I Am Bruce Lee, a 2012 documentary film which documents the life of Bruce Lee, featuring interviews with his widow Linda Emery, daughter Shannon Lee, Dan Inosanto, Gina Carano, Gene LeBell, Cung Le, Manny Pacquiao, Mickey Rourke, Kobe Bryant, and many others, is now available to view for free on Vimeo.
“”When I emit my power, the ghosts and gods are all afraid.”
(attributed to) Dong Haiquan
Dong Haiquan (or Dong Hai Chang) was born in 1813 in the Hebei Province of China. Late in life, possibly in his forties, he travelled south and spent a good deal of time in the mountains. At some point, he joined a sect of Daoism called Quan Zhen (Complete Truth/Reality). This sect used a circular walking meditation. This was to help calm the mind and realize stillness in motion. The method was meant to help the practitioner move toward enlightenment.
Dong Haiquan was “discovered” working in the Imperial Palace. His martial abilities had somehow become supremely developed during his travels. He was able to defeat all comers. He was made the Head of Security and put in charge of training others in martial arts. He started teaching around 1870, when he was in his fifties, and taught until his death in 1882, twelve years later.
This story was told to me by my teacher in this context (don’t blame him if I am remembering this one wrong!) – the thing about Dong Haiquan was that he didn’t teach beginners a new “system.” He took already proficient martial artists and upgraded their skills. He taught them something that made what they were already doing better and my teacher suspected that this special sauce was structure.
“On April 24th, 1970 John Keehan led four men to the Green Dragon Society’s Black Cobra Hall of Kung Fu. During this battle, Keehan forcibly removed an opponent’s eye and his good friend Jim Koncevic was fatally stabbed with a Chinese sword.”
From 7th Grade to 8th grade, I went through a phase where I collected comic books, mainly Marvel. I was into Spiderman and Daredevil and a few others. As you can imagine, I have been enjoying the superhero film rennaissance of the last ten years a lot!
One of the staples of those comics was an ad featuring the “Deadliest Man Alive!” – a guy named Count Dante. There was a dramatic black and white picture of a guy with an afro and an evil goatee doing a “five fingers of death” pose. You could join his society and get a membership card and get his book on how to kill people.
My kung fu brother Dave sent me a couple of links about the Count – apparently someone is trying to put together a documentary about him. It turns out there was more to him than just a flair for the dramatic. He is a poster child for a certain time and place, that somewhat sleazy, somewhat amazing world of martial arts, sex, and crime of the 60s and 70s we see in Tarantino movies.
Maybe Quentin Tarantino should make a movie about him! I can see it now – the movie opens on a sleezy LA street as we follow a guy with a big red fro and tight bell-bottoms while “Flashlight” by Parliment Funkadelic plays on the soundtrack. Below is a brief bio.