173 Board Breaks in the Chen Tai Chi Laojia Yilu Form

Tai Chi (Taiji) is performed slowly so students can learn the internal body mechanics that make it a powerful fighting art.

Every movement in Taiji has several self-defense applications. In my DVDs on fighting applications, I show more than 400 strikes, kicks, joint locks, sweeps, and takedowns in the Laojia Yilu form.

Recently, I decided to go through the 75 movements of Laojia Yilu -- also known as "Old Frame First Form" -- and do as many board breaks as I could find, without repeating any of the movements (several movements are repeated in the form). This video focuses only on striking possibilities in the form -- not chin-na or sweeps or throws. Just strikes and some kicks.

I came up with 144 board breaks in a little over two hours, then, after first posting the video a week ago, I saw 29 breaks that I wanted to add, so we shot those yesterday. My thanks to Colin Frye for holding the boards and my wife, Nancy, for being the ace videographer.

Now for some Breaking News -- 173 board breaks in one Taiji form. If you want to learn the body mechanics behind the movements, join my website at www.internalfightingarts.com, or check out my DVDs on this blog.

Chen Xiaowang says fajin ("issuing power") is the same as the slow movements of Tai Chi. The only difference is when you want to do fajin, you "step on the gas." In this video, I step on the gas.

One more thing about board-breaking. Bruce Lee said "boards don't hit back." Well, neither do heavybags, speedbags, or makiwara boards. These are all tools to develop power, technique, and to get a little instant feedback. Anyone who dismisses board-breaking because of something Bruce Lee said in a movie needs to think a little deeper.

 

 


Boards Don't Hit Back -- Bruce Lee's Famous Line is Only Entertainment

Last Saturday at our practice, we took a few minutes to have fun with board-breaking. We tried different breaks from short range, the idea being if you are in close, can you generate enough power to do some damage to an opponent.

Here is the video that resulted.

When you put a video like this online, you will inevitably have someone reply with "Boards don't hit back." Sometimes a friend will say it in jest, but sometimes it is said by someone who is serious.

"Boards don't hit back" is a line that Bruce Lee said in "Enter the Dragon," when Bob Wall broke a board at the beginning of a fight with Bruce. 

 

Since 1973, some Bruce Lee "purists" and "Real Fighting" macho guys have pretended that board breaking is stupid.

They would be wrong.

Yes, boards don't hit back. Neither do heavy bags. Neither do makiwara boards. And neither does paper.

Did you know that Punching Paper was one of Bruce Lee's training techniques?

Here is a video I shot in 2006, showing my cute wife Nancy holding a newspaper page up very lightly with two fingers as I try to punch my fist through the paper. It doesn't count if you rip the paper. You must put your fist through the paper. Try this sometime.

When I first put the paper punching video on YouTube, a troll made the comment, "That's great if I'm ever attacked by a newspaper."

He didn't get it. And I'll bet he couldn't punch through a newspaper. It's harder than you think.

Of course, Bruce Lee also used a lot of tools extensively, including heavybags and wooden dummies. The last time I checked, heavybags and wooden dummies don't hit back.

Bruce even broke boards occasionally to demonstrate power.

This is one of the problems when people take an entertaining line from a movie and try to turn it into Holy Scripture. 

Heavybags, makiwara boards, board breaking, Bob bags -- it's all good for focusing your technique and your power. I can't break my training partner's face tonight, and I can't break his ribs. So how do I train to focus and test my striking power and my ability to break an opponent? I use the right tools.

So the next time someone tries to be an Online Know-It-All and says, "Boards don't hit back," tell them to come closer and let you use their face instead of a board.

As a Taiji teacher I respect -- Michael Chritton said, "The air doesn't hit back, either, and I punch it all the time."

Now THAT is a good line worth repeating.

Here is another board-breaking video my students and I shot last winter. Fun with a purpose.

Self-defense is serious business, but you can't take yourself so seriously. It takes all the fun out of the arts. And even at age 62, I want to have the power to break an opponent's face, but I'm still in it to have fun.


John Little and the Legacy of Bruce Lee -- Internal Fighting Arts Podcast Interview

Bruce Lee Dan Inosanto
Bruce Lee and Dan Inosanto while filming "Game of Death" in 1972.

