Bruce Lee Exhibit at Wing Luke Museum: “Be Water, My Friend”

On the weekend of Thursday, July 7, to Monday, July 11, 2022, a group of us went to Seattle (西雅圖), Washington, to be there for the Grand Opening of the new “Be Water, My Friend” Bruce Lee (李小龍) exhibit, held at the Wing Luke Museum (陸榮 博物館). Shannon Lee (李香凝, Bruce’s daughter) was there on Friday night and Saturday morning. On Saturday morning, there was the traditional opening ceremony of lion-dancing to kick off the public exhibit.

On Friday afternoon, a bunch of us went for lunch, to the nearby Tai Tung Restaurant (大同飯店), located within walking distance, about two blocks away from the Wing Luke Museum. This family-owned Chinese restaurant is the oldest Chinese restaurant in Seattle. It was established in 1935 and goes back five generations. It is also well-known for being Bruce Lee’s favorite Chinese restaurant in Seattle (or one of them), when he was living there in that city in the early-1960’s. His favorite dishes that he usually ordered were Beef with Oyster Sauce (蠔油牛肉), Shrimp with Garlic Sauce (豉汁蝦), and Beef Chow Fun (乾炒牛河).

Our group included Grandmaster Samuel Kwok (郭思牧), Cesar Olavarria (one of Samuel’s students), James Neidlinger (another of Samuel’s students), Art Camacho, Ron Hall, Robert Parham, Kelsie Joshua, Gary Amen, and myself, Seaton Chang (張海平)). Before we placed our order, a few of us went to a nearby table and videotaped ourselves sitting there. That was the table that Bruce often sat at, according to the owner, Harry Chan.

As we were waiting for our food, another group of people came and sat at another table. I did not know who they were.

And then, to my pleasant surprise, my friends Perry Lee, Sifu Richard Torres, James Ter Beek (one of Richard’s students), and Vincent Benitez (another of Richard’s students) showed up. They said hi to me and then sat at another table. Perry then showed me a rare 8×10-size color photo of Bruce in a judo gi and surrounded by his classmates, in judo class. I knew that Bruce took judo lessons when he was a college student at the University of Washington. In fact, it was the only martial art that he ever officially formally enrolled in, in his entire life. I had seen that photo before but only in smaller-size and in black-and-white. So that copy of that photo was a real trip for me to see. Perry then told our group that that group of people sitting there on that other table were (mostly) the young kids/adults in that photo!

At that point, all hell broke loose. LOL! Many of us from our group (including me) ran over to that table to get a better look at that photo, to talk to them, and to get our photos taken with them. Then lunch was served, and so we settled down and sat down to eat. After we finished eating, we took one giant group photo with the three groups of people all in it.

I told them (the judo group) that we were going to the Wing Luke Museum next and see Shannon, and I asked them if they were going to that. They told me that they weren’t invited, so they weren’t going. Bummer! And then everybody said their friendly Good-byes to each other and left the restaurant.

That was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet those obscure people, one that I will never forget!

Article by Seaton Chang