CHAPTER 1 – Enter The Dragon
CHAPTER 2 – Dojo 78
CHAPTER 3 – Martial Arts Theatre
CHAPTER 4 – The Tao Of Jeet Kune Do
CHAPTER 5 – The North Side Bully
CHAPTER 6 – JKD and The Big C
CHAPTER 7 – The Problem With JKD
CHAPTER 8 – Death Is No Game
CHAPTER 9 – Artist Of Life
CHAPTER 10 – My JKD and The UFC
CHAPTER 11 – Finding Bruce Lee
I grew up idolizing Bruce Lee. From the time that I saw him on-screen in “Fist of Fury” when I was around seven years old, I tried to imitate him and study his movements and martial arts. I’m sure many kids did the same. My life exploring him and his philosophies spent the next 30+ years watching him, learning his philosophies and applying them to different parts of my life.
It has been an incredible journey to study him and follow his philosophy and fighting art. It is a continuous cycle of self-reflection and learning that doesn’t seem to end. When you study a guy like Bruce Lee and an art like JKD you develop notes and pages of writing, just to try to understand where this guy was coming from. I always thought, I should write a book one day. This is the book.
This book is not a manual or a how-to guide to becoming a master JKD practitioner. This book is a journey into my life studying martial arts, both the physical and the mental side. Always with the master Bruce Lee and it turns out, his JKD closely at my side. He always said;
Knowing is not enough, you must apply. Willing is not enough, you must do.
Over the course of my life I have picked up a lot of martial arts knowledge. This book explains how I applied it to my life in some good times and some bad. I have wanted and willed to write a book about martial arts my whole life. This is the doing of it.
My path of learning has been a fruitful and fulfilling journey to find the charisma, skills and inner strength to confront and conquer the challenges of every day life. This isn’t a Bruce Lee biography or like any other book about Bruce Lee. This is MY book about Bruce Lee and JKD, and how it has intertwined with my sports and family life in my 40+ years of living.
This book is my journey in the world of martial arts.
FINDING BRUCE LEE and MY JKD
ENTER THE DRAGON
Many of the earliest memories I have as a child are with a babysitter or relative of some sort watching me. The weekend I was introduced to Bruce Lee, the myth and movie star was one such weekend. My parents were away partying at a hockey tournament, and my brother and I were staying with my Aunt and Uncle.
I was a bit of a hectic 7-year-old, and for whatever reason, I was already obsessed with martial arts and the art of fighting. It was all hockey and martial arts when I was seven years old. When something is that clear, at that age, one can’t help but wonder if the old saying “born with it,” doesn’t apply.
“No one forced or structured me to practice hockey or martial arts from that early age. It just came from within.”
My uncle asked my brother and I what we wanted to do that Saturday, and I quickly piped up
“Can we rent some martial arts movies?
My uncle laughed loudly at the suggestion, and hoped I would let it pass as the day went on, but I persisted until my uncle responded
“What martial arts movie do you want to get?”
“I want to get the best guy out there. Who’s the best?
“You want the best, I’ll show you the best, his name is Bruce Lee.”
We quickly went to The Movie Shop on St Clair Ave, across from Uncle Roy’s photography studio and home and rented three movies starring Bruce Lee. We rented Fist of Fury, Chinese Connection and Return of The Dragon. All North American titles and versions. I watched all three in a row for the remainder of the day. I’m not sure what my brother, aunt or uncle did, but I didn’t move for the next five or six hours except to imitate the electrifying energy I was seeing on the screen.
The biggest thing I learned about watching Bruce Lee in the first three movies was how fast and direct he was in his fighting. The way he simultaneously blocked and attacked. THE STOP-HIT was born.
The other big thing was that he beat people up only when he had to as a last resort, and only for a really good cause. He often fought for the underdog, and that turned into my cause in many ways.
Hooked, Mesmerized. Obsessed from that day on. Like many other kids in the 1980’s, my life fascination with Bruce Lee was born.
Based on the three Bruce Lee movies I had seen and the movie star I knew alone, I set up my own personal martial arts dojo. It was in the basement of our family home at 78 Northland Dr. in Chatham, Ontario Canada. and I set it up completely with imitating his style and movement in mind.
Bruce Lee said;
The first stage is known as the primitive stage, the second the stage of art, and the third the stage of artlessness. At this point in my life, as a seven-year old in 1980, I began the primitive stage of my Bruce Lee, and JKD learning. IMITATION
Dojo 78 had:
- a homemade heavy bag, made with a draw string gym bag stuffed with bath and beach towels. Hung from a very low ceiling.
- a free weight set
- a homemade hockey style wrist curler made with a butt end of a hockey stick with a hockey skate lace and a five-pound weight attached to it.
- makeshift wooden dummy that I made on the wood panelled wall of my basement using an old coat rack
- a wooden set of nunchaku made with two sawed off hockey stick butt ends and a skate lace between them. I was way too young to really practice or use them, but I wanted some “numchucks” as people like to call them, so I made the set. I started practicing with them in a few years time.
With all these things in place, my small town, Japanese-Canadian-Catholic parents thought I was the devil. They thought I wanted to learn how to kick and punch people, beat people up for fun.
I am here to tell you that the TRUE practice of martial arts involves so much more than fighting. Fighting, or learning how to fight to defend yourself is part of it, but when you get into the study of Bruce Lee, you have to be ready for a complete journey. Mentally and Physically.
When it came to martial arts, I snuck around my parents, and began my relentless study of Bruce Lee and his skills and movements. On my own.
The carpet of our small rectangular room in the basement had an awful collage of pieces of rug and carpet of all different shapes, styles and colours. This came in handy as I practiced footwork and movement patterns throughout my days and nights. I would move slide and shuffle from spot to spot, jabbing, ducking, kicking at the heavy bag as I moved.
I always visualized an opponent in order to train my distance of defence and attack.
My basement switched back and forth between a hockey arena, where I trained for hockey by visualizing, and practicing my moves and my shot almost every day, and a martial arts dojo, where I studied the ferociously fast techniques and slick movements that I saw in Bruce Lee’s three movies.
MARTIAL ARTS THEATRE
Ten years old and after numerous hours of copying Bruce Lee’s movements and techniques, I began a next phase in my martial arts learning.
I started sneaking downstairs and staying up on Saturday nights for Eddie Murphy, Joe Piscopo and Saturday Night Live and then right after on channel 50 WKBD Detroit was Charlie Lum and “Martial Arts Theatre”.
My Saturday’s became a can’t miss ritual of;
8pm: Hockey Night In Canada
11pm: Saturday Night Live
1230am: Martial Arts Theatre
Martial Arts Theatre played all the best vintage martial arts movies, and the show was hosted and narrated by “Charlie Lum.” He was a tall lanky white guy who was dressed up in a karate gi and had slanted eyes make up and a Fu Manchu mustache. Even though it completely made fun of my heritage, I laughed at him weekly, and it prepared my humour for many more racist encounters throughout my childhood.
