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Robert Baker (martial artist)

Personal information
Birth datec. 1937
Place of birthUnited States
Date of deathc. 1993(?)

     Home | American actors | Robert Baker (martial artist)

Robert Baker (c. 1937 - c. 1993?) was an American actor. He is well known for playing Petrov in the Bruce Lee film Fist Of Fury.

He was given the role of Petrov which was a part originally intended for Bruce's assistant instructor in Oakland, James Yimm Lee. Due to illness, James was unable to play the part and so it was decided Baker would play it being the senior student at the Oakland school and a close friend of Bruce. He did not enjoy the spotlight and was a quiet reserved man. He acted a few other martial arts films such as Meng long guo jiang Shuang long gu and Machinegunner.

After that, he disappeared from the film industry but appeared as himself in documentaries of Bruce Lee.

Prior to his studies under James and Bruce Lee, Baker studied under Al Dasascos in Kajukenbo before beginning his studies at the Oakland school in the mid-1960s. Baker himself said he was a regular at the school which was renowned for its hard core training attitude. He became a close friend of Bruce and James and was considered the most senior student for several years.

However, according to Tom Bleeker's book, "Unsettled Matters," Robert Baker was unknown to all of Bruce's students prior to his role in Fist of Fury, as well to the martial arts community. The reason for his role was that Baker was the one responsible for bringing assorted drug contraband into Hong Kong to support Bruce's drug habits (page 32).

Whilst Bruce was working in Hong Kong, Baker stayed with the Lee family for several weeks attending events and interviews with Bruce Lee. Bruce described him half-jokingly as his body-guard.

Baker was devastated by first James Lee's early death (due to cancer) and shortly afterwards, Bruce's death.

He never opened a commercial school and only trained a handful of people over the next 20 years believing what he had been taught wasn't suitable for commercial style classes. His adherence to JKD principles was paramount and he disliked watered down variations of the art which he saw arising during the 1980s. One of his closest friends from the Oakland school was Howard Williams who still teaches small classes of Jeet Kune Do in the Oakland area close to where it was developed.

His students included Bruce Lee historian George Tan and UK instructor Roy Cullen (Seikendo). He also worked with Howard Williams and James Lee's son, Greglon.

Different sources report that Baker died between 1992 and 1994 due to either stroke, cancer, heart attack, or cirrhosis of the liver.

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