Guro “Dan” Inosanto

Posted by - - 1950s, Competitors

Guro “Dan” Inosanto, ’58, “has contributed more to the martial arts than perhaps any other individual in North America,” according to Black Belt magazine, which elected Inosanto to its Hall of Fame in 1996. As one of only three protégés of legendary martial-arts master Bruce Lee, trained as an instructor of Lee’s own jeet kune do, Inosanto has been a premier martial-arts master instructor for more than three decades.

While he attended Whitworth in the late 1950s, however, Inosanto’s first love was football. He was also an accomplished sprinter during his undergraduate days. Among the many photos adorning the walls of the Inosanto Academy of Martial Arts, in Marina del Rey, Calif., are two images of Inosanto running track at Whitworth. He credits track coach Sam Adams with getting him involved in Young Life, which became an important turning point for him.

“Because professors and coaches took time with me, I was able to thrive and do well,” he said. “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about those experiences. Whitworth taught me to look deeper, to go beneath the surface.” Inosanto has applied this philosophy to his exploration of the martial arts. His passion for this pursuit increased after he earned his black belt, but it wasn’t until he met Bruce Lee that his real education in martial arts began. Inosanto was impressed with Lee’s nontraditional, yet highly practical approach to training, and he became one of Lee’s students. The two shared a close friendship over the years, until Lee’s untimely death in 1973.

As one of three instructors that Lee trained in his lifetime, Inosanto is the only student to attain the level of training that Lee considered necessary to teach his system. Professional athlete Randy White, a former defensive lineman with the Dallas Cowboys and Pro Bowl selectee, said, “I often wish I could have worked with Dan 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Much of my success in the NFL I attribute to his martial-arts teachings.”

Inosanto continues to teach daily classes, to travel extensively, and to conduct seminars that “help people grow physically, intellectually, spiritually and culturally.” He acknowledges that “we are all walking different paths” and urges “respect for others with differing beliefs, even as you hold to what you know is true.”

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