“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
“The real significant early development of the martial arts in the United States was heavily based in the Bay Area. Many of the most important people came out of the Bay Area, not just for the Chinese but for so much of the martial arts.”
Kenpo Master Al Tracy
“The rising tide raises all boats.”
New England Council
You may have noticed the articles on this site have slowed down in recent months. This has been because I’ve been working to finish both my free book and to begin framing out the book I plan to sell (someday!).
But for quite a while, I’ve been chipping away at a number of articles for this site, including one which provided a brief overview of the very interesting book Striking Distance: Bruce Lee and the Dawn of Martial Arts in America by Charles Russo. I did a number of drafts of this article, since Russo’s book covers Bruce Lee’s Oakland period, and this is a subject close to my heart.
Not only do I live within a few miles of Bruce’s old house and his school on Broadway, but I studied Small Circle Jujitsu in Alameda, the brainchild of Wally Jay, one of Bruce’s close associates during his Oakland period. And I feel a close kinship with the spirit of investigation that drew Bruce to Oakland from Seattle. The same ideas and goals drew me from New Hampshire to Oakland in 2000 (plus a job offer!). Plus I’ve been studying Wing Chun a long time, in Oakland and Berkeley.
Despite the fact that I wrote many drafts of my article, I discovered the author Charles Russo did a better job of a short summary, including supplementary info, for Viceland, in his article Bruce Lee and the Art of Scientific Street Fighting. So why reinvent the wheel? I encourage you to read that article, and then maybe the book, if you want more on the subject.
I did have some “value-added” content, which was mainly my observation that Bruce Lee was a man, but he was also a phenomenon, an idea really, incorporating input from the people he’d associated with. He started with the street fighting ethos of Ip Man and Wong Shun Leung’s Wing Chun in Hong Kong. Then he moved to Seattle and started trying his skills out on boxers (James DeMille) and Judoka (Jesse Glover, his first student). Later, he met Allen Joe who was visiting Seattle from Oakland. Joe was also a street fighter but also a disciple of Jack Lalanne (running one of his chain gyms). He introduced Bruce to bodybuilding but also to the Oakland scene of guys who were thinking outside the box about fighting . Guys who were beginning to think critically about different fighting styles with a single measurement: “Does it work?”