World Black Belt Blog
Submitted by: Leo T. Fong
July 20th was the 34th anniversary of the death of Martial Arts Icon and Legend Bruce Lee. For me it is important to remember Bruce Lee and his legacy as seeds to be planted and cultivated. He left much more than just a persona to be imitated, which scores of people are doing and calling what they are doing JKD, hoping to capitalize on the name and recognition to advance their own cause. Someone once said, “Imitation is the highest form of flattery.”
This may be true to the person who is being imitated, but unjust to the person who is doing the imitating. Imitation leaves the imitator with style without substance. It takes more than just doing the movements of the one we admired to be proficient in what we do, be it martial arts or acting or other personal expressions. My personal appreciation for my time with Bruce Lee was his emphasis on “seeking your own truth.” From a standpoint of personal growth, he did not feel imitating was the key to proficiency.
Although his Jeet Kune Do was boxing oriented and Muhammad Ali was one of his models and idols, he did not imitate Ali but rather took what Ali did and internalized it. His famous fight with Chuck Norris in “Way of the Dragon” is a case in point. In that scene he was communicating a lesson. As long as he adhered to the static traditional approach, Chuck Norris was beating him. As the fight continued to evolve, Bruce Lee realized the limitation and restrictive nature of trying to remain traditional.
As the fight progressed, Bruce Lee began to go through a metamorphose; he gradually moved from the traditional to the unconventional.The inner Bruce Lee began to emerge; his footwork became more mobile; punches and kicks more fluid. He was now expressing his techniques rather than just doing them. He was now free to respond to the situation at hand without inhibition or deliberation. He had reached the ZEN ZONE and responded to every attack spontaneously. He was like a “voice and an echo.”
That is the essence of Spiritual Depth. On this 34th anniversary of Bruce’s death I want to remember and thank him for his guidance. The day when he asked me “Why are you training at so many styles of martial arts and spending a lot of money?” My response to him was, “Bruce, I am looking for the ultimate.” He laughed, put his finger on my chest and said, “There is no ultimate. The ultimate is in here (pushing my chest with his finger)” That moment was my martial arts epiphany.
Bruce often expressed concern that what he had discovered on this personal journey would be prostituted. He turned down lucrative offers to open a chain of Gung Fu schools, because he did not want people prostituting his art. Only a fine line divides prostituting an art, exploiting an art and preserving history and a legacy. Looking back after 34 years, my martial arts journey has given me great appreciation for the things of the Spirit. Proficiency in martial arts is not exclusively physical strength and physical conditioning, but also about Spiritual depth, which includes, what we think (the mind), what we feel (the emotions), what we believe (the spirit) and inner harmony (the Chi Factor).
With that said, I want to take time to remember David Chow who passed from us recently. When I started martial arts in the mid-50, I hung on to every practitioner that appeared in magazines, newspapers and books. One that caught my attention in the early 60’s was David Chow. David was on the cover of Black Belt Magazine. The article covered all aspect of his life; his expertise in Judo, a successful importer/exporter, philosopher and financial genius. He was an inspiration to me personally because he was Chinese. Having been reared in Arkansas and the Deep South in the mid-30 through the mid-50, I was still suffering from “racial inferiority”.
It took years to overcome the social stigma that all colored people are second-class citizens. To see David Chow, a real Chinese on the cover of a national magazine instilled pride in me. After reading the article, I said, “Wow!” Here was a China born Chinese who immigrated to this country and is living the American Dream. Looking back I now realize what David Chow was made of. Prior to his death, he said in an interview, “Always measure the depth of one’s life rather than the length.” That statement summarizes David Chow. He had depth. He had inner content. The content of his inner world made him a success in everything he touched. Just as Bruce Lee had great influence on my martial arts journey, David Chow was an inspiration to me that, anyone could live the dream, even an immigrant youth. In his death David Chow could not take his material wealth he had accumulated, but he left it to the next generation through his David Chow Humanitarian Foundation.
What he took with him, as he “Graduated from this time into Eternity” was who David Chow was. He was a man of depth, a giver, and a compassionate human being. He never met a stranger; he was a friend to everyone he met. That was how I felt when I first met him in 1975. Bruce Lee was the Jeet Kune Do of martial arts; David Chow was the Jeet Kune Do of business and life. David Chow was the technical director of the long running Kung Fu series starring David Carradine. Some people asked me from time to time what would have happened had Bruce Lee been casted in the lead character in the series. I could only speculate that the series would have taken on a different spirit and vision. How would David Chow, as technical director, relate to Bruce Lee within the context of martial arts? Who knows, we can only speculate and guess. – Leo Fong PEOPLE & PLACES Congratulations to Gary Wasniewski 10TH Dan on his recent induction into the World Martial Arts Masters Hall of Fame, held at the Long Beach, California Convention Center back in July.
