Seattle Years
Bruce Lee's "Early Seattle Years"

A Docu-drama from 1959 to 1962

By James W. DeMile

An original student


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Before Linda Lee, before Jun Fan or JKD, there was the beginning. The beginning of a legend. Who would have believed that this 5 foot 7 inch, 135 lb kid was going to become a giant in the western world. Mixed Chinese and German, an Asian in a white culture, blind without his glasses, a slight limp, a noticeable stutter, an evening dishwasher in a Chinese restaurant and a daytime high school student at Edison Technical School, he had dreams that appeared to be only fantasies.

This is a story, not only of a survivor, but of an individual who turned a dream into reality. A reality reached by unbelievable determination and focus. It touches upon his early Hong Kong days and his fights in the dark alleys and rooftops and his introduction to Wing Chun, a dynamic and effective gung fu fighting system. Bruce was expelled from high school and only a step away from being arrested. His parents took the only option they had and sent him to America. This decision would revolutionize the martial arts world and start Bruce on his journey to become a legend. Brought up training in the traditional and classical ways that reached back 400 years, Bruce became frustrated when he could not find any masters to continue his gung fu training. He must continue training in order to reach his goal. His secret dream was to become a famous American actor. He felt that having acted in 17 films as a child was not enough to be recognized by Hollywood, he needed something more dynamic and appealing. To be the best martial artist in the world would be his key to enter the world of make-believe.

So, Bruce surrounded himself with street fighters and totally immersed himself into training. He quickly realized that traditional training was not going to work against the much bigger, stronger and more aggressive Americans. He changed his focus from being a follower to being a creator. He challenged the old ways and opened his mind to new concepts and methods of training. Simplicity, Efficiency and Practicality became his basic rules. Throw out the fillers and fluff and the fancy moves and spend time only on what really worked. Yet, that was only part of his conflicts. In many ways the physical was easy; it was his emotions that presented his biggest obstacles. Feelings of insecurity, doubt and loneliness were his daily companions. He knew he needed someone to share his inner struggles and that someone was Amy Sanbo, his first real love in America. This relationship is a story by itself.

The world has only seen the Bruce Lee that Hollywood created. The truth is still to be told. All past efforts to tell his story skipped the early Seattle years. Hardly even mentioned, yet without this early period, there would not have been the legend. There are millions of people around the world who would like to know who really was this idol we call Bruce Lee.

We are working on a project to produce this film. For more information, contact James Demile.

James Demile