Living the Yin and the Yang of life on Bruce Lee Tribute Night

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Living the Yin and the Yang of life on Bruce Lee Tribute Night

Editor's note: On the 40th anniversary of the passing of martial arts legend Bruce Lee, A's Insider Paul Gutierrez shares his story with Lee's widow from Bruce Lee Tribute Night at AT&T Park last September.

"Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless, like water. Now, you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow, or it can crash. Be water, my friend." -- Bruce Lee, on his life philosophy

SAN FRANCISCO -- Thing was, I wasn't being quiet like still waters, or crashing like a rampaging wave. It was somewhere in the middle. A babbling brook, if you will. Literally.

I can still see the disapproving looks of the people sitting in front of me as they turned to throw me, and my parents, a dirty look. The plaintive "shhhhhhhhhh"s coming my way in the darkened movie theater. Hey, I was 3 years old, and what's a 3-year-old to do in the middle of a two-hour movie but make some noise, or mimic the kicks and punches being demonstrated up on the silver screen?

It was late August or early September of 1973 and it's one of my earliest memories -- sitting in Grauman's Chinese Theater to take in Bruce Lee's "Enter The Dragon," still considered the best martial arts movie of all time, with my mother and father, who himself had just begun his journey into martial arts. A journey that included all of our family and continues today with my dad's studio in my hometown of Barstow.

So it only seemed as though the journey had come full circle, or at least reached a crescendo, at AT&T Park last year when I shared my story with martial arts royalty, Lee's widow Linda Lee Cadwell, and his daughter Shannon as the Giants commemorated Bruce Lee Tribute Night. They both laughed, and seemed to appreciate it.

***

"If I tell you I am good, probably you will say I am boasting. But if I tell you I'm no good, you know I'm lying." -- Bruce Lee, on his skill level

You can dispute the assertion that Bruce Lee is the greatest martial artist who ever lived. But you cannot argue that he is the most famous.

Or at least, the most revered. In any walk of life.

"A legend," said Raiders defensive tackle Richard Seymour, who dabbled in martial arts as a youngster. "Disciplined. He was one of those rare athletes that, you just knew he left no stone unturned in terms of preparation. He was just on another level from everybody else."

Marcel Reece, the Raiders' multi-skilled fullback, has trained in Brazilian jiujitsu and smiled when asked his impression of Lee.

"The best," Reece said. "He was the best at what he did and will always be remembered as that. I remember as a kid watching all his movies and still, to this day, you hear his name and you look to him as the best."

Lee transcended martial arts as an actor, philosopher and founder of his style of martial art he deemed Jeet Kune Do, which bypassed many of the traditional disciplines while combining others.

So if it seems like there has been a resurgence of interest in The Little Dragon, you're right.

"I think my father is even more relevant today, in some ways," Shannon Lee told me. "Because there's so many things that he was talking about doing in his lifetime that are happening now. You see the UFC and MMA. You see the fitness and nutrition people are into. You see the philosophy and the self-help andŠmy father's own philosophies fit so well into that.

"And I think that as the world becomes a smaller place and opens up, more and more people are able to have access to who he was and know a little bit more about himŠand his legacy has so much value in it for everybody, I think, out there so that when people know what it is, they latch on to it."

Shannon Lee was four years old when her father passed away under mysterious circumstances -- the official cause was of a cerebral edema caused by an allergic reaction to a medication he took for a headache -- on July 20, 1973.

And yet, as she notes, almost 40 years later, Bruce Lee is more relevant now than in his short 32 years of life.

"People are beginning to find out that he was much deeper than just a martial artist or an actor," said Linda Lee Cadwell. "And that he had a philosophy of life that people are finding very helpful in their own lives."

Now, he is being seen as a revolutionary figure, a hero to the counterculture of the late 1960's and early 1970's. A Chinese American who appealed to every ethnicity and nationality.

I asked Linda if he realized it at the time. She smiled but shrugged.

"He was just 32 years old," she said. "Very young, but very wise for his years because he left so much for the rest of us to follow, in his writings and his teachings. He has just influenced so many people all over the world. Amazing."

