Striking Distance: Bruce Lee and the Dawn of Martial Arts in America
By Charles Russo
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A dissident with bad manners….
In the spring of 1959, eighteen year-old Bruce Lee returned to San Francisco, the city of his birth. Even as the martial arts were widely unknown in America, Bruce encountered a robust fight culture on San Francisco Bay, populated with talented and trailblazing practitioners, such as Lau Bun, Chinatown’s aging kung fu patriarch; Wally Jay, the innovative Hawaiian jujitsu master; and James Lee, the no nonsense Oakland street fighter. Regarded by some as a brash loudmouth and by others as a dynamic visionary, Bruce would spend his first few years back in America advocating for a more modern approach to the martial arts, and showing little regard for the damaged egos left in his wake.
The Challenge was real….
On the Chinese calendar, 1964 was the Year of the Green Dragon. It would be a hard and eventful year for Bruce Lee. He would broadcast his dissenting worldview before the first great international martial arts gathering, and soon defend it by facing down Chinatown’s young ace practitioner in a legendary behind-closed-doors high noon show down. The Year of the Green Dragon was a pivotal moment. It was the dawn of martial arts in America and a prelude to an icon.
Based on over 100 original interviews, Striking Distance chronicles the early formative days of Bruce Lee in America as well as the vibrant martial arts scene that thrived on San Francisco Bay in the early 1960s.
A must-have for fans of Bruce Lee and martial arts history. — Matthew Kaplowitz, thefightnerd.com