Jeet Kune Do encompasses the physical training methods and philosophical perspectives of Lee, who developed the “formless form” of Kung Fu in 1967.
The foundational concepts of Jeet Kune Do are Simplicity, Directness, and Freedom - the form of no form. Practitioners celebrate honest self expression of the individual. JKD is symbolically personified in the yin yang.
“Using no way as way; having no limitation as limitation.”It’s an honor to be a part of this important and well-revered space. In a strange sense, I believe the way I got here was benefited by a lack of perceived limitations.
I moved to Los Angeles in 2013, and first landed in Chinatown (a neighborhood I knew little about prior to the move.) I quickly fell in love with everything that makes Chinatown a unique part of LA - its architecture and historical significance, the residents, and its unusual geography. (I moved to LA after the end of a relationship, and as such, I was initially a bit lonely.) I found a lot of comfort during my evening walks around Chinatown with my dog, Apollo. The night would begin with Apollo leading me to the secret alley behind Chung King Road, where friendly line cooks from Foo-Chow would toss him a bone in exchange for a two-legged dance. From there, we would wander. At that time, each walk felt like a link to a new discovery about our neighborhood.
One stroll in particular led me to 628 West College Street. I noticed the unit as being in a state of disarray. At that time, a lot of Chinatown buildings were abandoned or unoccupied, so the building was quite typical. I saw many like it but felt an unconscious pull towards this one.
Fast foward to 2015, when I moved to nearby Echo Park, and began missing Chinatown! I desperately wanted to find a way to once again be a part of the neighborhood. Luckily, after I moved apartments, I started a new job, which happened to be based in Chinatown.
My walks continued, this time from Echo Park to Spring Street (at the south end of Chinatown) as part of my commute to work. My route ran the length of College Street, and everyday I would walk past 628 W. College, which remained unchanged.
In 2016, I decided to find out more about this space which I couldn’t quite forget or ignore. I visited nearby businesses, asking about the building’s owners and tenants. No one was able to provide me with any information, and I’ll admit to feeling weird about asking these sorts of questions - so I stopped.
A few months went by, maybe six? Once again I found myself thinking about the space. So I tried a new approach. I wrote a letter introducing myself and describing my interest. I made a few copies of the letter and slipped one under the door of 628 W. College. The other copies went to the businesses I visited prior, just in case.
Another six months went by before I received a phone call from the owner, Wayne - his voice was kind, barely perceptible. He said, “I got your letter!” He told me he was no longer involved with the building, but he would tell his son to call me, because his son was now in charge of everything. I was ecstatic...for the first week. Then I got a little nervous, because days continued to go by, and I did not hear from the son. I lost hope in making a connection.
A few months’ passed before I got the call from the Wayne’s son - his voice also kind and generous. We spoke briefly, and he invited me to check out the space in person. I literally ran to meet him, eager to see what was inside, beyond the graffitied windows. During our meeting, he told me more about the studio’s provenance. After Lee left in the early ‘70s, 628 W. College was a doctor’s office for over a decade, before it shuttered completely in the ‘80s. We spoke amongst remnants of that time - old filing cabinets, sunbleached posters, exam tables, scattered waiting room chairs.
A day later, I signed a lease, not fully knowing what would become of this idea. Construction began in 2018 and lasted for approximately one year, thanks to the support and encouragement of loved ones (and oh yea, some very generous lease terms!)
I wanted to renovate the space with Lee’s original aesthetic in mind. An emphasis on simplicity. Clean concrete floors, white walls.
In 2019, BRUCE was established as “a miscellaneous studio.”
To this day, we receive visitors who are Bruce Lee fans aware of 628 W. College Street’s history. On occasion, we open the space to practitioners of Jeet Kune Do, so if that’s something that interests you, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to start a conversation.