This weekend I will meet Dan Inosanto and study for the first time with someone who trained with Bruce Lee. It has been a 41-year old wish that will finally happen.

Dan studied with Bruce and also taught Bruce a few things about Kali. He appeared in Bruce's film "Game of Death," and he has the reputation of being a very nice man and a great teacher.

All the people who once trained with Bruce Lee are getting older now. Most are in their Seventies. Some have passed away. Bruce Lee would have turned 75 later this year. I can't imagine having the experience of actually training with Bruce as part of my martial background.

I also can't imagine having complete access to all of Bruce's notes, letters, photos and drawings.

This week's Internal Fighting Arts podcast features an interview with John Little, who took Bruce's personal papers and photos and created some of the best books that document Bruce's legacy. His books include:

  • Jeet Kune Do
  • Letters of the Dragon
  • The Art of Expressing the Human Body
  • Words of the Dragon
  • Artist of Life
  • The Warrior Within
  • Bruce Lee: The Celebrated Life of the Golden Dragon
  • Striking Thoughts: Bruce Lee's Wisdom for Daily Living

Bruce 1In 2011, John Little heard an interview I did on The Infidel Guy podcast and he sent me an email, telling me how refreshing it was to hear an internal artist who applied critical thinking skills to the subject of "chi powers." We struck up an email conversation and I asked him if I could do an interview.

Since my trip to the Inosanto workshop has backed me up this week, I am running that 2011 interview with John Little as the latest edition of the Internal Fighting Arts podcast.

Follow this link to listen or download the podcast with John Little.

 


Be Water, My Friend - Bruce Lee, Push Hands and Close-Up Self-Defense

One of my favorite quotes from Bruce Lee was not completely original. The concept was already part of Taoism and Zen long before he said it, but Westerners had not heard it in the early Seventies.

"You must empty your mind," he said. "Be formless, shapeless, like water. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. Put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend."

Ken Gullette - Colin Frye 1
My partner Colin aims a punch at my chest.

I think of this often when I work with my students on push hands and other close-up self-defense skills. I try to be water, and flow around resistance to find my way to my target.

What happens when you punch water? Bruce Lee talked about an inspiration he had when he was frustrated and punched water one day on a lake. Whether this story is true or not doesn't matter. Bruce said that when he punched into a lake, he was inspired because the water gave in to his punch and yet flowed around his fist.

Taoism says "the softest thing cannot be snapped." It discusses a blade of grass or a reed, bending as a strong wind blows. The wind might knock down a large tree if it is old and stiff, but a blade of grass is soft and flexible, and lives through the storm.

Ken Gullette - Colin Frye 2
I flow around the punch, removing the target and setting up an elbow strike.

When you are practicing push hands or any close-up fighting drill with a partner, you should become that soft blade of grass, giving way to force but surviving.

Be water, my friend.

Flow around the force that your partner or opponent directs at you. Relax, intercept it and find your way around, just as water in a stream does when it encounters a large rock in the river bed.

When I do push hands with someone who is too stiff, they are very easy to defeat. It is easy to find their center and move it, because a stiff arm connects directly to their center. Push the arm and the center follows.

Ken Gullette - Colin Frye 3
He stiffens his right arm but loses focus on his left, so my right hand finds his face.

Likewise, someone who is focused on the force they are trying to give you has often lost their center. Their focus can have too much purpose and too much intent. If you are able to remain relaxed and flow around that force, you can find your target and strike effectively.

This type of training should be started very slowly. You and your partner should look for openings and move very slowly for a while as you learn how your body should best respond. You will find yourself tied up, twisted, and off-balance, but you must respond as slowly as your partner moves (if either partner moves too fast, they must be called on it). Both partners should attack and defend whenever they feel an opening.

It is okay to do poorly at first. If you find yourself in a double-weighted position -- in a position where you cannot defend -- ask your partner to do it again, slowly, so you can figure out how best to deal with an attack. This is "investing in loss." If all you are interested in is getting a shot in on your partner, your skill will not progress as it will if you understand that your goal is to find your own weaknesses and make improvement in your skill.

