The Oakland Museum of California, Hip Hop and Bruce Lee, Domestic Violence, and Mending Relationships; All in a Week's Work.
This is a journal entry about my own journey in The Ultimate Black Belt Test, my first official personal entry for the UBBT 2018. Yesterday my partner Elizabeth and I drove from our home in Auburn to the Oakland Museum of California. I was invited there by the very interesting teacher, activist, and artist Adisa Banjoko. Adisa heads The Hip Hop Chess Federation, which uses Hip Hop music / culture, chess, and Jiu-Jitsu to inspire, educate, engage, and empower young people.
That's right: Hip Hop, Chess, and the Martial Arts. Creative, very different, innovative, and from my point of view, revolutionary.
Adisa invited me to be filmed talking about Bruce Lee and the martial arts in general --for a film that is going to accompany an exhibit Adisa is involved in preparing called "Respect." The video, which will have me talking about the martial arts, will also include people talking about music, culture, and...well, I'll let you know more about the scope of the project when I know more. He did tell me that the film will be played on a loop, hourly, for the 6-months the exhibit will be up. Oh, and the film is being produced by the intensely creative filmmaker Mike Relm. See one example of Mike's remix film skills in this movie trailer remix for Jungle Book.
On Bruce Lee --I never had the pleasure to meet Bruce, as I was only 13 when he passed away. I remember that my friend and training partner Jeff Collins took Lee's carefully folded obituary from the Reno Gazette Journal out of his pocket and showed it to me after a class. He was heartbroken --and I hadn't yet seen any of Lee's movies, but I knew of him from watching the Green Hornet. Of course, like many millions of other people around the world, Bruce Lee would come to mean very much to me indeed.
Many years later I did have the good fortune to work with Bruce Lee's widow, Linda Lee Cadwell, when I produced a broadside featuring a picture of Bruce Lee and my friend Grandmaster Jhoon Rhee. The image I used was of the 2 men, then in their absolute prime, kicking at each other at the ocean's edge in California, in 1969.
Linda was kind enough to write the essay about Rhee and Lee's friendship that accompanied the image --and both she and Grandmaster Rhee signed all of the 600 copies that made up the limited edition print. I gave a percentage of the proceeds to The Bruce Lee Foundation, which is dedicated to keeping the teachings and memory of Bruce Lee alive.
As for my own physical training, for the last 7 days while I've managed to do push-ups and cardio, I've been unable to make it to Infinite Jiu-jitsu but twice for training. That being said, after 47 years in the martial arts, missing some days here and there isn't an issue --as long as I am doing other things that promote the martial arts, that cause me to look deeply at the what, why, and who of the martial arts, and that bring good energy and ideas to those I might influence.
Speaking of those I might influence, here are some of the journal entries from members of the current Ultimate Black Belt Test:
Here's a link to Tamara Leonard's journal entry summing up her first week of UBBT training. Tamara's a school psychologist, nutrition coach, and activist on behalf of MY BRUISES ARE FROM, an organization dedicated to helping and educating people who might be affected by domestic violence. Here's a link to the organization's Facebook page.
Martial arts master teacher and new-ish father, Larry Kooyman, pens an entertaining journal entry you can find here, about playing with his children. I'd like to point out that a black belt test that involves more play with your kids, is a kind of test I can admire.
Likewise, new father and martial arts teacher extraordinaire Paul Castagno, goes deep in his journal entry about reconnecting with his brother. One of the many requirements I've put down for team members is the mending of broken, damaged, or challenged relationships; after all, the requirements for an advanced pratitoner of the martial arts aren't just about technical proficiency. Our journey, like everyones, must involve kindness, compassion, empathy, and emotional maturity. Bravo Paul.
Stay tuned --as there's a lot more to come. Oh, and Happy New Year!