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Photos of Bruce Lee and the Early Martial Arts Culture of San Francisco BayStriking Distance: Bruce Lee and the Dawn of Martial Arts in America chronicles the formative days of a young (pre-Hollywood) Bruce Lee as he navigates the heated martial arts proving ground of the San Francisco Bay Area in the early 1960s. The historical photographs featured here (and in the book) reflect the robust fight culture that Bruce encountered, which ran the gamut from Chinatown Tong enforcers to Oakland street fighters. Regarded by the Chinatown masters as little more than "a dissident with bad manners," Bruce's time amid this culture would be both turbulent and formative, involving his legendary high noon showdown with Wong Jack Man as well as his earliest formal constructions of Jeet Kune Do.
In the post-World War II era, the San Francisco Bay Area became one of the great melting pots of martial arts culture in the west. In San Francisco's Chinatown this culture anchored around Lau Bun, the Choy Li Fut kung fu master and local tong enforcer who opened one of the very first Chinese martial arts schools in America.
In the summer of 1959, a hotheaded 18-year-old Bruce Lee would have a little-known run-in with this group.