Martial Arts Community Loses ALLEN JOE, JKD Icon and True American Hero
Allen Joe wore many hats in his adult life: World War II veteran, bodybuilding champion and martial artist are a few of them. That last one was especially important because Joe was not only a student of %UXFH /HH·V EXW DOVR D FORVH IULHQG 6DGO\ KH SDVVHG DZD\ RQ April 2, 2018, at age 94.
Allen Joe played a pivotal role in the jeet kune do community. He was a founding member of the Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do Nucleus, a board member of the Bruce Lee Educational Foundation and a member of the board of directors for the current Bruce Lee Foundation. He held his friendship with Lee so dear to his heart that he always carried a photo of Lee in his wallet.
Joe, who lived in the Oakland, California, area at the time, is often credited with “stealing Bruce /HH IURP 6HDWWOH μ ,W DOO VWDUWHG ZKHQ KH DQG KLV IDPLO\ WUDYHOHG WR WKH 6HDWWOH :RUOG·V )DLU LQ At the urging of his friend and training partner James Lee, Joe “checked out this cat named %UXFH /HH μ :KHQ /HH DVNHG -RH WR GHPRQVWUDWH some of his martial arts skills, Lee ´ORS VDR·G him DOO RYHU WKH SODFH μ ,W ZDV WKH EHJLQQLQJ RI D JUHDW IULHQGVKLS
After Lee made a few visits to California, he and his new EULGH /LQGD PRYHG WR 2DNODQG LQ ZKHUH WKH\ VWD\HG ZLWK James Lee and his family. Not long after, Brandon was born. Then the Lees moved to Los Angeles. Despite the distance, WKH ´IRXU PXVNHWHHUVμ ³ %UXFH /HH $OOHQ -RH -DPHV /HH DQG *HRUJH /HH ³ ZRXOG UHXQLWH ZKHQHYHU -RH DQG WKH JDQJ KDG D FKDQFH WR WUDYHO VRXWK 6RPHWLPHV LW ZRXOG EH WR YLVLW WKH set of The Green Hornet, sometimes it would be to celebrate a birthday, and once it was to congratulate Bruce and Linda on WKH DUULYDO RI WKHLU GDXJKWHU 6KDQQRQ
Twenty years before he met Bruce Lee, Joe served in the 3DFLÀF 7KHDWHU ³ 1HZ *XLQHD 2NLQDZD 3DODX DQG WKH 3KLOLSSLQHV ³ GXULQJ :RUOG :DU ,, +H NHSW LQ VKDSH E\ WUDLQLQJ with Jeep parts as weights.
After he was discharged, Joe married his high-school sweetheart Annie and began bodybuilding under Ed Yarick, who SURGXFHG IRXU 0U $PHULFD FKDPSLRQV LQFOXGLQJ 6WHYH 5HHYHV of the Hercules movies. Joe shunned the competition circuit because of the discrimination that was rampant at the time, but ZLWK <DULFN·V HQFRXUDJHPHQW KH UHOHQWHG LQ +H HQGHG up winning the Mr. Northern California title, which made him the ÀUVW $VLDQ $PHULFDQ WR GR VR )LWQHVV JXUX -DFN /D/DQQH SUHsented Joe with the trophy.
Joe was the person who inspired Bruce Lee to use weight WUDLQLQJ WR HQKDQFH KLV PDUWLDO DUWV -RH·V FKLVHOHG SK\VLTXH surely was a great motivator, and it was Joe who gave Lee his ÀUVW VHW RI ZHLJKWV $QG ZLWK WKDW /HH EHJDQ EXLOGing one of the most famous bodies in history, the HSLWRPH RI ÀWQHVV VWUHQJWK DQG YLJRU
$W WKH VDPH WLPH -RH ZDV LQÁXHQFHG E\ /HH despite the fact that Lee was almost 20 years \RXQJHU /HH·V SHUVRQDO MRXUQH\ LQ WKH PDUWLDO DUWV and his philosophical insights resonated with Joe IRU PDQ\ \HDUV DIWHU KLV PHQWRU ·V GHDWK
$OOHQ -RH UHPDLQHG FORVH WR /LQGD DQG 6KDQQRQ Lee over the years, and his loyalty to Bruce stayed strong to the end. Joe also became friends with the late Ted Wong, and they conducted JKD seminars WRJHWKHU LQ WKH 8QLWHG 6WDWHV DQG (XURSH 7KHLU allegiance to their teacher drove them to share their experiences with anyone who desired to learn.
Joe made friends easily, and with his big smile DQG ERQH FUXVKLQJ KDQGVKDNH KH ZDV D ÀQH ambassador not only for bodybuilding but also for Bruce Lee, JKD and martial arts in general. Even in his senior years, he FRQWLQXHG WR WUDLQ :KHQ OLIWLQJ ZHLJKWV KH·G W\SLFDOO\ PD[ RXW his set by doing “one rep for the man upstairs and one more IRU %UXFH μ