Oct 2008 - Oakland Trip

This trip has been in the planning for years but like everything else I didn't get the chance to make it, but fortunately everything came together and I was in a position to go. The guy I went to visit was Felix Macia, Felix was a lucky guy who got to meet Bruce at James Lees home. Felix’s dad trained at Jimmy Lees home where he also met Bruce, Felix was just a kid away back then, but even still lucky for him that he got to meet Bruce Lee in person. Getting back to the trip, well just to get out there was a monumental task because of the dates with Felix, myself, me with my school and Felix with his work commitments. Nothing is easy I know that, even with the flights we could not just go directly there because of where Oakland is and the date’s thing. So we went from Glasgow to London Heathrow, (my god what a place it’s a small town and getting lost well that's easy, and walking well that's another story it’s a workout just getting to the gate!), then Seattle, and finally to Oakland inter airport. All this in one day hew!! It even sounds long when you’re saying it, try making the trip I can only tell you that when we got there, tired well even my hair was falling asleep.

 
We got to Oakland kinda late and missed Felix, so we had to get a cab to the hotel, as we did the usual things checking in and getting our gear unpacked I decided to call Felix. As I got through and talked to him he came over to see me with another dude called Robert, Robert looked like an older Dustin Hoffman but Mexican if you can picture that. I keep mentioning we, my son came along with me on this one because he missed the Seattle gig as he was sitting exams at university for his honours degree. Anyway back to the story I went down the stair to meet Felix and when I looked at him I realised I had saw him at the airport and walked by him!, DONT TELL HIM THAT, THINK I WAS TOO TIRED TO SEE ANYBODY. Well he introduced me to Dustin, oh Robert and we talked about Bruce, Jimmy and jkd gung fu at which point he showed me a few things that he would teach me. It looked very clean although it was trapping it was cut down and looked very efficient, so we decided to meet next morning to get started with this stuff. I went up stairs by then my son was out cold sleeping, it didn't take me long either to fall asleep because by then we had been up about 24hrs. I slept pretty well but woke up about 4am, my body clock was mixed up it was telling me to get up but my body wouldn't let it so I tried to sleep, finally I did so and when we awoke later feeling hungry we had hardly any time to eat before Felix came to collect us. After Felix turned up and we made a short drive along the way to his home, we could not see any white dudes, I looked at my son, he looked at me and just laughed. We were definitely in Indian country, roughly 80% Mexicans the rest well I can only say none whites. We got to his home and went inside, there was a few guys there waiting to meet me, I think they were all curious to see what I looked like. I can only say there was this guy I was introduced to he was the biggest guy I have ever seen, and naturally when you meet somebody like that you think if they didn't like you what measures you would have to take to neutralise the situation, forget about punches, eyes, groin and knees, anyway I’m glad he liked me. I met a few other folks they were all very nice, friendly and respectful.
 
Felix started to show me the first drill, he was doing it on another student after then he invited me to give it a try. Once we did that he showed me the numerous applications of it, very simple, so simple you can hardly believe it, it consisted of your partner putting his arms up and you going out in slap out. That’s roughly what you do then you repeat with the other arm, then we did the applications where your partner punches and you go straight in, if he gives you resistance you go under of slap, its kind of hard to explain even though its so simple but I will teach you guys it at some point. We did a few others that involved going under arms and around things, we did the same thing on the wooden dummy and also on steel arms that he had set up in his garage. All this is meant to toughen your arms so that when you collide you slide straight through and your block is your attack. There was also the dit ja dao that he had and applied to the hands and arms to make them tough, all great stuff. According to Felix, James Lees forearms were like steel, when you hit them you always came off second best.
 