Over time, you speed it up, but for a while, it is best to go very slowly, learning to walk before you run.

It doesn't take water very much work to be relaxed -- only a temperature above 32 degrees. For you and me, being relaxed and learning to flow like water takes a lot of hard work.

So how do you apply this to your life outside of self-defense? I'll talk about that in my next post.

 


Dropping Power in Taiji Xingyi and Bagua - Generating Power Over a Short Distance Like Bruce Lee's One Inch Punch

Have you ever heard of the "Teacher Test" in Taiji? When you meet a Taiji instructor, ask if they can do the Teacher Test.

Most often, they will stare at you with a blank expression, but if they actually know what you are asking, and demonstrate the Teacher Test, you have found a good teacher and you should sign up for instruction.

The Teacher Test was demonstrated to me by my first Chen Taiji instructor, Jim Criscimagna, the day I met him in early 1998. I had been in martial arts for 25 years at that point, and I had read about the Teacher Test in an online forum but had never seen it. When I asked Jim about it, he asked me to stand next to him and put my hand on his shoulder.

Dropping-Power-3
Dropping Power is part of many techniques, including the self-defense application of the Opening movement in a Tai Chi form.

"Now, without cocking your arm and shoulder -- without using local arm and shoulder muscle -- and without changing your stance -- knock me off balance," he said.

I was paralyzed. I had no idea what to do.

He laughed and asked me to stand there while he demonstrated. He put his hand on my shoulder and, without using "arm and shoulder" muscle, and without changing his stance, he knocked me off my spot.

I knew that I had to start over and re-learn Taijiquan, Xingyiquan and Baguazhang.

I just recorded a video for my online internal arts school demonstrating how the Teacher Test is done. It uses Dropping Power -- a close relative of Borrowing Energy and utilizes a Bouncing Energy that pushes down into the ground and then rebounds through the body and out the hand (or whatever body part is attacking).

It is very similar to Bruce Lee's One-Inch Punch, and it can knock someone off his spot, but its power is amplified if an opponent is bringing force to you and you combine Dropping Power with your opponent's incoming mass and velocity (Borrowing Energy). Recently, one of my good friends demonstrated this concept and he did not learn it from a traditional Taiji instructor -- he learned it (and very well, too) as a student in the Guided Chaos system. So the knowledge is out there, just not very often in the typical internal arts classes that you sign up for.

Dropping-Power-2
Knock your partner back, not by pushing, but by dropping your energy and letting it rebound through the body.

We've all heard stories of the little Chinese man who can knock a big guy away and not appear to move very much at all. It is one of the stories that gives rise to the mythology of "chi." But it is not mystical. It is completely physical, like everything else in the internal arts. It depends upon proper body mechanics.

To do Dropping Power, you drop your weight (some like to say "drop your energy" but it is your weight) into your feet -- catch the ground path and let it rebound up through the body and out your hand. You can use a forward motion -- you do not have to stand perfectly straight, but you do NOT want to use localized arm and shoulder muscle to cock the arm or bring it back before the punch. 

It is a whole-body strike, and it is perfectly internal. In fact, it is an internal principle that everyone involved in the internal arts should know and be able to demonstrate. Especially your teacher. If your teacher has not shown you this, I would suggest supplementing your teacher's instruction with the material on my website, or else find a teacher who can demonstrate (and teach) this skill without making it seem mysterious and metaphysical.

Learn how to do Dropping Power and have complete access to more than 600 other internal arts instructional videos for two full weeks free -- just visit www.internalfightingarts.com and sign up. No charge for two weeks -- no contracts -- cancel anytime. There is nothing to lose and a lot of insight to gain.


Tom Laughlin Was Trailblazer for Martial Arts Explosion 2 Years Before Bruce Lee

When I was 18, in 1971, all my buddies were excited over the movie, "Billy Jack."

Tom Laughlin gave us our first exposure to "karate" and we LOVED it.

Until this time, Asian martial arts were joked about. Characters like James Bond used the "Judo chop," which looked pretty ridiculous. At the same time, the arts were presented as "deadly" and mysterious.

