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The Tale of Bruce Lee and the Kicking Bag

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In late 1965, Bruce Lee came to the Sherman Oaks Karate Studio that Joe Lewis and I to train like he often did.

Joe had a vicious side kick that used to break our 55lb kicking bags, so I had a custom 110lb bag made for him with red leather. Joe and I were the only ones to kick the bag, as it was very hard and heavy. The first time Bruce saw the bag, he quickly realized that Joe loved the bag, so he started calling it a “girl’s bag” and would tease Joe repeatedly. Joe was new from North Carolina as well as shy, so he had no idea how to respond to Bruce. After several training sessions with Bruce giving Joe a hard time about his “girl bag”, I decided, as a joke, to make Bruce his very own bag. I had an enormous red leather bag made that requires several students, joe, and myself to stuff. Several students held the bag while I climbed a ladder and stuffed the bag by jumping up and down on it. The bag ended up weighing over 300lbs.

One day in 1966 Bruce came to train with Joe and I. I had Joe hide in the back as Bruce drove up in his Porche (being a smaller car) to park in the front. I met Bruce and told him that Joe and I had a present for him, then pointed him to the school men where we had hung the bag. I told Bruce that I needed to take a phone call, so he went to the bag and kicked it and fell down. Joe and I came out laughing, much to Bruce’s chagrin. Joe and I then took the bag and put it into Bruce’s Porche, which of course made the car unable to be driven, as the bag covered both seats. Bruce said he couldn’t get the bag home that way, so after Joe and I shared a good laugh, we picked it up and threw it into my pickup then followed Bruce home. We hung the bag in Bruce’s garage, and Bruce, not knowing how heavy the bag was, hit the bag with a devastating side kick, and the bag tore a hole through the garage roof. Linda, Bruce’s wife, came to the garage door and saw the bag fly through the garage roof. Safe to say, she was not pleased. Afterwards, Bruce had one of his students come and repair the roof - with the bag hung outside this time.