Taky Kimura (born March 12, 1924) is a Japanese American martial artist who is best known as being one of Bruce Lee's top students and closest friends - and a certified instructor in Jun Fan Gung Fu, personally certified by Bruce Lee himself. Kimura was also the best man at Bruce Lee's wedding, and one of eight pallbearers during Bruce Lee's funeral, the others including Dan Inosanto, Steve McQueen, Chuck Norris, James Coburn, George Lazenby, Ray Chin and Robert Lee, Bruce's brother.
Growing up, Kimura and his family were interned in a War relocation center (or internment camp) during World War II, first at Tule Lake and later at Minidoka, due to their Japanese American heritage. Kimura was actually taken to the camp one day before his high school graduation.
Emerging from the internment camp after World War II, Kimura found himself to be downtrodden, broken down and lacking motivation. Because he was unable to graduate from high school due to being taken to the internment camp, and because his family had no money to pay for his college education, his family began to operate a supermarket store in Seattle, Washington.
Bruce Lee and martial arts
In his mid-thirties, during the year 1959, Kimura met a young, rising 18-year-old martial arts genius named Bruce Lee. Kimura joined Bruce's early kung-fu club where Lee taught Jun Fan Gung Fu, literally translating to Bruce Lee's Kung Fu and his version of Wing Chun, Kimura became Bruce Lee's student, assistant and at that time, his "best friend." Together, they practiced, sparred, trained, and then founded Bruce Lee's first kung fu club (the Lee Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute) in the basement of the Kimura family supermarket, where he became Lee's first Assistant Instructor. Because of Kimura's strong friendship with Bruce Lee and due to his dedicated study of Jun Fan Gung Fu, and the philosophy behind martial arts in general, Kimura was able to turn his life around.
Kimura is one of only three individuals to be personally certified by Bruce Lee to teach his martial arts, which include Jun Fan Gung Fu and Jeet Kune Do. The other two are Dan Inosanto and James Yimm Lee (no relation to Bruce Lee). Kimura currently holds a 5th rank in Jun Fan Gung Fu. After Kimura was certified, he was allowed to teach small classes under the mantra of "keep the numbers low, but the quality high".
To this day, the only person that Kimura has certified as an instructor in Jun Fan Gung Fu was Andy Kimura, his son. Kimura still teaches Jun Fan Kung-Fu in the basement of his supermarket, for free.
Kimura was also one of eight pallbearers during Bruce Lee's funeral, the other seven being: Dan Inosanto, Steve McQueen, Chuck Norris, James Coburn, George Lazenby, Ray Chin and Robert Lee, Bruce's brother.
Appearances in films and documentaries
Kimura appeared as an actor in Bruce Lee's final film, Game of Death (1973). Kimura was initially asked by Lee to play the role of the "Guardian of the Second Floor," a master of the Praying mantis kung fu style. However, the footage shot was never used in the final version(s) of the film, which became notoriously recut and re-edited after Lee's passing in 1973.
Kimura appears as himself in a number of documentaries, including Mellissa Tong's Taky Kimura: The Dragon's Legacy (2000), also produced by Quentin Lee.
Documentaries Kimura appears in also include: How Bruce Lee Changed the World (2009), Bruce Lee in G.O.D.: Shibôteki yûgi (2000), Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey (1999), The Path of the Dragon (1998) (short documentary), The Life of Bruce Lee (1994), The Curse of the Dragon (1993), Bruce Lee, the Legend (1977) and Bruce Lee: The Man and the Legend (1973).
TV shows he has appeared on include a 1994 episode of Biography entitled Bruce Lee: The Immortal Dragon and a 1999 episode of Famous Families entitled "The Lees: Action Speaks Louder".
In 2009—nearly 67 years after his original, scheduled graduation date, when he was 85—Kimura finally was allowed to receive his diploma from Clallam Bay High School in Clallam Bay, Washington, and was the high school's salutatorian (the second highest graduate of the entire graduating class). Kimura grew up with his family in the state of Washington. Taky Kimura celebrated his 90th birthday in 2014.
- "National Archives: Takauki Kimura". Retrieved 2013-12-13.
- Dickerson, Paige (June 8, 2009), "Japanese-American to return to Clallam Bay for diploma earned 67 years ago", Peninsula Daily News
- "Congratulations Si Bak Taky Kimura!". 2009-06-12.
- Northwest Asian Weekly, June 8: Taky Kimura, 85, graduates from high school, http://www.nwasianweekly.com/2009/07/june-8-taky-kimura-85-graduates-from-high-school/
- Taky Kimura Interview, http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xm494a_bruce-lee-entretien-avec-taky-kimura_shortfilms
- Bruce Lee Biography, http://bruceleefoundation.com/index.cfm/page/Biography/pid/10585
- History and Description of Jeet Kune Do, http://www.traditional-dojo.com/History_Jeet_Kun_Do.html
- "Happy 90th Birthday Taky Kimura sifu!!". Retrieved 21 January 2015.