Billy Jack (Tom Laughlin wrote the script and starred in the movie) gave us the first glimpse of what was to be an explosion of martial arts within two years.

This is the video clip that started the craze. Billy Jack takes his right foot and wops Posner on the right side of his face. My buddies and I nearly jumped out of our seats when this happened.

Within a year or so, the Kung Fu TV show debuted. Then, in 1973, Bruce Lee movies hit our theaters and the rest is history. 

Tom Laughlin died this past weekend at age 81. We all owe him a big "thank you" for the work he did to prime the martial arts pump in the United States and get us all ready for what was to come.

This scene started it all. 


Bruce Lee Was Right -- We Need Emotional Content -- and We Need Shen (Spirit)

Bruce-Lee-Emotional-ContentOne of my favorite scenes in a Bruce Lee movie is when he lectures a young student about what he perceives as a lack of "emotional content" in the young man's movements.

When I was a younger student, practicing techniques with fellow students, one of my teachers would occasionally warn us to maintain our "spirit." When we received a certificate of rank, the certificate mentioned the "spiritual discipline" involved in achieving the rank.

In Tai Chi, the Chinese term "shen" means spirit. It is not a supernatural spirit -- it is an awareness of your action and a physical fullness that means you are giving it 100%. You are in the moment. 

Shen is also translated to mean "heart," but it is the same thing. You are emotionally connected (the heart is often associated with emotion) to the intent of the movement or activity.

It applies to any martial art and it also applies to other aspects of your life, from relationships to work and other activities and endeavors.

How many times have you seen a student in any martial art perform weakly -- no real spark of energy or excitement? Sometimes, you'll see a student stepping through the motions of a form without peng, with no connection in their movements. A fighting application will be performed half-heartedly, with "chi in the chest" and a lack of proper body mechanics or stance work.

How many times have you seen someone come to work listless and uninterested? Or perhaps you've been in a relationship where the person you cared about was emotionally unavailable -- not in sync with you.

Sometimes we say, "His heart wasn't in it." 

We need emotional content.

We all have days when we don't feel 100% -- we're tired, we have deadlines for school or work, we're having problems with a relationship or the family -- there are always excuses to slack off.

That's when the spiritual discipline sets in, and you focus your mind on your practice. What is the true intent of this movement? How can I perform it the best of my ability?

In each movement of the internal arts, whether it's Taiji, Xingyi or Bagua, you should have a whole-body connection through each movement. This also includes a connection of Mind and Heart (Yi and Shen), which leads the Chi and the Li (strength).

If you do not have spirit for your martial art, your relationship, your work -- what are you doing here?

When you perform your movement with shen, then I would ask "How did it feel to you?" Your answer might get you a slap on the head. Without spirit, you may be missing out on all that heavenly glory. :)

 


Focus on the Moon, Not the Teacher -- Taiji, Xingyi, Bagua Advice

There is a Zen proverb -- When a master points at the moon, many people never

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Grandmaster Chen Xiaoxing during a break at the Chicago workshop. Photo courtesy of Khiang Seow.
see the moon, they only look at the master.

Bruce Lee said it in a slightly different way, when he told the student, "It is like a finger pointing a way to the moon." When the student gazes at his hand, Bruce slaps his head and says, "Don't concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory."

I've been very busy since the Chen Xiaoxing workshop on Xinjia Yilu two weeks ago and haven't written much about it since that time. Instead of writing, I've been practicing the movements we went through in Chicago. It has been on my mind a lot.

The workshop was a great experience, and it was organized in a way that promoted learning. In workshops past, I would scribble as many notes as possible during breaks or at the end of the day, trying to remember the little details. In this workshop, remembering wasn't a problem.

Chen Xiaoxing would demonstrate a sequence of movements several times -- slowly -- and then he would include fajing where appropriate. Then he led the students through the sequence several times. Occasionally he would pause and go through one part slowly to show the correct way. Then we would work on the sequence individually and he would go around, watch people and make corrections where necessary. There were moments when I thought, "Okay, we've practiced this long enough, let's move to the next sequence," but I told myself to stop thinking that way and use the opportunity to really drill it into the mind. In the end, it was one of the better workshops I've attended as far as learning a form.

