Life of Robert Alberto Trias
And how my karate journey ties to him.
By Timothy L. Kerofsky, MA
July 24, 2017
Born on March 18th, 1923 Tucson Arizona
Son of Jesus Bara Trias and Deloris
Has a sister Christine and brother Jesus Ernest
Who are both still living
Parental Grandparents –
Manuel Bara Trias (1843 – 1924)
Josefa Bara Trias (1852 – 1938)
Name is traced to a villa in Asturias which is north of Barcelona Spain.
And a surname among nobility in Cataluña Spain.
However his name could have originated in Greece.
Name was known in Spanish communities in Spain, Philippines, Argentina, Mexico, Portugal, Singapore, Greece, and the American Southwest.
He did not have a remarkable childhood that I could find,
but I believe he enjoyed it just the same.
He was a Star Boy scout.
At age 17 he joined the United States Navy.
He fought in the Pacific Campaign during World War II.
He was a First Class Petty Officer, like me.
He had the rating of an Aviation Mechanic Structural (AMS1).
I had the rating of a Master at Arms (MA1).
He was also a golden gloves boxer in the Navy.
I was on the Navy Karate Team.
He earned his first black belt certificate in 1943, while stationed in the Solomon Islands, under the instruction of Tung Gee Hsing who was a master of Hsing Yi and Shuri Te. Then later during the war he trained in Shuri Ryu Kempo under a student of Gichen Funikoshi in Okinawa. Then in 1944, while stationed in Singapore, he trained with Hoy Yuan Ping in Jujitsu, who was from the realm of Hashinosuka Fukada of the Tenshin Singo School of Kempo of Japan… He returned home from the war in 1945. He founded the first Shuri Ryu Karate School in 1946 out of Phoenix Arizona where he taught Sensei Jess Mills who opened up a dojo in Chicago Illinois and later the Quad Cities School of Judo and Karate in Moline Illinois in 1962 where he taught Shuri Ryu Kempo, Jujitsu, and Judo. In 1976, before my 11th birthday, I joined the karate dojo in the Quad Cities. But I did not start going up in rank until 1981. (Note Jess Mills did not promote kids until they were old enough to be promoted). Now I am working toward my masters red belt.
Anyway, Shortly after Robert A. Trias founded the first karate dojo in the United States he founded the United States Karate Association… He would come to the Quad Cities dojo at times and promote us. I first met him in 1981 during my yellow belt promotion. He was truly amazing!
He married Jane Rita Arkemberg in 1947.
Their only child was Roberta Jane Trias who was born in 1948.
He worked as a Boilermaker Apprentice for Southern Pacific Company from 1937 – 39.
He worked for the same company after his apprentice training as a Boilermaker from 1939 – 1942.
He passed away of cancer on July 11th, 1989.
He was a 10th Dan Grandmaster and only promoted 5 Grandmasters whom earned the Master Pine Tree Patch of Shuri Ryu. Jess Mills was one of them.
It saddens Lme that…
As I was on vacation this summer and visiting dojos, at least calling them, in Arizona no one heard of Robert A. Trias. The father of American Karate, the creator of Shuri Ryu, and the founder of the United States Karate Association, but no one heard of him! WTF!
And the so-called Shuri Ryu Karate there is watered down. Much of it is practically non-existent, sports karate, a Kokushin Ka Dojo in one instance, but no Traditional Shuri Ryu Schools (Dojos). This is extremely sad to me!
I was not able to find out much about Roberta Trias-Kelly either.
I believe she might teach Shuri Ryu at her home, but not certain.
