Not many people can say they’ve trained under a man who taught and learned from world-famous-martial artist Bruce Lee — but James Eke can.
Eke, a Fernwood resident and chief instructor of the Eke Academy of Martial Arts in Victoria, has been training under Dan Inosanto, a student, teacher and friend of Bruce Lee’s, for the last several decades.
Inosanto taught Lee the art of nunchaku (nunchuks) and has become one of the most iconic martial artists in the world. He has trained thousands of people and has been in movies and on TV, teaching his skills to younger generations.
Inosanto, now 79 years old, has had a profound impact on Eke’s life.
When he was roughly 10-years-old, before Eke began training in martial arts, he read anything he could find written by Inosanto.
As a teenager growing up in Hamilton, Ontario, the friends Eke hung around with were constantly getting into trouble. He credits the martial arts with keeping him on a clear path.
“If it wasn’t for that and the stuff that I was reading by Inosanto, it resonated with me and sent me on a path that I have stayed on to this point,” he said.
“The core of what Bruce Lee and Mr. Inosanto were telling people was that you have to find your own way. You have to learn to express yourself and you have to use the martial arts almost as a language to create your own story.”
In 1987, Eke met Inosanto at a martial arts conference in Ottawa and began training with him. Every year since then, Eke has travelled to L.A. roughly seven to eight times a year to train with the martial arts master.
Eke opened a martial arts academy in Victoria three years ago, where he teaches students what Inosanto taught him.
“He’s very much the kind of person that would take the shirt off his own back and give it to you,” Eke said. “That’s what the martial arts means to me, it’s not about the punching and kicking and all the cool stuff, it’s about creating community and making people better.”
Eke, a former journalist and military man, has released his first martial arts book, Warrior’s Way: A Guide to Lifelong Learning in the Martial Arts, as an ode to Inosanto.
The book is less of a how-to, but more like a book that someone could use to help them through the hills and valleys of martial arts, training and living a more fuller life, which include fitness tips, how to mediate and maximize their training.
Warrior’s Way: A Guide to Lifelong Learning in the Martial Arts is available through Amazon in print and as an e-book and through Kobo as an e-book edition only.