Charlie the host pronounced his name “Charrie Rum” in a direct joke at Asian people’s inability to properly pronounce L’s in the English language. In broken Asian English, the L’s are R’s and the R’s are L’s if you can get a handle on that. The word “Life” becomes “Rife” and in a disgustingly ironic twist, the word Rice becomes “Lice.”
In my childhood, I was asked repeatedly by my grandma if “I wanted lice” for dinner.
Charlie would set up the movie at the beginning of the show and then make comedic comments at each commercial break. No matter or mind what he did, I was there for the martial arts action.
Every Saturday night, after Saturday Night Live I would sneak back downstairs and watch the movie of the week. I saw so many different vintage martial arts movies between 1983 and 1988, and I took movements and techniques from each one.
I was introduced to and watched nearly one hundred vintage and modern martial arts movies in the 1980’s.
A young Jackie Chan exploded on my screen in Young Master, Drunken Master, Fearless Hyena and many more of his Hong Kong made movies. Jackie’s comedic, acrobatic and prop fighting style made an incredible impression on me. Jackie Chan was the master of beating people up, while making it look like he was trying to avoid beating people up. It was very flashy and dynamic, yet not the most practical. I already knew Jackie Chan well when I saw him in Cannonball Run in 1981 and long before he hit it big in the west with “Rumble In The Bronx” in 1995.
The stoic Sonny Chiba in The Street Fighter series and The Executioner. Sonny studied Kyokushin Karate under the legendary Mas Oyama, and his fighting style was harder and more direct than Chan’s. Not nearly as fast and flashy, but extremely effective and direct. Kyokushin Karate was later made famous to the world by UFC champion Georges St-Pierre in the UFC Octagon.
Big man Sammo Hung, was another top student at the China Drama Academy, the same acrobatic arts school that Chan studied at. I saw Hung in “The Victim” which to this day is one of my favorite martial arts movies of all time. Hung was a big, robust man, but his speed and agility on the screen was mesmerizing and his comedic expressions and timing were hilarious. He taught me to never underestimate a robust man in any sport or fight.
In the western main stream, I watched and studied all of Chuck Norris’ movies of the 1980’s. Norris was a solid combination of speed and power, not to mention he was a REAL, successful competition karate fighter under the tutelage of the greatest combat Fighter of that current time, Joe Lewis.
Both Norris and Lewis sparred and trained with Bruce Lee, and all had held their own against the other. Lewis also credits Lee with helping him improve his competition game by teaching him more direct attacks.
Of course, Lee helped Norris get his start in the movie business by casting him as the villain Colt in his movie “Return of The Dragon.” The battle in the Coliseum is one of the most famous fight scenes in martial arts movie history.
My favorite Norris flicks were The Octagon, Breaker Breaker, Code of Silence and the Missing In Action trilogy.
Other notables that I studied on-screen were Bruce Lee imitators Bruce Le, Dragon Lee and my favorite imitator Bruce Li. I watched all of Sho Kosugi’s ninja films and also started to follow the works of the great Akira Kurosawa.
In studying and practicing martial arts and in ice hockey as well, I used visualization before NHL player Paul Kariya made it a thing in the early 1990’s. From the earliest age that I can remember, I watched Wayne Gretzky and the very best hockey players, and I watched Bruce Lee and the very best martial artists, and I copied their movements and patterns and tried to get inside their heads.
For three years, I was intensely immersed in The primitive stage of martial arts learning.
It was almost time to turn my attention to the second stage of learning.
In hockey and in JKD:
There is what they call, “initial imitation” in “the primitive stage” of learning. You are studying and copying skills and movements without really caring, grasping or understanding the movements or why you are doing them.
Eventually you will master and get bored with the imitation movements, and you will seek the knowledge behind why you are doing them in order to fully understand and improve their effectiveness. This is when you enter the second stage of learning.
THE TAO OF JEET KUNE DO
After studying nearly one hundred different martial arts movies and some pretty cool and athletic practitioners. I was always left with one question in my mind. How many of these movements, techniques and styles would actually work in a real fight?
Would a flying, spinning back kick or the techniques of various animal styles actually get the job done in a real situation on the street? What about fighting and getting stronger with each stiff drink of alcohol like Chan does in Drunken Master? There are many approaches, styles and moves, which one works best?
I felt I had developed and conditioned my body and mind for both hockey and martial arts, and I felt strong beyond my years, but if needed on the street, I certainly didn’t have a one-fingered death-blow.
This REAL question always led me back to the quotes, movements, techniques and movies of one fighter, and that was Bruce Lee. His techniques looked the most REAL.
At this point, I had seen the other two (one and a half to be exact, as we all know what happened with Game of Death) of Bruce Lee’s movies including his Hollywood smash, “Enter The Dragon,” the movie that thrust him into a global superstar, A term I would later find out he despised, as he admitted in his 1971 Hong Kong interview with Canadian journalist Pierre Berton. One of my favorite Lee quotes;
I initially knew Bruce Lee as a movie star, but it wasn’t long before I started to discover that he was much more than a martial arts movie star who fought for the camera. He was a pretty charismatic, philosophical and cool guy.
He was known world-wide as a true martial artist and philosopher. I had to explore that and try to discover Bruce Lee more in-depth. It turned out that there was much more to the man than acting and movies.
This was when I discovered that Bruce Lee was also known by his Chinese name Lee Jun-Fan and also his Cantonese name Lee Siu Loong.
In trying to understand the question, “Why am I doing this? I needed to know why I was training my body and mind as a martial artist more than just because I really enjoyed it.
Through this search, I began to get a complete understanding of Bruce Lee’s teachings.
In the time before the internet and DVD’s, I discovered Bruce Lee’s best-selling book, “The Tao Of Jeet Kune Do” one summer in a Toronto book store.
Through finding the book, the “Tao Of Jeet Kune Do” I truly realized that Bruce Lee was an all-encompassing martial artist and philosopher, not just an actor or an action movie star.
JEET KUNE DO (JKD) IS BRUCE LEE’S OWN FIGHTING ART.
My hobby became a comprehensive study of his one book and I searched for all of his other materials through any means I could. Books he had written, articles in magazines, and T.V. shows on anything he did.
It is not easy to technically learn from a book. I had no other choice. Where was I going to find a JKD school or even a single JKD teacher in Chatham? I certainly wasn’t going to ask my parents. It was during this time that my martial arts learning became very static, fragmented and dull. I had to refine my learning though. I had to eliminate inefficient movements and Bruce Lee’s diagrams and technical knowledge taught me how to do that.
