Rest In Peace To Jim Kelly, The Coolest Karate Man Ever (1946 - 2013)

I can remember one of the OG's who used to hang around my family at different social functions who would get excited when my mom would pick me up from my Tae Kwon Do dojo sessions and bring me out while still wearing my gi. Immediately, he would scream out to all that could hear, "Jim Kelly is the coolest karate man ever!" Me, being a delusional 10-year old would be disrespectful as hell and say, "but Jim Kelly plays quarterback for the Buffalo Bills." Then, the OG would look at me in shock because I had no who he was talking about.

Soon thereafter, I was forced motivated to watch Enter The Dragon and learn the ways of Bruce Lee and Jim Kelly. Bruce Lee I'd heard of him, he was cool, but this Jim Kelly guy? Man he was cool too. A brother rocking a crazy afro, lean and lanky, shutting jive turkeys down one roundhouse kick at a time. I'd like to say I was motivated to excel in my martial arts because of Bruce Lee and Jim Kelly, but after I acquired my green belt, my mama said she wasn't paying "no got damn $150/month to get my ass a brown belt." Somewhere in there was a "Master Jang can go to hell" was also probably said.

Needless to say, its never been a debate. Bruce Lee is the coolest, but Jim Kelly was in his own lane of cool.


Since then, my love of all things martial arts would have to be by vicariously living through what I saw on the screen. I'd get hip to Bruce Lee, but I'd also get hip to Jim Kelly. As flicks like Black Belt Jones, Three the Hard Way and Black Samurai became embedded in my brain. On Saturday, word got out that Kelly passed away at the age of 67, and his legacy will forever be strong. Kelly was the first black Martial Arts film star and without Jim Kelly, there probably is no Taimak, Sho-Nuff, or Bushido Brown. Jim Kelly is a legend.

Now excuse me as I plan to tell anyone and everyone I interact with that they come straight out of a comic book for the next week or so.

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