We were out there for 5 days and spend the other days doing the same thing. Robert, Felix’s friend taught me some things also. I asked him if he knew Jimmy, he said he hadn’t but was trained by this guy who knew Bruce. Apparently this Chinese guy who trained Robert had in fact sparred with Bruce and also this Chinese guy was supposed to be not that slow at the old gungfu himself. Anyway back to the story Robert said that his teacher had told him that he could not believe how fast Bruce was, he said he was amazing. After we talked and talked Felix came back with some stuff to show us, an autograph from Bruce and numerous bits of paper that Bruce had signed. I believe you can see this on the photos I have included. One of the guys said to Felix, have you been at Jimmy’s grave, he said no and I asked right away is it far. Larry one of Felix’s guys said no, 20 minutes. I could hardly wait, can you take us, sure he said and next minute we all piled into his jeep and were off to see Jimmy’s grave. If I’m right there is a photo of it in a book, I think it could be one Dan Inosanto wrote years ago. Anyway we got to the cemetery and found it, its just next to the drive. The grave was very dirty so I cleaned it and also noticed that James wife was buried next to him, I gave that a clean also and next to it was a turned over small flower pot that must have been on another grave. I took two flowers from it and placed them on the graves of James and his wifes after which I stood up, as I was kneeling on James grave right then there was this amazing feeling of energy coming up through me from the ground. I felt strong amazingly powerful and it made me shake, its like chi its the same feeling I get when doing chi gung, right then I turned around and said to Larry my god I can feel the energy here its flying through me, Larry looked over and said hey man he’s talking to you. The feeling was so spooky even now when I’m sitting here late at night typing this out with one finger I can still feel it. Amazing things like this you never forget, it took me back 30yrs to as a kid jumping around in my parents back yard doing gungfu and now I’m standing here at the guys grave, a guy I saw in many photos with Bruce and also in his own books about wing chun. We left and as we were driving out one of the guys mentioned we can go see James home, sure I said lets go. It didn't take long to get there, I knew the house so well from photos it just looked the same. I could picture Bruce and James training in the garage and walking along the road, Larry said to me hey Tommy want a few snaps we can stop, I said sure. We got out and got a few quick photos, we didn't want to stay long in case somebody thought we were up to something. As we drove away one of the guys said hey maybe somebody will call the cops and say there’s a 4x4 here with 3 mex and two white dudes, there the mastermind of the gang, but it sounds far better coming from one of the other guys with the right accent doesn't sound good with a Scottish accent. Well we drove away and I looked back over my shoulder to see it for the last time.
 
On our way back my son had asked Felix was it ok to visit down town, he said well make sure you got plenty of cover, we thought in case it rained, he went on to tell us cover from gunfire WHAT!!! ok lets not go there. We got back to the hotel and my son has been running for some time now, he was keen to get some training done while over there so I said to Robert we were thinking about going out running, right away he said to us WHERE, here ok, don’t come of this road, don’t take any side roads, don’t go at night, go in the morning, WHY? do you want shot? OK, no. So we went on this street that looked like it was going all the way back to the U.K, it was that long think we just did 7 to 8 miles. It was good to get the old legs a stretch out and shake of the sleep, we did get some funny looks though. What happened to all these health conscious yanks we hear about, the funny thing is apart from the gungfu guys we met it was hard to find a slim person, everybody looked like they were over weight seriously. There was a store we visited across from our hotel it sold food only one type Mexican, they had bags of doretos, my god, they have bags of cement here in the U.K where these bags of doretos were the same size as that. No wonder they have weight problems.
 
Apart from the guns, bullets, overweight kids and adults it was a great experience, some very nice folk who were so kind and friendly to us, Felix snr, Felix jnr, Larry, Robert and the rest of his group. The last day of our stay Felix invited me to teach his guys, we went over to his home and they guys were doing there gungfu, Felix again asked me if I would teach, I didn't want to teach not because I didn't want to share anything with him but I was there not as a teacher only a student and if I taught I would have to contradict everything he teaches. I thought it wasn't a good idea, one of his guys approached me and asked me to show him stuff, I told him see that guy over there, he’s your Sifu and it would be disrespectful me stepping in here and teaching. I told him I hope you understand where I’m coming from, he said sure. I like to give other teachers there place, it’s not a competition and i dont want to have any conflict in another guys school.
 
Felix’s dad came around and we took a few photos, he told me about Bruce and a few things he did, he also showed me a few of his own stuff pretty fast for 74, we talked for a good hour then he had to leave. A nice guy and pretty good for a granddad, so were coming to the end of our tour, we make arrangements to get picked up and Felix tells us he will be there in the morning to get us, ok man see you at 11am. So the last night in Indian country, we go for dinner and have a good meal and a laugh at the things that have happened and where we’re staying. Nothing like Glasgow, you can go anywhere any time and be safe, over here you need to pick the time, hope its the right time, if its the wrong time hope there’s cover or you are wearing you Kevlar vest not your thermal vest! Kevlar vest. However in saying that the only guns that are here are illegal guns, if you could buy guns in Glasgow and it was legal, Glasgow would make America look like Disney land, this would be the real wild west.
 
Okay we get picked up, get to the airport, go though the checks, checks! there are checks for the checks and scanners to scan the scanners! Same as before, Oakland, Seattle, London and Glasgow. We go from sun to shit, bright to dull, yang to yin or yin to yang, you always know when you’re in Scotland when its bloody raining. We go get our gear and you know what, THEY LOST MY LUGGAGE AGAIN, I’M SURE ITS THAT SAME DUDE WHO IS WORKING IN HEATHROW, HE’S ALWAYS ON THE LOOK OUT FOR MY BAG, HE’S AN UNDERCOVER JKD CONCEPT GUY TRYING TO STOP THE FLOW OF ORIGINAL JKD…...........HA HA NO CHANCE.
 
Tommy