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  • Writer's pictureJames DeMile


Working title treatment


“Bruce Lee stories missing link”

By James W. DeMile

My story is of an insecure lost soul, who had a dream, but no plan. Fate seemed to say “it is written” because every legend, should have a beginning, middle and the end. The story of the middle and the end are well documented, but the beginning, of “Bruce Lee”, has been shrouded in mystery, until now.

Before Linda Lee, before the green hornet and “fists of fury”, there was a skinny 5’ 7”, mixed German/ Chinese kid, fighting on moonlite rooftops, in dark alleys and obscure basements, to prove he was just as good as any other Chinese kid in Hong Long. He unleashed his anger at the British for their prejudice of the Chinese (they put up a sign at a park entrance “no dogs or Chinese allowed”) yet allowed Japanese, who had committed many atrocious acts against the Chinese during WWII, which made him even more bitter. Bruce and some of his friends would entice British soldiers with smiling Chinese girls and then ambush them. His wild and unpredictable behavior was not unnoticed by the police or his teachers, and he soon faced going to jail, being killed for beating up a triads son, or being expelled from high school for disruptive antics in class, which he finally was. Fate stepped in and sent him on his first step to stardom. Bruce was born in San Francisco, to traveling Chinese opera actors, and had to claim British or USA citizenship when he was 18. His parents, in desperation, sent him to America, to live with family friends, who owned a local Seattle restaurant, Ruby Chows.

Bruce went into cultural shock. In Hong Kong, he was average height and blended with the Asian ethnicity, and had certain recognition for having been in 17 movies as a child actor. Suddenly, he was looking up at a whirl pool of white faces who looked down at him as if he was a coolie fresh off the boat. His confidence plummeted, like a cat walking into dog pen. To add to his depression, his family friends, who he expected to treat him as a guest, immediately put him to work in their restaurant as a dishwasher, janitor and busboy. His room, on the third floor, was just a large closet. His only outlet, was to fill his few walls with posters from his childhood roles and look into his small mirror and fantasies his early dreams of going to Hollywood and becoming a famous Asian movie star. But, how? Asian movies were looked at as amateur efforts. Bruce needed a way to be recognized as someone unique. He knew he had no skills or background that would appeal to any producer, so he had to create someone they would want. His only hope was to become an action star, since he had trained in many Gung Fu fighting styles and believed himself to be, better than most, street fighter. However there was a major problem. In Hong Kong, there were many masters to train under, in the USA, they did not even know what Gung Fu was. Also, Bruce was used to fighting someone his own size. He needed to step back and look at himself and his advantages and disadvantages. He was short and blind without his glasses. He was Chinese in a white environment. He spoke English, as a second language, and stuttered when excited. His own self confidence was strained because he had an undecended testicle and one leg slightly shorter than the other, which caused him to walk with a bouncy gate. On top of his physical problems, he had no one to train with. To get better at fighting, he had to have opponents who would make him better. The only answer was to seek out street fighters who could challenge him and force him to evolve his skills. His only reprieve from his servitude at the restaurant, was during the day, when he went to an adult high school to earn make-up credits, so he could enter the university. It was there he met Jesse Glover, an angry Black student who was always lashing out, in anger, at the mindless prejudice he experienced everyday. Jim DeMile, a 225 lb ex military boxer, who, brought up in an orphanage, where the leather strap was the law, used fighting to prove who he was. But, because of a recent brush with the law, Jim was given a choice, of going to prison or return to school. LeRoy Garcia, the mountain man, built like a small grizzly bear and fought like one, who lived in a log cabin in the woods and quick to defend his isolation. LeRoy taught Bruce to drive, knocking over mail boxes and sliding into ditches, also gave him a small hand gun, which Bruce used to shoot pigeons outside his closet bedrooms tiny window. Bruce took LeRoys pretty petite blond wife dancing in Chinatown, which, only because Shari stopped him, from beating up some college students who made insulting remarks about Bruce and Shari. Taky Kimura, an older Japanese Judo player, who was yanked from high school, just before graduation, and interned in a WWII camp, where he lost his self respect and personal identity, he was confused as to lash out or commit suicide. Ed Hart, 6’ 3”, and as a professional boxer, reputed to have killed someone in the ring. He was well known as a barroom fighter and amused everyone with his combat tales as he moved from state to state. Skip Elsworth, the pretty boy, who taught Bruce how to pick up girls, although white, had been brought up on an Indian reservation where fighting was part of living. These, as well as a few others, became the next step in Bruce realizing his dream.

