JEET KUNE DO COMMUNITY BIDS FAREWELL TO TAKY KIMURA
Black Belt|April/May 2021
MEMBERS OF THE MARTIAL ARTS COMMUNITY — AND FOLLOWERS OF THE ARTS OF BRUCE LEE, IN PARTICULAR — SUFFERED A LOSS ON JANUARY 7, 2021, WHEN SEATTLEBASED INSTRUCTOR TAKY KIMURA PASSED AWAY AT AGE 96. HE HAD BEEN THE MOST SENIOR LIVING STUDENT OF LEE AND ONE OF ONLY THREE PEOPLE (ALONG WITH DAN INOSANTO AND THE LATE JAMES YIMM LEE) CERTIFIED BY LEE TO TEACH. “SPEAKING FOR MYSELF — AND I KNOW BRUCE WOULD HAVE FELT THIS WAY, AS WELL — IT WAS A PRIVILEGE TO HAVE HAD TAKY AS A PART OF MY LIFE,” SAID LINDA LEE CADWELL, LEE’S WIDOW.
MARK JACOBS

Taky, the son of Japanese immigrants, was born and raised in Washington state. He was the only person of Japanese descent in his high school, but according to his son Andy Kimura, he was treated well in the community and rarely experienced discrimination.

“His parents would try to tell him the family were all really second-class citizens here, but my dad would argue that in school, they taught him everyone was equal in this country,” Andy said. “But then the war came along, and my dad realized his parents were right all along.”

At the outset of World War II, Taky and his family lost all their possessions and were imprisoned for the duration of the conflict in an internment camp with other Japanese-Americans. When the war ended, they returned to the Seattle area and opened a small grocery store.

But Taky had trouble moving on. His plan to attend college on a scholarship and become a doctor was forgotten. Instead, facing postwar discrimination and hostility, he began to think of himself as being lesser than the white people he dealt with on a daily basis. Consequently, Taky lived his life in a state of constant depression.

“Then one day at the grocery store, someone told him, ‘You have to meet this incredible Chinese-American kid who does martial arts,’” Andy said. “My dad had earned a brown belt in judo in the camps, and there were some pretty hardcore teachers there. So he thought, What’s this 18-year-old kid going to teach me?

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