Bob Wall: Co-Star of Three Bruce Lee Movies Dishes on Bruce Lee, Steven Seagal and Chuck Norris (Part 3)

Bob Wall — co-star in three Bruce Lee movies — has been hounded by a number of stories for decades. Some of these stories have been true. Some of these stories have been fabricated. In Part 3 of our exclusive interview with the Bruce Lee movies co-star, he talks about Bruce Lee’s jeet kune do?, the Dirty Dozen vs. Steven Seagal, cross-training in traditional martial arts and much more!

(If you missed the first two parts of our interview with the Bruce Lee movies co-star, don’t worry. Click on the following links to read Part 1 and Part 2.)

Black Belt: What is your opinion of Bruce Lee’s martial art, jeet kune do?

Bob Wall: I loved and admired Bruce and his jeet kune do.

What sets JKD apart from other martial arts?

Bob Wall: The fact that it was Bruce’s brainchild and his blueprint for effective fighting.

There’s been a lot of discussion regarding Bruce Lee’s certification process in his later years. Did he ever discuss with you the people he authorized to teach his system?

Bob Wall: No. Bruce didn’t like structure. He wanted you to see what he did and make it your own. He believed that you should not mimic others but “feel” what works for you.

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Which of Bruce Lee’s students did you meet before he died?

Bob Wall: Taky Kimura, Ted Wong, Danny Inosanto, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Richard Bustillo, Mito Uyehara and Larry Hartsell.

Did any of them particularly impress you?

Bob Wall: Yes, all of them were, or are, outstanding people. Taky, Ted, Danny, Richard and Larry are all extraordinary martial artists who are a terrific legacy for Bruce’s teachings. I admire and respect each of them.

What was your training relationship with Bruce Lee? Did you go to his house and work out like Joe Lewis and Chuck Norris did?

Bob Wall: Bruce and I trained often at his house, at my studio and on the set of Way of the Dragon and Enter the Dragon.

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What did you work on? Did Bruce Lee’s art differ from the others you’d studied?

Bob Wall: We ran, stretched and worked on lots of drills. Bruce was always questioning the norm. He was like Gene LeBell, Chuck Norris and Joe Lewis in that he didn’t believe in one system. He believed that you must be in great shape and cross-train.

Were you present during Bruce Lee’s workouts with any of the celebrities?

Bob Wall: Chuck and Joe are the only ones that I remember.

You have footage of Bruce Lee training James Coburn and Steve McQueen. Will that ever be released?

Bob Wall: Fred Weintraub and I gave a copy of it — about two hours — to Linda Lee [Cadwell]. It would be up to her and Shannon Lee to decide if they want to release it.

You were the creator of the Dirty Dozen, the group of martial artists who challenged Steven Segal in the April 1992 issue of Black Belt. Do you have any regrets about that incident?

Bob Wall: Seagal made some untrue comments and apologized for them like a real man does. All the Dirty Dozen and I were quite satisfied with the outcome.

When you eventually came face to face with Steven Seagal, what happened?

Bob Wall: He apologized, and that’s the end of it. Steven is a fine actor and a very good martial artist.

Describe your friendship with Chuck Norris.

Bob Wall: Chuck and I have been best friends and training partners for 40 years. I greatly respect and admire him for the man and the martial artist that he is.

Do you know of any projects we might expect from Norris in the future?

Bob Wall: Chuck is like the 500-pound gorilla. He’ll do whatever he wants.

Bruce Lee wrote you a letter dated July 20, 1973, that was never sent. Were the contents ever revealed to you?

Bob Wall: The contents have not been revealed to me.

Do you have any regrets about the interview you did 20 years ago with Albert Goldman in Penthouse?

Bob Wall: I never gave Goldman the interview he wrote. He called me, and because of his pathetic viewpoints in his previous books on Lenny Bruce and Elvis, I chose not to give my interview. We talked for a few minutes, and I explained why I wouldn’t do the interview. Then he just made up his own. I’ve done countless interviews about Bruce Lee over the past 31 years and have never said a negative thing about him, as he was a great human and an amazing martial artist. I did three of his five adult-aged films at a great cut in pay because he was my friend. The only regret I have is that he’s not alive for the world to enjoy and that he’s not able to enjoy his terrific family and his richly deserved success.

About the Author:
Paul Bax is a freelance writer, jeet kune do historian and founder of The JKD Brotherhood. Click on these links — Part 1 and Part 2 — to read the preceding segments of his interview with Bruce Lee movies co-star Bob Wall.

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