I do know that she is the co-author of a book entitled –
Essence of Shuri Ryu
Which I have a copy of…
30 Jan 2016
Bruce Lee the Essence of a Man
By: Timothy L. Kerofsky, MA
Part 1: The life of Bruce Lee
Throughout the social media today I hear and see many people bashing
Bruce Lee and calling him a fake martial artist. Many people say he was nothing but an actor and he used exaggerated moves just to look good on screen. People say that he was afraid to fight in tournaments, because he would lose. I had a guy tell me that he only demonstrated at the internationals to show off and get publicity for his movies. I feel sorry for all of these sad misinformed people that believe all of the garbage out there in the social universe. Bruce was the pinnacle of what a true martial artist is. He was a husband, father, philosopher, and martial artist. He could take anything and learn from it even boxing and wrestling. If it did not work he would eliminate it. For that in itself is the essence of Jeet Koon Do. Yes he was also an actor, but this is not the essence of his life. To say he was just an actor is saying, Chuck Norris is just an actor, Steven Seagal is just an actor, and Jean Claude Van Damme is just an actor. No that is not true, they act sure, but they are all martial artist as well. To say that he did not spar so that means he was not a real martial artist is wrong as well. Traditional training did not include sparring or tournament fighting. Traditional training included real life fighting scenarios, not sparring. In my dojo when I first started my martial arts journey, we did not spar either. We did old ways of training with stone weights, makawari board, throws on the hard wood floor, and Goshindo Uki (self defenses) and fighting scenarios. I did not start sparring until the 1990’s when it became popular in martial arts dojo’s.
Here is the life of Bruce Lee:
Bruce Lee was born on November 27th, 1940 in San Francisco California.
But he was raised in Kowloon District in Hong Kong. He had a rough childhood growing up and was constantly bullied and picked on. His American name Bruce was the only name the doctor that delivered him knew. His birth name was Lee Jun Fan which means, “to return again”.
His family name was Sai Fon which means, “little phoenix”. It was a girls name in an attempt to throw off the evil spirits they believed that cursed the Lee family. His street name was Sui Lung which means, “little dragon”. Bruce learned the hard way how to fight with the rough streets of Hong Kong. He was raised at 218 Nathan Road Kowloon Hong Kong. His father was Lee Ho Chuen who was a Cantonese actor and an opium dealer. His mother was Grace Lee who was half German and a Catholic.
Bruce Lee attended the Saint Francis of Xavier Catholic School. He was friends with a Irish boy named Brother Kenny who showed him some boxing.
He also attended the Choy Li Fut School of Boxing. As a child his father taught him Tai Chi Chuan. Later he was introduced Master Yip Man in which he trained and practiced Wing Chun. Later in his life he learned Judo from Taki Kamua, Tae Kwon Do from Jhoon Rhee, and some Kenpo from
Ed Parker. Bruce Lee also studied Filipino escrima and Western fencing.
Bruce Lee was cocky and he did fight a lot on the streets.
In 1959 he left Hong Kong. This was due mostly to him getting in fights and trouble.
He attended the University of Washington and studied Philosophy.
It was there he met his future wife to be, Linda Emery. She was a blonde hair, blued eyed, Swedish, English girl. He worked as a bus boy and dishwasher at the Ruby Chow Chinese Restaurant in
He also lived on the second floor of the restaurant. Later when he opened up his first martial arts school, the Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute at 4750 University Way, he lived there. His number one student, at that school, became a black guy named Jerome Blake Stroud. In 1963 he returned to Hong Kong to visit his family. In September 1964 he married Linda Emery and then they moved to Oakland California. He opened his second school there with his brother James. Bruce and Linda had two children Brandon and Shannon.
He was invited to Long Beach to attend the first International Karate Championships hosted by
Ed Parker. He demonstrated the essence of
Jeet Koon Do at the Internationals.
Then in 1965 his father passed away. He, his wife, and young children lived in Hong Kong for four months. In 1966 he opened up his third school in China Town Las Angeles at 628 College Street. Dan Inosanto became the assistant instructor and later took over the school. Bruce Lee’s life got better as he was asked to star as Kato in the Green Hornet series. Since he did appear in 20 films as an infant and child he accepted the opportunity. His first childhood film was the Beginning of a Boy at 6 years old and his last childhood film was the Orphan in 1958. The Green Hornet aired from September 1966 to March 1967. He also had two TV appearances one in “Marlowe” and one in “Longstreet”. After the end of the Green Hornet series Bruce was met to star in Kung Fu, since he came up with the idea; but the network turned him down and hired an American actor David Caradine instead. This was the beginning of his struggles as a Chinese American.
