumb, tend to be very good at putting our admittedly existent egos in the service of our highest possible intentions. Though I have heard of some few instances of bad infighting, I have never directly experienced any of it, and in fact my experiences have been of a higher degree of harmony and integration than I have found in any other group of people of any kind. My instructors do not seem to be perfect, by any means; they simply seem very, very good--well beyond my capacity to rate or judge. Moreover, the changes that Poekoelan Tjimindie Tulen has brought to my life are positive beyond anything I could previously have imagined.

    Did all this come from Mas Goeroe Agoeng? I don't know. Maybe it showed up later, after him. Maybe it came from much further back, before even Oei King Boen or Djet Bang Salimoen. All very interesting, and I'd love to talk about it with anyone, but at the same time I don't think it really matters. Whatever Mas Goeroe Agoeng's role, whatever his personality, however he lived his life, whatever the manner of his death or who is to blame for what, to be preoccupied with these things is not my role as his student. I am simply eternally grateful to him for what he has given us, this art that has been passed to me and my fellow students, and I see my role as to train to the best of my ability and pass along what I have learned in my turn.

    To any practitioners of other schools and anyone concerned with these matters, I offer sincere High Light and welcome conversation. I will never offer a challenge except in love and joy, nor will I accept one that is not offered similarly. I don't care who's "the real thing", "better", "the best", or who wins. I'd rather fight to celebrate the art, not to beat anybody. That's been the nature of the training I've received.
     
  20. arnisador

    arnisador Sr. Grandmaster

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    Thanks for sharing your inside info. with us. It's appreciated.
     

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