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Old 03-28-2013, 06:44 PM   #1
rorydaboss
 
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Bruce Lee stories from someone that knew him...

This is stolen from reddit but I thought people on here might be interested...


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odd as it may seem, he was every bit as amazing in person as all of the hype and folklore about him would urge one to believe. That is sort of what was so strange being around him; to spend an evening in his presence you went away MORE amazed and impressed than having simply heard the rumors. I grew up in Seattle and he was living there at the time, going to the UW and teaching on the side. I began taking "kung fu" along with my brother at a little basement studio downtown with Bruce's chief student, Taky Kimura (you can look him up and see vids of him sparring with Bruce). Our dad, who had been a boxer early in his life, even attended for a few months though it was totally foreign to him. Bruce was, at that particular time, in LA preparing to play Kato in the tv Green Hornet series. But when he would swing back up to Seattle to see family (his son Brandon, I would imagine, must have been young and around at the time) he would stop in to Taky's studio and teach us.
I know it sounds corny, but it truly was as though, on those nights that he was in the studio, just opening the door at street level to begin the descent down into the basement studio, you could feel that Bruce was there; his energy was that 'refined' or something. But the real, absolute shocker was when he would 'casually' walk by the hanging practice masks that we had to one side and he'd do a little routine on them as he passed. You could be standing 40 feet away with your back turned and, when he'd do that 'just for kicks' (so to speak) you would FEEL it impacting on your back side. The 'purity' of his combative energy was insane. Not sure how to explain it really -- none of us had (or have) ever felt anything like it. Even our dad, quite a formidable guy and more than a full head taller than Bruce, for sure, would stand there in transfixed awe of his power and grace. He was like a killer-dancer in front of the masks or the practice boards.
He had a temper too, and it came out in his teaching.
Seriously, I HAVE to go now .. I could write a little more later or tell some, to us, quite amazing stories, but they would only get lost at the bottom of the pile here so ... but I'll check back later just to see what's going on .. Thanks .. he was an amazing guy to be around and it's fun to 'talk' about him and to remember those evenings.

Sorry ... we were going to try to catch a late showing of The Impossible, but then bailed on it.
I think I'd feel too silly doing an AMA based on "knowing a guy once", but I'll certainly check back in a few times over the next day or two and attempt to answer any questions. I gotta say though, there is SO much material out there about BL that I don't really know what I might be able to add to it.
When my son was younger he was into Brandon's martial arts flicks. Then, with that TOTALLY Bizarre on-set accident that killed him he lost his hero somewhat in the same way that I lost mine when I was younger with Brandon's dad twenty years earlier. Now, they're buried side by side at a Cemetary up on Capitol Hill in Seattle. My son's got a picture of himself standing there between their gravestones.
On a weird little side-note: I recall a little interview with Bruce when Brandon was only five or so, and the interviewer asked him "Do you think that young Brandon, if he follows your path, will ever be able to perform as skillfully as you?" It was an odd moment, and Bruce looked like he didn't know how to respond. Then, looking like he was revealing something very personal he said, "No. I don't. There is something about me that is different that even I don't understand the source of. It's as though I was put together differently than others." I was sort of shocked at that. He was sort of admitting that he was a 'freak', and that not even his own son could ever match his speed and accuracy. And, having seen him in action and felt his power 'first hand', I honestly believe that he was right. My brother and I and our friends back then used to toss around the idea of "who would win if you put Mohammed Ali and Bruce in the ring together. MA was absolutely phenomenal, and if you don't know that you haven't watched him fight. But really? In the ring with Bruce? NOBODY could walk away from that.
I'll try to leave a bit more here later if these little peeks at him actually seem worthwhile to anyone.