Bruce was going through many financial hardships and struggles after the end of the Green Hornet. They just moved into a new home as well at 2551 Rosecomare LA. He left his family temporarily to go back to Hong Kong. While there to make extra monies he started teaching private kung fu lessons to actors for $50.00 an hour. Bruce trained and taught many movie stars and celebrities such as; Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Roman Polanski, Kareem Abdul – Jabber, and Elke Sommer. In 1969 Bruce started making a movie with James Colburn and Sterling Silliphant entitled, “The Silent Flute” in India. It was not completed until years after his death. And it starred David Caradine instead of Bruce Lee. The name of the movie was changed to, “Circle of Iron”.
After getting back on his feet he focused on teaching Jeet Koon Do at his School in China Town. This is when another problem arose. According to the code of the “Yellow Pearl”, who was a secret fighting society formed in the 1900s; the Chinese were forbidden to teach the Westerners their arts and ways of Gung Fu. Bruce Lee was challenged for this as the word spread that he was teaching the Westerners his ways of Wing Chun and Jeet Koon Do.
In early 1970 Bruce Lee injured his back in a fight. He was challenged by the Yellow Pearl and won the fight, then he was attacked from behind and kicked in the back. He was in traction in the hospital and it took him 6 months to recover. During that time his wife wrote down Bruce Lee’s philosophies and ideas on Jeet Koon Do. According to the movie and the book written by Linda Lee Caldwell entitled The Man I Only Knew she said, “You know what is wrong with the martial arts write it down and fix it.” He asked, “How am I going to write when I am in traction?” She said, “You talk and I will write” as she tossed down a notepad and he started talking, and she started writing. And the Tao of Jeet Koon Do was written.
Part 2: The films of Bruce Lee
In 1972 they sold their home in Las Angeles Californiaand moved to Hong Kong. It was there he started making films again. He got paid $15,000.00 for his first two films which were through
Golden Harvest Productions.
His first film was the Big Boss. It grossed $3.5 million. It was filmed in Pak Chong, Thailand. Bruce Lee stated about the film, “The character I played was a simple straight forward guy. If you told him something he would believe you. When he finally figures out he has been had he goes animal…”
His second film was Fist of Fury. It grossed $4 million. It was filmed in the Philippines. A critique of the morning post states, “Lashed out, he does it beautifully, the fierce in fits of blind anger, is frightening – superb.”
Bruce Lee stated about the film, “The glorification of violence is wrong.
That is why the character I played died at the end; to pay for his crimes.”
“I’ll be doing different types of films in the future, some serious, some philosophical, and some pure entertainment.” Bruce Lee
After his second film he signed a contract with Paramount.
His third film was Way of the Dragon. It was written, directed, and produced by him self.
It was filmed in Rome Italy. Carlos Rey Norris
(Chuck Norris) played the villain in the last scene. The final battle between Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris was held in the Rome Coliseum. It, to me, was the most epic martial arts fight scene ever filmed. It is truly a classic.
The film grossed more than any Mandarin film of the time. It topped the charts at $5 million.
His fourth film was Enter the Dragon. It had an all - star cast starring
John Saxon, Jim Kelly, Bob Wall, Bolo Yeung, Actress Anna Capri as Tanya, renowned female martial artist Angela Mao as Sui Lin, Actress Betty Chung as Mei Ling, and Shih Kien as the evil Han.
It was filmed in Hong Kong.
It was Bruce Lee’s first and only international film. He died before the theatrical release on 26 July 1973. The film went on to become an international sensation. Bob Wall stated, “The movie was honest and totally believable. More important it was not detrimental to the martial arts. It was not just another one of those eye for an eye stories. The theme is in definitely in keeping with the principles of the martial arts.” Fred Weintraub stated, “Bruce was undoubtedly nervous, even apprehensive, about Enter the Dragon. A lot was riding on it. It was his first international film.”