If you watch Chen Xiaoxing do a movement from Xinjia Yilu, it may look different than the same movement performed by his older brother and the Chen Family Standard-Bearer for the 19th Generation, Chen Xiaowang. I took a private lesson on Xinjia Yilu from Chen Xiaoxing's son, Chen Ziqiang, and he taught the opening sequences a little differently than Chen Xiaoxing does. Chen Bing's version of Xinjia Yilu will look different from Chen Ziqiang's.

Cxx-2013-Practicing
I am second from left during one of the times we were practicing a sequence individually at the Chen Xiaoxing workshop.
So when I was in the workshop, watching the Grandmaster as he went through each movement, I thought about the differences in the way different Chen masters do the movements and I remembered the Zen proverb. I reminded myself not to focus on the teacher, but rather, I tried to see through the particular movement and gaze on the moon. In this case, the moon would be the body mechanics and internal principles at work in this particular sequence.

When I first began studying Chen Taiji back in 1998, I remember thinking it strange that the masters often varied from one to the other in the way they performed. Later, I realized that they were each artists. They learned the basic strokes and then added their own personality, strengths and their own artistic flair to the movements. Now, I think it's fun to look at the differences. Sometimes, I uncover new ways of doing things and I can see concepts in action that I didn't see in a different master.

I've been remaining faithful to the way Chen Xiaoxing taught the movements two weeks ago. But I don't necessarily expect that to last forever.

At a workshop that I conducted last year, a couple of my karate black belt friends attended. They would occasionally want specifics. Exactly where is the hand supposed to be on this movement? Exactly what is the stance supposed to be here? They are accustomed to everything being exactly the same, and all black belts expected to perform exactly the same way, and they weren't prepared for a situation where I wasn't moving their hand a millimeter this way or that way to "correct" them. Instead, I tried to talk about the internal body mechanics they were trying to achieve. Whether your foot is pointed at 45 degrees or 40 degrees doesn't really matter if you have the body mechanics and structure that you need.

Obsessing on little details like that is like focusing on the finger and missing the moon. You can hold your hand in one particular spot, but if you don't have the ground or peng, and if you don't have the mechanics you need when you begin to move, it doesn't matter where your hand is.

And so, I tried to see deeper as I watched Chen Xiaoxing perform the movements repeatedly. How is he shifting the weight, how is he using the kua, how is he rotating dan tien, and can I see the relaxed strength unfolding through the body?

That's the moon, and as I practice the movements over and over, I may add my own little artistic flair here and there. When my own students learn it, and they do it in a slightly different way than I do, I won't care as long as they see the moon.


Two Great Photos 40 Years after Enter the Dragon - John Saxon, Bob Wall and Jim Kelly

A couple of weeks ago, the Bruce Lee Foundation held a fundraiser in Seattle -- an exclusive dinner with Bruce's widow Linda, daughter Shannon, and others involved in and supporting the Bruce Lee Foundation.  

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John Saxon looking great at 78.
My brother, Myles attended this event. He described it in a blog post a couple of weeks ago. 

The following evening, there was another event. Among the guests were co-stars of "Enter the Dragon," which was released 40 years ago this summer -- a movie that changed my life and many others.

Here are photos of John Saxon, who played "Mr. Roper," and standing together are Bob Wall ("Ohara") and Jim Kelly ("Williams"). 

Bob-Wall-Jim-Kelly-webIt's wonderful to see them, but a little sobering to think how old they -- and all of us -- are getting. Saxon is still looking great for a 78-year old. Jim Kelly was born in 1946 so he will be 67 this year. Bob Wall was born in 1939, making him 74 this year.

I'm glad they are still here.


A Weekend with Bruce Lee's Family -- Linda and Shannon -- A Benefit for the Bruce Lee Action Museum

Guest Post by Myles Gullette

I first met Shannon Lee, the daughter of Bruce Lee on two occasions at the Farmer's Market in Pacific Palisades, California where I help out every Sunday at a friend's dog adoption get together. Shannon walked through both times with her daughter. I introduced myself and told her how much her father had meant to my brother and me. Shannon was very friendly and gracious, and as we talked, I became aware of BLAM, the Bruce Lee Action Museum, a historic place she, her mother Linda Lee Cadwell (Bruce Lee's widow) and their Bruce Lee Foundation wanted to build in Seattle.

