‘Enter the Dragon’ star and martial arts legend Jim Kelly – rare training footage

Saturday, May 06, 2017

The late Jim Kelly is a martial arts legend and actor who is best known for his role as Williams in Enter the Dragon alongside the late great Bruce Lee.

Though Kelly would appear many other martial arts films, his role in Enter the Dragon was spectacular and cements his legacy in the history of martial arts cinema. As a martial artist, his art was Shōrin-ryū karate that he left college for in order to pursue.

It ended up being the right decision for him as it led him to compete in the epic 1971 Long Beach International Karate Championships where he won the World Middleweight Karate title and a star was born.

In the following video we seem some training footage of the late martial arts legend and what’s interesting about this footage is the amount of grappling they do.

Usually most old school karate guys avoid grappling like the plague so for Kelly to mix in the ground game so much really shows he knew what was up.

This training session is essentially MMA sparring and it allegedly took place in 1991 which is two years before the first UFC and well before most of us realized how important grappling was.

Kelly sadly passed away from cancer in 2013, at age 67.

With his funky Afro hairstyle, super cool attitude and superb karate skills, Jim Kelly was instantly identifiable, and one of the top martial arts film stars of the early 1970s. After appearing in a minor film role, Kelly’s second screen effort was as one of the invited guests to the deadly Han’s Island in Enter the Dragon (1973). Kelly quickly cropped up in several more martial arts influenced “blaxploitation” films including Three the Hard Way (1974), Golden Needles (1974) and Black Belt Jones (1974), with its interesting fight finale in a soap filled car wash! He then appeared in several other action films of the late seventies, however since 1980, Kelly has only cropped up in two minor roles. A talented athlete, winning ranked titles both in tennis and karate, Jim Kelly was an integral part of the African-American & martial arts cinematic explosion of the 1970s. [Source: IMDb]

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