Doug Palmer

Bruce Lee: Sifu, Friend and Big Brother

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Doug Palmer shares the Bruce Lee he knew to let the readers see the qualities that made Bruce the person he was, that made him so special not only to the people whose lives he touched directly, but to those around the world for whom he became an inspiration.

 

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About This DigiLetter

Download Price: $5.00
Format: Text/HTML
Start: October 2015
Distribution: 2nd and 4th Friday of the month

Interview with Doug Palmer

Read Doug’s interview below and learn what you can expect from “Bruce Lee:  Sifu, Friend and Big Brother

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DigiLetter (“DL”): Who do you envision as readers of your DigiLetter?

Those who are interested in the martial arts in general and Bruce’s contributions in particular might find my DigiLetter of interest.  Also those interested in Bruce as a person, beyond his obvious skill as a martial artist, and in his evolution as a human being.  Even during the brief time I knew him, he was growing, learning, evolving not only in terms of his approach to the martial arts but also to life and interpersonal relations.

DL: Please describe yourself to your readers. 

I would describe myself as easy-going, irreverent and adventurous.  I love to travel and see new places, experience new things, eat new foods.  My first trip outside the U.S. (other than a family camping trip to British Columbia) was to Hong Kong, when invited by Bruce to stay with his family the summer after my first year in college.  It was a pivotal influence in my life.

DL: Are there any other forms of martial arts you are interested in other than gung fu and boxing?

I took judo for a very short period of time (and enrolled my son in judo lessons when he was small), but my main focus has been boxing and gung fu—in particular, Wing Chun gung fu and Jeet Kune Do as taught by Bruce.  For me, martial arts depends as much or more on the teacher as on the particular style, and I was fortunate enough to have great teachers for both boxing and gung fu.

Read the full interview here.

DigiLetter Sample

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1 A Lifelong Influence

2 Bruce’s Early Years

3 First Impressions

4 Wangling an Introduction

5 My First View of a Class

6 A Choice

7 Open to All Who Wanted to Learn

8 The Universe of Gung Fu Schools

9 Wing Chun: The Roots of Bruce’s Style

10 The Basic “Wing Chun” Stance in the Seattle Years

 

Bruce lee

A Lifelong Influence

Bruce Lee was a revolutionary. He revolutionized the martial arts world, and the way martial arts were portrayed in film. He overturned our stereotype of the Asian male and brought an appreciation of the martial arts to a mainstream audience. His approach to the martial arts, and to life, influenced many people in other disciplines as well.
He also had a major influence on my life. The first time I saw him, on a stage at a summer street fair in Seattle’s Chinatown in 1961, I was sixteen. I met him soon after that, and was privileged to get to know him well for the last decade of his life. He was four years older than I was—still 20. Close enough in age to be a friend, yet older enough to be a teacher (sifu) and, in many ways, like an older brother. Over those years, including a summer spent with him and his family in Hong Kong, I learned from him not only martial arts, but also many valuable life lessons that stuck with me and served me many times in good stead.
By the time of his death his name had become widely known not only across the greater Chinese community but beyond, and his influence continued to grow and ripple out into other realms, across the entire planet. He had the huge impact he did not just because he was a genius and a physical prodigy. His physical attributes are well-known, including phenomenal speed and coordination, and exceptional strength for his size. Those attributes drew others to him, myself included. But he also possessed a formidable array of other qualities that were equally important: determination, self-discipline, persistence to the point of being a perfectionist, self-confidence, open-mindedness to new ideas and people, a willingness to share, a flair for showmanship, a subtle sense of humor that could be self-deprecating, a personal character that combined loyalty, a sense of dignity, and a respect for others.
Because he sometimes seemed larger than life, his subtlety and complexity could be overlooked. Some of his positive attributes at times verged on excess, the yang threatening to become yin. His self-confidence could come across as arrogance, his single-mindedness as self-absorption. But he was constantly assessing, taking stock, tinkering, not just with his martial arts but with his own character. In the end, he boiled off the strains that held him back, honing his arsenal of attributes to their maximum effect.
Bruce’s father was a well-known Cantonese opera and movie star. In 1940, the Year of the Dragon, he toured a number of Chinatowns in the United States. Bruce was born during the tour, in San Francisco. The family returned to Hong Kong when he was less than a year old. He grew up there during the Second World War and thereafter when it reverted from Japanese occupation back to being a British colony. Both periods left an imprint on his character. Although he was a child movie star, he also got in scrapes on the streets and with the law. Having a hard time with his rebellious ways, his parents eventually packed him off to the States in 1959 at the age of eighteen. He boarded an ocean liner with a hundred dollars in his pocket and a couple of weeks later landed in the city where he was born. After a few months in the Bay Area, he moved up to Seattle. I first met him two years later, when he was just beginning to forge his way as a young man.
In his family’s words, when Bruce left Hong Kong for the States at the age of eighteen he was a “good to above average” martial artist, and when he returned four years later he manifested a “very special talent that is rarely found on this earth.” When I first met him he was a work in progress, and he was still evolving the last time I saw him a year before he died.
In the letters that follow, I hope to share the Bruce I knew, to let you see the qualities that made him the person he was, that made him so special not only to the people whose lives he touched directly, but to those around the world for whom he became an inspiration.

Price: $5.00
Format: Text/HTML
Start: October 2015
Distribution: 2nd and 4th Friday of the month

Right now you can get this month’s DigiLetter issues for free. Subscribe anytime during the month and still receive all of the month’s issues. Cancel before the end of the month at no cost if you’re not satisfied.