Well, there's a 'side' to him that you don't hear much about; he was moody and temperamental and and carried some resentments -- all of which made him a little spooky to be around for long stretches. When a guy who you don't really 'know' is a few feet away from you throughout the course of an eveinging and he's clearly feeling somewhat resentful and you KNOW that he could, on a mere whim, drop you and everyone in the room like so many sacks of shit inside of a few seconds and without even breaking a sweat, it can make for an odd evening. But specifically, after the first night that he joined us we could tell that he was 'bothered' about something and we saw that Taky, a true Prince of a guy, had been slightly 'taken to task' over it and that he had taken it to heart. So, the next week following Bruce's first stop-in, when we were back as a class again without him, my brother and I, during the break approached Taky and mentioned to him that it "sorta felt to us like Bruce was somehow sort of 'bugged' by something about the class -- we were just sort of wondering what it was?" Taky, again, was an incredibly sweet guy -- and he admitted to us that Bruce was pissed when he saw the "room full of nothing but white faces". This was, of course, a little disturbing to us -- nothing much we could do about being 'white guys'. Taky said "Don't worry about it, it won't be a big deal in the long run", and he explained that Bruce had some strong feelings about his system not being "completely 'given away' to non-Chinese". We really didn't know what to say or to think about this. But we kept going to class(!) He's always sort of portrayed as merely a simple teacher and a phenomenal fighter -- but he was a very complex guy with issues and everything in him was so STRONG that if he was slightly disturbed about something .. he 'radiated' his displeasure. Not always pleasant to be standing next to.
There are some other stories too, but I'm beginning to fade here a little. One that I really love I promise to write out here .. my favorite .. if I don't get a second wind and put it down in print tonight I will return tomorrow and write it out .. at least that one story (if there are no questions) .. either attached as a reply to this that you're reading right here or something like that. It's a little story about him that isn't that known, not likely anything anyone here has heard, that happened one day when Bruce was invited down to the Boeing Airplane plant in Seattle where my uncle worked as an engineer at the time. Again, I'll get it down here later tonight (tho less likely) or, definitely, tomorrow sometime.
Thanks -

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Old 03-28-2013, 06:45 PM   #2
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ok .. I'm not sure what the best way is to do this, but i mentioned earlier that i'd likely just do a branch-off from one of my own posts to 'continue' so that's what i'm doing. Sorry if it means that it's hard to locate or has to be dug around for. First, one of the things that becomes incredibly clear to me in reading through some of the responses is that it is likely not possible for me to clearly convey how different my experience of bruce and those early years is from the experience of being a 'devotee' of his after his 'greatness' and his demise. We had no idea that the crazy-fast young guy we were dealing with was bruce lee!!! (i don't know how to do 'bold' or 'underscore' here so i use caps a lot). He was, at that time, a 26 or 27 year old 'kid with an attitude' and he was not 'great' yet. He had, at that time, done, i think, a series of movies in hong kong, in chinese, and he was not really known here yet at all. -------- and let me just stop right here and say that i am not a bruce lee 'expert' in any way. There are undoubtedly at least several people reading here who know infinitely more about him than i do -- i just had to endure the horror of sparring with him .. . But seriously, my time with him did not lead me to become a devoted follower of him, and neither did my brother. To us, it was a 'kick' when we saw him on the tv less than a year later as kato on the green hornet, and then it was 'fun' to see that he went on to do fists of fury and then on to the others. We weren't even aware of some of the other tv spots that he did between hornet and his own stuff. I know this may seem, given the tremendous following that has grown up around him since, a little hard to believe. But the simple fact is that we came before all of the fluff-up about him. It is only now that i think of how great it would be if we had thought to take our picture with him. Didn't even occur to us at the time. A very different time, it was. Pictures were something you went out of your way to do and you had to dig out your film camera and not forget to bring it along. I wasn't even aware that bruce inspired people as strongly as he did until i happened to casually mention to a young guy i was working with that i had studied just a bit with him. He sat there staring at me with his mouth hanging open. He asked if i'd mind meeting a friend of his. "sure". I was running a little business at the time and i needed an extra guy and, it ended up that he lined up his friend, that friend, to work for me. When we met i liked him immediately and we 'clicked' with the same rhythms of chatter and so forth. So, mid day, on lunch break he 'broke it' to me: "shawn tells me that you actually met bruce lee" -- "yeah, he used to roll through from time to time and take over a gung fu class i attended down in chinatown in seattle. It was quite early on .. Before he worked up his own system, jeet kune do". Then, this is where i began to realize what a 'figure' he was for some people: He said, "do you realize what this means to me? I am speaking with someone who spoke with bruce lee!" me: "yeah .. But undoubtedly lots of people have spoken with him". Colt: "and did you actually touch him?" me: "well, of course, we worked at punching/sparring a bit and he had this 'sticky arms' thing he'd do where we'd try to get through his forearms to his face .. The positioning for it was standing face to face with arms bent, up, and touching along the forearms." he: "oh my god .. My god .. Listen .. Please .. Don't mind this ok? Just let me .. " and he layed his hand on my forearm, closed his eyes and murmured to himself "i am now closer to bruce lee than i will ever be in my entire life! I am touching a man that has touched him! I am one man away from bruce!" i laughed -- what else could i do -- and he was 'over the moon'. As we got to know one another through working together it became clear that bl was 'his guy'. When it became clear to me that he had seen enter the dragon 'several times' i asked him "how many .. Exactly". He: "ohhhh .. You wouldn't believe me if i told you." me: "well .. Really .. How many?" he: "well over 100 times -- i know it by heart .. I can 'do' the whole movie for you describing what is going on and giving you every single line perfectly, from memory".
So -- as time went on from that meeting i began hearing more and more that indicated to me that bruce was becoming huge. But, again, when we were messing with him in the studio he was juuuuuust breaking into the american film/tv scene and he was not a 'star' by any means.
Sorry that all of this is not just about him .. I have to run now for a 1:00 pm appntmnt that shouldn't last too long. When i get back i'll write out the boeing story, first thing, and answer some of the questions that i see sprinkled throughout here. There's no way that i know of to 'bold' my name or anything so, for anyone interested, i guess you'll just have to eagle-eye it down the page. Maybe i shoulda done a devoted page to it. All be bock.

