Robert W. Smith

SMITH ROBERT WILLIAM SMITH (Age 84) Of Asheville, NC, formerly of Bethesda, MD and Hendersonville, NC, passed away on July 1, 2011. Bob was born on December 27, 1926 in Richland, Iowa to the late William and Gertrude Smith. In addition his parents, he was preceded in death by his brother, Leo Smith, and sisters, Lettie Kinslow, Katherine Moore, and Margaret Folck. Bob was in a state orphanage from age 3 to 13 years old. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps at age 17, served in the Pacific and got his first taste of Judo. He eventually won his third degree Black Belt in Tokyo many years later. Bob was graduated with Highest Honors from the University of Illinois. He enrolled in the Russian and Far Eastern program at the University of Washington in Seattle and received his MA while working the swing shift at Boeing Aircraft. He worked toward his Doctorate but quit before writing his thesis saying he was tired. He never stopped learning. He loved to read, research and write. His motto in life was "Wisdom leavened with love." In 1955, Bob joined the CIA's writing team as an Intelligence Analyst. He added Chinese to his Russian and Japanese skills and in 1959 was sent to Taiwan to be an advisor to the Admiral of the Taiwan Defense Command. While there he had time to study a variety of Asian martial arts. He became the first Western T'ai Chi Ch'uan student of the late reknown grandmaster Cheng Man-Ch'ing. After three years in Taiwan he returned to Bethesda, MD and for 27 years held a free Saturday morning T'ai Chi practice in the Bethesda YMCA parking lot. He also offered formal instruction for many decades in T'ai Chi, Pa-kua, and Hsing-i, the three main elements of Chinese internal martial arts. As an early pioneer of Asian martial arts in the West, Bob provided a positive foundation of historical accuracy while emphasizing the traditional and ethical influences of the often misunderstood and misrepresented martial arts. As a result of so many years of teaching Asian martial arts, Mr. Smith, as he was known, has an extended family of many hundreds of devoted students, grandstudents and great-grandstudents. As an editor, author, co-author and co-translator, Bob produced 14 books, dozens of magazine articles, and wrote over 240 book reviews on a wide variety of topics for top newspapers across America. He also wrote numerous interviews with authors who caught his interest and countless letters to the editor. Surviving are his wife of 60 years, Alice Langellier Smith; daughters, Sue Broadhurst and her husband, Don of Taylors, SC, Anne McKay and her husband, Ben of Flat Rock, NC, Chris Cutting and her husband, Paul, of Waynesville, NC and son, Dave and his wife, Marolyn of Columbia, SC; along with nine grandchildren, Jace, Timothy and Kate Broadhurst, Amy Dill, Joshua and Ian McKay, and Heather Mallory, Megan and Joey Cutting; and three great grandsons, Kadin, Rhyston and Davin Broadhurst. Bob loved everyone especially his family, children, animals, birds, nature, jokes, stories, poetry and English literature. Per his wishes, Bob's body has been donated to the Wake Forest School of Medicine. There will be a Celebration of Life on Saturday, July 9, 2011 at 3 p.m. in the Chapel of Givens Estates, 2360 Sweeten Creek Road, Asheville, NC 28803. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to any of the following: Resident Assistance Fund at Givens Estates, 2360 Sweeten Creek Road, Asheville, NC 28803; Care Partners Foundation, John F. Keever, Jr. Solace Center, PO Box 25338, Asheville, NC 28813 or an animal rescue group in your area. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to any of the following: Resident Assistance Fund at Givens Estates, 2360 Sweeten Creek Road, Asheville, NC 28803; Care Partners Foundation, John F. Keever, Jr. Solace Center, PO Box 25338, Asheville, NC 28813 or an animal rescue group in your area.

Published by The Washington Post on Jul. 5, 2011.
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42 Entries
Yes, I met Bob, took Classes with him, had Breakfast and Discussions, and was Regaled with Great Intimate Stories. All of It was a Rewarding Gentile Experience. I use and Promote his Book "Masters & Methods" in many of my Classes. Still Much to Learn. Thank You Bob.
June 29, 2021
Bob was my Uncle and I still frequently read the books and letters he sent me over the years. It was a pleasure having your guidance through my martial arts journey.
Mike Mushinsky
July 13, 2017
I am sorry I never had the opportunity to meet you, sir. Your daughter, Anne, worked with me at a computer company in Rockville MD from 1987 - 1990. Anne is a wonderful person, full of joy, hope, spirituality and possesses an excellent intellect. She helped guide me through some difficult years, so I can assume that she was brought up with the right set of values. Thank you, sir. Rest in peace.
Louis Jurgens
December 7, 2016
I visited Mr Smith in the early 1990's with Allen Pittman a friend, and my Hsing-I Teacher.Thank you Mr. Smith for your books, and the memory of our day together.
Will Bibby
June 17, 2014
Mr. Smith was my Judo instructor, and later, my Tai Chi teacher. From him, I learned, along with the joys of studying Judo and Tai Chi, that a real man is kind as well as strong, generous as well as capable, and dedicated primarily to Love Itself. I am most privileged to be able to say he was my teacher and friend. My heart goes out to Alice, Sue, Dave, and the rest of Mr. Smith's family and friends.
John White
October 4, 2011
I was blessed to have the honor of meeting, learning, talking and joking with Mr. Smith. I will be eternally grateful for those times. All that he shared with us in life here will surely be rewarded in the next life. My prayers go out to the family for strength during this difficult time. ~Peace to all!
August 8, 2011
R.I.P Mr Smith your writing and wit have both entertained and inspired me for 40 years. I had the most wonderful time when you treated us to a Chinese lunch in Asheville. You were a real gentleman in the true sense of the word. The Martial Arts world will miss you immensely.Our deepest condolences to your family,friends and students.
Jame Sumarac Australia
July 18, 2011
Rest in peace, Sir.
Justin Harris
July 16, 2011
I was fortunate to study and chat with Mr Smith several times here in St Louis. Such a kind and learned in depth martial artist and historian..with a great and subtle wit.
He will be deeply missed by so many.