Aside from the technical aspects of kicking, punching and footwork, JKD and it’s concepts/philosophy are very diverse and very deep and often difficult to understand. JKD looks to simplify combat, but it takes a bit to understand how to get there. Many of the key sayings and philosophies as I see them will be simplified and scattered throughout this book, however;
My JKD or JKD as I can grasp it, can be simplified into Ten Simple Concepts that are easy to understand including this one below;
As a young man to this point in my life, I had occasion to use my mental JKD in my time playing ice hockey. I was a pretty solid young player, and I was using my martial arts and hockey training to do some pretty cool things out on the ice. It wasn’t so much physical as it was mental. I felt like I was on another level compared to other players my age, and my skating and visualization in Arena 78 was the reason.
However, not a game would go by that I wasn’t physically challenged on the ice with verbal threats, defensive hacks, whacks, trips and holds in the great Canadian game of hockey.
I hadn’t been targeted or physically abused like I was much later in my playing days, but the abuse I was taking was much worse. It was racial and therefore mental/emotional and because I was such a young kid.
Not many games or days would go by when a racial slur wasn’t hurled in my direction. By young and old alike; players, coaches, spectators in the stands, I was a Chink. A Nip, A Jap and the saying “you gonna Pearl Harbour me” was often thrown my way.
I laughed outwardly along with my teammates and buddies, while I seethed and struggled inside. I would often take it out on the heavy bag later in Dojo 78, since I couldn’t beat them up right then and there. I used my skill in hockey to keep piling up the goals and wins, and used my mental martial arts and JKD training to stay disciplined, rise above the racial taunts, and use it to fuel me day after day. Many of the insults were too ignorant to even take offence to.
I learned this best from my mom one time when I was home after a game and complaining about a guy who had called me a Chink in my game earlier in the day. She simply said;
Oh stop your whining about it. It just shows how stupid he is. You aren’t even a Chink you are a Jap, you tell them that next time they call you that.
But I’m a Canadian I thought to myself……
THE NORTH SIDE BULLY
At the age of thirteen, along with hockey and martial arts, I was also in the choir at my local catholic church and had not had any encounters or problems on the mean streets of Chatham. All of this to say that in terms of image. I was pretty much a model citizen. Small town 80’s means there is not very much trouble to find, and not much leeway from the parents to find it.
I was using some training and concepts in school sports in hockey, and now lacrosse but I had never had a situation where I could really see if my JKD really worked in a FIGHT. All of my training had been inside Dojo 78. I had never had an actual opponent, I had only trained on wooden dummies and heavy bags.
In the winter of 1986, all of that was about to change.
I worshipped my older brother when I was a kid growing up. I followed him and his friends around the neighbourhood every chance I got. One day after school,, trouble came looking for my brother.
In the winter of ’86, he showed up at home after school one day with his face wrapped in bandages. My parents and my brother wouldn’t tell me what had happened. I was thirteen and my journalistic side was starting to bud. After hearing some gossip and digging in a bit in the neighborhood, I found out that he had a run in with the neighbourhood bully over a girl that they both liked. The bully confronted my brother and he didn’t fight back. My brother was a lover not a fighter.
My brother was sixteen and so was the bully. I was thirteen but I didn’t care one bit. Like Bruce Lee in “Fist of Fury” family blood had been spilled and payback was warranted. I was seething as my parents ordered me not to do anything to the bully.
The anger eased over the next few days, but that didn’t mean I was going to let it go. I wasn’t
I knew who the guy was as my brother and parents had talked about him a few times because of his habit of spitting on our lawn and our street as he walked by.. I also knew where he lived.
He was older, he was bigger, but I didn’t care. I’m taking this guy on.
I wrote an anonymous letter challenging him to a fight and I put it in a sealed envelope with his name and address on it. I dropped it in his mailbox. The challenge was a week from the day, at 4pm on the soccer field at Tecumseh High School. The huge field at Tecumseh was right behind my house and right in between his house and mine so it was a fair neutral venue.
Yes, I had seen too many martial arts movies, but I was pretty sure the bully would be curious to find out who had sent him this challenge.
The day had come and I had no idea what was going to happen, but I asked my friend to watch from his house because you could see the Tecumseh soccer field from his backyard. I didn’t tell him why but he said he would watch. I was confident but very anxious and nervous. I had to calm my mind and trust the events that would come.
After school, I went to the field alone. I assumed the bully would show up. Of course he was bigger and older than I was, but I was ready with a JKD arsenal.
He had beaten up my brother, I was ready to test my JKD and hopefully get some revenge..
It didn’t take long before I saw him coming through the field on the other side, with one of his stooges at his side. I could also see my friend in the distance running up behind them.
The bully and his buddy stopped a few feet away from me. He laughed at me and threw the envelope with the letter as he said my name. He knew who I was, and he warned me to go home.
After telling him I wasn’t going anywhere unless he apologized for hurting my brother the bully sealed his fate when he nodded for his stooge to make a move on me. His friend lunged at me with a looping punch that I saw coming from a mile away. He was heavy, but slow and fairly short so as I side-stepped the punch, I quickly figured a swift roundhouse kick to the head would be a nice weapon here. I threw up my kick to his head. and it landed flush to his temple. He dropped instantly. Out cold face down on the grass. Hmm…. maybe too much I thought to myself. It wasn’t him I was really after.
Before I looked up, the bully charged at me from where he was a few feet away. He must have been a football player because he buried his head down as he charged ahead to tackle me.
Both of these guys were big, but terribly predictable and I shifted my feet and shot my knee up fiercely as his head got into range. My knee hit him flush on the nose and he crumpled down on his face, blood spilling out of his nose, staining the damp grass red. Revenge delivered.
I was pumping with adrenaline as I grabbed my buddy and started to run back towards his house. I didn’t want to stick around, but I wanted to see what would happen when they both came to.
My JKD had worked, and I knew it was real now.
In hindsight, I should not have used those techniques on them. I should have toyed with them a bit like Jackie Chan. I probably could have sent my message without knocking them both out. JKD is direct and deadly. It may not be proper to use it in a regular fight, but only in a much more serious situation..
Still, my assessment of the encounter was positive. Two strikes had done it. No wasted movement or energy. Got out unscathed. JKD at it’s best.
The bully was never heard from again (except I heard from others that he had a broken nose). Unfortunately, my friend could not keep quiet about the whole thing and it became the talk of the town. My parents found out within days and I was grounded from hockey for a month. From St Agnes Parish out to St. Peter’s Parish on the river, the town adults gossiped about the “aggressive” child. My mom led the way.
JKD and THE BIG C
At the age of fifteen, I was deeply immersed in the Tao of Jeet Kune Do and all of its teachings, at the same time I was entering high school with honors and enjoying playing all kinds of sports.
I was still in the second stage of JKD learning, not really certain of where things were or why they were that way, I was very much in the same stage in hockey. I was a skill player, and my coaches were constantly on me about dumping the puck in and playing a more physical, “bigger” style of game. Ontario’s own Eric Lindros was literally the next big thing in hockey, and the whole game was going big. There was nothing I could do about my size, and I thought that the BIG philosophy was going to ruin the natural flow of the game. I was stubborn in my approach and I clashed with some of my coaches.