The next year was a whirlwind of activity. Training was not confined to one spot. Whether in the halls, library or cafeteria of school, the Tai Tung restaurant, a parking lot near Ruby Chow’s restaurant, when leaving the Kokosai theater, after watching a samuri movie, just walking down the street, or at LeRoys home in the woods, some form of training went on. Bruce lived and breathed martial arts. Although constantly saying he was not a teacher, Bruce discovered a unique ability to take any fighting concept or technique, take it apart, examine it for flaws, and then reassemble it as a much better tool for combat. He knew he had to break from traditional thinking and step away from form and style and converge his efforts towards practicality. This was a different world. Hong Kong respected hundreds of years in classical training, where the teacher was never questioned. The student became a clone of the style, regardless of its applied value to them. Bruce decided, if it did not work for him, it was only entertainment. Rather than use old books and stories as his source, he looked to the science of bio-mechanics, to better explore the modern universe of speed and power. He wanted to turn being small framed into an advantage, so designed concepts that would maximize fighting skills with minimum effort. Age, size and gender no longer made a difference. His realistic combat training with his students, who were always improving, forced him to stay ahead of their progress or be wiped out. The question of his true skills were tested by a fourth degree Japanese Karate expert, who did not believe Bruce could fight and did not like Bruce dating a Japanese student. He insulted Bruce to a point that Bruce answered his challenge. They met at the handball courts of the YMCA, and it took Bruce only eleven seconds to destroy the Karate mans fantasy. Although respecting his skills, his students were always trying to beat him, and endured many hours of frustration as Bruce was always able to absorb and control their attacks. It was like trying to fight your own shadow, or grab air or water. Being bigger, meaner or aggressive had no affect. His trapping skills turned your arms into useless spaghetti and left you feeling you have been caught up in the middle of a tornado. Yet, the beauty was, everything made sense. Although primarily teaching himself, and designing the techniques to improve his fighting skills, the concepts could be adapted and fit anyone who was wanting to reach their full close quarter self defense potential. Without realizing it, Bruce opened the door to freeing all martial artists from the grip of ritual training and let them search outside of their systems, for the answers that fit their needs. He was truly “the father of today’s MMA”.

Bruce disliked the Japanese, because of their brutal violence to the Chinese during WWII, yet two interesting facts happened in Bruce’s early period of discovery, Taky Kimura and Amy Sanbo. Taky Kimura was 100% Japanese, yet became Bruce’s close friend and assistant instructor. Taky, and four brothers, ran a grocery store in Seattle. When his four brothers died, it left Taky alone and totally discouraged about continuing to live. Bruce was a shining light that came into Taky’s life. Taky was amazed at how Bruce could overwhelm much larger students and he admired Bruce’s bubbling sense of confidence. He had never seen an Asian who stood out from any crowd, and was looked upon with respect. Taky became an immediate disciple. Amy Sanbo was a petite Japanese, who did not fit the mold of any Japanese women he had ever seen. Her family had been interned during WWII and greatly resented Americans and the mother vowed never to speak English again. Outspoken, rather than reserved, Amy was quick to let the boys around her know, she bowed to no one. They mutually attracted each other. She quickly recognized that Bruce was not the quiet diminutive Chinese, waiting for permission to speak and she was captivated by his explosive energy and command of any group he was in, and he of her aggressive independence. They danced, ate and shared many adventures, at least for awhile. Amy wanted to be a dancer and write stage plays, Bruce wanted her to share his dream of going to Hollywood. He stated to her “My dreams are big enough for both of us”. This narrow attitude bothered Amy, so when Bruce asked her to marry him and go with him to Hong Kong, to meet his parents, she left Seattle and went to work at the worlds fair in New York. Bruce was devastated and threw himself into his training. He did not understand why Amy had rejected him. Six months later, Amy returned to Seattle to give Bruce another chance and saw him with Linda Lee, who was pregnant. She knew he would marry Linda, so disappeared from his life.

The next phase is Bruce’s well known journey to Oakland, LA and Hong Kong, thus completing the beginning, middle and end of the making of a legend.

Why was this story never told? Because Bruce’s wife felt it was Bruce’s dark side and not fitting the image she wanted to portray, as well as she resented the story of Amy and Bruce.

For a better overview of my back-ground, go to and read my history. You can go directly to the Body segment, which deals in my meeting Bruce Lee. You can also Goggle my name for more info as well as go to Utube, James DeMile Power Punch, and there is a variety of videos people have put there. Any questions, please contact.....

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Bruce Lee would be very disappointed in the present state of martial arts. His vision was that students would evolve the art to higher and higher levels. That they would take his and other masters con


Bruce had a very specific attitude about a street fight...get it over as quickly as possible. He had what he called "the two second rule"......once you should not last over two seconds. S

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