Ok -- the boeing story :
I don't know the timing on all of this -- as, rather curiously, a non aficionado of bruce, i mean, not a breathless devotee, i don't even really know his precise history. But i know that he was in seattle for quite a while, lived there, and that, while in town, he would quite regularly do "demonstrations" down at the seattle center and at the armory. (pretty sure you can now view some of these on youtube). It was pretty clear that he loved being the 'performer' in front of a large crowd -- and one of his big crowd pleasers was to ask, to literally ask, for "the biggest, baddest guy in the room". People loved this, and inevitably some enormous guy would be shoved forward by the crowd and would nervously, or too boldly, walk out into the arena. So there would be this towering slab of meat, standing over this little slip of a guy in, usually, a sort of jump suit. Bruce would say, "are you open to having a little fun with me?" and the guy would have no choice but to say yes. So, bruce would ask him to simply take a good, solid stance in the middle of the floor. He could bend his legs a little or lean forward a little or whatever he felt gave him a 'rooted' stance, and bruce would stand directly in front of him and simply place his hand on the guy's chest, straight armed. ('straight armed' -->important). He'd ask the guy if he was comfortable, ready, and confident in his solidity. They'd twist a little and maybe crouch a bit more and say that 'yes' .. They were solid. Bruce would give them that weird little bl smile that always meant trouble, and say that he was going to give them a little shove, but that he wanted them to keep their spot, "ok?" "sure .. " "ready?" "yeah .. Go ahead". Then his smile would broaden some, he'd stand there for a moment longer, and without bending his arm or pulling it back at all, just like he was standing there talking to you on the street with his hand stretched easily towards you to gently ask you to stop where you are, [and this, i can't really 'explain'] but there would be this sort of 'pulse' that would !whap! Emanate from bruce .. This 'impulse' that was barely visible .. And the bruiser would fly backwards like he's just been hit in the chest by a high caliber round at close range .. His arms spinning for balance and his legs out from under him trying to re-gain footing, until he went down or was caught 12 or 15 feet away by the crowd. Bruce would be standing there like he'd done absolutely nothing. But he'd managed, with presumably simply a 1/2 inch shoulder-flick or something (who the hell knows what) to send this guy who clearly weighed well over twice his weight reeling backwards completely out of control.
I must say, not only did the audience love it, but bruce loved it too. He had a totally unique gift and he truly loved showing it off .. Which was absolutely fine. But this gives you an idea of what it would have been like to have run into him on the street in any sort of semi-contentious situation --- once he simply had his little hand resting on you, if he liked, you were finished.
So, a lot of people repeatedly witnessed this little show that he did, but here's a unique story that was only witnessed by a very few and is not commonly known: These demonstrations and afternoon showings began to get the word out on him -- that this guy was around, and that he was pretty amazing -- and, so my uncle tells me, he became the topic of conversation in the lunch room between a bunch of engineers down at boeing, seattle's big aerospace center. These guys were bright, interesting, curious guys and one of them had fashioned a fun little set-up .. Probably using boeing materials. So .. Imagine this - quite simple really: On the wall there an attached, round, black rubber diaphragm, maybe 6 or 8 inches across. It is hooked to a timer -- not digital as it would be now, but clock-face like with only the equivalent of a second hand .. In other words one single 'sweep' hand. On the face is marked off maybe 10 seconds .. That would be one full sweep around from top ('12' position) to top again. Just under the black diaphragm is a small red light. All of this is properly wired in to itself. So, this was, apparently, set up in the lunch room and was just 'there' for guys to play with -- to test their reaction time. And the way it worked was that you would stand behind the tape line that they had placed on the floor some 6 feet away from the wall, hands at your side, looking at the light. When you saw the light turn on, you would step forward, hit the diaphragm, and step back. The timer, above, would show you how long between the 'on' of the red light, and the timer, and your hand against the diaphragm. Couldn't be simpler .. Right?
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Old 03-28-2013, 06:46 PM   #3