Gary stopped by to see me in Canoga Park when he arrived and again spend an afternoon in Canoga Park before leaving for London. A December start-up for a film, with Gary playing the lead, titled “Thunder Kick”. Other movie projects are in the planning stage. Congratulations to our new mother, Michele “Mouse” Krasnoos. She gave birth to “Minnie Mouse” two weeks ago. The proud grandfather is Bernie “Pops” Krasnoos. We can also refer to him as “Grand pops”. Congratulations to Ron Marchini and Great Grandmaster Al Novak on being inducted into the Golden State Karate Association Black Belt Hall of Fame, in Stockton, California on August 18, 2007. Ron is not only a good friend of over 43 years but also a great martial artist. Ron, was rated number one for many years on the tournament circuit with the likes of Chuck Norris, Joe Lewis, Bill Wallace, Skipper Mullins, Tom La Puppet, Louis Delgado, Mitch Barbrow and many others.
He was best known for his pinpoint timing and positive attitude. He was referred to in magazines around the world as “Gentleman Ron.” Al Novak is best known for his association with Jimmy Lee and later Bruce Lee. In his “heyday” Al was strong as a mule. Facing him in a sparring match was like facing a Sherman Tank. He is a skillful Gung Fu master in Sil Lum and Wing Chun. Again, Congratulations to two great people. Congratulations to Paul Bax on the completion of his second book on the Disciples of Bruce Lee. This second book is a series of interviews with second and third generation Jeet Kune Do practitioners. If you are interested in copies contact Paul Bax at Pauljbax@aol.com Kendall and Elaine Key and daughter Solara spend two weeks in California back in July. They not only include sight sighting in their vacation trip but also some filming of Solara’s debut feature movie Charlie and Chan, starring Solara and Leo Fong.
The film is being shot and directed by Master Ron Pohnel. Script is written by Leo Fong. Adam James is producer. Charlie and Chan will make its debut at Alan Goldberg’s martial arts extravaganza in Atlantic City in January. Leo Fong’s Wei Kuen Do Workout in the Park has attracted several new members. Welcome to Jim Hundon and Beki Light, who travels from San Francisco to train. Jim is owner of Universal Martial Arts Academy in San Francisco and a Small Circle Jiu Jitsu practitioner. His attitude is worth emulating, “I am an empty cup. I never know too much or too old to learn.” Reminds me when I was in the Philippines back in the 70’s; people would follow me around and ask the question, “What Dan are you?” I would always answer, “Tenth degree white belt!” He would pause and then realized what I had said, “Wait a minute, there is no such a thing as a 10th degree white belt.”
My reply, “Yes, there is. We are forever students.” TRANSFORMED THE MOVIE IS NOW ON DVD The movie Transformed starring Leo Fong, George Dillman, Tadashi Yamashita, Fred Williamson and scores of Pressure Point fighters is now available for $19.95 plus $3.50 for priority mail. If you are not familiar with the dynamics of pressure points in relationship to martial arts, you will want to get this DVD. The message is important too. “The transforming power of the Spirit.” Rated PG. No nudity or profanity. A solid film for kids too. Send check or money order to Koinonia Productions, P.O. Box 7, Woodland Hills, CA 91365-0007. Special Discounts if bought in volumes for Karate Schools. All NEW!!!! LEO FONG’S CHI FUNG MIND BODY FITNESS-- “DEVELOPING THE CORE” – PROGRAM ONE DVD. For over ten years Leo Fong has developed an exercise program synthesizing the Eastern Concept of Qigong and Tai Chi with the Western Physiology of weight training, which he calls CHI FUNG. “Chi Fung has enabled me to overcome prostate cancer, stabilize blood sugar, lower blood pressure, control an irregular heart beat and keep me flexible.
The combination of deep breathing with the relaxation of Qigong and Tai Chi principles with weight training has helped me to develop my inner core. My martial arts movements are more fluid, my hand speed has increased. Instead of raw physical striking power, my striking power is more subtle but more lethal.” “Developing the Core” is first in TEN DVDs on developing Chi Power for health and combat. Each DVD is $19.95 with $3.50 for shipping priority mail. Send check or money order to Koinonia Productions, P.O. Box 7, Woodland Hills, CA 91303-0007. Those of you who own DOJOs would like to add a Senior Program to your curriculum CHI FUNG would be the ideal program along with nutrition and mental attitude. I have over 125 seniors in seven classes each week. Most are over 75 years old. I have one lady 90 years old and another who trains every week at 97 years old.
The amazing thing about seniors as students, they are very faithful and appreciative. If you wish to set up a seminar or workshop on Chi Fung contact me at 818-884-7337. CHI FUNG will enhance the quality of your martial arts. I guarantee it. For additional information for seminars, books and DVD’s contact Leo T. Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org.