As an instructor in Los Angeles, Lee taught the rich and the famous. Celebrities such James Coburn, Steve McQueen, James Garner and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar took classes from him.

And Lee did what would be considered cross-training today -- he used to study fencing and boxing to implement those disciplines in his fighting styles. Lee, whose fighting stance had his right foot forward, would watch 8mm films of Muhammad Ali boxing but with the film in backwards, so that Ali's footwork would match Lee's.

Every sport or game was worthy of studying.

"He could relate how a baseball player swings a bat," she said. "He'd correlate how it takes that much energy into a swing, with the way his body would move in martial arts."

Still not convinced?

Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow studied martial arts while a member of the Philadelphia Phillies in 1982.

"It was a workout for Steve Carlton, it was his deal," Krukow said. "It really was for a starting pitcher. This was something that prolonged my career."

Krukow's instructor, Gus Hoefling, had come to Philadelphia with former Los Angeles Rams quarterback Roman Gabriel when he went to the Eagles and Hoefling found willing students with baseball players, especially Hall of Fame-bound Lefty.

They would work on full range-of-motion exercises, plow their hands into buckets of rice to strengthen their hands, work on their balance by wearing slippery shoes during their walking Chinese punching drills.

"No sparring, though," Krukow said. "Even though we wanted to.

"Carlton never threw between starts. That was his workout between starts."

Hoefling became a singular secret society, of sorts, in baseball, and his workouts became legendary.

But here's what it gets cool from a personal standpoint. As a younger man, Hoefling was classmates with my father's instructor, James Ibrao. In turn, Ibrao was Ed Parker's first black belt. And it was at Parker's tournament in 1964 in Long Beach where Lee was essentially "discovered" by Hollywood.

"We used to stay at Ed Parker's house when we first went to Los Angeles," Linda said.

***

"You know what I want to think of myself? As a human being. Because, I mean I don't want to sounds like 'As Confucius say,' but under the sky, under the heavens, man, there is but one family. It just so happens, man, that people are different. -- Bruce Lee, when asked if he considered himself Chinese or American.

Why the Giants? Why the Bay Area? Why now?

Actually, it makes all the sense in the world. Lee was born in San Francisco in the Year of the Dragon on the Chinese calendar (yes, last year was again the Year of the Dragon) and one of his first studios was in Oakland at 4175 Broadway.

It was here that Lee had to literally fight for his right to teach martial arts to non-Asians. The spot is now home to a car dealership.

Lee, whose son Brandon also died under strange circumstances, after a gunshot accident on the set of the movie "The Crow" in 1993, would be 71 years old now. He would have seen his daughter sing the National Anthem at the Giants game, and watch as his wife threw a strike as the ceremonial first pitch.

Then again, had he not died so tragically at 32, he might not be so honored today.

Last week, while in Seattle to cover the Raiders' exhibition game, I made a stop by Lee's final resting place in Lake View Cemetery to pay respects to not only the Little Dragon, but also his son, who is buried next to him.

Seattle is where Bruce and Linda met, at the University of Washington, and where Linda and Shannon hope to erect an "action" museum in his honor. That's the grand goal of the Bruce Lee Foundation, his widow said.

"To preserve and perpetuate Bruce's legacy," she said, "and to pass on his art and his philosophy to people all over the world."

It took one more step in the city of his birth last September. And Bruce Lee Tribute returned -- back by popular demand -- for its second annual AT&T Park event last month.

 

Raiders 'don't mind tough things,' ready for adverse conditions vs Chiefs

Raiders 'don't mind tough things,' ready for adverse conditions vs Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Arrowhead Stadium has literally become a frozen tundra. Heaters under the playing surface malfunctioned on Wednesday night, allowing a layer of ice to form under the tarp in below freezing temperatures.

That information comes courtesy of an NFL Network reporter on site Thursday morning in advance of an evening showdown between the rival Raiders and Chiefs.

The field is expected to thaw by kickoff, but any remaining ice patch would add to the adversity facing the Silver and Black in a pivotal AFC West showdown.