Another actor stated, “He was not only a great martial artist. He was a good actor as well as a technician. Bruce would have been proud of the film.”
After his Death another film he was working on was released entitled
“The Game of Death”. It was finished by Bruce Li.
In summery Bruce Lee’s Five (5) main films were:
1. The Big Boss (Fist of Fury)
2. Fist of Fury (Chinese Connection)
3. The Way of the Dragon
4. Enter the Dragon
5. Game of Death
He also came up with the idea of the film called “The Silent Flute
(Circle of Iron)”. And the idea for the TV Series called Kung Fu.
His first actual acting role is when he was 10 years old in a black and white film named “The Kid” in 1950.
Part 3: The death of Bruce Lee
On May 10th, 1973 Bruce was taken to Saint Teresa’s Hospital in Hong Kong for swelling in the brain called cerebral edema. He was given the drug Manital to reduce the swelling. Later he was prescribed the drug Dilantin to calm brain activity. But, inexplicably, no traces of these drugs were found in his body after his death.
On June 20th, 1973 at around 7:30 PM Bruce was in the home of actress Betty Ting – Pei for an interview meeting. He complained of a headache and Betty gave him the drug Equagestic.
He went to lay down in the bedroom...
Raymond Chow and Betty tried to awaken Bruce. He couldn’t be awakened and he was rushed to a Hong Kong hospital. He died a short time later.
The Autopsy report revealed traces of cannabis in his stomach and his brain was swollen like a sponge…
Dr. R.R. Lycette viewed his death as a hypersensitivity to one or more of the compounds in the drug tablet Equagestic.
Professor R.D. Teare viewed his death as caused by hypersensitivity to meprobamate in aspirin.
Bruce Lee’s father was a licensed opium dealer. Some people believe that Bruce was an addict... They believe that Bruce overdosed.
Linda Lee stated, “A lot of people tried to figure out the way he died,
But I’d rather have people remember the way he lived.”
There were two funerals for Bruce Lee:
The first funeral was held in Hong Kong for his friends and fans.
It was attended in a Buddhist Ceremony with white robes and incense.
And it had an alter with his picture and candles.
Over 25,000 people attended his funeral ceremony in Hong Kong.
There was a banner saying, “A star sinks in the Sea of Art.”
The second funeral was held in Seattle Washington at the Lake View Cemetery. It was a private ceremony for his family. This is where Bruce Lee lays buried in peace and harmony. May he rest in peace and may his spirit guide fellow martial artists and his philosophy never be forgotten.
“The soul of a man is an embryo in the body of man;
The day of death is the day of awakening – the spirit lives on.” Buddha
The lines of a Chinese Poet, Tzu Yeu (AD 265 – 419), are written on a memorial stone in Hong Kong to honor Bruce Lee. It reads:
“Young men, seize every minute of your time.
The days fly by; ere long you too will grow old.
If you believe me not, see here in the courtyard how the frost glitters white and cold and cruel on the grass that once was green.
Do you see that you and I are as branches of one tree?
With you rejoicing comes my laughter.
With your sadness comes my tears.
Love, could life be otherwise with you and me.”
What Bruce Lee was to me. He was my inspiration. He is who I strive to be like with my martial arts training and teaching. As a kid I watched his movies and I said dad I want to be a martial artist like that. But it was not until 1976 when I got into a self defense class. Then in 1979 I got into another class outside my Junior High School Yard. Then in 1981 I joined a dojo called the, “Quad Cities School of Judo and Karate.” I strived hard even though I was bullied and picked on. Eventually I started going up in Rank in Karate and now I am a 9th Dan Black Belt. I studied various systems and styles of martial arts. I did not want to limit myself to one.