After talking with her and exploring the wonderful world of brucelee.com and joining their mailing list, I learned of the annual fundraiser that The Lee Family, through their Bruce Lee Foundation were going to have. All proceeds go toward the future Bruce Lee Action Museum.

My brother Ken (publisher of this blog) introduced me to Bruce Lee by taking his little brother to see Bruce's movies in 1973 when Ken was 20 and a martial arts student, and I was 8 years old. Ever since, I've been an admirer of the work, legacy, philosophy, honesty and passion of Bruce Lee as well as his children, the late Brandon and Shannon as they became actors and martial artists, both following in the footsteps of their father. I also hold Linda Lee in high regard as someone who tirelessly furthers the legacy and memory of her late husband Bruce Lee. When I learned of an intimate dinner to be held the weekend of February 8th where all monies would go to BLAM, I knew I had to be a part of it.

Landing in Seattle on Friday, February 8th, I only had minutes after arriving by train to my hotel (Hotel Seattle) to get to the private dinner held at O'Asian Restaurant in downtown Seattle. I arranged for my hotel to be in the center of downtown which made it incredibly convenient. I was a 5 minute walk away from the Restaurant as well as the next evening's Gala, held at the Sheraton Hotel.

Once in the restaurant, I was taken to a private dining room where Shannon and Linda and Kris, the COO of Bruce Lee Enterprises were mingling among the small group of guests. The capacity for this special dinner was only 20 on the invitation sent worldwide. Only 12 people ended up coming, some from as far away as Europe.

Myles-Gullette-Shannon-Lee-webI went up to Shannon and said, "Hello". She was pleasantly surprised to see me. As we talked, Linda came over and Shannon introduced us, telling the story of how we met a couple times in Pacific Palisades. Linda was incredibly gracious, warm and friendly. After talking with some of the other guests, we all sat down for dinner and wine. As we ate, Linda and Shannon thanked all of us, spoke about the Foundation and Museum and let us ask anything we wanted regarding Bruce, Brandon, Shannon, Linda, Bruce Lee Enterprises, etc.

Out of all the guests, there was one woman, the wife of another attendee. She asked Linda to talk about how she met Bruce and if it was love at first sight. Linda laughed and talked about how when she was a senior in High School, Bruce came and was a guest lecturer on Philosophy and Martial arts. She and others soon began taking martial arts lessons from him, especially once they both attended University of Washington. Linda talked about how they would all hang out sometimes after training and that one day while her and Bruce were sparring, he got her on the ground after a move and asked her if she'd like to go to the space needle in Seattle. She asked him, "What. All of us?" to which Bruce replied, "No. Only you." As she smiled at remembering it all, she said, she knew at that point something special was happening.
 
So many more topics were discussed during the dinner. A couple of guests, both major Bruce Lee collectors, spoke about what they had. One of them has among the biggest collection of Green Hornet TV show memorabilia in the world. That got us into Bruce's American television career. One guest asked about the whole Kung Fu TV show story and Linda spoke about Bruce having come up with concept calling it "The Warrior", but that it was eventually renamed Kung Fu and after some talk of Bruce playing the lead, the TV executives and decision makers decided America wasn't ready for an Asian leading man in a prime time television series, leading Bruce to go to Hong Kong to make his mark in the films, The Big Boss, Fist of Fury and The Way of The Dragon.

I got into the conversation with Linda by saying, "You would've thought that since Bruce proved himself in The Green Hornet, Marlowe and Longstreet, amassing a TV following that the executives would've realized he COULD carry a TV series like Kung Fu. But, then if that had happened, he wouldn't have gone to Hong Kong." Linda replied, "That's right." So, in the end, it was agreed, everything happened for a reason and Bruce going to Hong Kong turned out to be a very good thing.
 
One of the guests had the idea of each of us introducing ourselves. So, one by one we each talked a bit about where we were from, what we did for a living, a bit about our life, how Bruce Lee influenced us and what brought us to the evening. Some people spoke longer than others. Everyone came from different states and countries. When it came time for me to talk, I said, "Hi. My name's Myles and I'm originally from Kentucky but now live in Hollywood. I'm a DJ, writer, actor, painter, drummer in a band and videographer."

