The staff of Black Belt was told that on April 2, 2012, first-generation Bruce Lee student Howard Williams passed away. The cause of death is being reported as a heart attack.
Williams kept a low profile in the ensuing years until Dr. Jerry Beasley, having noticed increasing interest in “original JKD,” organized the a jeet kune do training camp in Radford, Virginia, in 1993. Beasley formulated the curriculum around the offerings of two first-gen practitioners: Williams and Ted Wong. I was fortunate to meet and talk extensively with both men.
JEET KUNE DO CREATOR BRUCE LEE HIMSELF
WAS A STUDENT … OF BOXING!
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Williams was soft-spoken and smile-prone, but under that gentle exterior lay a man capable of explosive movement and phenomenal hand speed. In each class, he’d demo the particular technique he wanted the students to work on—often a punch or a trap—then answer questions on technical topics. He’d really beam, however, when a question about Bruce was posed.
“Howard could have been a popular JKD instructor — a lot of people said he was one of the best — but he preferred to stay out of the spotlight,” Beasley said. “He was very likable, and people remembered him fondly. It’s very sad to hear of his passing.”