Thursday, March 12, 2015

“Equality” by Taky Kimura

Bruce Lee kicking Taky Kimura (left)

Today is Taky Kimura sifu's 91st birthday!!

May he have many more!!

In his honor, I'm posting a short essay he wrote for the Bruce Lee Newsletter "Knowing Is Not Enough".

Happy Birthday Kimura sifu!!  Enjoy!!

“Equality” by Taky Kimura

Mine was a unique situation, a unique friendship with Bruce. I had spent about a little over four years in a prisoner of war camp in America during the Second World War because of my ancestry. And the basis for this frustration that I fell into was the fact that I was raised in an all white community up in the tip of the Olympic Peninsula and, until I was about 12 years old, I thought I was just as white as my friends.

But I found out as the teenage level of my life came in all of a sudden the young girls and the friends that I had – they still loved me, but it was something a little bit different. And I began to feel that. It wasn’t discrimination, it was just something that was innate there and I began to feel a little bit more insecure with myself and, of course, then the war came along and because of the war in Europe, and because of my ancestry, they took all of us Japanese and put us into these internment camps. Even the President said it was a concentration camp, actually, but I suppose that’s neither here nor there.

Anyhow, I spent a little over four years in there and when I came out, I was a devastated person. I felt less than human being. When I walked down the street and if a white person was walking behind me, I felt so inferior that I made myself stop walking and let them pass me. But to couple that with walking into a restaurant in the middle of the day and have people just ignore you and not wait on you, and walk into a barber shop and they tell you they were closed, and when I’d try to get on a Greyhound Bus and they would shove me back to the end of the line – I went through all of those things, much like the black people in this country have – but it devastated me.

But then I met Bruce, and he picked up my spirits. He could take a look at you and see what was bothering you and he was only at the age of 18 but he had the unique knack of being able to read what was bothering you. As I say I was Japanese American, you know, and coming from Hong Kong, he had been raised with the same resentments towards the Japanese that my American friends possessed. Despite coming from that background and sharing those frustrations watching the Japanese soldiers come into Hong Kong, Bruce was able to look beyond that; to look at me as a human being. He didn’t size me up, or say “He’s Japanese – I’m not going to help this guy.” I think that was one of the wonderful things about Bruce, he had this inner desire to create equality among people and to try to bring the best out of people and so he kept telling me that I was “just as good as anybody else,” but I couldn’t buy it because I just couldn’t feel it.

As time went on and he started telling me to shape up; to get my haircut differently and wear clothes that were not so depressing. He said, “Geez, Taky, you’re dressing like an old man! Let’s get you into something more modern!” He just started working with me to feel better about myself and, you know, I fought it for a while but I finally gave in and started going with his advice and as I became more proficient with my physical appearance, I’d look in the mirror and I’d see something staring back at me that was somewhat more than insecure. And so I was able to lift myself up and recognize that when he kept telling me, “You’re just as good as me, no better, no worse.” I felt this was really taking an effect upon myself. So that’s how Bruce shaped me up.

Source:  “Knowing Is Not Enough”  (Bruce Lee Newsletter) / Summer 2000

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