Linda smiled and said, "You're a renaissance man." 

I smiled and continued, "I first became aware of Bruce Lee through my brother Ken, who's been a martial artist for nearly 40 years. He took me to a double feature, Enter The Dragon and Chinese Connection. I was immediately taken with Bruce's talent. And, as I got older, I got into Brandon's films and martial arts work as well as Shannon's. (Looking at Shannon), I loved your appearance on Martial Law, especially that fight scene of yours in the alley. It was so great. Did you choreograph that?" 

She replied, "I wish." and laughed. "We had a great fight choreographer on that show."

"It was a great scene," I answered. "So, I met Shannon a couple times in Pacific Palisades and through her and the website, learned of this fundraiser dinner and knew I had to be a part of it. I've just been so inspired by the work, talent and passion of not only Bruce, but Brandon, Shannon and you, Linda. There's just a love you all bring to everything that's very heartwarming and wonderful." As I talked, making direct eye contact with Linda, her smile touched me. She was enjoying my experience and words.
 
After everyone had introduced themselves, we continued to eat, talk and drink wine. At one point, Shannon lifted her glass and we all gave a toast to Bruce, the Museum, the dinner and she thanked all of us deeply for caring enough to be a part of the evening. She then spoke in detail, along with COO Kris about the plans and vision for the Bruce Lee Action Museum (BLAM). It would be a place to further the memory, legacy and philosophy of Bruce Lee. It would have training rooms/spaces, a library of all of Bruce's writings as well as books that he read and were inspirations.
Also included would be the film and video works of Bruce Lee.

I asked Shannon and Linda if there would be a section of the Museum devoted to Brandon and they said yes. The museum would be a place for everyone throughout the world to come and learn everything about Bruce Lee. Shannon also spoke of how they had a property in mind to purchase for the museum, were getting city and federal support and that the museum would enrich the city of Seattle and the region. One wonderful idea they came up with was the "Buy a Brick" program, where anyone could buy a brick, for an amount to be determined. On the brick would be your name and whatever few words you wanted to include. Once the museum is being built, a wall will be made using the bought bricks to become a permanent part of the facility.

As the evening progressed, I couldn't help but feel a bit of sadness that both Bruce and Brandon weren't here to witness Linda and Shannon embracing the Lee legacy. Witnessing the humor, class, beauty, intelligence, passion and warmth of both of them, I knew Bruce and Brandon would be so proud, not only of Linda and Shannon but also of all of us for taking the time out of our lives to be a part of such a special event and by doing so, taking "action".
 
After the dinner, Shannon and Linda both graciously posed for pictures with all of us and autographed anything we brought or that was in our gift bags. We all got gift bags that included an exclusive yellow Bruce Lee - JKD hoodie, a Blu-Ray of the new documentary "I Am Bruce Lee", the book "Bruce Lee and I" by Grandmaster Jhoon Rhee, an Original "Green Stripe" Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute Membership card with certificate of authenticity, an original "Deputized an Ally of the Dragon" promotional card handed out at the premiere of "Enter The Dragon" along with a certificate of authenticity and an original Bruce Lee Print by artist Yhoshihito Sugahara (only 30 made), numbered and signed by Shannon Lee and Linda Lee. I had Shannon sign my "I Am Bruce Lee" Blu-Ray (she was executive producer of the film) and talked more with her, Linda and the others. Some of the other guests brought their own personal memorabilia for them to sign, which they did so graciously. One guest even brought a life mask of Bruce, made of plaster that was used during the "Green Hornet" period. He donated it to Bruce Lee Enterprises that night. A beautiful gesture.

As Linda and Shannon signed, they mentioned that anyone who wanted to, could return on Sunday morning at 10am to the same restaurant for a breakfast with the cast of "Enter The Dragon": Bob Wall, John Saxon and Jim Kelly as well as Shannon and Linda. Knowing my flight was at 8am, I knew I wouldn't be able to make it. Even though I was disappointed, I was glad to have had the opportunity for this lovely, intimate dinner and time with Shannon and Linda. After a few more minutes, we all bid our farewells and thus ended a most wonderful night. The dinner was to be from 6:30 to 9:30. It ended up going to just past 10:30.