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so, word gets around seattle about this little hot-shot with reputedly fantastic form and reflexes, and there starts to be the "man i'd love to get that guy down here to try our thing out" conversation sprinkling into the lunchtime banter. Finally, and i don't know how, one of them knows someone who knows someone or something and word gets passed on to bruce that they'd love to have him come down to the engineers lunchroom down south of town any afternoon that he might be able to, to try out their 'reflex tester' that they've put together. Well bruce was a strong self-promoter, and i'm sure this was like catnip to him. So, of course, one day there's a knock on the outer door and one of them comes walking this lean, smiley little guy back into the lunchroom full of a bunch of thick engineers with their mouths full of sandwiches. Very informal, pre-fame, no cameras and no big deal -- if you just happened to be there digging into your lunch at that moment you were about to gain one of the stories of your life -- if you had decided to step out to a restaurant that day .. You'd only be hearing the story for years to come. So, bruce is brought in and they all greet him and laugh a bit with him and tell him how they had heard that he was in great physical shape and that it might be fun for him to try their set-up. They show him what the deal is and how it works, ( i have no doubt that within 3 seconds of entering the room he had seen it and understood exactly what the deal was), and he says 'sure!' .. He'd be happy to give that a try! So, they all sit back, out of his way, and he stands at the line, takes a breath and exhales and rotates his head back and forth a bit (bruce had a palpable sense of focused relaxation which, once achieved, made him look like he may never move a muscle again). He's standing there, moment .. After moment, with his hands hanging loosely at his side .. Gazing as if casually at the wall ... Then he suddenly flies forward and smacks the diaphragm and is instantly back behind the line, relaxed again. Whereupon there is this outcry from the entire room of engineers saying "no! No .. You have to wait for the red light to go on before smacking the diaphragm! Get it?! You hit is after!!!" and, of course, he stands there smiling back at them. And one by one there's this growing little chorus of "ohhhh my god!" .. And "wait a minute! My god .. I don't believe it!!!" as they one by one come forwards towards the timer to confirm what they think they're seeing but can't believe. What had just taken place, of course, was that bruce had perceived the micro-instant of illumination, and had stepped forward to instantaneously douse it, and not a single other soul in the room, with nothing else to do but watch the light and the timer, had been aware of its even having come on. The story goes that when they got up to the timer and looked closely at it they saw that it had, indeed, baaaarely moved from top center. Unfortunately, i cannot now recall precisely what the actual numbers were, but it was something like "most of the guys turned that light off in, at best, a second or so. When we looked at the timer needle with bruce, it was registering 8/100's of a second .. Barely even see-able on the dial, and not even long enough for the rest of us to see the light".
End of boeing story .. Even though i wasn't there i've always loved that story. Sadly, there must be a lot of such stories around that occurred to him in his life that the rest of us will never hear or be aware of. I'll check back in a while again for any further questions or whatever. And i've got a few thoughts i might share about the effects of 'practice', which was a huge thing that bruce always harped on. It's fun to share fun stuff. Thanks for your attention.
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Old 03-28-2013, 06:48 PM   #4
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Can you please arrange this shit in MOTHERFUCKING PARAGRAPHS!?!

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Old 03-28-2013, 06:52 PM   #5
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Damn, first a sherbro writes a novel about POF, now Daboss expects us to read all these mumbo jumbo?

BTW, Bruce Lee was the fucking man.

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Old 03-28-2013, 06:58 PM   #6
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"MA was absolutely phenomenal, and if you don't know that you haven't watched him fight. But really? In the ring with Bruce? NOBODY could walk away from that."

LOL, bullshit.
Yeah, a HW World champion, and GOAT boxer wouldn't walk away from a fight with a guy who was 5'7", 135 pounds and never fought anyone of any professional level, sure buddy.
The guy was around him since a kid, anything he says is merely awe and probably more outlandish then the accounts of the wong jack man fight.

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Old 03-28-2013, 06:58 PM   #7
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Paragraphs or go Fu*k yourself.

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Old 03-28-2013, 07:05 PM   #8
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I was really interested to read that...until I saw the fucking wall of text.

Get real.

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Old 03-28-2013, 07:11 PM   #9
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DAMN!

Thats a wall of text.

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Old 03-28-2013, 07:15 PM   #10
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