I studied, Shuri Ryu Karate, Jujitsu, American Kenpo, Hung Gar Kung Fu, Arnis, Bojutsu, Tai Chi, Tae Kwon Do, Shurinju Ryu, and Shorinji Kempo.
My whole life I always strived and always tried to live by a philosophy of respect and kindness. In the Navy I was bullied and put down and had trouble going up in rank, but made it up to MA1 (Master at Arms first class) and later became a Sea Cadet LT. In my whole life I struggled, but was inspired by the pinnacle of a martial artist, Bruce Lee. Other martial artists, who believed in Bruce Lee’s philosophies, inspired me to keep striving as well such as; my sensei Jess Mills (1940 – 2011), Grandmaster Zenkoshi (1904 – 2002), Brianna (an Aikido stylist and friend in Rhode Island), Robert Allen Trias (1923 – 1989) who introduced karate here in the United States, Grandmaster Ed Parker (1931 – 1990) and Ed Booze who taught me Kenpo. And Master Stevens who is inspiring me to strive for Master and Grandmaster; of course I met and trained under these masters and grandmasters. Other influences in my martial arts journey are:
Gichen Funikoshi (1868 – 1957) who founded modern karate, Chuck Norris whom I almost met – I just missed him… And Billy Blanks whom I met twice once in 1987 at the Internationals and the second time on 1998 when I was at an expo in New York City.
Bruce Lee was a Philosopher, a Teacher, a Mentor, and a true Martial Artist!
Part 4: The quotes and sayings of Bruce Lee
“Classy was the word for Bruce.” Linda Lee
“As long as I can remember I feel I have had this great spiritual and creative force within me that is greater than faith, greater than ambition, greater than confidence, greater than determination, greater than vision, it is all of these combined. My brain becomes magnetized with the dominating force in which I hold in my hands.” Bruce Lee
“I was a punk and went looking for fights.” Bruce Lee
Bruce Lee’s philosophy on Kung Fu:
“The way of movement of gung fu is closely related to the movement of mind. To perform the right technique in gung fu the mind must be free.
In order to accomplish this the gung fu man must remain quiet and calm, and to master the principle of ‘no mindedness’ – not a blank mind that excludes all emotion. It is ‘non graspness’ of mind. A gung fu man employs his mind like a mirror – it grasps nothing and refuses nothing.”
“More technical knowledge of gung fu is not enough to make a man really its master…He ought to have delved deeply into the inner spirit of it.” Bruce Lee
“The principle of gentleness – is the art of neutralizing the effect of the opponent’s effort and minimizing the expenditure of one’s energy.
All of this must be done in calmness and without striving.” Bruce Lee
“To me 99% of the whole business of Oriental self defense is baloney.
It’s fancy jazz. It looks good, but it doesn’t work.” Bruce Lee
“Empty your mind; be formless, shapeless – like water. If you put water into a cup it becomes the cup, if you put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle, if you put water into a tea pot it becomes the tea pot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water my friend.” Bruce Lee
His concept of Jeet Koon Do:
“Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless,
and add what is specifically your own.”
His quotes and quotes of others about him:
“Kung fu has to rest on realism and plausibility.” Bruce Lee
“There is too much horsing around with unrealistic stances and classic forms and rituals. It is just too artificial and mechanical and doesn’t really prepare a student for actual combat.” Bruce Lee
“As far as breaking bricks and boards with the edge of your hand –
how often do you see a brick or board picking a fight with anybody?”
“My meaning of life is a piece – of – mind.” Bruce Lee
“The best exercise is running. You must be physically fit to do any hard martial training and fighting.” Bruce Lee
“Bruce was one in two billion.” Ed Parker
“The secret to kicking is controlled anger – emotional content.” Bruce Lee
“Bruce always tailored his martial arts instruction to the individual person, what worked for the person, the physique of the person, if the person was tall or short, limber or not, was good at kicking or at punching, he would take what would work for each individual and eliminate what did not.” Dan Inosanto
“The principle of directness - is to do what comes naturally.” Bruce Lee
“Don’t think; just react.” Bruce Lee
“You simply move in like sound and echo; without any deliberation.”
