After being closed for 50 years, Bruce Lee’s martial arts studio in Chinatown reopened its doors Sunday, led by a second-generation student of Lee’s.
The studio, located at 628 College Street, was vacant since 1969, aside from briefly serving as a dental office. It was where legendary martial artist Lee taught his students Jeet Kune Do, a fighting style and philosophy he developed.
Jeet Kune Do — which is Chinese for "way of the intercepting fist" — is now taught in the studio by Eric Carr, a student of Jerry Poteet, who himself learned the style from Lee.
Anya Villarreal, a student at the studio, describes the martial art as focusing on "dissolving" and remaining flexible, referencing Lee’s teaching to "be like water."
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Carr says he grew up poor and surrounded by bad influences. In 2001, already trained in classical kung fu and Wing Chun,he met Poteet and began learning Jeet Kune Do. He has since immersed himself in Taoist philosophy and learned Mandarin Chinese, according to his website. Now he teaches students of his own.
"It’s something Jerry used to say to me: 'You’ve got to complete the circle,'" Carr said.
Part of that legacy involves accepting students of all backgrounds into the studio, in the spirit of Lee's own teaching style.
"I don’t care where you came from, what color you are, male, female, gay, straight — I don’t care," he explained. "It’s your content, your essence, right?"
Carr’s students believe the philosophical principles of Jeet Kune Do have affected their lives outside of the studio.
“I take a moment more to pause to try and reflect and understand what’s going on in my life as opposed to reacting,” Villarreal said.