Bill Grivna, St Louis
William Grivna
July 12, 2011
Bob was a great author and teacher. I am one of his many great-grand-students. He was an inspiration
Tom Kondo
July 10, 2011
rest in peace Mr. Smith
rick garcia
July 9, 2011
What a great loss. I spoke with Mr. Smith on a few occasions and found him to be friendly, humorous and very generous in sharing his vast knowledge and many compelling anecdotes. His beautifully written and authoritative books continue to inspire - Morgan Buchanan, Cheng Zi Tai Chi Study Association, Melbourne.
Morgan Buchanan
July 8, 2011
It was a great honor and priviledge to have known and shared many good times together with Mr. Smith. He will live on in our hearts and the arts that we practice. Never once did we meet that he did not make me laugh about something!
Kevin Roberts
July 8, 2011
He taught a lot. I learned a little. I loved him well.
Howard Prior
July 8, 2011
Bob and I enjoyed sharing many conversations with Bob while dining together. He was a special person who will be fondly remembered. My prayers and thoughts are with you, Ruth, and all your family. Lovingly, Ella Jean wil
Ella Jean Davis
July 7, 2011
Mr. Smith said " An inch of Buddha and an inch of Taichi" which surly he has. I could also add he has an inch of Jesus. His loving-kindness always shone through.
I will truly miss him and am so fortunate to know him
Joe Gantner
July 7, 2011
I've only met Mr. Smith through his books with Zheng Manqing and Donn Draeger, and through several of his capable taijiquan students (brilliant instructors in their own right). Needless to say, Smith is a huge positive influence for taijiquan and martial arts the world over.
Justin Z. Smith
July 7, 2011
Our sincere condolences to you all. The Taiji martial arts world will definitely miss this great man.

Altho' we, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, have not met Mr. Smith personally, we, thru his books, Tai Chi and Martial Musings, YoutTube videos on Taiji and such, felt that we have.

We respect and admired him a lot for his contributions to the Taiji circle.