“But coach, in my opinion a dump in is a giveaway and we work so hard to get the puck. I don’t get it? Can’t I keep puck possession?” I pleaded.
“Your opinion doesn’t mean shit to me Wakabayashi, dump the puck in or your scrawny, kung fu ass will be pinned to the bench.” he responded.
“Good talk coach. Good talk.”
I was stuck in this back and forth with my coaches when life hit me with a Bruce Lee kick straight to the gut.
My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in the spring of 1988, just after I had entered high school. My brother had always been my mentor and my rock to talk to, but he had just moved away to Connecticut to attend Canterbury Prep School in New Milford, Connecticut.
I could not concentrate or focus on anything after hearing about my mom and not having my brother there to guide me as I usually did. My parents didn’t even tell me about mom themselves, rather I had heard it from my brother in a brief phone call in late March.
I wasn’t feeling myself at all. Beneath the surface and unknown to me, I was battling the ultimate battle against an unknown opponent. Depression
I lost myself in The Tao of Jeet Kune Do, and everything Bruce Lee, as a way to figure out how to move forward.
THE PROBLEM WITH JKD
In Chatham in the 1980’s, no one was aware of the value of martial arts. There was no talk of it and there certainly was nowhere to learn its inner meaning or philosophical value. Even the wisest teacher and oldest person in the town could not grasp the life value or deeper meaning that the study of Bruce Lee or Jeet Kune Do could have.
There was a Tae Kwon Do school that opened up in the city, run by a man named Master Jung, but very few people in the town attended it. My friend Shane took lessons and excelled in it. My other buddy Phil also had a keen interest in martial arts and we talked about it a lot. They were the only people who understood any of it at all.
Today, there are, martial arts and karate schools on almost every corner in the bigger cities.
It was my passion and hobby. I lost myself in the study, understanding and practical training of Jeet Kune Do. In my opinion, I was becoming very good at it and almost ready to take the next step.
There is also a real problem with the third stage of JKD in that it is too direct and potentially harmful to really practice it in any way. Although Bruce Lee himself did this, I couldn’t go walking around picking fights with people, just to get good and test my own level. There was no one to practice with or against where I was growing up, and JKD is not something that is easy to practice.
There really was no way of testing it out on a regular basis. I needed to be able to practice and make it my own.
That was about to change with the dawn of the UFC.
The introduction of The Ultimate Fighting Championship was a real significant time for a kid practicing martial arts. It became a chance to really see which art, style or in the case of JKD, which individual was the best at what they did. As noted in this book, I followed hand-to-hand combat long before the dawn of the UFC.
With my Japanese heritage, I had relatives that lived in Japan and I was already following Shooto shows out of that country. My uncle in Japan was friends with a professional wrestler named Giant Baba. My knowledge of Shooto was why I picked star Ken Shamrock as my runaway favorite to win UFC 1.
Like everyone else in the martial arts world, I was shocked that Royce Gracie beat Shamrock and won the whole thing. Of course, the biggest thing that the introduction of the UFC did for me was give me a whole new level of respect and need for jiu jitsu and submissions. I quickly obtained videos and vhs seminars and increased my knowledge and training of chokes, ankle locks, leg locks and arm locks.
DEATH IS NO GAME
By the early 90’s I had moved to B.C. with my parents and was attending University studying English/Communications. I felt like I was as knowledgeable in JKD as anyone around, even in a big city like Vancouver.
After courageously beating cancer into remission the initial time, it was back with a vengeance in my mom, I will never forget mom was in the hospital and we were in the kitchen of our Richmond home when my Aunt Sue said;
The cancer has come back. It has made its way into her brain
My legs gave out and I would have collapsed to the floor if I hadn’t grabbed the kitchen counter top on my way down.
We were just getting into our new surroundings and life in Vancouver when the illness came back.
In a period of a few months, my dad, my brother and I took turns living at the hospital, our sports store, and home. I was also in school and playing Jr hockey in Richmond B.C. for the Sockeyes. I had my first good friends and girlfriend in my time in Vancouver, a beautiful girl from Ladner B.C.
I had too much on my plate and was stretching it too thin. I wasn’t training in JKD.
I tried as hard as I could to spend as much time as I could in the hospital, but one night I got there late and as I approached the room my mom was blasting my brother and my dad with an expletive-filled rant about all that was wrong with them. It was horrible what she was saying and before she could see me, I darted out back down the hall, ran out to my car and took off down the road back home.
I felt horrible for my mom, brother and my dad as I drove up Broadway St towards home. Right around then I passed the True Confections Dessert Café that had become a family favorite in our time in Vancouver.
I decided to stop and grab something for my brother and my dad. I was still kind of raging from the hospital and there was no real spot available to park. I pulled up and parked beside a spot but not in a spot and quickly ran in the store.
As I waited inside for my order I kept my eye on my car to make sure I wasn’t blocking anyone in the parking lot. Turns out, I was blocking a car in so I ran outside to move the car for the young couple. I apologized and put my hand up as went to get in my car and I was greeted with;
That’s right, move your car you fucking asshole!
The woman’s voice rang out from a spot just to the side of where I was.
“What do you think I’m doing here princess, sorry for the five-second inconvenience !” I shouted back.
The driver’s side door of their car opened and a big, younger, athletic looking guy came walking towards me.
“What did you say man?” he said
“I’m sorry but I’m not in the mood,” I said
I could tell he wasn’t going to stop. He grabbed my shirt with his left hand and reared back with the other. I had already let him get in my range. I reacted.
The next thing I knew, I was being pulled off of him by a complete stranger and being told to get in my car and take off. The guy was unconscious on the parking lot ground, right beside my car. I took off.
I didn’t even grab the cake and pie that I had ordered and payed for. I went home and curled up in my bed. I wasn’t proud of what I had done. I had lost my temper and it wasn’t very JKD at all. Once settled, I started to remember I straight blasted the guy with wing chun punches and didn’t stop.
In the early months of 1993, while I was bouncing around between university, work, hockey and just before mom went into the hospital for the last time, the late Bruce Lee and his family would suffer a tragedy beyond words. Bruce’s only son Brandon, himself a budding action movie actor and worldwide star, was killed in a prop firearm mishap on the set of his new movie, “The Crow.” Brandon Lee passed away on March 31st, 1993.
After a long battle with cancer, my mom passed away on August 16th, 1993. I was looking straight ahead at dealing with her death.
I looked around and reached out for something, anything to guide me to a light during this dark time. I looked to my brother, my dad, my relatives, my friends and…. even Bruce Lee. No one in my life had anything for me, but I was left with a couple of thoughts. One was that death and loss can happen to anybody, it is not exclusive to me. You can’t feel sorry for yourself. You have to push on.
Ultimately, I knew no one was going to help or save me. The strength and know how to come out of this funk had to come from within.
It is in this period of my life, in my early twenty’s, that I ended up getting into quite a few incidents or confrontations in my life on and off the ice. I will spare the details of each and every one of my encounters, but I applied my JKD accordingly to each and every fight.
