One of Bruce Lee’s friends called Joseph Torreneuva talking about the martial arts master.

The transcript below is from the video “Bruce Lee Friend Interview with Joseph Torreneuva” by trancelover333.

Joseph Torreneuva (Known for his work on The Way (2010), Bobby (2006), and Hard Times (1975), hairdresser to the stars): 

“My first impression because I saw him perform in Long Beach at this tournament.  He did a two-inch punch on this fella from the audience.  It was the most incredible thing that I ever saw and right after that, probably a couple of weeks, that’s when I met him.  The fella that owned the building that I was working at the 9000 building.  He heard of Bruce and he says, “I got to meet this guy.”  So, he comes down from the 14th floor to my salon on the third floor and he says, “Okay, show me what you can do.”

That’s what people used to do with Bruce.  They always want to, “Show me.”  So, this guy was about six feet.  He said, “Get this book.  Put it over your head, okay.”  And, from standing still, Bruce jumped up and kicked the book out of his hand.  That was one and then we would tell me, “Little Joe, get the book,” which meant I put this book on my chest and he’d do his two-inch punch.  That’s the one that I hated the most because I was like the guinea pig.

Joseph Torreneuva (Known for his work on The Way (2010), Bobby (2006), and Hard Times (1975), hairdresser to the stars): 

Another one, we walked outside.  He did a sidekick into the wall.  There was a heel print about two inches deep.  That’s still there to this day.  Well, I studied karate for about three or four years and I enjoyed it a great deal.  When I met Bruce, we didn’t even work out.  We just talked and I knew that there was something different.  It was more a way of life.  It was a philosophy and to this day, sure I workout and I do exercise, but it’s more a way of life and that’s what he taught me.

The other stuff just came.  You know it was his way of interpreting all the arts put together.  He studied them all.  He was an expert in all of them and he tailored everything to that person.  He was an instructor that didn’t instruct.  He put it out there and it was for us to follow.  He would show you a move and he said, “But there’s a lot of different ways to do this move.”  Use no way as a way and we all know what that means.

Joseph Torreneuva (Known for his work on The Way (2010), Bobby (2006), and Hard Times (1975), hairdresser to the stars): 

We were together at his house just the two of us and when that happens, it’s a lot more intimate.  We could talk about things a little bit deeper.  I was still privileged in Chinatown to be in that early class where we would workout.  Just a group of us, Dan Inosanto, Tony Helm, Daniel Lee, a couple of other fellows…  I’m sorry, I forgot their names and then after that, we’d go eat in Chinatown.  Then we would come back and have the big class.

When he found out that I played conga drums, he said, “You got to play them.”  He says, “I was champion Cha-Cha dancer in Hong Kong.  So, I started playing and he started dancing, just the two of us in the gym.  After that he said, “Okay, I want to try something.  Start playing a rhythm and then I’m going to do a kata.”  He started kicking and sideways, and I did a 4/4 time and then I did a 6/8 time with like Afro-Cuban.  It was incredible because he did it at double speed.

Joseph Torreneuva (Known for his work on The Way (2010), Bobby (2006), and Hard Times (1975), hairdresser to the stars):

I wish we could have caught that on tape.  It was terrific!  We both like to mimic.  We both like to cut-up.  I thought I was funnier than he was.  He thought he was funnier than me and I would make fun of him in class while his back was turned.  I would like to Dan Inosanto, Dan was always cracking up because I was always imitating Bruce’s voice.  Like he would say, “Little Joe, get the book,” and he would say, “For instance, let me put it this way.  The idea is simple.  Not simple, simple.”

These were kind of little things that would almost get me in trouble but I got out of them.  The times we were together, we would share some really intimate things about how we felt about who he was and what he did, and why he wanted to do it.  A lot of them paralleled the way I felt about my art in cutting hair.  He knew he was good and he knew that what he had was a special gift.  He said, “Little Joe, one of these days I’m going to be really, really big,” and the rest is history.

Joseph Torreneuva (Known for his work on The Way (2010), Bobby (2006), and Hard Times (1975), hairdresser to the stars):

When I first met Bruce, I knew he was a star.  He had something.  He had that quality.  He had that “whatever it takes,” that “it.”  When I saw him like in Fist of Fury, in the first few films – they were kind of sophomoric films but you can just see how great he was.  It was just a matter of time and I watched his every move.  His punches were pure.  The kicks were pure.  It wasn’t like a caricature.  It was the true thing.

We knew how strong Bruce was, okay but it was these feats of strength and also quickness and awareness.  Putting a 10-pound weight at the end of a broom, picking it up more than your own weight, with one hand.  Picking up a chair by the bottom, two –thumb pushups, two-finger pushups, one hand pushups, one thumb pushups.  I mean it’s incredible!  Some of my favorite times were on Saturdays or Sundays.

Joseph Torreneuva (Known for his work on The Way (2010), Bobby (2006), and Hard Times (1975), hairdresser to the stars):

Right after we would work out in the morning, Bruce and I would go to lunch and there we would just exchange feelings and we would just talk.  He would tell me what was in his heart, how he felt about his wife and his children, how I felt about mine; things important in our lives.  Those are the times that I will cherish the most.  This photograph is very, very dear to me.  It parallels what his life and my life and my art, and his art.

It says, “The idea is like sculpture.  Hack away the unessential until the truth is revealed.”  Bruce the man, strong.  Bruce the legend.  He will always be there because he created something then no one else created and he opened doors for a lot of people.  Generation upon generation will always know who he was because he was there in the beginning as a friend.  That I will always cherish because I was there.

You know, a lot of people talk about working out with him and doing all of these physical things.  I was there as a person.  We talked just like you and I are talking now.  The intimacy, that’s what I will always take with me.  Knowing that I knew him, I don’t have to tell anybody because I know and that’s what’s important.”

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