From the computer keyboard to kung fu kicks, Satyaki Gupta leads a double life — a 37-year-old IT professional on weekdays and an exponent of Bruce Lee’s non-classical Jeet Kune Do or JKD form of martial art over the weekend.
Satyaki teaches martial arts at Safari Park, Rabindra Sarobar, after training under his childhood idol Dan Inosanto, the man who introduced Lee to the nunchaku.
The Jadavpur resident had trained under Dan for more than seven years, following which he received a “very rare and coveted instructorship” in both Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do and JKD in 2012. He said he is the only certified person in India to teach JKD, which the Hong Kong superstar conceptualised by incorporating various kung fu and other martial arts styles into a free-flowing and straightforward form that literally means “way of the intercepting fist”.
Satyaki’s skills are not limited to JKD as Dan has made him a certified Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) expert too.
As a child, he used to lap up every story published about Dan in martial arts magazines. The dream of meeting the role model came true when his job took him to the US in 2006.
“I was working as well as training in JKD in the US. When I was based in Omaha in 2008, I used to train with one of my teachers, Sifu Dean Truax, in JKD and FMA. Sifu Dean is an associate instructor under Dan. Noticing my enthusiasm, he suggested that I go to the world-famous Inosanto Academy of Martial Arts in Los Angeles and train there. Soon I managed a job around LA and packed my bags.”
The first day at the academy is etched in his memory. “I finished my registration at the school office, opened the glass door to step in and turned right. There was this old gentleman walking from the other side. I was new and confused and he stood in front of me and asked me: ‘How are you doing, Sir? How can I help you?’”
“My idol, my hero, the legend, the god of modern martial arts was standing in front of me. I thought I’d faint. After a few moments, I bowed…the traditional Japanese bow. He held my hand and said: ‘You don’t have to do that.’”
He said Dan was 71 then “but moved like a 20-year-old on the training mat”.