There were fights on the ice. I never started them, but I always finished them with quick straight lead punches right up the center line. I found many guys winging it from the outside, throwing wild hooks for the knockout punch, meanwhile they were completely off-balance as they ate my blasts to the face.
There were drunken incidents at pool halls, bars and cinemas all throughout the lower mainland of B.C.
One particular incident occurred around thanksgiving. A few friends and I were enjoying a nice partying night at the “Wild Coyote” bar that was located under the Arthur Lang bridge between Vancouver and Richmond B.C. We had gotten into an argument inside the bar at closing time and it spilled outside into the parking lot. They had four guys and we had three so it wasn’t a very smart play to get into it with these guys but I really wasn’t too worried. The two groups of guys shouted at each other a bit before things looked like they had calmed down. Our group headed home, a short walk from the bar, but we were quickly cut off on the road by a car pulling in front of us. The four guys stepped out.
A few more words were exchanged while I was assessing the guy in front of me. I knew the altercation was coming and my mind was calm. I actually almost had us talked out of it when the shit hit the fan with two guys behind me and my guy took a looping swing at me.
I ducked and grabbed his coat at the chest with both my hands. I turned with him in complete control and started back peddling as he swung both arms at me. I blocked each hook with my elbows and executed a vicious bicycle kick on the guy, simultaneously throwing him with a judo throw and flinging him up with my two legs.
The guy must have flown ten feet in the air and he landed straight down on the top of his head in a dangerous thud. I actually did a kip up to get back up to my feet and was poised and ready for more. The guy stayed down and motionless on the street, but I quickly realized that I was in a stand-off with two of the other guys.
My one friend Eddie was on the ground holding his forehead as blood poured out between his fingers, and my other buddy Paul was nowhere to be found. One of the guys had taken off after Paul. Two guys left for me. Oh boy I thought as I got into my best Bruce Lee stance. I looked both guys straight in the eyes.
I SMILED AND MADE THE “COME ON” MOTION WITH MY LEAD LEFT HAND.
BOTH DUDES LOOKED AT EACH OTHER, LOOKED AT ME, THEN PICKED UP THEIR BUDDY OFF THE STREET, GOT IN THEIR CAR AND DROVE AWAY.
I took off looking for the fourth guy and my buddy Paul. I found him later back at his apartment around the Granville and 51st block of Vancouver. His eye was purple and swollen shut but he was fine.
I will never forget my family thanksgiving dinner that year at my Uncle Herb and Aunt Sue’s house. All my friends and relatives had been invited and we sat around the huge table at dinner. Obviously everyone was curious so we had to tell the tale of the night before as Eddie sat there eating his turkey with fifteen stitches in his head and Paul ate his stuffing looking through a swollen, shut-eye.
I smiled and laughed as I ate my mashed potatoes and gravy with everybody asking me why I didn’t have a scratch on me? Did I run? Did those guys take mercy on me cause I’m a little guy?
I took care of my guy with JKD, and I was ready to take out the other two as well, and they took off..
Everyone shook their heads, laughed and looked at me like they just couldn’t quite believe me. I love JKD.
Mentally, I felt lost after my mom died. I felt far from my ultimate inner self and I had a lot on my life plate, however I seemed to be using JKD physically more than ever. It was a very sweet release. The stuff works if you train your body and mind. I was purposely immature and blowing off steam. No one got really seriously hurt, and I came out of all encounters completely unscathed. It got me out of messes, while giving me a sweet release for my anger.
During this dark time, I got into about seven fights on the street and about five more on the ice and I only lost one time and that was on the ice in my final season of junior hockey.. The guy was huge and got inside with an uppercut. He landed his fist square on my nose and I dropped. I came to, but not in time to exact any revenge. It was one punch and I should have seen it coming.
I would peg my complete fighting record at 12-1. The trained techniques I used most in all of my fights were;
- quick strikes, right up the middle. I could throw equally and accurately with both hands
- constant and slick footwork
- The Stop-Hit. I would defend and attack all at once. You must be able to anticipate the attack to do this
- conditioning. I never got tired in my encounters on the street or on the ice.
I knew that fighting around and losing my temper was not the JKD way. The irony was, it was kind of mom’s worst fears playing out just as she passed away, but I needed a release, an outlet for my anger and grief. Fighting was helping me release the demons and my JKD training was making sure I didn’t get hurt in the process.
Over the next months I looked inside hard and at everything that I was doing in my life and I decided to eliminate the fighting and partying I had been doing since my mom had passed. I thought that keeping busy with good friends, focussing on school, hockey and improving my grasp of my mental JKD would be the best thing for my recovery.
That fall, in my last year of playing junior hockey in B.C., I took advantage of a cool opportunity on a trip to Seattle to play a league game. It was on a Friday night and the team took a bus to the game, however, I asked my friend and my girlfriend to drive down behind the bus, watch the game and we would stay over until the next day.
I had a great game and scored a couple of goals. I felt light and stress free on the ice. I also felt like I was coming out of the fog of loss.
We explored Seattle a bit the next day and I took them to the Lake View cemetery and the grave of Bruce Lee. A great opportunity to pay my respects and gain back some JKD mojo. It lifted me up out of a deep depression, and set me back on my way. His son Brandon was buried right beside him.
In paying my respects to both Bruce and Brandon, and with my mom resting in peace in a beautiful place at St. Peter’s Church outside of Chatham, I almost felt like I was mentally strong and fine.
Without really realizing it, I had really begun the third stage of JKD learning towards wu wei or chi sao as they call it. The state of Wu wei is when you have done something so much for so long, that you don’t even have to think about it anymore. It flows. I felt a really strong flow in my life.
Everyone, in every walk of life should strive to achieve wu wei in what they are doing. Practice and do it enough that it becomes second nature to you. Then, add your own style and flare to it!
Time to learn about another passion in my life;
WRITING AND JOURNALISM
The Third Stage of Learning.
ARTIST OF LIFE
I am twenty-five years old now and back to where I grew up, Ontario. I wasn’t living in the small town of Chatham, but had decided to attend Journalism School in Toronto.
Mom gone for five years now, and the grieving dormant I move to the Malvern area of Scarborough, one of the toughest areas in Canada.
It was around this time that I really started to learn about the true scope of Bruce Lee as an artist of life. I had found out through my research that before Bruce Lee had made it big in television and the movies in the 1960’s and 70’s, he was a very famous child actor when he was growing up in Hong Kong. I had no idea that by the age of eighteen years old, Bruce Lee had acted and starred in 20 Chinese films.
I had been involved in drama classes and plays since a very young age and I had also auditioned for a bunch of things to that point in my life. It was just a nice passion and hobby, and a fun way to make extra cash along the way. Have you ever wanted to be in a movie? That was my goal, and I had fun with it.
