Monday, November 23, 2009

A Memorable Sunday

Yesterday a group of Aikido of San Jose students and I went to the Oakland Coliseum Arena to do a half-time demo for the Oakland Raiders. This was facilitated by Master George Chung, who has thoughtfully included us in his events in the past. This includes half-time demos for the 49ers in 1994 and 1996. But these were summer exhibition games. Yesterday was a regular season NFL game. The Raiders sponsored an Asian Heritage Week. There was a half-time demonstration by Martial Arts schools from the bay area. It honored the spirit of Bruce Lee, and included in the proceedings was an appearance by his widow, Linda Lee Cadziwell. We got a chance to briefly meet her and have a group photo with her. Earlier I was on a seminar teaching junket to Seattle Washington and able to visit Bruce Lee's grave and have a picture taken there.

Now these demos are physically very challenging. As a group we had to be at the Coliseum for some walk throughs at 8:30am. This included a series of runs across the diagonal of the football field the long way. After each run followed a going through of our presentation as a group, followed by another run off the field. All in all I feel we did a good job. I want to thank Harry Concepcion, Jim Johnson, Yu-Chen Shen, Mary Fortino, Shin Tsurushima, Matt Laine,Andrew Le and Meng Ear for a spirited and game effort. And also Steve Tsao, who was on injured reserve as he turned an ankle during our Friday night run through. Some of the demo team members may feel as if they played a football game yesterday. And in spirit maybe they did. For the record, all of the demo team and I except Shin left at half-time. The Raiders pulled off an exciting win scoring 10 points in the last minute of play.

I hope the Bruce Lee part of the proceedings was emphasized enough. Here is a man who started several industries pretty much on his own. Martial Arts action films were pretty much a non-factor before him. There were Chinese and Japanese sword films, mainly period dramas. To make martial arts the reason to go see a film, that was brought about by Bruce Lee. And the phenomenon of Martial Arts schools likewise.
His presence and films created a revolutionary interest in Martial Arts. Many schools opened and continue to open because of that.

Growing up Asian and male in the '60's was very different than it would be today. He was a tremendous influence on me. Along with the British actress Diana Rigg and Aikido's founder Ueshiba Morihei Osensei, one could argue that he influenced me as much as any one could. Not a direct contact. I've never met any of the three. But to see him in "The Green Hornet" was revolutionary. Someone Asian and male who was strong, decisive, and "in charge" was very strongly inputed on my psyche. Some of the scenes in the tv series show him taking on corrupt authority figures such as police officers on the take, bad politicians, etc. The man exuded "attitude" with a capitol A. I would watch the whole show just to catch the 3 to 5 seconds where he would show his kung fu moves. And to realize that this martial artist/actor is a bigger star than anyone the NFL has ever produced is mindboggling. The NFL or any sports league will never produce a star that has the historical and global impact of Bruce Lee.

I have heard that Stan Lee and Marvel comics has found a way to make Bruce Lee a character in an upcoming Action film. And the following clip demonstrates that his memory continues to live:


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