They are the only NFL team to travel more than one time zone to play on “Thursday Night Football,” adding another wrinkle to a game that deserves to be played on regular rest. Instead teams will square off in a made-for-TV event without much time to prepare

Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio could’ve griped about an adverse lot, but he refused to line up reasons why his team might not play well.

“We’re going to be excited to play,” Del Rio said. “It’s a tough set of circumstances. We don’t mind tough things. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”

Beating the Chiefs is a daunting task. The Raiders weren’t up to it earlier this year, when Kansas City came to Oakland and made it their home. The Raiders must even the score or find themselves in a bind. Kansas City would own the divisional tiebreaker with three games remaining, and would be in great position to win the AFC West.

The Chiefs have been Raiders kryptonite in recent seasons. They have won six of seven matchups, a trend the Raiders hope to buck on Thursday night.

“Everyone mentions, ‘They’ve beaten you this many times,’ and these things and all of that,” Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said. “When I’m preparing for these guys, it never goes through my head. That stuff never has a determining factor on anything I write down, anything that goes on in my brain or anything like that. I just prepare for them just like I do any other game. I prepare for them the same way that I do for everybody. I’m going to go out there, and I’m looking forward to competing against them though this time.”

Carr won’t compete from under center. The Raiders will stay in shotgun and pistol formations for a second straight week to protect a right pinky finger dislocated in two places against the Carolina Panthers. That shouldn’t limit them much, though it makes life harder on the run game.

The Raiders performed pretty well on the ground against Buffalo, totaling 139 yards on 32 carries. Latavius Murray led that effort, with 82 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries.

Murray missed the last game against Kansas City with turf toe, but will be ready to take a heavy load this time around. He has been taking more carries over the last month, with a previously equal running back rotation now shading his way. Murray should be a play a big role in this contest, which should come down to the fourth quarter.

“The Chiefs are a rival that we’ve struggled with,” Murray said. “We know what’s at stake for this season. They stand in the way of our goal of winning the division. We need to take care of them.”

The Raiders must take care of Kansas City on a short week, in loud, hostile environment. Oh, and in the bitter cold. It’s expected to be 20 degrees at kickoff, with wind coursing through Arrowhead Stadium.

The Raiders don’t mind that either. They’re 6-0 in games away from Oakland Coliseum, and are confident they can overcome adversity this particular game presents.

“You just have to get your mind right and go play,” Del Rio said. “We’ll be ready to go. We have a good group of guys. Feel like we’re weather proof. We’ll go play.”

Injury report: Joseph out, Latham questionable for Raiders vs Chiefs

Injury report: Joseph out, Latham questionable for Raiders vs Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Raiders safety Karl Joseph hurt his toe in Sunday’s victory over Buffalo, and was still in pain early the next week.

That gave him virtually no shot to play Kansas City on Thursday night with a short week to recover. The Raiders made his omission official on Wednesday, and ruled the first-round pick out of the AFC West clash at Arrowhead Stadium on their official injury report.

Veteran Nate Allen will take his place in the starting lineup. He played well in Joseph’s stead against the Bills, and has the versatility to play back or closer to the line of scrimmage as Joseph did.

The Raiders defense is still ailing on the interior, with defensive tackle Stacy McGee (ankle) ruled out of his second straight contest.

There is slightly better news for Darius Latham, who was deemed questionable after missing two light practices but returning in time for limited work on Wednesday. Getting him back would help a thinned rotation that heavily features Denico Autry, Dan Williams and Jihad Ward, who has struggled some of late.

The Chiefs have a healthy team despite the short week. Receiver Jeremy Maclin will return from a groin injury. Edge rusher Tamba Hali will play despite limted practice work, and defensive tackle Dontari Poe is questionable with a back issue.

Raiders Status Report
Doubtful

LB Shilique Calhoun (knee), S Karl Joseph (toe), DT Stacy McGee (ankle) Questionable
DT Darius Latham (ankle), LG Kelechi Osemele (knee), LB Cory James (shoulder)

Chiefs Status Report

Questionable
DT Dontari Poe (back), DE Kendall Reyes (knee)

NOTE: Kansas City’s WR Jeremy Maclin, OLB Tamba Hali and CB Phillip Gaines did not receive an injury designation, meaning they will play.