Paris-Bercy 1996

In winter of 1992, Dan Inosanto was invited to come to France in April of the following year to demonstrate the art of Jeet Kune Do and the Filipino martial arts at an annual event organized by the martial arts magazine ‘Karate Bushido’. As fate will have it, a month prior to the event, our beloved friend and student of the Academy, Brandon Lee, died in a tragic accident and Dan Inosanto who was greatly affected by his death decided not to travel for a while and had to cancel. Guro Dan Inosanto asked me to go in his place, but it was advertised all over the Parisian metro that he was the one coming, and not me. Furthermore, I couldn’t commit since I had several seminars lined up. Two years later while visiting the offices of Karate Bushido in Paris, the then Editor of the magazine Pierre Yves Benoliel, asked me if I would accept to participate in April 1996 at the 11th edition of the ‘Festival des Arts Martiaux’ in Paris-Bercy and the ‘Festival des Arts Martiaux’ in Marseille. Personally, I am not particularly fond of demonstration, as it is difficult to show the philosophy of Jeet Kune Do that way, but nevertheIess I accepted; better me I thought than anyone else in France who has no clue of what to do.

I originally asked Damon Caro to be my demonstration partner, as it was going to be the first time that not only the French public will witness Bruce Lee’s system of fighting Jeet Kune Do and the Filipino Martial Arts, but the whole of Europe via the live television broadcast, Eurosport.

One month prior to leaving for Paris, Damon who is a talented stunt coordinator was called to work on a movie. It is Suny Behar who despite a recent nose operation, accepted to replace him even on such a short notice. Suny spoke French fluently and used to be a disc jockey so he took time to work on the music as well. Upon our arrival in France, Richard Foucret one of my first student there, accepted to join us, as he had demonstrated several times with me already on various French TV shows.

My original plan was to split the demonstration in two parts. First we will demonstrate Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do, and then, I thought, that we would return for part two, after changing our clothes to something more traditional for the Filipino Martial Arts. However, we were told that we only have 7 minutes to show both JKD and Kali and that it has to be in one shot. How can we do that? I thought, knowing the richness, the varieties and the complexity of the arts we teach? So we opted to wear casually training clothes, like when we train at the Inosanto Academy, dropping the traditional Filipino kali uniform, and decided to limit the demonstration to the very essential in 7mn. That night in Paris-Bercy, we entered an arena almost full with 18000 spectators with live Televisions broadcasting the event all over Europe. We got to demonstrate and meet other experts such as Rickson Gracie, Toshishiro Obata and Cynthia Rothrock as well as the Shaolin monks. It was a fun time, and you can imagine what we could have done if we had been allowed to distinctly demonstrate both arts separately and have a little more time in order  to wear more traditional clothing and bring more weapons for the Filipino Martial Arts. But at the end, I think we still managed and did fine as the three of us received a long ovation from the public and great feedback when signing autographs for martial arts fans! I hope that you too will enjoy the demonstration!