Branded by the Inside Kung Fu magazine editor, “the greatest Jeet Kune Do instructor in the world,” original Bruce Lee student Jerry Poteet was known by many as “the conscience of Jeet Kune Do.”
Since his teacher’s premature passing, Jerry stood firm, refusing to water down the art that had such an enormous impact in his life. In fact, Jerry credits his teacher, Bruce Lee, with giving him the tools to survive, “the fight of my life”, when he was compelled to undergo a liver transplant in 1995. Jerry taught Jeet Kune Do to the next generation of students and instructors, who now under the guidance of his protégé Sifu Fran Poteet-Joseph will continue to keep the flame alive and burning bright.
Sifu Jerry Poteet taught martial arts for over 40 years. Like many young men in the ’60s, Jerry began his martial arts career in Kenpo, and became a black belt under renowned Kenpo Instructor Ed Parker.
Contrary to popular misconception, Jerry did not meet his famous Jeet Kune Do teacher in Los Angeles, but in Oakland, at James Lee’s house. Later that year, he was fortunate enough to be chosen as the second student admitted to Bruce Lee’s Chinatown School back in LA. He was also selected to be in a “closed door” group of five students, who trained with Bruce Lee twice a week.
In the years since, Jerry used his martial arts expertise to train the Dallas Cowboys football team, be an executive bodyguard to many Hollywood celebrities, and also choreograph the fight scenes of several motion pictures.
But his proudest achievement was the fact that he was chosen as the person best able to train the actor who would portray his teacher, Bruce Lee. Over the years, Jerry refined a teaching method that, like the art of Jeet Kune Do itself, strips away the inessentials. It was this method he used to train actor Jason Scott Lee for the role in DRAGON, THE BRUCE LEE STORY. For Sifu Poteet, it was the ultimate way “to give something back to my teacher.”
Whether teaching an individual or a group, Sifu Poteet was easy-going, yet intense, truly embodying the principle of Yin/Yang, or opposites co-existing harmoniously. He was friendly and casual in manner, yet he demanded precision in movement and attitude. Laughing and joking, yet all business when it came to the training results. He wished to elicit from students only what his teacher demanded from him: their best. It is amazing to see how many surpassed not only his expectations, but their own as well.
This is why Jerry Poteet was proclaimed as “The Source” for the truth in the art of Jeet Kune Do.