Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Bruce Lee and Me and some Dame Diana, too

In, late fall of last year, I was invited by Joanne Veneziano sensei to teach a weekend seminar at her dojo, Emerald City Aikido. Since I found out that her dojo in Seattle was located just around the corner from where Bruce Lee is buried, I asked her if, after the workshop was over, we could visit his grave. She said we could do it on the way to the airport.

As you can see, we did find his grave. It is amazing how many people came to visit it just during the time that we were there. As with many people of my generation, he had a profound effect on me. Martial arts at that time were basically judo and karate was just beginning to be known. Mainly martial arts were exotic touches in the Bond films and "The Avengers". My first memory of him is as Kato in the "Green Hornet" tv series. His movements were fast and explosive, so there were no long drawn out fights. One strike, one kick and it was over. I used to watch the "Green Hornet" on Fridays at 7:30pm, then wade through things like "The Time Tunnel" to catch Diana Rigg on "The Avengers" at 10pm. Fridays were quite my thing.

"The Green Hornet" lasted only one season, but you could catch him in re-runs on local channels for awhile. I used to wade through the laborious plots just to see him move. In my first year in grad school(1970) he appeared on "Longstreet" in the episode"The Way of the Intercepting Fist", which allowed him to express the philosophy of his martial art.

I once visited a school in Seattle(along with Harv Moscowitz from this area) run by Taky Kimura, a major figure in the Bruce Lee lineage. Harv had trained there before Aikido, so we were allowed to do a couple of the classes. I remember all the push-ups and sit-ups.

For me he represents an archetyple:warrior, champion, artist..........Even though the aikido movements are vastly different from the striking and kicking emphasis of his Jeet Kune Do, he has certainly influenced the way I look at aikido. A lot of the free form staff movements were influenced by his words. I had to observe within myself the tendency to systemitize and categorize, as opposed to just feeling and allowing. This is hard when you are doing things you've never been taught and therefore don't "understand"....The sense of knowing through movement as opposed to "knowledge" is a very daunting place.

Bruce Lee and Diana Rigg do share a thing or two in my life process, aside from briefly sharing ABC tv's Friday night line-up in 1967. Bruce Lee died on July 20th(in 1973) which is Diana's birthday. And she married for the first time the same summer he died, which was during my first year of training in Japan. Let us just say that he was by far the better martial artist and that she is by far the better actor. Although if she were given some real training and he were allowed to further evolve, who is to say..........


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