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Lot #895
Bruce Lee

“I’ll train you in my method”: LEE writes to his star pupil on the emerging discipline of Jeet Kune Do, his son Brandon, and his work on The Green Hornet

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“I’ll train you in my method”: LEE writes to his star pupil on the emerging discipline of Jeet Kune Do, his son Brandon, and his work on The Green Hornet

Legendary Chinese-American martial arts artist and actor (1940–1973) whose skill, charisma, and presence afforded martial arts films a new measure of respectability and popularity. Lee first came to widespread attention with his role as Kato on the television series The Green Hornet, which ran for a total of 26 episodes on ABC during 1966 and 1967. For most Americans, the show provided the first glimpse of Lee in (albeit TV-friendly) action; within the space of a few years, he would become a powerhouse film attraction. His untimely death “by misadventure” sparked all manner of speculation, including rumors of assassination, ancestral curses, and more—and would propel him into the realm of legend. ALS signed “Bruce,” one page, 8.5 x 11, Jeet Kune Do emblem letterhead, no date [envelope postmarked Culver City, California, September 11, 1967]. Lee writes to Taky Kimura, his student and eventually one of only three Lee-certified instructors of Jeet Kune Do. In full: “Received telegram—thanks to you and the boys. I’m coming up to Seattle to spend the Christmas. I’ll have one week time and we’ll get together and I’ll train you in my method. Until then I’ll tell you more about it. By the way, Linda, Brandon and I will come up on the 24th, Saturday, in the afternoon. Linda’s mother is coming to pick us up. We’ve been shooting everyday and the show is doing 50/50. Well, see you next month....” In rejecting many components of traditional martial arts and adopting a more inclusive, holistic approach, Lee developed a system he originally called “Jun Fan Gung Fu,” a name that incorporated the Chinese form of his own name, Lee Jun Fan. Lee summed up the underlying philosophy of his style, later renamed Jeet Kun Do (“The Way of the Intercepting Fist”), as “simply the direct expression of one’s feelings with the minimum of movements and energy.” Lee operated a number of schools based on his methods from 1967 until 1971, though he permitted his students to carry on his teachings on a private basis. The logo for the system, which appears on the card, incorporates a yin-yang symbol with Chinese characters indicating the principles “Using no way as way” and “Having no limitation as limitation,” along with arrows representing the endless movement and change of the universe. In an eerie parallel to Bruce Lee’s own untimely death, the son he mentions in the letter, actor Brandon Lee (1965–1993), was killed in a prop-gun mishap during the filming of The Crow. Accompanied by the original mailing envelope addressed in Lee’s hand to “Mr. Taky Kimura, 908—8th Ave., Seattle 4, Wash.” Archivally matted and framed with the envelope and a color photo of Lee to an overall size of 27.5 x 23. In fine condition, with a few scattered and trivial wrinkles. A remarkable Lee letter with a top-notch assocation! PSA/DNA LOA and R&R COA. Oversized.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title:
  • Dates: #333 - Ended May 14, 2008