It was an evening I'll never forget. And, the weekend wasn't over yet. Tomorrow was the Gala, benefiting the Bruce Lee Action Museum.

Bruce-Lee-Grave-blogOn Saturday, wearing the Bruce Lee - JKD hoodie, I ran a few miles through the city to the gravesite of Bruce and Brandon Lee. People came and went while I was there and flowers, coins and fruit adorned the ground and tombstones. It was a quiet, peaceful afternoon, a slight mist in the air.

Afterwards, I ran back to the hotel and got ready for the black tie event known as the 2013 Chinese Lunar New Years Gala organized by the Hong Kong Association of Washington Foundation. The entire evening was to benefit the Bruce Lee Action Museum. Proceeds from the ticket price as well as silent and public auctions held at the Gala all went to BLAM.
 
Arriving at the Sheraton Hotel where the Gala was held, I went in and had a wonderful evening of food, drink, socializing and Bruce Lee. At every turn in the huge lobby were many wall sized stand up posters with Bruce Lee pictures and quotes, original paintings depicting Bruce and various auction items.

The silent auction items included Bruce and non-Bruce items. The Bruce ones were everything from an 18 inch "Game of Death" action figure to work out gear to books, including the inaugural Bruce Lee book written by Shannon Lee, which is an exquisite book full of Bruce's history, including posters and rare memorabilia built into the book. Wonderful. It'll be available through www.brucelee.com in the very near future.

The Gala was a wonderful affair with many speakers, including the mayor of Seattle and Shannon Lee herself, who brought up her own daughter to join in, which was beyond adorable. Attending the event were political figures from all areas of government as well as many from American and Chinese corporations and organizations, both in Washington State and elsewhere. There were Chinese New Year dances and performances related to the ancient Chinese culture as well as a live auction where an auctioneer sold many items, with proceeds going to the Bruce Lee Action Museum. The food, wine and entertainment was top notch.

Also in the audience at the table with Linda and Shannon were Jim Kelly, John Saxon and Bob Wall, all of which I saw, but unfortunately didn't personally meet. Having gone to Bruce and Brandon's gravesite, I was late getting to the early pre-Gala part of the evening. It was there that I would've gotten to meet them. I did however get to talk more with Linda and Shannon at the Gala, going up to and hanging around their table.

Shannon-Lee-Myles-Gullette-Linda-Lee-Cadwell-2013-webI thanked them both for everything and wished them the best. Linda remembered my name and I told her, "I would come to the breakfast tomorrow but I've got an 8am flight. I'll be in touch though and I'm sure we'll see each other again." Linda replied, "I'm sure we will." I hugged both Shannon and Linda and before leaving was introduced to and talked with Taky Kumura, who was Bruce Lee's student and first assistant instructor. He was gracious and completely down to earth. He also said that anytime I was in Seattle to come to his classes, free of charge, because I was "family" having been a part of the dinner and weekend. After talking more with Taky and meeting his son, the three of us posed for a picture together.

Around this time, the Gala was winding down. After a few more minutes, soaking in the surroundings, I said another goodbye to Shannon and Bruce Lee Enterprises COO Kris, giving him information about a Seattle artist friend of mine who is interested in doing a mash-up painting of Bruce and Brandon calling it "The Dragon and The Crow". He welcomed the idea. Saying goodbye, I left, returning to my hotel for an early morning flight. What a fantastic and unforgettable weekend this turned out to be.

Bruce Lee said some things that explain why I took this weekend journey to Seattle and to be a part of the Bruce Lee Foundation's efforts to raise money for the Bruce Lee Action Museum:

"You have to create your own luck. You have to be aware of the opportunities around you and take advantage of them."

"If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you'll never get it done."

"Success means doing something sincerely and wholeheartedly."

"Be a practical dreamer backed by action."

"So, action! Action!"

And, there you have it. My weekend with the Lee family. 
-- Submitted by Myles Gullette