Together again

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 26, 2002

Siblings under same roof for first time in 40 years

By Dale James / Selma Times – Journal

Janice Davis was dimly aware that her brothers had become &uot;kind of famous&uot; over the years, but she never really gave it much thought. To her, they were still just her two older brothers.

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Sid, Eddie and Janice Campbell were just children when their mother died more than 50 years ago.

The two boys went to live with their father in Waycross, Georgia. Janice came to live with her grandmother in Selma, &uot;because,&uot; Janice recalls, &uot;she didn’t think my daddy knew enough about how to raise a little girl.&uot;

At first, the family made it a point to get together at holidays and special occasions. Then times got a little rough and the visits slacked off.

In the meantime, Janice, now Janice Davis, had married and raised a family of her own. Although she kept in touch with her brothers over the years, they never got together. Each had their own obligations, and so the time just never seemed right.

Finally, they decided that this Christmas would be different. They decided that this Christmas they would get together no matter what.

And so, for the first time in 40 years, Sid, Eddie and Janice find themselves under the same roof again. They’ve had a lot of catching up to do.

Janice had kept in touch with Eddie the most, because he was closer. Eddie has spent much of the intervening years knocking around Nashville’s country music scene. He’s written some 1,200 songs and even recorded four of his own albums. He plays the guitar and sings. Says Janice, &uot;He’s the one who always entertains us.&uot;

It was with Sid that she had the most catching up to do. She knew, for example, that he had made something of a name for himself in martial arts. Knew that he called people like Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris &uot;friends.&uot; Knew that he had appeared in &uot;a bunch of&uot; martial arts films. (&uot;I call them his ‘kung fu’ movies.&uot;)

She knew, too, that he had once performed live before 60,000 people (and millions more on television) during halftime at an NFL game. (&uot;I tried to watch it on TV, but the camera kept switching to the announcer as he went over the highlights of the first half. It made me so mad.&uot;)

While his name may not carry the same household recognition as those of his more famous friends, Sid Campbell holds a special place in martial arts lore. He claims the distinction of being among the first people to bring the ancient art of shorin-ryu karate to the Western world.

Sid saw his first demonstration of the art of shorin-ryu karate while stationed on the island of Okinawa. &uot;When I saw what they were capable of doing, I said, ‘I want to learn how to do that.’&uot;

He spent five years as the pupil of one of the art’s grandmasters.

With the blessing of the grandmaster who had taught him, Sid, an 8th degree black belt, opened up his own school in Oakland, Calif. From those humble beginnings, he now supervises 48 schools. He estimates he has taught more than 15,000 students and awarded 800 black belts over the years.

He also has written 40 books on martial arts and produced countless instructional videos.

It was while he was in Oakland that he made the acquaintance of Bruce Lee, acknowledged by many to be one of the greatest martial arts masters ever. This was before the film &uot;Enter the Dragon&uot; was to catapult Lee – and the entire field of martial arts &045;&045; to undreamed of heights of popularity, influence and fortune.

Sid is, in fact, in the process of authoring a biography, &uot;Bruce Lee, the Oakland Years.&uot;

To gauge the true impact of Bruce Lee’s vision, Sid adds, one need only visit a local video store.

Sid has appeared in some 20 films himself, including Eric Lee’s &uot;The Master Demon.&uot; Because he is a westerner, he is often typecast in the role of homicide detective. His latest is entitled &uot;Martial Menace.&uot;

But of all his endeavors, Sid is most proud of the work he has done with students, especially children.

For her part, Janice is just happy to have her brothers home for the holidays. &uot;They say you can’t go home again,&uot; she says. &uot;But you can.&uot;