James Lee

James Yimm Lee (no relation to Bruce Lee) was born on January 31, 1920 in Oakland, CA. Bruce Lee eventually became good friends with James and respected him greatly. Bruce and his family even lived with James, his wife and son in their Oakland, CA home during a time when James' wife was very sick. She died in 1964. While James was a welder by trade, he was an accomplished martial artist in his own right and self-published several martial arts-related books on his own through his publishing company Oriental Book Sales.

The first book James Yimm Lee wrote and published was "Modern Kung Fu, Karate: Iron, Poison Hand Training" in 1957. James was ahead of his time in terms of publishing and selling books on the martial arts. Unfortunately, he died on December 30, 1972 - about 7 months before Bruce died - from lung cancer caused by breathing welding fumes.

The yellow copy shown below is the 2nd Revised Edition of Modern Kung-Fu, Karate. The green version is my personal copy of a 3rd Revised Edition published in 1963. It is inscribed to one of his first students, Curtis Yee. An interesting fact is that James chose his student and business partner Al Novak to be on the cover. Another interesting thing about this copy is that on the inside of the front cover is an advertisement for Bruce Lee's forthcoming book "Chinese Gung Fu: The Philosophical Art of Self-Defense". 


For a period of time, James Lee and Al Novak had a Chinese Gung Fu studio at 26663 Mission Blvd in Hayward, California. It is assumed this was operated with Bruce Lee's awareness and consent, although there is no evidence Bruce ever taught at that location.