Bruce Lee in Oakland

Above is Oaklandish's mini-documentary about Bruce Lee's history in Oakland, California, where he opened a martial arts school in the late 1960s and had a historic fight with Wong Jak Man over Lee's teaching of kung fu to white people. Now, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums hopes that the former studio, currently a car dealership, will be officially recognized as an important place in history. From the Bay Citizen:
The mayor (himself an avid martial artist) wanted a plaque placed on the site of the old studio in time for a martial arts tournament he hoped Oakland would host later this year. The tournament is off, but the Landmark Advisory Commission is still considering making 4175 Broadway one of the city’s cultural heritage sites.

The discussion is more significant than a piece of brass on the wall of a car dealership. Finding the best way for the city to acknowledge Bruce Lee’s time in Oakland would provide a sorely needed precedent for recognizing other cultural contributions made in Oakland, said Dan Schulman, a member of the Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board. From events as significant as the drafting of the Black Panthers’ 10-Point Program in North Oakland in 1966 to less-weighty moments like the invention of the Mai Tai at Trader Vic’s at 65th Street and San Pablo Avenue three decades earlier, Oakland needs a method to officially recognize its past.

"Oakland May Honor Bruce Lee's Local History"



  1. So it goes.

    I’d love to see any kind of recognition in the US of Bruce Lee. Is there anything at all? He was probably the most influential person in the film industry when it come to action/fight choreography and all the set pieces we love so much. Not so much the rom-coms though.

    1. Recognition? You mean like a statue or something?
      In terms of recognition, I think his too-few films still sell well, judging from how quickly “Enter The dragon” came out on Blu-ray…after all, if things did not sell on standard DVD, then they don’t get released on blu-ray. So that counts as evidence of Lee’s continued recognition by the public at least.

      Here’s a song in the memory of Bruce Lee, may he RIP, linked here by one who was a fan of his while he yet walked this earth:

      If the world were fair, Lee (and his heirs) really ought to have gotten a piece of the profits from that song. IMHO.

      The man was grace in action.

  2. I was going to make a comment about the last time I got a haircut in Oakland and got an earful of gossip from Bruce Lee’s former barber, but after reading the excerpt all I can think of is 75-year-old Mayor Dellums doing Kung Fu. Who knew?

  3. I’m proud that Oakland and Bruce Lee have a long history (ever hiked the Bruce Lee Trail out by Mt. Diablo?) But it’s too bad that Bruce Lee is in my mind now associated with Ron Dellums, even peripherally.

    1. You should know that the Bruce Lee Trail in Concord is not named after the martial artist, but after my grandfather, Bruce R. Lee, who spent his life protecting the trails and habitats around the bay area and the Pacific coastline. It was dedicated to him just before he died from cancer my senior year in high school. I am glad you enjoy the trail, but you should know why it is there – and it has nothing to do with karate.

  4. Several years ago I watched the 25 anniversary edition of Enter the Dragon. I love the movie, but the really cool thing was the documentaries included on the second disc and how they ACCIDENTALLY exposed the myth of Bruce Lee.

    Because the docs overlap and have different people relating the same anecdotes about Lee from different points of view you get to see how stories got told and retold and how those stories mutate. You really get a sense of how committed Lee’s widow is to preserving and perhaps even embellishing the myths.

    There’s this one anecdote about a fight with a stuntman that gets told by a few different people and by the end of the DVD you get the sense that there was a confrontation of some sort, but whether it was an actual fight… well it’s hard to say because everybody;s story is a bit different.

  5. I could have passed on the one minute intro in favor of more ass-kicking and history (historic ass-kickings, anyone?)

    1. The font is very close to Peignot Bold, but not quite (the “A” is one problem). Sorry, but my usual resources fail me.

  6. That aerial shot in the opening sequence buzzed my apartment building.

    I hope this goes through. I knew Bruce had his first studio here in Oaktown, but I didn’t know I’d been pedaling past the spot on my bike for years.

    510, baby!

  7. ha! i thought that fight with wong jack man sounded quite interesting, so i thought I’d find out a little more about it. Apparently there was wong ‘s version of events – which basically amounts to ‘the dude was poking me in the eye’s, and i could have killed him three times, but i let him go cos they would have sent me to jail’…

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