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


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.


Carr admits back injury had an impact: 'I had to deal with it'


Carr admits back injury had an impact: 'I had to deal with it'

Derek Carr was asked several times during the 2017 season whether a Week 4 back injury impacted his throwing motion, his play, his ability to produce. The Raiders quarterback dismissed the inquiries each time, proclaiming full health.

That wasn’t the whole truth. Three transverse process fractures in his back did affect him. Carr didn’t admit that. He didn’t want to use injury as an excuse. His play, Carr figured, should stand on its own.

Now, with the 2017 season in the rearview, Carr was a bit more candid about his physical state.

“When you break three bones in your back, it doesn’t feel good,” Carr said in this week’s episode of the Raiders Insider Podcast (Subscribe right here). “I’m thankful God healed me to the point I could walk around and be able to practice. Injuries will never be something I talk about, especially during the season, but since it’s after the season, the (back issue) was one of those things that was there.”

Denver’s Adam Gotsis kneed Carr in the back during a third-quarter sack. The fractures occurred there, and removed Carr from that 16-10 loss. The original prognosis had Carr out 2-4 weeks. He missed but one game and never stopped to rest. He missed a Wedneday practice, was limited the rest of the week and was questionable for a game backup EJ Manuel ultimately played.

Carr pushed to get back in the lineup. He didn’t miss another game, but that doesn’t mean the back injury was behind him.

“I had to deal with it,” Carr said. “I had to do certain things to manage it, but I just didn’t talk about it. I didn’t want it to be an excuse. It was a want more than anything else. I didn’t want it to be a reason. I couldn’t let that be a reason why I couldn’t do A, B or C.”

Carr’s back wasn’t the sole reason for lackluster offensive output, but it played a part. The Raiders dealt with flux in play calling and scheme preference, especially in the run game. On-field struggles splintered the locker room some, and an ironclad confidence began to soften.

Carr stands three-plus weeks from last season’s end. Distance provides perspective, and Carr wishes he could’ve done something to pull his Raiders out of a tailspin.

“I’ve looked back at the season over the past couple weeks and wondered if I could have done something or said something or acted upon something at a certain time,” Carr said. “You’re always looking to get better. …

“I’ve looked back (at) the way things were handled, things that went down and said, ‘Man. I wish I could’ve had the knowledge I have now. I would go back and fix that.’ That’s how things work. You gain experience from every situation you go through and try to be better the next time.”

Carr excited to work with Gruden: 'I want him to be tough on me'


Carr excited to work with Gruden: 'I want him to be tough on me'

Jon Gruden has been interviewed several times since becoming Raiders head coach. Quarterback Derek Carr hasn’t listened to most of those sessions, and certainly doesn’t seek them out.

One landed in Carr’s inbox recently, and something Gruden said really resonated.

Gruden’s message, paraphrased: If Derek Carr is not successful, then I’ve failed as a coach.

There are two comments in that one. Gruden considers Carr extremely talented, and he’s taking responsibility for unlocking the quarterback's vast potential.

Gruden will be hands on in Carr’s development, with all the coaching intensity and fire and eyebrow raises that have become Gruden’s signature.

“He’s going to demand of me. He’s going to push me,” Carr said on this week’s episode of the Raiders Insider Podcast, which will drop Tuesday morning (Subcribe right here). “He’s going to make me be the best version of myself.”

Carr had a direct answer to skeptics wondering aloud whether he can thrive under Gruden’s particular coaching style.

“I want him to be tough on me,” Carr said. “For anyone who thinks I want him to be a different way has no clue about me or how I play football or how I prepare to play this game. I don’t need to tell stories about how I prepare or manage myself.

“(Jon) and I are going to get along great. I hope that he demands of me. I hope he’s hard on me. I don’t need to know he loves me. He has already told me that about 20 times. I appreciate that and we’ll be friends forever, but I know he’ll be demanding and tell me what I need to do. Let’s go fix problems that I have and let’s do what I need to do to win championships. Hopefully that will give people some insight and hopefully that’s the story that gets out, because that’s the truth.”

Carr met his new head coach briefly before his introductory press conference, but has known Gruden since filming the Gruden QB Camp segment back in 2014. They got along great then, and in each interaction since.

“We have so much more in common that people realize,” Carr said. “I think it would blow some people’s minds. Him and I are very similar in the way we go about our business and how we carry ourselves. It’s an exciting time.”

Carr’s excited to have some stability in his football life. The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback will start his fifth NFL season with his fourth head coach, fourth go-round with an offensive coordinator and third offensive scheme. Gruden signed a 10-year contract. OC Greg Olson signed a four-year pact. They’ll be here a while, and Carr’s excited about that.

“It’s going to be really nice,” Carr said. “To know Jon signed on for a 10 years and (Olson) signed on for a long time shows me a couple of things. No. 1: that they believe in me. I don’t think Coach Gruden would’ve quit his day job, which I’m thankful he did. To get (Olson) out of a good spot in L.A (with the Rams), shows that they believe in me and that’s awesome. And, No. 2: I’m going to have two people I can talk to in a different language for years to come. We can grow within the relationship, and hopefully we’ll all ride off together. It’s set up that way right now, and we have a lot of work to do to reach that point.”