Through my life, I tracked all the acting things that I had done and auditioned for in a document, and although I don’t audition for much anymore, I still have the portfolio;
ACTING AND EXTRA PORTFOLIO
- Josiah – 1980 Church Christmas Cantata lead role – two songs one duet and one solo and many lines. Was asked to do the part and accepted.
- Toronto Casting Agency – 1989-90 terrible appointment – was chased out by the agent who thought I was wasting her time
- Bernardo – 1991 West Side Story high school senior musical. Signed on late to be an extra as they were looking for Puerto Ricans and then was asked to replace the supporting lead 3 weeks out. Learned all the lines dances and songs.
- “Miss Saigon” – 1992 in Vancouver open auditions for the ensemble.
- “The Hat Squad” – 1992 extra (street-walker in Gas town)
- “Intersection” – 1992 major motion picture – extra for various background scenes
- “Strangers Among Us” –1992 tv special extra
- “The Heights” – 1992 extra in café scene favorite café in Vancouver on Broadway
- “Miracle” major motion picture Disney– 2000 – auditioned in the Vancouver open auditions
- “Leafs TV Kids TV Show” 2001 – audition video made in Vancouver. Made it to the final ten auditions
- “Making The Cut”- 2007 CBC reality show about hockey players trying to earn a pro contract
- “Total Recall” – 2011 extra in the movie three days on set. I am in one scene very briefly
I only mention these things, because in my opinion, pursuing these things took a lot of courage and confidence. These pursuits are rife with disappointment and rejection, and you must not let it bother you. I learned this confidence and approach directly from studying Bruce Lee.
When I was younger I was also fascinated with magazines and articles and the great sports writers of the world. It started at an early age because of my grandpa Tokuzo and the stacks of Japanese Ice Hockey magazines that he had in his closet. Even though I could not read a word in Japanese, they were so shiny and colorful that I was mesmerized by them.
There were stacks and stacks of The Hockey News magazines built up in my room, and I followed early writers and editors like Bob Mackenzie, Mike Brophy and Steve Dryden. I bought every issue before the internet came along.
I had developed a passion for writing a journal to express my innermost thoughts and dreams.
Acting, Hockey, Martial Arts, Reading, Writing. I wanted to be an Artist of Life. My inspiration and confidence to pursue this came directly from studying Bruce Lee and from within myself.
Many people share these types of passions, but aside from combat, JKD teaches you to have the courage, confidence and perseverance to pursue your dreams.
I had just finished studying journalism at Centennial College in the East York area of Toronto. The year that I started my studies, the East York campus had just been renovated and opened in the building that was the old Degrassi High School shown in the popular Canadian TV show. Now, it was a media campus all shiny and new, and I attended for two years and got my print journalism diploma.
Lucky to have written over 2500+ features and articles on mixed martial arts and the UFC. I have also written on other sports like hockey, baseball, lacrosse and boxing. I also published a book in 2017, about my good friend Perry Pappas and his successful hockey career and courageous battle with cancer. The book is called “The Toughest Guy In Here” and the piece of work I am most proud of.
My passion for writing and the courage and confidence to express myself comes directly from studying Bruce Lee and is part of my Jeet Kune Do.
- 2002 – Hockeyfights.com – wrote play-by-play for fights and editorial articles
- 2006 – 2009 – MMACanada.com – Mixed Martial Arts articles, rankings
- 2009 – 2015 – Bleacher Report – Featured Columnist/Syndicated Writer MMA articles published worldwide.
- 2011 – 2013 – Sportsnet – Featured Columnist MMA
- 2009 – present Chatham-Kent Sports Network Sports Articles and MMA Editor
- 2009 – present Nikkei Voice – Japanese Canadian Newspaper – Sports
- 2009 – present Wakafighter.com – This is my own website where I blog my own material of inspirational stories and publish my own books.
- 2017 – Published small book, “The Toughest Guy In Here” 8,000 copies read all around the world.
With the age of the internet to search, older, and with a little bit of money saved, I also wanted to physically practice my JKD to get better so I looked and hoped I would find a practical JKD teacher/practitioner in the big city. I found the JKD Association of Toronto and started taking lessons under Peter Chassikos.
BRUCE LEE 1ST GENERATION STUDENTS
Taky Kimura, Dan Inosanto, James Lee, Danny Lee, Ted Wong
My Bruce Lee Lineage
In addition to all the time and study I have put into JKD throughout my life, through my actual training with Peter Chassikos and JKD Toronto in the BenJungle of Scarborough, I am proud to say that I have trained with a person with an actual lineage to Bruce Lee.
I trained briefly with Peter Chassikos. He trained directly under Makoto Katayama. Makoto Katayama was certified under Paul Vunak and Paul Vunak is certified under Bruce Lee’s original student Dan Inosanto. Peter also trained directly with Dan Inosanto, Paul Vunak and Larry Hartsell, all first and second generation Bruce Lee students.
By no means am I a certified JKD instructor. Not even close. However, you can see through this book that I am a well-intentioned and well-studied JKD practitioner.
It is time for me to take the best of my almost thirty years of study in martial arts, writing and sports and apply it to something.
My journey to find Bruce Lee and My JKD took me right inside the UFC.
MY JKD and THE UFC
I am now thirty-three years old, with a new-born child, and working in the Consumer Packaged Goods Industry. That is the industry of anything and everything in the Grocery Store and Retail Outlet store. I worked for a seafood company in Marketing. My job was to track all the money going back and forth between the sales guys and our customers and I was also a commodity seafood pricing analyst. A very boring, desk and computer style job that I had never thought I would ever have. I did this job as my career for 12+ years.
For passion and excitement that I could not find in CPG, I was doing journalism on the side writing articles and features on the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) for a company called MMACanada. I had also been writing for Hockeyfights.com since 2001, a website that does play-by-play tracking and reporting on all the fights in the NHL. I was also training JKD about two times a week with Peter Chassikos in his garage in the BenJungle.
A solid knowledge of mixed martial arts techniques combined with my Canadian/JKD angle coverage of the fights got me on the inside of the UFC. I branded myself as the man who covers the sport always with a JKD and Bruce Lee angle and with a focus on the fight analysis of Canadian fighters and shows..I wrote three to four articles a week and was contracted out as a paid freelance journalist. With my background, I could game plan, analyze and break down the fights in words as well as almost anyone around.
Around this time, mixed martial arts shows and competitions were finally legalized in my home province of Ontario, so I started to attend the shows as a credentialed media member under Charles Ruocco’s MMACanada banner. I wanted to be the fight guy in Canada. If there was a martial arts or boxing fight going on in the country, I wanted to be there, telling you blow-by-blow how the fight was turning out. I wanted to report the stories and lives of the great fighters around the world.
Attracted by hard research, the chance to tell real and compelling stories, I wanted to get to the heart of both sides of a story. To develop the type of relationships with the fighters that made them want to talk to me. I wanted to be a journalist who could shed a positive light on the world. All of these things seem to be lost in journalism today.
