I first got interested in Jeet Kune Do through Bob Bremer. Bob and I go back to the early 1960's. I went with Bob to Ed Parker's place in Pasadena, California, two or three times when Bob was taking kempo-karate. I never got interested in kempo-karate because it looked kind of robotic to me.
One day Bob asked me to go to the Long Beach Sports Arena with him where Ed Parker was promoting a tournament. This was the first time I ever heard of Bruce Lee. Soon after that, Bob left kempo-karate and went to Chinatown (Los Angeles) to take Jeet Kune Do (J.K.D.). I wanted see what J.K.D. was all about. Bob invited me to come along one day. I signed up the first time I was there! I didn't know much about martial arts prior to going to Chinatown, but I could see that this art was different. J.K.D. looked smooth, flowing and free. The only fighting I knew [prior to learning J.K.D] was street-fighting. I used to watch my brother fight in the Golden Gloves boxing tournament. He was also a good street fighter. When I went to Chinatown I never wanted to be an instructor of J.K.D. I just wanted to learn how to be a better fighter. Some guys are natural teachers. I wasn’t, I just wanted to learn how to fight better.
I was at Chinatown for a little over a year. In January of 1968, I received my first rank certificate. I left sometime after August 1968. I didn't do anything with J.K.D. for about 20 years, then about 10 years ago I started to show up at Tim Tackett's Wednesday night class in Redlands, California. I enjoy it a lot. It is probably the only place where you can find seven Chinatown ranking certificates hanging on the wall. Three of them belong to Bob Bremer, one each to Fred Bremer, Tim Tackett, and Bill Bremer. The last one belongs to me, Jim Sewell.
We have a lot of good guys that regularly train at the Wednesday night class. Bruce Lee would be proud of these men. They know a lot about J.K.D. and they can do it very well. When I first went to Chinatown and met Bruce Lee, I felt pretty inadequate. Bruce was not a large man but he could generate so much power, speed and balance and he showed so much confidence. Here I'm the same age as Bruce but I'm 6'1" and 220 pounds. He had more power, more everything. I thought I wanted THIS! Seeing Bruce workout was what kept me coming back. I wanted what he had.
Occasionally, Bruce would bring some celebrities in. I remember one time he brought Kareem. Back then he was known as Lou Alcindor. He was still in college then. What I remember most was when we had shaken hands, how large HIS hands were and of course I remember his height.
Once Bruce asked me "Why do you want to learn J.K.D.?" Right away I blurted out, "To be a good fighter!" A great fighter would be a better goal.
I took what I had learned in Chinatown to the street. I ran with a bunch of tough guys. Bob Bremer was one of the toughest. Bob was Bruce Lee's number one Chinatown ass kicker! Bob and I were bikers way back when. When Bob got his Cabin Cruiser, he had docked it in Long Beach. When we got back from fishing we would hit the bars. Where long shore men and merchant seamen drink. These were tough guys and something sooner or later would have to come down. Bob knew where the rankest bars were. He would take me places where the look of the outside would scare you off. You knew what was waiting inside.
In 1976 I worked as a bodyguard for a dance studio. Where I would take five dancers around to bars so they could each do two, 15 minute shows. We would be there for an hour and a half. Then load up and go to another bar. My job was to keep the drunks off the girls.
Sometimes I've had up to five fights a night. It was a lot of fun then. I worked as a bouncer at country bar called ' The Cocky Bull ' in the high desert. This bar was always full of marines from Barstow, CA. They always had to keep six to seven bouncers working at once. Those marines came in bunches.
I'm now 59 years old and fighting is a young man's game. I love J.K.D. and what it did for me. Take a few things and learn them well. Practice it until you own them. Most importantly stay in shape. You must have the tools to do the job. If you don't have them them you'd better stay home. Don't put yourself out there, where the bad guys are. Bruce once said, "You can't lay on a bench and wave you arms and kick your feet and expect to learn how to swim. You must get in the water." He was talking about fighting.
You want to be a good fighter, get in fights! You could also learn how to fight at a good J.K.D. place. Remember there are NO FAIR FIGHTERS ANYMORE!!!!!!!! So be prepared, stay in shape, hone a few tools, hit the pads, and spar frequently!