The Sum of All Parts – Interview with Andy Kimura

October 7, 20150 Comments

The son of legendary Taky Kimura is trying to follow in the big footsteps of two martial arts icons.

The definition of legacy is “anything handed down from an ancestor.” When we think of the legacy Bruce Lee left to his students, specifically Taky Kimura, we think of the holy grail of martial arts instruction.

AndyKimura-JunFanGungFuThe years Taky Kimura spent alongside Bruce Lee learning the physical and the philosophy of Bruce’s Jeet Kune Do was invaluable. Today, there are students throughout the world teaching Bruce’s art, but maybe no one has enjoyed a better education than Andrew Kimura, Taky’s son. Andy has benefited from learning from the teacher who learned from the master. There may have been no one closer to Bruce Lee than Taky Kimura, and it is through his father that Andrew Kimura is doing his part to keep Bruce’s legacy alive.

Question: Can you tell us about your martial arts background?

Andy Kimura: I have studied Jun Fan Gung Fu and Jeet Kune Do under my father Taky Kimura, who was an appointed instructor and close friend of the late Bruce Lee.

My father has taught me since my childhood. I have studied judo, jiu-jitsu, Western Boxing, Kali, Jeet Kune Do, Wing Chun, Thai Boxing and Shoot Wrestling. I have been exposed to all of these disciplines. Some of my instructors have been Sifu Dan Inosanto, Erik Paulson, Wally Jay and Yori Nakamura, and many more that had shared their time and donated their talents through the Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do Nucleus. I have been studying about 15 years now (this interview took place in 2002).

Q: Your father was the student of the legendary Bruce Lee. Can you tell us what it was like to be your father’s student?

AK: My father and I share a very unique relationship. We are best friends. He is my father, best friend and Sifu. That’s a very unique relationship.

It’s an honor to know the man and to be his son has made me humble. The wealth of knowledge my father has does not stop at the physical; it carries into the philosophical and spiritual. I would have to say being my father’s student has taught me more than martial arts. He has taught me how to be a good human being. He is my mentor.

Q: What’s your training like with your father?

AK: At times it’s great fun and at other times he can be extremely demanding. Bruce Lee would never take anything that was not 100-percent effort and my father is the same way. My father always told me if you are not going to do it right, then don’t do it at all. You can say my father knows what each individual needs and he pushes them until that’s accomplished.

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Q: What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned form your father?

AK: He always stresses to me that you have to believe in yourself and follow your heart. Many people come to my father for help and my father always says, “It was Bruce that helped me to help you.” There is a lot of truth to this, because sometimes you have to look outside yourself for help, be it a higher power, friend, etc. In his own way, my father is still influenced by Bruce Lee to this day, and it helps my father help others in many different ways. My father has taught that the spiritual and philosophical are more important than the physical aspects of martial art.

AndyKimura-JunFanGungFu-2Q: Do you and your father teach classes together?

AK: Yes we do. My father has had me teaching for the last six-to-eight years now. As I have gotten older my father has pushed me to the forefront to help him. It’s been very enjoyable to work side by side with him. I have learned and continue to learn many things.

Q: Do you and your father train together?

AK: I am truly fortunate to be able to train with him whenever I like. There is only a certain amount of time in one’s life that he or she is at their physical best. I am fortunate to have a father/sifu who has preached and shown me the spiritual and philosophical aspect of martial art. He has often told me that, “When one is old or cannot move like they did in their youth, then they have to rely more on timing and rhythm, not strength and speed.” I have learned through my father that martial art is life and it is an endless journey I look forward to.

Q: I know you teach the art of Jun Fan Gung-Fu. How are your classes structured?

AK: The classes are loosely structured just like Bruce used to teach, but we do have a curriculum that was left behind from him that we follow. We stay true to that curriculum and as one gets more proficient we then introduce the student to the concepts of Jeet Kune Do. When Bruce was in Oakland and then on to Los Angeles he would frequently call my father to update him on the new strides he was making in his Jeet Kune Do. He constantly told my father that he would show him new techniques in JKD when he came back up to Seattle for business, etc. We slowly show our students what Bruce taught my father, but we do it when we feel that particular student is ready for the next step.

Q: In your opinion, what separated the way Bruce taught in Seattle to the way he taught in Oakland and Los Angeles?

AK: I feel his mental attitude was always the same. Bruce was an innovator from the beginning. He was constantly changing and inventing new ways to better himself and continually evolving as a human being. I feel Seattle to Oakland and then Los Angeles should be looked at as a progression time for Bruce. He was young and changing his way every day. Bruce did have his foundations, but they did not bind him, and as he got older and wiser, he discovered what worked best for him. He felt that in the process of learning Jeet Kune Do it must be tailored to one’s individuality. Bruce was simply evolving from place to place, which is the natural progression of life. There are many that learned their piece of the pie, so to speak. In Seattle Bruce taught my father many things and in Oakland he taught James Lee many things. In Los Angeles Sifu Dan Inosanto was taught many things as well. Bruce shared what he knew with people he felt close to and the closest people were certified to teach by him. There is much to learn from Seattle, Oakland and Los Angeles.

Q: How many students attend your classes?

AK: My father and I have around 40-to-45 students right now. We do not have a “school”; it is like a club, and we do not charge.

Q: Is there a selective process one goes through before being accepted into your classes?

AK: We are very selective and look for individuals that have had some type of martial arts training previously, but this does not mean we would not accept an individual who has no prior training. My father interviews the individual to see what that person’s goals are and if it meets what we are trying to accomplish in our school, then we will accept that person. We have many individuals from many walks of life, and they all have needs. We try to meet everyone’s needs by helping them express their self through our training.

AndyKimura-JunFanGungFu-3Q: Do you cater to each individual’s physical and philosophical make-up?

AK: I feel we do. Some people will excel in punching when others do it in kicking. There are people that want to dive right into sparring, etc. We are all different and we should be taught that way. I must say that we do have our foundation and we do teach a certain curriculum, but each individual will be taught in a way that helps him excel.

Q: What do you try to stress most to your students?

AK: I want my students to know when they walk out of the class that they belong to a great lineage that goes back to the Shaolin Temple, Yip Man and Bruce Lee. This is very important. I want the students to take with them a sense of pride. If they leave feeling good about themselves and their accomplishments, and if they are happy with where they are in their lives, then I am doing my job right.

Q: What does Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do mean to you?

AK: It is and has been a path for me in finding myself. It is a spiritual and philosophical quest. It starts out being physical, but ends up being a search for one’s self. I have learned much, but I am still following that path. To me Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do represents the truth of expressing yourself.

Q: Do you feel an obligation to keep the art of Jun Fan JKD alive?

AK: My loyalty lies with my father and the memory of Bruce Lee and his teachings. I do have an obligation to share my knowledge and preach Bruce’s word, so to speak. The art must go on for generation to generation and I am obligated to help this happen. It is an honor for me.

This interview was conducted by David Tadman, and first appeared in the October 2002 issue of IKF. You can reach Sifu Andy Kimura through the website for Jun Gung Fu Seattle.

About the video: The video above is from a Jun Fan Gung Fu demo in 2012 at Pagdiriwang. In it Sifu Andy Kimura demonstrates basic entries of attack in Jun Fan Gung Fu. 

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