It was never my dream to follow anonymous Twitter wars, dig into the darkest places of personal lives, rush to get scoops out without doing due-diligence on the facts or amass legions of shallow followers on social media. All of these things seem to be the hallmarks of journalism in 2018.
I was living in Toronto at the time, but having grown up an hour down the road from London, Ontario. I was familiar with some of the best fighters in Canada. Along with the fighters at Tristar gym in Montreal, Quebec, London Ontario was the home to some of the very first and best fighters Canada has ever put in the UFC. Team Tompkins and the Adrenaline Training Center.
On another note;
There has always been a debate in the MMA world about JKD and it’s effectiveness in MMA and specifically, the UFC. Here is my two cents on JKD and it’s use in MMA or the UFC.
It’s a moot point because real JKD is not for sport – JKD in its purest form is not for sport so it is hard to say whether a JKD practitioner would fare well in the “sport combat” of the MMA or the UFC. For example, in my JKD, if I was across from most or any guy in the UFC I would be a bit frightened and want to get out of it right away without getting hurt myself. Whether it is Sam Stout, GSP, Anderson Silva, or even Brock Lesnar, I would be going for eye-gauges and groin shots right away. I would target the most vulnerable spots in the body. You may say that is dirty and not allowed in sport fighting, and you are correct it is and therefore the whole dilemma. In JKD, those things are all fair game.
Saying no one uses it in the UFC and JKD doesn’t work is false and misses the entire point of JKD – In martial arts fighting, everyone uses JKD. To deny this is to not really understand it’s very essence and meaning. Two concepts of JKD are the best examples of this.
- In JKD your approach is to use the most direct and effective technique to end the encounter as quickly as possible. I’ll admit this is tougher to execute in sport martial arts, but none-the-less the concept is the same and is used by all fighters, most times.
- JKD comes down to the individual. Bruce Lee always stressed that. In other words, a guy like Georges St-Pierre fought under the banner of Kyokushin Karate, not JKD but as an individual, he was way beyond his one style. He used his wrestling more than Kyokushin but really he was a true martial artist who used whatever technique possible to give him the edge. (If you have read his book “Georges St-Pierre – The Way Of The Fight” you will see and hear many JKD concepts led him throughout his UFC reign.) The individual will always trump the style
In other words, Bruce Lee and his JKD may beat many men of other styles, but other JKD men, like me for example, may lose every time because of a lack of speed/strength/conditioning, all individual attributes. The question of style versus style often misses the point. It comes down to which individual is better in that moment, that is JKD in its essence and why Bruce Lee was opposed to styles.
This is how I feel about the question of whether JKD is effective in MMA. I’m sorry, aside from karate kick this…or wrestling shot that…, JKD concepts are used by many fighters all throughout MMA and that must be recognized.
My UFC Coverage Continues
The late Shawn Tompkins was one of the leading fight trainers and coaches in the world and he is the founder of Adrenaline Training Center and the Team Tompkins stable of fighters. The original crew consisted of three members. Mark Hominick, Sam Stout and Chris Horodecki. I had already seen and written about all three of them while they were fighting in the TKO promotion out of Quebec.
Hominick was famous for his TKO bouts, with his fight pace, cardio and striking reminding me of JKD in its purest form.
Sam Stout was just on the verge of his first fight in the UFC against Spencer Fisher. We all know how that rivalry turned out as one of the best in UFC history.
My absolute favorite fighter of that time was a young, baby-faced assassin out of Adrenaline named Chris Horodecki. Chris was just about to join the IFL, and would go on to have an epic fighting career.
Thanks to owner Charles Ruocco and with my MMACanada credentials in hand, I contacted Adrenaline and Horodecki and asked if I could visit for an interview. Horodecki and the other fighters at Adrenaline opened the gym to me and my coverage. Over the next few years, I did stories and interviews with all of them, and developed a nice respectful relationship along the way..
I was with the Adrenaline guys at a charity golf tournament on the day that “The Coach,” the late Shawn Tompkins passed away. It was a very surreal experience. I am forever grateful to Horodecki, Hominick and all the guys at Adrenaline for their time and respect in all my visits there. I was able to attend Shawn’s funeral and pay my respects to the team and The Coach as Canadian martial arts pioneers.
Guys like Jesse Gross, Jesse Gough, Chad Laprise, Jesse Ronson. They were all assassins on the mat and in the cage but good guys in regular life.
Another highlight was covering a Bellator MMA show at Casino Rama, where Michael Chandler quickly defeated Japanese fighting legend Akihiro Gono. Gono retired at the presser, signalling an end of the career of one of mixed martial arts’ first international stars.
Admittedly, there weren’t many people in Canada covering martial arts shows, but by the summer of 2007, my writing was getting a lot of attention in Canada.
Through a Bruce Lee / JKD themed article I wrote for Bleacher Report leading up to UFC 129 in Toronto, I got noticed by the UFC. and picked up by Brian Oswald and the Bleacher Report MMA to join their MMA coverage team. I also got asked to provide help on a very cool and special project. The BR team was led by the great Trent Reinsmith, along with Robert Gardner, Jeremy Botter, Duane Finley, Nick Caron, Hunter Homistek and many others. It was a great crew to work with.
In an unofficial stat: (It’s on record somewhere)
I had the best record on the BR Prediction team in my time there, and the MMA betting sites and bettors started to take notice. I knew how to pick the fights.
I also got hired on contract by Canada’s biggest sports leader Rogers Sportsnet to join their digital MMA team. James Brydon, Mike Johnston, Joe Ferraro and the crew were a great bunch of guys, and Sportsnet covered MMA in Canada extremely well. I also got a chance to work with Robin Black, Brendan Fyfe, James Ladd and James Bigg of The Score Fighting Series, a great regional promotion out of Ontario. These shows were grassroots and showcased all the best fighters in Canada who were not yet in the UFC. It was the best of times for martial arts throughout Canada.
There had been coverage of fighters answering my questions at press conferences on many T.V. and digital outlets in Canada, and at UFC 154 in Montreal, James Ladd and The Score team asked me to do a TV spot for their up coming show.
It was my big break and I was pumped up as I did my final research before the taping.
Unfortunately, on the very evening before my big break, Rogers Sportsnet bought out “The Score Fighting Series” and cancelled the upcoming show. They wanted exclusivity on MMA in Canada, and they shut down the show altogether. I was minutes away from my first analyst spot on television, but it was not meant to be. I was disappointed but undeterred. It was still an exciting time for mixed martial arts in Canada. You have to be like water and bamboo in this business and keep on flowing and bend but don’t break.
A Canadian, Georges St-Pierre was arguably the best fighter in the entire world, and would be for the next seven years.
Bleacher Report MMA is one of the leading, biggest mixed martial arts outlets today and owned by huge media giant CNN and Time Warner. I was a syndicated writer and featured columnist for them and the top mixed martial arts writer and print reporter in Canada between 2009 and 2015. (According to my colleagues, not me) I started to get asked by various schools to teach a course on freelance writing.