Farewell, Taiji friend! You will be greatly missed.
KC Cheah
July 7, 2011
May you forever abide in the Hall of Happiness,..thank you for all that you have given to us sir...
Barry Crawford
July 7, 2011
The world has lost a tremendous scholar athlete. In 1974 I had heard of Mr. Smith and his books,but the word was out that he closely guarded the knowledge from the Orient and "Bob Smith was only going to teach you so much." Anyway I took his Tai Chi class via YES bookstore's series of courses and I am so happy I did allowing me to learn and meet so many interesting people. Mr. Smith had great satirical humor. My favorite would be on Saturday at the Y when he would remind people where to park their cars away from the front entrance of the Y. He would say, "Park way over there and not by the front door because people are complaining that when they get out of their cars they have to walk too far to go into the Y to exercise."
Jim Slade
July 6, 2011
It was always a pleasure to see Smith Sensei at camp. I feel honored to have known him, and blessed to have had those rare opportunities to chat with him. He will be greatly missed. A true pioneer.
David Ahrens
July 6, 2011
Caroline Short
July 6, 2011
Mr. Smith was a pleasure to know. I will always treasure the handful of times that I had the privilege to talk to him. He left an awesome legacy in the world of martial arts literature, and will be remembered as a prolific and most knowledgeable chronicler and historian.
Dana Kabel
July 6, 2011
Smith Sensei has had an immense influence on my later life and that of untold others. I will especially miss his caustic humor and sincere wisdom. His indomitable spirit and "lessons learned" will remain with us always. "well done" Marine! Semper Fi.
Doug Perry
July 6, 2011
Mr. Smith has influenced and enriched my life tremendously. His patient and carefully teaching over more than three decades, his writing (both formal and in correspondence--I learned more about words and writing craft from him than from my years in graduate school!), and his love all helped me discover what it means to be a man. For all this and much more, I will always be grateful.
Russ Mason
July 6, 2011
It was my pleasure to have met Mr Smith and to have purchased his book "Martial Musing." His works have caused many people to be better than they thought they could ever be.
Eddie Bethea
July 6, 2011
I never had the good fortune to meet him in person, but living in Europe I was influenced by the knowledge and integrity of his writing, which set an example for all of us to follow! Vince Morris Kissaki-Kai.
Vince Morris
July 6, 2011
His Books, Films, and his introduction of Cheng Man-ching to the US have left a major legacy to his dredit.
A great loss to all of us.
Dios Santiago
July 6, 2011
Ray Pina
Ray Pina
July 6, 2011
I met master Smith at one of Major Perry's Little Okinawa Summer Camps in Flat Rock, NC. He often came to camp to meet us and have lunch and hang out for a while. He was a pleasure to be around and had a world of knowledge to share.. He is looking down from Heaven and wishing us all the best of luck in our future. Thank you, master Smith, we will always have you in our hearts. My best wishes and condolences for your wonderful family. God bless you.
Kimo Wall
July 6, 2011
Mr. Smith used to frequently say, "Everything with a kiss." I always thought it was a Shakespeare quote but I can't find it now. I am so grateful to have shared time and space with him and with Mrs. Smith and this "T'ai Chi Tribe." Through so many years we have softened, gentled and clarified ourselves influenced by his teaching. His dedication, integrity, humor and love profoundly touched so many. Thank you!
Margaret Beatty
July 6, 2011
A nice guy and a true gentleman. My condolences to the family. He will be missed by many.
Mike Pavay
July 6, 2011
I met Bob Smith in the 1970's through my teacher and friend, Ben Lo. His humor and compassion were foremost.
On our visit to Asheville a few years ago, Bob recalled my
conversation about my father, which impressed me immensely, as he reminded me of him in so many ways.
He will be dearly missed.
Tana Farnsworth
July 6, 2011
Although I never met Mr. Smith--I feel that I knew him from the energy and sentiment that he shared with us through his books and articles--he was a great light --his legacy--aside from his family and friends and students--are the words he left us and the clarity that they generate in our understanding of the Way...G.D. Albear, Ph.D.
Gustavo Albear
July 6, 2011
He is finding the Great Way now...balanced
Paul MacFarlane
July 5, 2011
I first met Bob in the early 1950's at the old Washington Judo Club. On weekends,Don Slater and I would assist Bob in teaching Judo in Maryland and then participate in his Tai Chi classes at the Bethesda YMCA. I especially enjoyed going to Bob's house after classes where he would feed us and talk about the martial arts. His martial arts library was beyond belief, and I still have a book he gave me for helping him. In the late 1960's Bob came to Chicago where I was living at the time to attend the National Judo matches. My wife and I spent an evening with him in Chinatown where he shared stories about his Chicago adventures. As a career Marine I was involved in teaching combatives through which I met Dermot M. O'Neill and was involved in preparing a manual on the O'Neill system of combatives. Later I provided Bob with a copy of the manual for use in his memoir. After he retired to North Carolina we talked on the phone about various projects to include helping a new author, Steve Brown, who was doing research on O'Neill. The last time I saw Bob was at a Tai Chi seminar in Northern Virginia that my wife, Helene, was attending. We only got to talk for a moment catching up on old friends but Helene got to do push-hands with Bob. Bob, you old Marine, we miss you here on earth but I know that Saint Peter has you teaching a martial arts class in Heaven. Semper Fi Bob, Semper Fi.
Frank Conge
July 5, 2011
I had the great good fortune of meeting Robert W. Smith at a workshop he gave here in Kansas City. He was a wonderfully down to earth man whose teaching style and sense of humor were both wonderful treats. The fact that he was a living encyclopedia of most all of the martial arts made his input and direction all the more viable. You knew he was a man that didn't just take it at face value. He tried it
Royal Scanlon
July 5, 2011
I only recently met Bob and Alice when he came to CarePartners Adult Day Services for a brief time, but he made a deeply felt impression on all of us in that short time. What an amazing human being - and his humor was wonderful. We feel honored to have known him, even briefly. Thoughts and prayers are with the family.
Sandy Norbo
July 5, 2011
Mr.Smith has given Westerners a glimse of the treasure of Asian martial arts through his books. My condolences to the family and friends of this very respected and well-loved man. Our martial arts club will donate to the Ohio Wildlife Rescue Center in Columbus. Rest in peace and thank you, Robert Smith.
Tony Brown
July 5, 2011
Golden Sunrise
Silent Gentle Movement
Thank You Sifu Smith
You live in millions of hearts
Every morning
Dug Corpolongo
July 5, 2011
I worked for Bob and Alice at a very hard time in my life. I was a single mom with 5 children. Bob and Alice were so loving to me and to my girls that I felt as if I were going to their house for a visit instead of for employment. Bob often played with and sang songs to my youngest who was 5 at the time. He read to her and gave her books to take home. Then he would cook a delicious lunch, usually fish, and we would all sit down for a lovely visit and meal. They met a deep need in my heart and I will always be thankful to them. Bob was so full of life and love.
Joy Biggers
July 5, 2011
Deepest condolences and love to Mrs. Smith and the family.
Danny Emerick
July 5, 2011
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