James Yimm Lee (January 31, 1920–December 28, 1972) "was already an established and respected instructor of kung fu and iron palm in the Oakland, California, area when he met Bruce Lee (no relation), a young college student at the time. James Yimm Lee was very impressed with Bruce Lee’s kung fu skills and teaching methods.” 1

”Although 20 years older than Bruce Lee, the open-minded James Yimm Lee decided to train with him and absorb what this talented young practitioner had to offer. Their liaison resulted in a lifelong friendship.” 1

”In addition to his expert kung fu skills, James Yimm Lee was also an accomplished weightlifter and helped get Bruce Lee started in a weight-training program, which subsequently resulted in his sculptured physique. James Yimm Lee worked as a welder in the local shipyards, and he used this skill in designing and constructing many unique training devices he and Bruce Lee used in their workouts.” 1

Bruce Lee, Ed Parker, James Yimm Lee and Ralph Castro (left to right)

”James Yimm Lee had a close relationship with a number of noted martial artists in the area, including jujitsu master Wally Jay, Shaolin kempo instructor Ralph Castro and American kenpo founder Ed Parker. James Yimm Lee introduced Bruce Lee to these individuals, and it was through Ed Parker’s Hollywood connections that Bruce Lee received a screen test, which eventually got him the role of “Kato” in The Green Hornet television series. “ 1

James Lee’s Oakland, California home 1

”When Bruce Lee married Linda Emery in 1964, the couple moved in with James Yimm Lee and his family and lived at the Oakland residence for the next two to three years. Bruce Lee and James Yimm Lee soon opened a kung fu school, but eventually classes were relocated to James Yimm Lee’s garage. lt was during this period that the birth of Bruce Lee’s jeet kune do method of combat took place. 1

See also Bruce Lee and Oakland JKD School.


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