THE FIGHT OF MY LIFE
At the tender age of five I came to realize the reality of my situation as a young
black boy in America. I discovered that was that words did hurt; even worse than a
Sonny Liston left jab, or a Muhammad Ali overhand right. Because out of all the words
that ever existed, since the beginning of time, there was just one word, and one word
only, that would just come out of nowhere, when you would least expect it. And this
word when spoken had the power to drop me to the canvas like a “Phantom punch”.
The word Nigger, “Shook up the world.” And as I lay on my back, looking up at the sun
that seemed like glaring stadium lights, I asked myself, should I get up? Was it worth it
to keep getting my ass knocked around? The word Nigger was a much better fighter
than me, and nobody wanted me to be a man anyway. Or should I just be the Nigger
that the world wanted me to be? I had to get on my feet before the count of ten, but
when I tried to do that, my soul seemed as though it was disconnected from my body. It
was like I was having one of those out of body experiences you hear people talk about
when they die, and then come back to life. There I was, hovering over my body, looking
down at my lifeless flesh. I saw the referee, Jersey Joe Walcott, trying to get the word
Nigger to go to a neutral corner, while the time keeper counted for him
“five!…six!…seven!…” I tried to yell as loud as I could to wake myself up, “Get up you
bum!’’, but it was to no avail. Then in a flash I was back in my body…“ten!” So there I
was, laying there still on my back, feeling defeated, having lost my dignity, my courage,
questioning my self-worth, questioning whether I was worthy of love, or giving love.
Losing to Nigger that day in the playground, in front of all those fans, would
forever define me, from that day on. And force me to lose the ability to distinguish
between what it meant to be a man, and what it meant to be, “A killing machine, an
indomitable-if-evil force, a brute, condemned to a life of trouble, and a person of
questionable ways.” ( Johnny Tocco)- Amazon book “Beast: The Deconstruction of Charles ‘Sonny’ Liston”
Eat My Dust. You claimed “In a Bruce Lee video I just watched” that your teacher taught Bruce Lee JJ. Bruce Lee didn’t learn JJ he was taught grappling from my instructor Gene Lebell “The Godfather of grappling” which contains Japanese JJ not BJJ, lots of Judo and “Dirty wrestling”. I’m not trying to be disrespectful because Bruce Lee got around and visited MANY, MANY studios. But unless Bruce stayed around for a few days “Because he was actually learning something useful” please don’t make such claims.
I had another instructor claim the same you did other than he said Bruce trained here “frequently” in eastern Washington ‘tri-city area’ teaching ‘Aikijitsu’ (Aiki-JiuJitsu) he even had a few photos of Bruce Lee with his class and 1 just with him. I said “These photos all have the same date on them, how long did Bruce train here for?” He says “Just 2 days”… “Looking at me like I knew he was FOS”. I told him the same thing I’m telling you right now: All of Bruce Lee’s ‘grappling’ (real instruction) came from my instructor ‘Mean Gene Lebell’ known as the (toughest man alive) and as I already said (the grandfather of grappling). He also taught Chuck Norris, Benny ‘the jet’ Rodriguez, Bill ‘superfoot’ Wallace, Ronda ‘roudy’ Rousey, Tito Ortiz, the entire Lions Den “Ken and Frank Shamrock” Dan Henderson and Randy Couture from quest just to list a few. So before you make such claims, as a martial artist, it’s your duty to be honest and choose better words.
lynel Gardner: I said that Bruce Lee sought out my instructor to learn Nikko Jujitsu. There are many styles of Jujitsu. Gene LaBell gained his fame originally from Judo. Danny Inosanto taught Bruce Lee stick fighting and he was good friends with my teacher. So this circle of high ranking martial artist was very small. My teacher was famous for studying under Morihei Ueshiba’s successor Koichi Tohei. Professor Kufferath also won the NCAA Championship beating the never before defeated San Jose State Judo team. Professor Okazaki was considered by BJ Penn to be the worlds first MMA. Henry S. Okazaki in the 20s was considered to have the worlds most comprehensive martial art. The successor to Okazaki was my teacher Professor Kufferath. Bruce Lee was a student of the arts. He wanted to learn from the best in their particular field. Judo is jujitsu, originally called Kito Ryu.
As you can see, All those who taught Bruce Lee are in the same federation. The governing body consisting of Gene Lebelle, Bob Wall, Wally Jay and my teacher Sig Kufferath. You are new school, I’m old school. As I mentioned before, those high ranking martial artist travel in the same circles and have great admiration for one another. And are famous in their own right. Bruce Lee being one of them. Respecting those who came before them passing their knowledge to the next generation. My teacher and Gene Lebell were friends. And my teacher was Gene Lebell’s senior. Bruce Lee sought out my Sensei. You don’t know how small the martial arts world was back in my day. There were only a hand full of 10 degree black belts in the world. The best of those had great respect for one another and traded techniques and knowledge often.
The founder of my style Henry S. Okazaki who brought Kodenkan Danzan Ryu Jujitsu to the Hawaiian Islands from Japan. And was considered to have the most comprehensive martial art in the world in the 20s. He was also FDR’s personal massage therapist. BJ Penn called him the worlds first MMA practioner. The successor of his style was my teacher. My teacher studied under Tohei, the successor to the founder of Aikido, Morihi Ueshiiba. Tohei was a master of chi. and my teacher received his black belt from him. Professor Kufferath also took his Jujitsu students to the NCAA National Championship and was the first to beat the undefeated National Champions San Jose State Judo Team. So Bruce Lee sought out Professor Kufferath because he was world famous and an expert in his field. Most high ranking martial artist shared their meetings in secret, away from the press and away from the students. Because this was the tradition of martial arts up until that time. “The followers shall follow and shall not know.” That is why you don’t know that Gene Labelle and my teacher were friends. Along with Ed Parker, Danny Enasanto, Tora Tanaka, Bill Superfoot Wallace, Wally Jay, and many many more.