“Do well what you do well, but more importantly… functionalize your art”
In the first episode of our new series, New York Fighting History, we get to take a look at one of the true pioneers of Martial Arts, a living legend, Sifu Ralph Mitchell.
Close your eyes and imagine if you will a time in New York City when full contact competition was at its height. The smoldering hot dojos of New York City produced some of the finest warriors that Budo couldforge. Young warriors who molded their bodies and minds in the ancient tradition. Training for endless hours, their gi’s drenched in blood, sweat and tears. The Martial Arts saved many of these warriors lives, providing a place to focus their energy, rather than the adverse, unforgiving NY streets. However, it was those same adverse streets
that gave New York Martial Artists a certain kind of durable, real deal, no-nonsense edge. Hungry and eager to learn, combatants ultimately brought that same NY flavor to the tournament scene.
A veteran of combat arose from the ranks of the competitive scene in the early 1970’s, winning and dominating his matches representing Chinese Kung Fu, Sifu Ralph Mitchell. He was one of the first non-Chinese to learn the
art of Kung Fu when Si Gung Mark Foon opened his doors in NYC’s Chinatown. Already having a background in Judo under Higashi Sensei, Sifu Ralph was blending combat systems and taking a universal approach to combat, which was to absorb what is useful, disregard what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.
Sifu Ralph Mitchell is a pioneer of Martial Arts. He fought and dominated the full contact scene, as well as the professional kickboxing scene. New York Fighting History gives us a glimpse into a treasure of the Martial
Arts community, a series of interviews with those who put it all on the line, sacrificed, and paved the way for today’s generation.
By some recollections, Sifu Ralph‘s victories were due to his lighting speed. Others said it was his unique style. There were a few who claimed it was his strength, and they were all wrong. Sifu Ralph Mitchell‘s secret was a open mind. A beginners spirit to start from “white belt” in each art and work his way through the arduous ranks, through diligence, perseverance and discipline. His array of combative systems in which he holds high rank range from Southern Praying
Mantis to the Filipino Art of Doce Pares and much more. A “Fighter” would not be adequate to describe or sum up Master Mitchell,
a Vietnam Veteran, international competitor and practitioner since 1968… so for now, let’s humbly call him Sifu.
Written by Sensei Nardu Debrah
Editor: Kyle Antonelli
Video: Matt Culley
Video Edit: Sensei Nardu Debrah
Chinatown, Full Contact Fighting, karate, Kung fu, Martial Arts, New York City, Sifu Ralph Mitchell