There is no reason for me to be boastful because it has very little to do with me, but I was fortunate enough to be cage side and right there between 2006 and 2013, during what I would call The Golden Era of mixed martial arts, certainly in Canada but I also think overall. Now, in 2018, it certainly isn’t what it used to be.
I think it was the best era of the sport as a whole and I would call it the GSP-Spider era of the UFC because of the undefeated title reigns of Georges St. Pierre and Anderson Silva respectively.
For the lighter weight fans, you could add Jose Aldo in that era as well. I was lucky enough to gain knowledge from all of the fighters that I came across.
Some pretty cool things happened during my time on the inside of the UFC. I was able to rub shoulders with all the best fighters in the world such as Rory MacDonald, Mark Hunt, Elias Theodorou, Sarah Kaufman, Frankie Edgar, Frank Mir, Jon Jones, BJ Penn, Georges St Pierre, Tito Ortiz, Junior Dos Santos, Quinton Jackson, Carlos Condit, Dan Henderson and Matt Mitrione.
Covering the sport allowed me to work shoulder to shoulder with some of the very best sports writers in the country like; Steve Buffery, Stephen Brunt, E. Spencer Kyte, Michael Grange, Ariel Helwani, Steve Simmons and Perry Lefko.
Some of the other notable people I met while in the UFC’s press row, were Canadian Olympian Kaillie Humphries, Stanley Cup winner Mathieu Dandenault and Anthony Keides of The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Through my UFC coverage, I also landed an extra role in Total Recall (2012), where I did scenes with Colin Farrell and Kate Beckinsale.
THE WAKAFIGHTER BRAND IS BORN! REPORTING THE FIGHTS WITH JKD AND BRUCE LEE ALWAYS IN THE MIND.
To my surprise and pleasure, the Bleacher Report special project that I was asked to help with was incredibly close to my heart. I was to work with colleague J.P. Smith and my task was to provide research and questions for a feature interview with Bruce Lee’s daughter Shannon Lee and the Bruce Lee Foundation. During the project J.P. designed this logo above for me, (which I took as my brand logo from that time forward.)
Working on this project made me feel full circle with all the Bruce Lee and JKD knowledge I had gained over the years. To be able to help J.P. interview Shannon Lee is a real highlight of my life and career. Like her father, she is one of the coolest/kindest people you could ever meet.
As I write this book in 2018, the UFC has changed and the Rousey/McGregor era has pushed the martial arts side of the sport largely to the background. It has turned more towards the WWE model of promotion and entertainment to attract money and the casual masses. It’s almost as if the game has outgrown the old school, hard-core aspect of my brand in many ways, but I still report on the odd fight. When I was reporting, fighting was about fighting.
In many ways, when Conor McGregor knocked out Jose Aldo in thirteen seconds in 2015, he ended my era.
My journalism education, along with my passion for writing and martial arts gave me the opportunity to learn from the very best fighters in the world. During this time I also trained with some of the fighters through “media workouts” and community events. Fortunate enough to get lessons from Matt Mitrione, Rory MacDonald, Brendan Schaub, Jesse Ronson, Chris Horodecki and Chris Clements. I got a chance to speak to many of the best trainers in the world such as John Danaher, Firas Zahabi and Shawn Tompkins.
All great martial artists and all cool people. I learned so much about martial arts along the way.
THAT WAS MY JKD
FINDING BRUCE LEE
It had been a pretty tough year for Christina and I as we lost our newborn child in May. I was once again struggling with loss and using my mental toughness and all my training to function day-to-day.
We heard rumours of some good news in July when we heard that Christina’s brother Dan had popped the question to his girlfriend Gloria. The wedding was originally said to be a destination wedding and Christina and I looked forward to getting away to somewhere sunny and tropical to get ourselves back to normal.
In a cool switch, Dan and Gloria decided to tie the knot in a nice ceremony in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. They actually live in an area of Hong Kong called Tai Po, in the New Territories. A beautiful area in the northern part of Hong Kong. The perfect reason to go to Asia and Christina and I decided to make it a three-week trip.
It was a perfect opportunity to knock a couple of things off my Bruce Lee Bucket List and pay my respects to the Master.
Christina and I went to Sha-Tin to visit the new Bruce Lee exhibit at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum. No videos or pictures were allowed inside the exhibit but I took some just outside.It was a complete and comprehensive tribute to his life and art. Of course, I already know everything there is to know about Bruce Lee, but I spent three hours in there, basking in the presence of all his memorabilia and personal belongings. His first weight set, his wooden dummy and nunchaku set were all on full display, along with many other unique things
The highlight was seeing all of the personal belongings like letters , scripts and clothes Han’s claw from “Enter The Dragon” and his famous Yellow Suit that he wore in “Game Of Death”
Another day in Hong Kong, when everyone went shopping in mainland China, I set out to find The Garden Of Stars on the Hong Kong waterfront. There has been a Bruce Lee tribute statue on the waterfront that I have wanted to see for a while now. I was able to take the MTR system to Tsim Sha Tsui station and find the statue on display in The Garden of Stars. I hung out there for a little bit amongst all the tour groups. In a very ironic twist. The Bruce Lee Statue is located on “Chatham” St. the same name as my hometown where I grew up.
Along with these two tributes, I looked for Bruce Lee t-shirts and memorabilia all over my travels in Hong Kong. I’m sure everyone in the family was curious and concerned about my obsession with the “little dragon.” This book should set straight exactly the type of influence he has had on my life. All in a positive way.
My brother always said to me, “Man, you aren’t Bruce Lee you know.”
I know that to be true and I know that no one can ever be Bruce Lee. I merely spent my life trying to find him. I always wanted to find my inner Bruce Lee, in many aspects of life.
At the age that I am now, and after an almost life long study, I fell like I have finally found him! Through writing and finishing this little book, My martial arts journey is complete and I can retire from it all. I truly feel like I have found Bruce Lee and My JKD. The question is have you?
Always be yourself and believe in yourself!
THIS IS “FINDING BRUCE LEE and MY JKD”
*All Bruce Lee quotes, concepts and information was sourced from the following owned material:
“The Tao Of Jeet June Do”- Bruce Lee
“The Tao of Gung Fu”- Bruce Lee – Edited by John Little
“Bruce Lee – Artist of Life”- Bruce Lee – Compiled and Edited by John Little
“Remembering The Master”- Sid Campbell and Greglon Yimm Lee
Disclaimer: These fighting concepts are not my own they are Bruce Lee’s. I have only simplified some and added my own take and how I applied it to my life. Hence the title of this piece. This book comes from the right place. To spread knowledge and love of JKD.
*Book cover designed by Christina Lee
*All photos were taken and all graphics created by the author
“Finding Bruce Lee and My JKD” is the second book written by Dwight Wakabayashi.
His first book, written in 2017 is the inspirational story of retired professional hockey player Perry Pappas. It is about life, hockey, friendship and fighting cancer. The short book is called “The Toughest Guy In Here”