“He strikes with such speed that it makes a rattler look like a study in slow motion.” A reviewer from the Green Hornet
“He was not by trade a teacher of screenwriting or psychology, nor was he an ordained minister, and yet he was the greatest teacher I have ever known.”
“The one important point about Bruce – the thing that needs to be emphasized as much as anything else – is that he himself was constantly learning. I don’t think a day went by that he wasn’t gathering some new thing.” James Colburn
“I’ll never say I am number one. But I will never admit to being number two.” Bruce Lee
“You just wait. I am going to be the biggest Chinese star in the world.”
“If the mountain would not come to Muhammad,
Muhammad would go to the mountain.”
“I cannot teach you. I can only help you to explore yourself.” Bruce Lee
“The future looks bright indeed with lots of possibilities ahead –
big possibilities. Like the song says, “We’ve only just begun’.” Bruce Lee
“In my whole life no man, no woman was ever exciting as Bruce Lee.” Sterling Silliphant
“Ever since I was a kid the word quality has met a great deal to me.”
“Bruce by and large enjoyed the simple quiet life.” Linda Lee
“Bruce was never misled by what had happened to him.
His sudden fame and fortune he decided as ‘elusive creations of impostors.’” Linda Lee
“He is a good actor as well as a superb martial artist.
He is so lightning fast, yet everything he does is perfect.” Kurt Hirshler
“I know Bruce lee was a quiet and considerate person. Quiet, but firm.” Fred Weintraub
“Turn the stumbling block into a stepping stone.” Bruce Lee
“I don’t know how much longer I can keep this up.” Bruce Lee
“Bruce was a man of victory.” Jhoon Rhee
“Ever since I was a child I had this instinctive urge of expression and growth.
To me the function and duty of a quality human being is the sincere and honest development of ones potential.” Bruce Lee
Part 5: Ten (10) facts about Bruce Lee
Bruce Lee was the pinnacle of a man; he was the true martial artist.
“A whole cult has grown up around Bruce – I think it will continue to grow, rather than die away”. Linda Lee Caldwell
Patrick Swayze was born in Texas in 1952
and he died of Pancreatic Cancer at the LA Memorial Hospital in 2009.
He had a bad habit of smoking.
His father also died of Pancreatic Cancer, sadly.
He was taught ballet and dancing as a child and grew up dancing.
He had a family of dancing. His mother, Patsy Yvonne Helen Swayze,
was a ballet teacher, film choreographer, dancer, and dance film instructor.
His father - Jess Wayne Swayze, however, was a drafting engineer,
who studied the martial arts.
Patrick Swayze did gymnastics in his childhood years.
Then he later got into the martial arts.
He held a 5th Dan in Goju Ryu Karate,
and he held belts in Judo, Hapkido, Tae Kwon Do, and Wushu as well.
He also practiced Tai Chi Chuan.
His best martial arts fighting scene was in the film - Road House.
He had a love for dancing, martial arts, and acting.
And he starred in several films -
Next of Kin (1982),
Dirty Dancing (1987),
Road House (1989),
Point Blank (1991),
Black Dog (1998),
Dirty Dancing - Havana Nights (2004),
The Beast (2009).
And he starred in the TV miniseries called - North and South (1985).
He graduated from Waltrip High School in Houston,
and attended San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas.
He married actress/dancer Lisa Niemi on June 12, 1975,
whom he had known when she was 15
and a student at his mother's dance school.
His New York City dance training included the Harkness Ballet School and Joffrey Ballet School.
He first danced professionally as "Prince Charming" in "Disney on Parade".
He was a great husband to Lisa Niemi, but sadly they never had children.
He was a singer and a song writer namely "She's like the Wind" in the film "Dirty Dancing".
He studied and practiced Buddhism.
Patrick Swayze was truly an inspiration.